How to Deep Clean Rugs
Consult care labels for small rugs to determine whether they should be dry-cleaned, spot-cleaned, or laundered. A dry-cleaning-only label might indicate that a rug is not colorfast. Test before spot-cleaning. When you determine that a rug is washable, machine-wash it on the delicate cycle. To reduce the risk of tangling long fringe, divide the fringe into several hanks and wrap each one with white string. Place the rug in a mesh laundry bag or zippered pillowcase to protect it from the agitator, and wash in cold water on the gentle cycle.
Hang wet rugs over a clothes-drying rack, a slatted picnic table, or several bricks stacked on a porch, patio, or breezeway. Hanging a wet rug over a single clothesline will distort the shape of the rug as it dries. Small rugs made from synthetic fibers similar to carpeting can be laid to dry on a small worktable or counter that is protected by a drop cloth, old sheets, or towels.
Area rugs will benefit from a deep cleaning every 12-18 months. When using commercial cleaning products for the first time, test a small area of the rug to ensure that it is colorfast and not otherwise damaged by the product. To thoroughly clean a large rug, place it on a vinyl or concrete surface and apply carpet-cleaning foam and rub in according to directions. Finish by rinsing or vacuuming. Make sure the rug is dry before replacing it.
Time is of the essence when your rug becomes stained. Remember to blot—not rub—the stain and remove moisture from spills as quickly as possible.
Alcohol and soft drinks: Use a solution of 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent, 1 quart of warm water, and 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar. Apply to the stain, rinse, then blot dry.
Coffee or tea: Using the detergent mix above, apply to stain, rinse, and blot. If a stain remains, use a commercial spot carpet cleaner.
Fat-based stains: For foods such as butter, margarine, or gravy, use a dry-solvent spot carpet cleaner.
Gum: Peel off what you can, then put ice cubes in a plastic bag and place it on top of the remaining gum to harden it. Scrape the gum off with a spoon or dull knife. Vacuum and use a dry-solvent spot cleaner if needed.
Paint: For acrylic and latex paint, while the stain is still wet, spot-clean with the detergent solution. If color remains, dab with rubbing alcohol. For oil-based paint, sponge with odorless mineral spirits, being careful not to soak through to the backing.
Tomato sauce: Sponge with cool water, dab with detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner. Rinse with a solution of 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups of water and blot until dry. Urine, feces, and vomit: Apply detergent solution or a citrus-oxygen cleaner, rinse, and blot until dry.
Melted wax: Use the same treatment as gum, hardening it with ice cubes in a plastic bag and scraping. Dampen a clean white cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blot to remove any remaining wax.
Dry-cleaning might also be an option for small- to mid-size rugs—check the labels for care instructions.