How to Clean a Wool Rug: 12 Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Persian Rugs

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oriental rug cleaning : oriental rug cleaning ; oriental rug cleaning

Searched high and low for a guide to clean your beloved wool rug? Need to know how to:

  1. Vacuum?
  2. Spot treat?
  3. Deep clean?

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how to clean a wool rug : carpets clean : how to clean a persian rug

Maybe you're going to buy a wool rug your worried out how to clean it?

But, You don't know where to go for advice?

Phew! Aren't we glad you found us!

Hundreds of people every year ruin their valuable wool rugs from misinformation and myths on how to clean wool rugs So....

How to Clean a Wool Rug

12.Vacuuming

wool rug cleaning : carpets rugs : cleaning persian rugs

You should be vacuuming your wool rug about twice a month.

What? Vacuum twice a month?! You heard me!

See, Wool rugs have little tiny air pockets where dirt can hide. This means that your wool rug will look clean for a lot longer than the cheap synthetic alternatives, but will eventually need to be vacuumed to clean those air pockets out.

Synthetic (polypropylene, nylon, acrylic etc...) rugs fibers are plastic and dirt will lay on top.

You want to vacuum your wool rug only twice a month. Over vacuuming will pull the natural wool fibers out of the rug. You will also want to vacuum both sides of the rug every so often to make sure you get all of the dirt out.

I would recommend vacuuming the underside of the rug every 2 months. Here is a video on how to vacuum a wool rug properly.

[VIDEO] Vacuuming a Wool Rug

But, the most important thing about vacuuming a rug is...

What type of vacuum you use.

Determine What Type of Pile You Have

Flat weave kilims and wool pile rugs each require slightly different height and suction settings. If you have multiple wool rugs will differing pile heights or are looking to invest in more wool rugs over the years,

Here is what you need to look for:

1.The vacuum suction is adjustable

This way you can adjust for pile height for each of your rugs

2.The vacuum does not have a beater bar 

Beater bars are a HUGE no no! Beater bars agitate the dirt deep inside the rugs pulling it out faster and more efficiently, but it will also pull out your wool fibers and cause shedding.

3.Or can run without the beater bar

If the vacuum has a beater bar, make sure you can turn it off.

4.Has a handled brush add on

This way you don't needlessly vacuum a larger area than necessary when a spill occurs, and so you can safely vacuum the fringe. 

Best Vacuum Cleaners for Wool Rugs

Sebo Felix 1 Premium ($599)

how to clean wool rug : rug carpet : cleaning persian carpets

While Sebo may not (yet) be a household name in the US, the German brand is known for delivering brilliantly designed and engineered vacuums with a focus on usability and easy maintenance.

You know what they say about German engineering...

The Felix line of vacuum cleaners is touted as one of the best vacuum cleaners available for pet owners.

Right off the bat, the Felix is perfectly tailored to the needs of the discriminating area rug owner.  A suction control slider is located right on the handle, allowing for quick and easy adjustments when moving from one carpet to another.

The Felix’s roller brush has four manual pile height settings if you choose to use it on your rugs. this is great if you have a flat weave Killim Dhurrie like this...

cleaning wool rugs : how to clean persian rugs
And an ultra soft double pile Bokhara like this...
how to clean a wool area rug : cleaning a persian rug

That way you can easily switch between the two rugs, no problem!

The Felix comes in several whimsical colors and patterns which please not only the eyes, but the ears and the nose as well. The outer layer doubles serves as a sound insulator and has a hospital-grade filtration system.

This keeps every last dust particle inside the vacuum unit and out of your air!

Miele Dynamic U1 Twist ($449)

how to clean wool rugs

 

Another German brand, Miele has earned a reputation amongst oriental rug enthusiasts as the go-to name for area rug vacuum cleaners.

The U1 Twist is Miele’s top-of-the-line upright vacuum cleaner. It has received extremely favorable reviews across the board. Everywhere from Amazon to Good Housekeeping.

The Miele Twist motor is remarkably powerful allowing it to effectively clean high pile carpets, but, the rotary dial offers suction control so it can be used on everything from shag rugs to flat weave killims!

The Twist features an automatic pile height adjustment system. The roller brush runs on a separate dedicated motor, so it can be disabled easily during use if necessary.

Shark Rotater Professional Lift-Away ($239.99)

clean wool rugs : clean persian rug

 

Rounding out our vacuum rundown is the Shark Rotater

A significantly more affordable unit that boasts an impressive arsenal of features well-suited to cleaning large area rugs. Over 70% of Amazon reviewers gave the Rotator five out of five stars.

