A Guide on the Best Way to Clean Your Area Rugs

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Area rugs are a beautiful addition to any home. Sometimes cleaning them can feel overwhelming. Knowing the best way to clean area rugs can cut down on frustration. You will also have a clear and concise way to get rid of the dirt.

The Best Way to Clean Area Rugs

Cleaning an area rug can be as simple as vacuuming or as thorough as a steam cleaning. When it comes to your rugs, you want to get them as clean as possible. Do you know what should be done on a day to day basis? What do you do when you need to get them completely clean?

During the week, you should only need to do a simple vacuuming. This task includes picking up large pieces of trash or dirt and running the vacuum over your area rug.

About once every other week you will want to move the furniture and vacuum under it. You don’t need to do this on a daily basis. You could even stretch the furniture moving to once a month. Doing this more laborious vacuuming task cuts down on dust bunnies. It also allows you to find any hidden crumbs that have fallen under the couch or coffee table.

area rug cleaning steamer vacuum wash

Keeping to a schedule helps cut down on dirt that can get embedded down into the carpet fibers and become more difficult to remove. If you are looking for a deeper clean, you can ​rent a professional grade steam cleaner​.

If you wonder if dry cleaners clean area rugs, you might be surprised to learn that they do. However, it is not the best idea for rugs due to the solvents they use. There is also a large chance your local dry cleaner will outsource and send your rug to another building or company to be cleaned.

The Best Way to Clean Shaggy Rugs

It can seem difficult to vacuum your shaggy area rug. With the longer fibers, vacuuming can be harmful to your carpet. There are a few ways you can clean your shaggy area rug without incurring any damage.

There are a few different ways you can vacuum your long fibered rug. Try each of these and see which one works out best for you.

​Vacuum Lift and Beater Bar

Almost all vacuums come with the ability to lift the head higher off the floor. For high pile rugs, you will want to lift your vacuum’s head as high as you are able. If you can, also turn off the beater bar so it does not get any long fibers tangled in.

If your current vacuum does not allow you to turn off the beater bar and it is a concern for you, you can look into a vacuum that offers a turn off switch or no bar at all. This type of vacuum is also preferred for​ cleaning hardwood floors​.

​Vacuum with Attachments

When your vacuum is too rough to run over your shaggy area rug, you can use the hose and an attachment. A flat faced attachment on the vacuum’s hose is perfect for this job.

It can take longer than a normal vacuuming session, but you don’t have to worry about a beater bar. Depending on the type of vacuum you have, you can do this standing.

If you need to be closer to the floor but are unable to get all the way down, move a simple dining chair onto the rug and sit down as you maneuver the vacuum hose. This will give you more control as you move the attachment back and forth across your carpet.

how to clean an area rug

Vacuum the Underside

If your rug is small enough, flip it over and vacuum the bottom. This method loosens up the dirt particles in your rug. While upside down, the dirt and debris will be un-lodged and begin to fall out onto the floor.

It’s also a good first step if you plan on taking your rug outside and beating it clean. If your rug is too large to simply be flipped, pull it up halfway and vacuum the bottom. Then flip the other side over, repeat, and finish by fluffing your shaggy rug

Make the job easy by using your cordless vacuum cleaner, rather than getting out your bulky upright vacuum. Or, opt for a less expensive but more powerful corded stick alternative

How to Clean Area Rugs on Wood Floors

When your area rug is directly on your wood floor with no protection separating them, you really want to be cautious when cleaning. Do a standard vacuuming. Take care with spot cleaning and steam cleaning.

The biggest issue you will face is an over saturated carpet. This could leak down through the carpet and onto your wood floor. Water plus wood means damage. Use these tips so you can clean your carpet without worry.

Using a controlled liquid source is the biggest step you can take to saving your wood floor under the carpet. Instead of dumping, pouring, or splashing water onto your carpet, you will be spraying water directly onto the surface where you need it.

area rug clean house wash

Despite what you may believe, it doesn’t take much liquid cleaner to clean up spots on your carpet. With a spray bottle you can concentrate it to a certain area. A few good pumps will do the trick to wet the area without completely saturating it.

Use these steps when you need to spot clean area rugs:

  1. Blot up as much liquid as you are able to with a dry cloth or paper towel
  2. Use a spray cleaning solutions such as a ​DIY Natural Carpet Cleaner​.
  3. Let the solution sit for a few minutes.
  4. Blot up the solution with a damp clean water cloth.
  5. ​You may need to dip the cloth in clean water, wring out and repeat blotting.
  6. Use a dry rag or paper towel to blot up the remainder of the wet area.

​Notice in almost all of these steps you are blotting and not rubbing the carpet​. Rubbing will spread the stain and liquid further than it needs to be. Work on containing the mess by blotting only. If you need to agitate the cleaner into the carpet, use a gloved hand to gently rub the solution around in the fibers.

cleaning large area rugs


A little elbow grease and a ​great vacuum cleaner​ is all you need when you are learning the best way to clean area rugs. With these steps and tips, you can quickly clean your rugs with confidence.

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.