Buying a wool-silk rug is a lucrative investment and surely one to be proud of. While it may be a touch on the costlier side, that’s just about it. Woolen rugs tend to be aesthetically pleasing, durable, comforting, easy maintenance, and slide in well with your house’s design. Don’t let ‘easy maintenance’ fool you, though, cleaning your rug can be a daunting task, in case you don’t know how to clean a wool rug! Buying a wool rug is one part of the journey, maintaining it in pristine condition is another. Professional cleaners come in handy; restoring the rug to its optimum condition thanks to their years of experience. The video below explains a process professional cleaners use on old 100% wool rugs. Remember, the professionals charge money, but they clean your valuable and genuine Wool Rugs better than anyone. We have a well-researched post on professional rug cleaning!
In case you are looking to take the wool rug cleaning task upon yourself, you need to be careful. Hundreds of people ruin their valuable wool rugs by running standard household vacuums over them or use wrong information from other blogs from places that don't specialize in Persian rugs/oriental rugs.
How Often to Clean a Wool Rug
Owing to the thickness of the wool, there is a natural tendency of more dust and grime collecting into its fibers. Regular maintenance cannot only help it keep its sharpness but also increase the rug’s lifespan. For optimal wool rug care, the frequency of cleaning is as important a matrix as any other. A general rule of thumb states that frequency better is high enough to prevent the dirt from accumulating into the fibers and yet low enough to prevent any damage to the rug. In general cases, it is favorable to vacuum the rug twice every month. That having been said, this duration varies on account of several factors.
- A number of footfalls: Understandably, the greater the foot traffic, the greater the accumulation of dirt.
- Location of the Area rug: This is related to the number of footfalls. Certain areas around a household receive higher traffic than others. These need more frequent cleaning.
- Pets or no pets: According to IICRC, a household with no pets needs 1-2 cleanings a month on average. With pets, this number rises to a staggering 4-7. Rugs or pets, who do you choose?
- How careful you are: People tend to downplay the importance of resource management. In case you are super cautious about potential damage to the rug, you may not even need to vacuum it once a month. On the contrary, walking on the rug with shoes on, regularly spilling on rugs can induce damaging results.
- Apart from regular vacuuming, IICRC also advises on getting professional help at least once every year. Having your wool rug cleaned by professionals is undoubtedly the best way to clean wool area rugs.
How to Clean a Wool rug Yourself
All of this brings us to the conclusion that although professional wool rug cleaning is effective, it is costly and a high frequency of it does have a downside. On the other hand, cleaning carpets at home is relatively inexpensive and not too daunting a task! So, how can I clean my wool rug at home? To start with, cleaning/maintaining a woolen carpet in pristine condition consists of a plethora of dos and don’ts. Following is a complete guide on how to clean wool carpets at home in light of regular and irregular circumstances. Let’s start with the Dos!
Tip 1: Vacuum it!
One of the easiest ways to clean woolen carpets is to vacuum them in ‘” V” action thrice. How does this help? Well, this way the rug is thoroughly cleaned without inflicting any damage to the fibers thanks to the alternating vacuum direction. You, though, need to make sure that the vacuum has a high height, for otherwise the fibers would be agitated. This can lead to shrinkage and piling of the wool rug. You should be vacuuming your wool area rugs about twice a month. Yep, you heard us! Twice a month. Especially if you are having a wool shag rug, it needs extra effort. Wool rugs have tiny little air pockets where dirt hides. This means your wool rug will look clean for a lot longer than the cheap synthetic alternatives, but will eventually need to be vacuumed to clean out those air pockets. Synthetic (polypropylene, nylon, acrylic, etc.) rug 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. Vacuum both sides of the rug every so often to make sure you get all the dirt out.
We recommend vacuuming the underside of the rug every 2 months. Here is a video on how to vacuum a wool rug properly:
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 require slightly different height and suction settings. If you have multiple wool rugs like menu gravel rugs with different pile heights or you're looking to invest in more wool rugs over the years, here is what to look for:
- The vacuum suction is adjustable - This way you can adjust for pile height for each of your rugs
- The vacuum does not have a beater bar - Beater bars are a HUGE no! Beater bars agitate the dirt deep inside the rug's air pockets and will also pull out your wool fibers rapidly as the head spins, destroying your expensive rug.
