How To Clean Food & Pet Stains From A Wool Rug

A few weeks ago we picked up a 10'x12' wool rug on Craigslist. It has a beautiful worn look and according to the original owner, dates back longer than either of us has been around. So when our dog yacked all that he had in him on the corner of our new purchase, we turned to a few great cleaning ideas instead of harsher chemicals.

What You Need

Baking Soda (to cover spot)
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent
2 cups lukewarm water


1. Apply Baking Soda: Any pet or food spill should be blotted immediately to remove any extra icky bits. Once the bulk of it has been removed, sprinkle the area liberally with baking soda. It will soak down into the fibers and pull up a large portion of the wet that's started to sink into the rug. Allow to sit for 30 minutes and then vacuum up.

2. Mix Cleaning Solution: Add ingredient above to a small cup or bowl and stir together. You may use whatever dishwashing detergent you wish, though we suggest staying clear from ones with "extra bleaching powers" ... for obvious reasons. Dish soap will work in a pinch, but it doesn't pack the same punch.

3. Apply and Scrub: Blot liquid onto the area with a sponge or towel. Allow to soak into the fibers where the stain occurred. Scrub in small circles with a scrub brush (if you have it) and if not the corner of a clean towel pulled taut over a few fingers. If your rug has a pile to it (ours is old enough it doesn't) go easy on the rubbing so you don't make one area look like a hurricane, while the rest lays nice and neat.

4. Rinse: Using clean water and another clean towel, apply cold water to the area and absorb as much as possible with your towel. Laying a towel under the rug can help keep water out of your mattress pad or keep it from spreading to areas that don't need to be moistened.

5. Dry: Prop something under your rug to allow air flow to reach the spots that were previously dampened. If it's warm out, turn on a fan or if it's cold like it is here, a space heater comes in handy. Just make sure it keeps its distance so it doesn't cook the rug, it just helps dry it!

Additional Notes
Spot tests can be done on your rug before proceeding with any of the above, simply find a small corner or section to test your liquid solution on. Don't leave out the vinegar as it acts as a bonding agent for the fibers to hold fast to their color and not allow colors to run, it's the most important part!

(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)

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Sarah Trover has lived all across the Midwest and currently calls the hot dog-laden city of Chicago home. She rides scooters and seeks out kitchens that make the best pie.