As a disclaimer, please note that these tips don't all apply to heirloom, vintage, and "fancy" rugs. If you have an Oriental, Persian, or Turkish rug, or something of the same caliber, please follow the manufacturer's instructions or consult with an expert in textile care. That said, here are some ways to keep your rug clean and fresh:
- If your rug is low-pile (not shag or fluffy) running a vacuum over it regularly is pretty standard fare. One thing to keep in mind is that the beater bar on your vacuum can damage the pile and fibers of the rug. It's best to use just the suction to lift up dust and debris, not to use the spinning rod of brushes which can aid in aging your rug. Also, start at the center and work out, making sure not to vacuum the fringe at the end, if you have it. That will just cause wear, and the edges will stay much nicer without being sucked up into your vacuum
- The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends that "if your larger rug is easy to pick up, shake it outside first; then put it over a clothesline and beat it." Every time I've brought my living room rug outside to shake it and pound out some of the dust and debris, I feel a little like I'm in an episode of I Love Lucy, and wonder if this is the best way! Turns out, it's pretty standard. I have since learned to wait until someone is around to help me---the neighbors pay much less attention this way.
- Experts agree that it's best to have your rugs professionally cleaned every 1-2 years. Taking your rug to a dry cleaner that specializes in rugs will remove the deep-seated grime that your vacuum will not. In the longrun, the cost is worth it--your rug will look newer much longer.
- Rotate your rug regularly. Traffic patterns naturally occur in homes, and you will end up wearing your rug unevenly if it remains in the same position forever. Much like the tires on your car, rotating it will distribute that wear and add to the overall look of your rug.
- Wikihow warns "Be aware of carpet shampoos or sprays! Carpet shampoos are usually made for synthetic wall to wall carpet not wool area rugs." Checking the label and testing any product on an inconspicuous place is a step that many folks skip, but is actually very important. If just a white cloth with water doesn't work, I've always used a tiny bit of hand-dishwashing soap for even the toughest (puppy, anyone!?) stains. It works like a charm, and Martha Stewart backs me up!
- Keeping your rug smelling nice is key. Rugs can lock in odors, and no one wants those lingering in your home. I love Febreeze, personally, but for those wanting a more natural option, WikiHow recommends blotting your rug with a white cloth containing a mixture of 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water to keep odors at bay.
Images: Jessica Tat