- Turn the beater bar off - If the vacuum has a beater bar, make sure you can turn it off.
- It has a handled brush add-on - This way you don't vacuum a larger area than necessary when a spill occurs and you can safely vacuum the fringe.
Tip 2: Shake it Out
If the thought of vacuuming twice a month makes you cringe, shaking out the rug outside will help clean the rug without vacuuming. Just take your rug outside and shake! If your rug is larger, ask a friend to help you. Just shake it out for 30 seconds to a minute and all 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 Febreze before leaving it outside. Your rug will smell like it's fresh off the laundry line!
Tip 3: Give it an Old Fashioned Beating
For those who want to go the extra extra mile...you can beat your wool rugs. Yes, we are serious! There was a reason they used to beat there in the old days for wool rugs cleaning. This method loosens the dirt without pulling out the fibers. Although this is the method used before vacuum cleaners were invented, the method survived as homemakers quickly realized there was less and less wool on their rugs every day after 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. You could also use a wooden spoon. This method is somewhat tedious, but if you're looking for a good workout and a deep clean without a professional cleaner, knock yourself out!
Tip 4: Dry Powder
This is a popular trick... but not a good one. Dry powders will seep into the little air pockets and just create more of a mess plus 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.
Tip 5: 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 dirt particles freeze, they can simply be shaken off, which is much easier than beating the rug! How do I do it? Make sure the snow is DRY, powdery and there are at least 3-5 inches on the ground. Make sure 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 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!
1. Place the rug outside in freezing temperatures to let it acclimate to the temperature change from indoors to outdoors. Hanging the rug over a banister or clothesline wo2. Lay the rug in 3"-5" of snow.
2. With the broom, flip a liberal amount of snow across the entire rug.
3. 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.
4. Let the snow sit on the rug for 15-20 minutes before flipping it over and repeating steps 1-3 on the other side.
5. Shake as much excess snow off the rug as you can and hang the rug back over the banister or clothesline. Let it hang for 20-30 minutes to make sure the snow is sublimate. The snow will go from its solid phase to vapor without actually getting the rug wet!
6. Shake the rug a final time to release the frozen dirt and reveal a newly, naturally cleaned rug!
We do not necessarily recommend this method but it is one of the more unique ones out there! If you are going to try this method, be careful and do so at your own risk!
Tip 6: Steam Cleaning
Some bloggers are reporting that they steam clean their rugs... but 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, the steam is too hot for the wool. You know how blow-drying and straightening your hair can damage it? Same effect! Finally, if there is any dust or dirt inside the air pockets in your wool rug, the steam will create mud in your rug. Just imagine 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 - there is a reason professionals exist.
Tip 7: Rotate Your Rug
This simple step is SO important! Rotating your rug prevents discoloration, matting from frequent foot traffic, and excessive dirt in one spot. When a rug is partially covered by furniture like a couch, desk, or ottoman, the covered part will inevitably stay cleaner than the exposed portion of the rug. Simply rotate your rugs once every six months. Easy peasy!
Tip 8: Spot Clean
The biggest thing when it comes to spot cleaning is getting to the stain IMMEDIATELY. After just 15 minutes, the stain already begins to set, not leaving enough time to find this blog and pull up our instructions. The steps are categorized by the type of spill:
1. Food, Cosmetic Powders, Modelling Clay, Potting Soil, and Skin Ointments
Spot treat the affected area with:
- 8 parts water
- 1 part white vinegar
- And a small squirt of a mild dishwashing detergent
- Simply dab the solution on with white paper towels then with a clean, dry paper towel, dab, and rub 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. Once the salt has absorbed the stains, use a rounded spoon to lift off the residue, sprinkle on cold water with a spoon or syringe, and finally 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 or syringe, and finally blot dry.
4. Paint, Oil & Grease
Remove paint, oil, and grease with nail polish remover, or use a spot removal/dry cleaning solvent.
- 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 than 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.