This reception proves the Rotator’s competitiveness with other higher-priced units.

Much like the Miele and Sebo vacuum cleaners, Shark’s Rotater has variable suction control suitable for antique pieces, double pile rugs, flat weaves, and shag rugs alike.

The suction control is just below the Rotater’s handle for quick adaptation from rug to rug. 

The Rotater’s brush roll can also be shut on and off independently making it ideal for gentle yet thorough cleaning of more sensitive area rugs.

There is no manual pile height adjustment so keep that in mind when working with higher pile carpets.

11. Shake it Out

If the thought of only vacuuming twice a months make you cringe, shaking out the rug outside will help clean the rug without vacuuming.

Just take your rug outside and shake!

cleaning a wool rug

If your rug is larger, ask a friend to help you. 

Just shake for 30 seconds to a minute and all of the dirt will come out like a charm.

If the forecast looks clear, go ahead and leave your rug outside for a few hours. If you want to go the extra mile, spritz your rug with a little Febreeze before leaving it out.

Your rug will smell like its fresh off the laundry line!

10. Give it an Old Fashioned Beating

wool area rug cleaning

For those of you who want to go the extra extra mile...You can beat your rug.

Seriously...

There was a reason they used to beat their wool rugs in the old days. This method loosens the dirt without pulling out the fibers. Although this is the method they used before vacuum cleaners were invented, the method survived as homemakers quickly realized less and less wool on the rugs everyday using beater bar vacuum cleaners.

To do this, set up a laundry line or use a sturdy clothes drying rack, and go to town beating your rug with a rug beater!

I bet you could score an antique one from your local antique or thrift shop!

But if you can't find one, you can grab a new one here from Amazon for $19.93.

You could also use a wooden spoon.

This method is more tedious but if you're looking for a good work out and a deep clean without a professional cleaner, knock yourself out!

9.Dry Powder

This is a popular trick...
steam clean wool rug

But a bad one.

Dry powders will set into the the little air pockets and just create more of a mess, and cause the rug to become fuzzy.

Professional cleaners do use this method but only in particular circumstances and with the proper equipment. We would not recommend trying at home.

 

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8. Snow Dusting

This is another old fashioned way of cleaning a wool rug.

In Russia, after a heavy snowfall, Russians would take their wool rugs to the park to clean them! The theory is that dry snow would freeze the dirt particles in the rug.

This was done because when the dirt particles freeze they can simply be shaken off, much easier than beating the rug!

So here's what you do:

Make sure the snow is DRY and powder-y and there is at least 3"-5" inches on the ground and that temperatures are to stay below freezing the day you choose to do this.

You do not want the rug to get wet from melting snow.

You will also need a broom because the snow causes the rug to become quite heavy.

This process works best with a smaller rug unless you have a few friends to help you out!

wool area rug cleaning

1. Place the rug outside in freezing temperatures to let the rug acclimate to the temperature change from indoors to outdoors

Over a banister or clothes line works great

clean a wool rug

2. Lay the rug in 3"-5" of snow

cleaning wool rugs at home

3. With the broom flip a liberal amount of snow across the entire rug

how do you clean wool rugs

4. Beat the snow around the entire rug with the flat side of the broom.

The trace amounts of ammonia in the snow will react with the cold air and cause any dirt or grime to solidify and fall out of the rug.

5. Let the snow sit on the rug for 15-20 minutes before flipping it over and repeating steps 1-3 on the other side.

6. Then shake as much excess snow off the rug as you can and hang the rug back over the banister or clothes line.

Leave it to hang for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the snow to sublimate.

The snow will go from it's solid phase to vapor without actually getting the rug wet

7. Shake the rug to release the frozen dirt and reveal a newly, naturally cleaned rug!

Edited from an original post by Regina Yunghans published on February 16, 2010

We do not necessarily recommend this method but it is one of the more wacky ones out there!

If you are going to try this method, be careful and do so at your own risk.

7.Steam Cleaning

DO NOT DO THIS!!!

Some bloggers are reporting that they steam clean there rugs...

Everyone  here at RugKnots is pulling their hair trying to figure out why someone would do this!

First of all, you should never wet the entirety of your rug at home. You cannot dry it fast enough to prevent mold and mildew.

Second,

steam clean wool rugs

The steam is too hot for the wool.

You know how blow drying and straightening your hair can damage it?

Same effect!

Lastly, if there is any dust or dirt inside of the air, pockets in your wool rug, the steam will create mud in your rug. 

Yeah...You can image how difficult that is to get out.

