How to clean a rug – give cotton, wool, jute and shag pile rugs some TLC at home (2024)

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Area rugs pick up a huge amount of dirt, daily. And knowing how to clean your stylish rug properly, whether it's in your lounge or another part of your home is crucial to keeping yours looking fine and in great condition too. Whether you have a cotton, wool, jute or shag pile rug adorning your floors we have an easy method to bring them up perfectly by hand, at home. All it takes is a couple of household products – or natural baking soda if you wish – plus some elbow grease (of course) and a little care for great results.

  • Find out more on how to clean a carpet – with or without cleaning products

The foot traffic of daily life, and maybe the fact that your pet loves to hang out on it can make your rug look far from its best, and even leave it a bit smelly. We spoke with Daniel Prendergast from The Rug Seller about the best ways to give your rugs – from shaggy and sheepskin to wool and walked on – a good clean.

How often should you clean a rug?

There is no completely fixed schedule as to when you should clean a rug properly. Instead, you should give them a more thorough clean when it is visibly dirty and/or has a funky smell. If you have pets, kids or both, you'll find you'll need to deep clean yours more frequently to keep up with your household. Prendergast says 'They may be stylish and cosy and have the ability to hide a multitude of sins, but did you know your rug could in fact be harbouring millions of microorganisms – including dust mites, pollen spores, dirt and dust - meaning that when it comes to your rug, a once a year clean probably isn’t quite enough to keep your home healthy...'

In terms of maintenance, vacuuming your rugs every couple of weeks will prevent a buildup of dirt which can lead to tricky stains. And you should treat any spills that happen in your presence as soon as possible to stop them from setting.

When it comes to wool rugs however, you only need to vacuum yours once a month or so to avoid disrupting the fibres.

How to clean a rug – give cotton, wool, jute and shag pile rugs some TLC at home (1)

(Image credit: Getty)

How to deep clean a rug

When it comes to deep cleaning your rugs, it depends on what kind of rug you have – wool, cotton, Persian, jute and so on – as they all pick up dirt differently and some fibres and designs are more robust than others.

1. Shake it out

Whether you have a wool, cotton, jute or shag pile rug, start by shaking it out outside (pick a sunny day!) then vacuum thoroughly on both sides using the attachments to pick up pet fluff and the likes.

Prendergast says for shag pile rugs, 'Shaggy rugs look and feel great but the long pile can harbour dirt and dust making it hard to clean. The first thing to do is to take your shaggy rug outside and shake off any loose dirt and dust. This is important as it is an easy first step into removing some unwanted treasures instantly.'

'Next vacuum your rug carefully and use an upholstery attachment to gently hoover between the rows of thread on your rug.'

For jute rugs, 'Vacuum the rug carefully using an attachment or on a suction setting to avoid rotary brushes damaging the rug fibres.'

For wool, 'Wool rugs can easily trap dirt so they should be cleaned regularly. Start by removing trapped dirt by shaking the rug outside or hanging it over a washing line and give it a gentle beating. Vacuum the rug on both sides thoroughly using a handheld tool or suction only setting to avoid damaging the fibres.'

  • Find the best vacuum cleaner for the job.

2. Mix up your rug cleaner

For cotton rugs: Get yourself a rug shampoo or mild and clear dish gel. Then, you'll need warm water – be sure to not use hot water as this can damage the rug's fibres.

For wool rugs: Use cold water and a non-bio laundry detergent.

For jute and shag pile rugs: You'll to use a dry rug shampoo instead – see the next step.

  • Learn how to clean a sheepskin rug properly.

3. Clean your rug

Depending on the weather and the size of your rug, either you'll want to clean it outside or you could clean it in the bathtub if it's small enough. Most importantly, make sure you spot test your cleaner on a small area of your rug before covering the whole thing. This will quickly highlight if there are any issues like discoloration etc.

For cotton: Work the mixed solution into the rug using a sponge. Bring this up to a lather and let it sit over the entire rug for a good five minutes.

For wool rugs: Use just a capful of the detergent with your cold water and dab the solution on to the rug gently, working in the direction of the pile using a white microfibre cloth.Prendergast advises that 'You can also damp clean your rug using water with gentle cleaning solution. Use a sponge and clean the rug with the cleaning solution so that it is damp but not over wet.'

