Spring Cleaning

How to Give Your Rug the Deepest Clean Ever, According to a Cleaning Pro

published Apr 19, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Apartment Therapy’s Spring Cleaning Cure is a free 10-day cleaning program that’ll help you achieve a tidier home. Joining us today is guest cure-ator Sarah McAllister, CEO and founder of GoCleanCo. Using everyday cleaning products and deep cleaning methods, McAllister has shown millions how to transform their homes and lives for the better.

A rug holds so much potential — adding color, texture, and comfort to any room. But you know what else it holds? A whole lot of hidden dirt. Our goal is to leave no dust behind, so let’s spend some time giving one of our dearly loved rugs a much-needed cleaning. 

“Cleaning your rug isn’t an easy task,” says Sarah McAllister, the CEO and founder of GoCleanCo and today’s guest cure-ator. “So you have to prepare yourself for this. It’s a heavy-lift job.” 

McAllister offered some stellar advice on getting your rug nice and clean.

Day 8: Deep clean a rug.

While you should be vacuuming your rug regularly, a deeper clean like the one we’ll do today can happen once or twice a year. McAllister likes to use the “eyeball test” where she simply looks and sees which rugs need cleaning. 

Pick out the rug you want to clean today. There are some top contenders: Rugs by your front door get used frequently, a shag rug will require extra work, and the one in the kitchen gets a lot of mess, too. “People like a rug or runner in the kitchen [and] those get way dirtier than your hallway one would because you’re dealing with kitchen smells, greases, and splatters,” says McAllister.

The steps to get this rug clean depend on the material, how often it’s used, and how messy it gets. For instance, in a home with kids and pets, you might be vacuuming way more frequently and getting way more mess. If you’re a shoes-off home, that can impact how dirty your rug gets too.

Here is some general advice to follow to get your rug cleaner than ever. But above all else, be sure to read your rug’s care instructions first. 

How to Get Dirt and Dust out of Rugs

You’ll want to vacuum both sides of your rug. Start by vacuuming the top, then move the rug away from the spot it was in and flip it over. Then, vacuum the other side and the spot it was in. Flip the rug right-side up and back in its original position and vacuum once more. If you can’t move the rug, you can flip one side at a time to vacuum the top, bottom, and floor as you go. If you’re able to, take your rug outside to give it a beating to really get the dirt off it. 

How to Get Stains out of Rugs

McAllister says it’s best to get to spills immediately, but of course, messes can go undetected. Go with a carpet cleaner and its formulated cleaning product, as it has been tested and proven to work on a variety of surfaces. “Some have peroxide to lift a stain and it can [also] have mild bleaching properties,” says McAllister. With any cleaner, be sure to spot-test first! Pick somewhere small, like the hidden spot that’ll go under your sofa, says McAllister. 

Before you start cleaning, check under the rug to see if anything seeped down to the floor underneath it. If possible, take the rug outside to get it thoroughly cleaned by the carpet cleaner. Follow the steps on your carpet cleaner and its formulated cleaning product. Let your rug dry completely before putting it back in its spot. If you’re going to let your rug dry outside, make sure it is a shaded area, as it can get sun damaged. You can also prop your rug up on chairs or over a railing inside to get airflow underneath it and help it dry.

If you’re looking for a gentle cleaner and don’t have a carpet cleaner, you can use a few drops of Dawn dish soap to spot-treat messes and then blot with a damp cloth. Follow with a dry cloth to blot and fluff. 

How to Get Odors out of Rugs

Baking soda is great at neutralizing odors. Sprinkle it on your rug and leave it overnight, if you can. Arm & Hammer also makes a specialized carpet odor eliminator; follow the instructions on the box for leave time. An enzyme cleaner is your best bet to get rid of smells from pet messes, recommends McAllister.

If you are having any trouble getting your rug cleaned — whether it’s a tough stain or delicate material — you might want to enlist the help of a professional. It can get costly, so be sure to factor in the cost and research if this is the best option for you.

PRO TIP: When purchasing a rug, it’s important not only to factor in how it’ll look in your home but also how you’ll be caring for it. McAllister is a big fan of washable rugs, like the ones offered by Ruggable, as they are so much easier to clean. Be mindful that these are an investment, says McAllister, but they last long and maintenance is simple. 

Which rug did you deep clean today? Tell us in the comments below.

More Ways to Participate in the Spring Cleaning Cure

The Cure Program is a tradition here at Apartment Therapy — it happens every January, April, and September. Click here to learn more about the year-round program and when to sign up.