How To Clean Area Rugs Yourself

Learn how to properly clean area rugs yourself with this step-by-step guide.

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No need to hire a professional, you can clean your area rugs yourself! Follow these steps for clean, brightened and refreshed area rugs.

Eventually, the time comes when your area rug or removable carpet needs more than just another vacuuming. If stains are piling up or there are deep-rooted problems with dust (or worse, dust mites), it’s time for a full cleaning. Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a professional to fully clean your rug! You just need the right tools, cleaner and approach. Here’s how to clean area rugs from start to finish.

Note: A true area rug will be far too large for one person to successfully handle. Spare your muscles by getting a couple of other people to help you with this task. It will only take a couple of hours if everything is properly prepared!

Project step-by-step (7)

Step 1

Set Up an Outdoor Station

  • Pick a day when the forecast is clear and sunny (preferably for the next few days), and set up a station to clean your rugs.
    • Pro tip: Summer is an excellent time to clean your rug because you’ll need to do it outdoors. Try not to set up over the lawn, as you don’t want any cleaners soaking into the grass.
  • The support system you choose needs to be a lot stronger than a clothesline, as rugs are usually quite heavy.
  • If you have two trees, you can stretch bungee cords or thick rope between them.
  • Benches and any sort of sturdy wall can also work.
Step 2

Vacuum Thoroughly On Both Sides

  • Vacuum the fibers, then flip the rug over and vacuum the other side to remove any lingering dust.
  • When it’s clean, it’s time to roll it up carefully and take the rug outside to your cleaning station.
  • Prop it up at the station with the right side facing you.
  • If your rug is still dusty at this stage, you can beat it with a broom handle or similar tool to knock even more dust out.
    • Pro tip: Don’t whack too hard, but give the rug a few firm knocks to see if clouds of dust come out. If they do, keep whacking.

vacuuming area rugStanislauV/Shutterstock

Step 3

Test Out Carpet Shampoos

  • Always test out the carpet shampoo before you apply it to the whole rug.
  • Apply a little to a small corner or patch, mix in some water, and let it settle for a few hours.
  • Go back and rinse that spot off.
  • Check carefully to see if there is any color damage or fiber damage.

shampoo for area ruggrublee/Shutterstock

Step 4

Wash the Rug and Apply Shampoo

  • With a safe shampoo chosen, pull out the garden hose and give your rug a good rinse.
    • Pro tip: Don’t worry about getting it too wet, you need to prepare it well for the shampoo application.
  • Using a sturdy brush with a stout handle, work the shampoo deep into the carpet fiber.
    • Note: This step will require a lot of scrubbing and foam. Dress accordingly, get the rug really wet and focus on any stains. Next, check out how to clean a wool rug yourself.

scrubbing area rugalvintus/Shutterstock

Step 5

Rinse the Rug

  • Read the directions and leave the shampoo on your rug for as long as indicated.
  • When the time comes, hose down the rug again.
    • Note: It’s important to rinse all the shampoo out, so you aren’t left with any residue.

rinsing area rugalvintus/Shutterstock

Step 6

Help the Rug Dry

  • Try to wring the rug as much as possible to get rid of all the excess water.
    • Pro tip: A squeegee can help with this step.
  • After that, your rug will still be very wet and you’ll need to wait for it to dry completely before moving it back inside your house.
    • Note: Drying may take longer than a day—or even the weekend.
  • For more protected drying, consider moving the rug to the laundry room or garage.
  • When the rug is fully dry, you won’t be able to feel any water even when you squeeze hard, and it will probably be a bit stiff.

drying area rug out windowEleniMac/Shutterstock

Step 7

Vacuum One Last Time

  • Put the area rug back in its place, and then give it one last vacuuming.
    • Note: The carpet fibers will probably be flattened and odd-looking after a washing. A thorough vacuuming is like combing your rug to restore its proper appearance.

vacuuming white area rugAlfred Gruener/Shutterstock