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How To Clean Polypropylene Rugs

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Rugs made from polypropylene fibers are not only an affordable option but they are also relatively easy to rid of spills and stains. When figuring out how to clean polypropylene rugs the most important things to consider are how much of the rug to clean, and where to clean it.

How To Clean Polypropylene Rugs

The man-made nature of polypropylene gives it a higher level of resistance to chemicals and friction than many natural rug materials like wool or cotton. This allows you to add a little more scrubbing into your cleaning procedure if necessary, even though we would not recommend it on a regular basis.

1. Vacuum Rugs Regularly

The first step to keeping your rug clean is to vacuum it on a regular basis. This will remove loose dirt, debris, hair, lint, and other loose materials from the fibers in the rug, making sure they do not get integrated into the material from pressure. Leaving loose dirt in the rug also creates more friction over time, breaking down the rug and causing it to become ruined more quickly.

Fireplace with clean polypropylene rugs

While the rug may be on a hardwood floor or other solid, delicate surface, you will want to use the carpet setting as much as possible to be sure to get as much dirt as possible out of it. Be sure to be careful with the edges, perhaps even changing the settings, since overuse of a vacuum beater bar off the edge of a rug can cause scratches, and eventually copy the outline of the rug on hardwood.

2. Spot Clean Immediately

Whenever spills on rugs occur, do your best to spot clean them as soon as possible. The longer a liquid sits on the fibers, the more likely they are to absorb. PP (polypropylene) is very stain resistant since it is hydrophobic by nature, but it easily absorbs oils.

To clean a small to mid-sized spot on polypropylene rugs, you should:

  1. Use a white or very light-colored towel or other clean cloth. Colors can bleed from your cleaning cloth into rugs.
  2. Start with a dry cloth to absorb as much of the spilled liquid as possible.
  3. Rinse the towel in clean water, and wring it out until just a small amount of liquid is still in it.
  4. Blot the spot from the outside of the spill toward the center. This pattern will help avoid the spot from spreading.
  5. If a damp rag is not enough to clean the spot, mix a small amount of gentle dish soap with warm water in a bowl or bucket. Repeat the same procedure as you did with just water.
  6. Rinse the cleaned area with a damp cloth. Be sure to remove all of the detergent since it can attract even more dirt.
  7. Dry the area as much as possible by blotting with a towel. 
  8. Check underneath to make sure liquid did not seep through into the flooring below. If it did, move the rug to a place where it can dry, and dry the flooring completely.

3. Clean Entire Polypropylene Rugs Outside

Once a year, or if a very large spill has occurred, you should clean your rugs completely. Polypropylene rugs can be treated a little harshly, so we take advantage of that when cleaning. We recommend using a power washer to clean these rugs outside, but a regular garden hose with a spray nozzle attachment can be used as well.

Living area with a rug in the center

Before spray cleaning the entire rug, vacuum it inside the house. Getting as much loose material out of them before starting will help you clean rugs more effectively. Something to keep in mind when cleaning a polypropylene rug with this method is that it may take an entire day to dry, so plan to start early.

  1. Find an open section of brick, concrete, or other flat material outside that will handle a lot of water easily.
  2. Clean the work area by spraying it down and removing all dirt and rocks.
  3. Lay the rug out flat, soft side up.
  4. Spray the rug down with water. Use a flat spray with a pressure washer and use a motion that pushes the fibers at an angle instead of just spraying straight into them.
  5. Mix dish soap and water together in a bucket, approximately 2 tbsp. of detergent per gallon of water.
  6. Apply the soap and water mixture to the rug. You can do this either through dipping a brush into it and applying that to the rug (the safe way) or by just pouring the entire contents onto the rug (the quick way). 
  7. The quick way does have the possibility of over saturating the rug backing, so be careful and check the manufacturer instructions first.
  8. Using a nylon or other medium-stiffness brush, lightly scrub back and forth over the entire top of the rug. A deck mop could be used as well.
  9. Rinse with the pressure washer using the same technique as before.
  10. Spray the bottom as well to be sure all soap is removed.
  11. Hang the rug on a clothesline, fence, bench, or other structure that will keep it fairly flat. 
  12. Let dry – this may take an entire day.
  13. Try to keep the rug out of direct sunlight if possible. The rug should not fade, but darker areas may overheat, damaging the fibers.
  14. Be sure the rug is completely dry, bring it inside, and vacuum the top to soften up the nap.

4. Steam Clean Polypropylene Rugs

These rugs can handle heat over the temperature of a most steam cleaner’s low setting, so you can potentially use a steam cleaner to get a thorough, deep cleansing and disinfection. Be sure to check any manufacturer labels or instructions, and be sure the floor underneath will be able to handle having the heat and moisture of steam used on top of it.

5. Care After Cleaning Polypropylene Rugs

Fireplace with clean polypropylene rugs

Immediately after purchase, or if you have had a rug for a while and have just cleaned it, apply a carpet protector to the surface following the instructions on the label. Make sure the protector is compatible with polypropylene. These types of protectors will help keep spills from taking hold in the rug and makes cleaning much easier.

Tips to Clean Polypropylene Rugs

There are other cleaning products that can work more efficiently at cleaning polypropylene, but they do add the possibility of breaking down your rug more quickly than simple water and dish detergent. Test these in an inconspicuous area before trying to clean large parts of your rugs with them.

  • Dry-cleaning solvent
  • Acetone
  • 409 and other all-purpose spray cleaners EXCEPT citrus-based cleaners.

Sometimes solid or muddy debris can fall on rugs, and we need to remove as much of that before blotting or scrubbing. To do this, scrape the rug with a metal spoon, putty knife, or similar rigid tool that does not have an edge that is too sharp. Be sure to vacuum afterward.

For stains that you absolutely cannot get out by yourself, consider a professional rug cleaning service. However, check the company’s prices first, and consider how much the rug costs. It may even be more cost-efficient to buy a new rug if yours does not have sentimental value.

Conclusion

The method of cleaning polypropylene rugs is fairly simple compared to wool or other natural fibers. If you vacuum the carpet on a regular basis and give it a deep cleaning about once a year, you should not have to worry about much more than possibly the occasional spot cleaning. Adding a carpet protecting spray to the rug after it is clean can extend the time between cleanings even further by keeping stains from setting.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.