This method is most effective when performed by a professional. There are so many factors that go into cleaning a rug that there is a reason professionals exist.


6. Be Sure to Rotate Your Rug

This simple step is SO important!

Although more about prevention, rotating your rug will prevent discoloration, matting from frequent foot traffic, and excessive dirt to one spot. 

When a rug is partially covered by a couch, desk, or ottoman, the covered part of the rug will stay inevitably more clean than the exposed portion of the rug.

So,simply rotate your rugs about once every 6 months.

Easy peezy.


5. Spot Clean

The biggest thing when it comes to spot cleaning is getting to the stain IMMEDIATELY.

After the 15 minute mark the stain is already beginning to set.

There will not be enough time to find this blog and pull up our instructions so...

Download our free Wool Cleaning Guide and save it your computer or print it out so that you can have it at a moments notice

Rug Knots has generations of experience with antique and new hand knotted wool rugs

So...

We got you covered!

Trust us, you'll want to have this on hand, ready to go.

Wool rug guide

The steps are categorized by the type of spill:

1.Food, Cosmetic Powders, Modelling Clay, Potting Soil and Skin Ointments

steam clean wool rug

Spot treat the affected area with:

  • 8 parts water
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • And a small squirt of a mild dish washing detergent

Simply dab the solution on with a white paper towel.

Then with a clean, dry paper towel, dab the wet area until the carpet is bone dry.

2. Red Wine or Dark Fruit & Vegetable Juices

Pour salt over the entire affected area. The salt will absorb the liquid like a sponge.

wool rugs cleaning

Once the salt has absorbed the stains, use a rounded spoon to lift off the residue the silk carpet. Sprinkle on cold water with a spoon or syringe. Then blot dry the area dry.

3. Pet Messes, Perfume & Alkaline Spills

Use either the vinegar solution mentioned above, or an ammonia solution of 1 teaspoon of household ammonia to 1 cup of water.

Dab the solution on with a white paper towel.  Rinse well with cold water on a spoon on syringe, and blot dry.

4. Paint, Oil & Grease

Remove paint, oil and grease with nail polish remover, or use a spot removal or dry cleaning solvent.

clean wool rugs

Other solutions:

  • Vinegar solution
  • The Ammonia solution listed under PET MESSES

Rinse well with a spoon or syringe, blot dry.

Many of these solvents and solutions will leave the affected area more prone to dirt that the rest of the rug. Rinsing well with cold water and blotting help alleviate the problem.

5.Peroxide Bleach & Other Harsh Chemical Spills

Use cold water on the affected area and immediately, contact a professional rug cleaner.

***Never use an "oxygen" or "oxy" cleaning solution on a wool rug. This may bleach the rug and/or damage the fibers***

4. Be Cautious

wool rugs cleaning products

 

To avoid having to spot clean at all, be cautious!

Wool rugs can take a beating but the need to be taken care of. Would you smoke around the Mona Lisa?

Drink red wine after getting your teeth bleached?

Of course not!

Here are a few tips to avoid accidents:

1. Have friends and family remove shoes

This is a good practice even if you don't have any wool rugs.

Your shoes step on public bathroom floors, dirt, asphalt, and who knows what else!

2.Limit pets around a wool rug

Make sure their paws are clean and that they aren't lounging on the rug. 

Trust me, they will want to!

Wool rugs are just so soft!

how to clean oriental wool rugs

3. Be Careful with Red Wine

I'm not saying to all of a sudden become a white wine drinker,  but be careful!

4.Make Sure Kids Do Not Use Art Supplies On or Near the Rug

A crayon ground into the rug will need a professional clean....

Just sayin...

5. Avoid Smoking Around the Rug

The smoke odors may embed themselves in the rug and could cause discoloration of light colored rugs. 

Just as smoking causes damage to lungs, teeth, and ceilings, it will harm a wool rug too..

cleaning a wool rug at home

Wool rugs are flame resistant and will not burn, but they will char. 

Avoid open flames to avoid any damages to your piece. 

3. Do NOT Try to Bypass Professional Cleaning

No matter how many Youtube videos you watch, you will never be able to clean a wool rug like a professional.

They how advanced equipment that seems easy to replicate,  but it's not.

[VIDEO] Here is How You Should NOT Clean You Wool Rug

Vacuuming and spot cleaning are one thing but trying to deep clean on your own is a huge mistake.

Why?

1. NEVER get your wool rug soaking wet

Once wool is wet it is very hard to dry on your own. The top layer of each individual wool fiber is hydrophobic meaning it repels water. But the bottom layer is hydrophillic meaning it attracts and retains water. 

