Spring Cleaning: How To Wash a Rug

 How to Wash a Rug from Studio, Garden and Bungalow

Washing rugs used to be part of an old time Spring Cleaning ritual. How to wash a rug? Today this seems like an ancient concept, but after a long winter it can be pretty essential. A freshly washed rug will give your room a new start for spring.

Getting ready, have these items on hand:

vacuum cleaner
water bucket
garden hose with sharp nozzle
outside work surface
cleaning agents: Oxy Clean, Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap
scrub brush
2 saw horses, and/or plastic patio chairs

To get started, it's important to determine if this rug is a good candidate for washing. Most wool, cotton and especially synthetic rugs are fine with the process. If you have any concerns, try rubbing a white rag or old tee shirt saturated with cold water in a hidden corner of the rug. If it removes some color, you won't want to wash it.

Begin this project early on a sunny, warm day. First working inside, vacuum the rug to remove surface dirt. Turn it over and vacuum the back surface as well. Outside, prepare a working space that is flat, hosing off the surface until it is clean. Take the rug out to the work space and lay the rug out flat. Hose the rug off with a strong water stream until it is fully wet.

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Prepare a bucket of cleaning agents. I dissolve a mixture of "OXI Clean" in about 4 cups of hot water, stirring until mixed well. I add this to a bucket of clear cold water. Next I add a small squirt of "Dr. Bronner's" liquid castile soap or other gentle soap to the water bucket. Even cheap hair shampoo will do. You want to avoid a heavy, soapy mixture that will be difficult to rinse out.

Next comes the part where you will need to get down on your knees and scrub the rug. Dip your scrub brush into the soapy water bucket then work the brush in the direction of the rug pile. Short pile surfaces such as the one you see here can usually tolerate this type of scrub brush. Loopy piles may require hand scrubbing only, using your fingers to work in the soapy mixture. You want to avoid shredding or frizzing the rug fibers.

Usually I clean only the nap side of the rug, but if you are cleaning up stains that have soaked through to the back, you may need to turn the rug over and scrub the back as well.

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Using a strong water stream, hose off the suds and work out the soap. You may need to do rub the rug again by hand (or by walking barefoot over the rug to push out the suds). Work until the water runs clear.

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To wring out the remaining water, roll up your rug and walk on it, pressing out the water. Smaller rugs might be fine if they are just pressed by hand.

The rug will need to be air dried on a support so that air can reach the back side and water can flow off. I have found that if I drape this over two saw horses, smaller rugs can be hung out to dry.

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A larger rug like this needed additional support. I added 2 large plastic patio chairs under the ends to keep it off the deck surface to dry. I have also seen rugs hung over balcony railings to dry. Another tip is to suspend a strong broom stick between two chair seats or ladders to create a pole to drape the rug over.

At this point you may need to draft another strong body to help you lift your rug up and over the saw horses because a water saturated rug can be super heavy to move.

How long will the drying take? In hot, dry weather this can take a day or two, longer in other climates. When the rug is dry, take it back inside. It may need a good vacuuming to 'fluff up' the rug nap again if it has dried a bit stiff. Plastic bristle hair brushes also can be used to comb out a rug. BTW, hair brushes can be more effective than vacuuming in homes where pet hair seems to fill up the rugs.

I hope your efforts work out for you. Getting the dirt out can really improve a rug and give extend its use for years.

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