Area rugs can really bring a room together and are often heirlooms that can hold treasured family memories. Unfortunately, they also hold the dust, pet dander and grime from constant use. Even though valuable area rugs should get a good deep cleaning from a professional occasionally, there are steps you can take to keep your area rug looking and smelling fresh between deep cleans.
The first step to cleaning your area rug is remove pet fur / hair with a soft-bristled brush and vacuum both sides of the rug.
It’s best to do this on a warm, sunny day with no humidity as this will allow you to work on the rug in a clean outdoor space such as a driveway or patio.
Once you’ve give the area rug a good going over with a vacuum, and all surface dirt, dust, and pet hair has been removed, prepare a gentle cleaning solution using either a few drops of mild dish detergent in some water, or use a solution of 1 teaspoon of dish soap and 1 teaspoon of vinegar in 1 quart of lukewarm / room-temperature water.
NEVER USE HOT WATER on an area rug as this may cause shrinkage.
Test the solution on a small inconspicuous area of the rug to make sure dyes won’t run.
If the rug proves to be colorfast, go ahead and apply the cleaning solution by blotting the rug with a soft cloth soaked in the cleaning solution. NEVER SCRUB or rub hard as this may damage the fibers of the carpet, causing them to mat.
Work in small areas at a time, allowing the solution to set for 5 minutes or so, and then apply some water using another cloth to rinse the cleaning solution away.
Blot the wet area with a towel, and use a shop vac or hand-held vac on the backside of the carpet to remove as much moisture as possible.
Allow the rug to dry completely, flipping if necessary to ensure the carpet is completely dry before brining indoors.
Most valuable area rugs and accent carpets need to be professionally cleaned at least every 18 months (more if they are in high-traffic areas, or in homes with smoke or pets), but a gentle cleaning between visits to the professionals can keep all the area rugs and carpets in your home smelling fresh and looking their best.