If the rug does not become bone dry fast, your rug may produce mold and mildew which is irreversible.

Just don't do it.

how to clean a shaggy wool rug

Learn more a bout mold from Rug Chick!

2.Do Not Use Colored Soap

For the cleaning described above, you'll want to use a clear soap. The dye in the soap could stain light patterns on a rug.

2. Professional Cleaning

I know...But you have to do it.

By following the steps above, you will be able to stretch out the time in between professional cleans. 

You should have your wool rug cleaned every 1-2 years depending on how hard you are on your rug.

But if you have a deep set it stain, you absolutely need to head to a professional cleaner. 

[VIDEO] Professional Cleaning Process

Like I said earlier, don't try to by pass professional cleaning.  It may be expensive but if you try to do it at home. You may end up ruining your heirloom wool rug. 

 

1.Be Kind To Your One of A Kind Piece

Simply be kind!

There are many different styles and colors out there but one thing remain the same...

Wool rugs and true pieces of art and the deserve to be taken care of.

What is so wonderful about wool rugs is that they are functional pieces of art that if taken care of properly will be an heirloom piece you can pass down to you great grand children.

So there you have it!

Our Ultimate Guide for Cleaning You Wool Rugs

What did you think?

Did we miss anything?

Let us know in the comments below!

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5 comments


  • This post is super helpful, I’m glad I found it! I do have one suggestion – in the section on pet messes, it should be noted that ammonia should not be used in a house with cats. Cats react to the ammonia and more often than not they’ll try to cover the scent with their own.

    Melissa H. on

  • Omg I am so glad I read this and you’re right so lucky I found it. I was just about to hang my thick wool rug outside and hose it down until it was drenched and wash it like that! I knew it would take a while to dry but now I see it may never have dried being wet like that. My goodness what was I thinking! I love my rug so much and paid $390 for it. It’s striped dark blue, grey, white, all the way along and each stripe is about 10cm wide but the white ones have turned a grey looking colour from traffic walked over it, and I really want to get the white back to white. I’ve tried spot removal but the whole of the stripe is dirty. Please tell me how to get the white back to white again? Thank you

    Lisa on

  • Thank you for the wisdom on wool rug care. I have two large Persian rugs that have held up well for twenty years. I used a product call Resolve on the high traffic areas with some good success. However, they both need a good professional cleaning. Trouble is, I don’t know who to trust with my precious carpets. What am I looking for in a professional cleaning approach? I see you’ve strongly suggested against steam cleaning. Besides dry chemicals, what are the alternatives? How do I know whether a professional cleaner knows what s/he’s doing? Will a cleaner pick it up and return it after cleaning? Your suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Susan on

  • I know it may sound crazy, but 409 has been my go-to stain remover for decades (I know, I’m dating myself). I have used 409 on virtually every conceivable type of fabric, including some dry-clean only silk. It has never damaged a fabric or impacted the color. The most striking example of its effectiveness involved a red wine stain in a cream carpet. The stain was at least 9 months old. I sprayed the 409 on the stain, getting it fairly saturated. Almost immediately, the stain began to change from the burgundy color to a bluish hue. I blotted the 409 with a paper towel until the stain was completely gone – less than 5 minutes.

    The only time I have not been successful with 409 was when I tried to remove dark purple candle wax from a light carpet. I was able to remove the wax by ironing over a few pages of newspaper on top of the stain. But nothing took out the purple color.

    One other suggestion that I’ve discovered recently is the value of talcum powder. This is a gentle, yet quite logical solution to oil stains. Simply sprinkle the talc liberally on the grease. Then rub it in thoroughly with your fingers. Let it stay for a few minutes, then vacuum it up. I first used this on the movie popcorn grease stains on my husband’s shirts. It removed grease spots that had been repeatedly washed AND dried. Most recently I used it on the oil marks in the garage. After soaking up the oil with the talc, I washed the concrete with dishwashing soap. All traces of the stain were gone.

    Shannon Thompson on

  • I had a wool area rug under my dining room table. My cats overturned a vase of flowers and water on the table which soaked the rug and pad. Problem: the rug is on a laminate wood floor which will lift if not dried immediately. I was finally able to move the very heavy table to pull up the rug and pad. Now what to do about the white wet wool rug now in my garage. My entire home has the laminate flooring so there is no place to dry it out. This is not an expensive oriental carpet but it did cost $600. Is there someone who will pick it up and return it bone dry for a couple hundred dollars?
    Thank you for any helpful advice you are able to provide.

    Shaun Murray on

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