Tip 9: Always Be Cautious
To avoid having to spot clean at all, always be cautious! Wool rugs can take a beating, but they 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, dust and 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!
3. Be Careful with Red Wine
You don't have to become a white wine drinker, but be careful!
4. Make Sure Kids Do Not Use Art Supplies On or Near the Rug. Hate to break it to you, but a crayon ground into the rug will need a professional clean.
5. Avoid Smoking Around the Rug. Smoke odors embed themselves in the rug and could cause discoloration of light-colored rugs. Just as smoking causes damage to the lungs, teeth, and ceilings, it will harm a wool rug too. Wool rugs are flame resistant and will not burn, but they will char. Avoid open flames to avoid any damages to your piece.
Tip 10: NOT Try to Bypass Professional Cleaning
No matter how many Youtube videos you watch, you will never be able to clean a braided wool rug like a professional. They have advanced equipment that seems easy to replicate, but it's not.
Here is How You Should NOT Clean Your Wool Rug:
Vacuuming and spot cleaning are one thing, but trying to deep clean with a carpet cleaner performed by a professional is just the right option.
Tip 11: NEVER get your wool rug soaking wet
Once the wool is wet it's 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 hydrophilic, 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.
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.
Tip 12: Professional Cleaning
Ugh, we 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, but you should have your wool rug cleaned every 1-2 years depending on how hard you are on your rug. However, if you have a deep stain, you absolutely need to head to a professional cleaner or a complete Guide on how to clean the wool rug at home.
As we mentioned earlier, don't try to bypass professional cleaning. It may be expensive but if you try to do it at home. You may end up ruining your heirloom wool rug.
Tip 13: Use baking soda with vinegar
Mix a cup of baking soda with two cups of vinegar and pour this solution onto your wool carpet. Allow the carpet to soak for about 30 minutes then use an old toothbrush to scrub your rug while it is still wet.
Tip 14: Use vinegar with water
Vinegar is an excellent natural liquid that can absorb the oil and dirt from your wool rug. Mix a cup of vinegar with two cups of water in a container then pour it onto the stains on your rug. Allow that to sit for about 30 minutes before using an old toothbrush or other scrubbing tools to clean off any dirty areas.
Tip 16: Use chamomile tea bags
Chamomile tea bags are an effective natural way to clean a wool rug. Simply brew the tea in a large container then pour it on your carpet and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes before scrubbing with an old toothbrush or other scrubbing tools.
Tip 17: Use oatmeal
Oatmeal is one of the best ingredients you can use when cleaning your wool rug. Simply fill a large pot with water and oats then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, allow it to cool down before pouring it onto your carpet or rug and using an old toothbrush or other scrubbing tools to clean your carpet. Dust off any dirty areas on your flooring.
Tip 18: Use shampoo for your rug
If you are experiencing any stains on your wool rug, then use shampoo to clean it off. Simply massage the stain with a little bit of shampoo and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing the area using an old toothbrush or other cleaning tools.
Tip 19: Make your own cleaning shampoo
You can also make your own cleaning shampoo for wool rugs. Simply fill a large pot with hot water and use it to dissolve one cup of white vinegar into the mixture before adding in about three tablespoons of liquid soap (or dishwashing detergent) and two cups of baking soda. Allow this solution to cool down before pouring it onto your carpet. This cleaning solution is a perfect stain remover.
Tip 20: Protect your rug with a mat or runner
A final tip to consider is that you should protect your wool rug by placing it on top of an area rug, floor mat, or runner. This will help keep the carpet clean as well as prolonging its lifespan. You can also use a rug pad to protect your rug from high wear and tear.
Be Kind To Your One-of-A-Kind Piece: Simply be kind! There are many different styles and colors out there but one thing remains the same... Wool rugs are truly pieces of art and deserve to be taken care of. The most wonderful thing about wool rugs is that they are functional pieces of art that, when taken care of properly, will be an heirloom you can pass down to your children and they will pass it down to their children and so on! For further information, you can contact us anytime at Rugknots. You can avail free shipping on the purchase of products from our website. So, go ahead and start shopping!