For jute and shag pile rugs: Sprinkle a generous amount of the cleaner onto the rug and work it in gently with a clean cloth. Prendergast says if your rug is shaggy 'For a deeper clean use a dry rug/carpet shampoo, which generally comes in powder form. Sprinkle it on, work the shampoo into the rug, wait an hour or so, and gently vacuum up the granules. Yep it’s that easy!' And if your rug is jute 'If your rug has become stained or dirt and marks still remain after vacuuming then try a gentle cleaning solution and a bit of patience. To make a home made cleaning solution, combine one teaspoon of detergent with one teaspoon of white vinegar. Then add 2 quarts of lukewarm water. To clean the area, simply blot the stain with a rag that has been dampened with the cleaning solution. You may have to repeat this step until the stain is completely lifted. After that, roll the rug up in a dry towel. This will absorb much of the excess moisture from the rug and prevent future damage. You may have to repeat this step until it is completely dry.'

4. Rinse and ring out the rug

For cotton: Next you'll need to refill your bucket with clean fresh water, or grab a garden hose to rinse the cleaning solution from the rug. Ensure you remove as much surface water as possible.

For wool rugs: Again, grab fresh water and a clean cloth but do this by hand in the direction of the pile trying not to oversaturate the rug. 'Once you have cleaned it, sponge it again using just water to remove all of the soap. Remove excess water using a towel and then leave the rug to dry. If the weather is nice them hang it outside.'

For jute and shag pile rugs: Simply vacuum any remnants of the dry shampoo.

5. Remove any stains

To tackle any stains, you can mix one part white vinegar with three parts water and use a sponge to clean the stains from your rug.

Prendergast said 'If a spillage has led to a stain then there are steps you can take to remove it (but always try and remove a stain as soon as it has happened, rather than leaving it to dry into the fabric.)'

As mentioned, when it comes to stain removal, you need to know what you're working with, 'It’s important to take into account the material your rug is made from and the depth of the pile.Certain types of rugs will stand up to stains better than others. Manmade fibres are more repellent to stains.  Nylon rugs can be steam cleaned.  There are also water resistant and wipe clean rugs.'

A stronger stain solution from Prendergast is 'A mixture of equal parts white wine vinegar and washing up liquid and warm water should remove stains like coffee, red wine and mud.  Mud should be left to dry and vacuumed first.Stubborn stains should be removed by specialist cleaning companies who will have the experience and knowledge of how to deal with the problem.'

  • How to get red wine out of carpet... Because spills happen.

6. Dry the rug completely

Next, let your rug air dry thoroughly out of direct sunlight. Somewhere outside is the best way to sanitize it but indoors is fine also, just keep the room well ventilated to help speed up the process.

7. Vacuum

Only once completely dry, should you then vacuum your area rug one final time using the guidelines above. If you're cleaning a jute, wool or shag pile rug then you can brush it out too.

How to clean a rug – give cotton, wool, jute and shag pile rugs some TLC at home (2)

(Image credit: Made)

How to clean a rug with baking soda

You can clean an area rug at home and by hand naturally with baking soda which is a great stain and odour remover also, especially if used in tandem with white vinegar. For a general clean, shake your rug out if possible, then vacuum the top and underside of your area rug on a low airflow setting. Next, sprinkle baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda if it's all you have) on the rug and leave for a little while before vacuuming again to help neutralise any odours.

  • Find more baking soda cleaning tips in our advice piece.

How to protect your area rugs

  • Catch spills: 'Like with all fabrics, it is important to soak up liquids quickly to ensure they don’t penetrate the yarns of a rug and cause a long lasting stain. Dampen a white, cotton cloth and blot the area. Repeat the process until all the liquid has been absorbed. Be careful not to rub as this will damage the surface of the rug.  Alternatively, a cloth can be placed on top of the area and left to absorb the spillage.'
  • Dry thoroughly: 'Always make sure the rug is completely dried (this takes about three to four hours) before placing back on your floor.'
  • Pick the right rug for your lifestyle: 'Especially if you have children and pets!' says Prendergast. '... A low maintenance option – especially in a household with lots of children and/or pets, is a washable rug.'
  • Placement: 'It is also important to consider where you are placing your rug and how much wear and tear it will get on a daily basis. Rugs in high traffic areas will pick up more dirt and stains so opt for easy to care for rugs which are hardwearing – save the shaggy deep piles for your bedroom or lounge.'
  • Pet protection: 'Animal hair, chewing, scratching and other little ‘accidents’ from our furry friends can ruin a rug, so choose a rug that’s suitable for animal owners.  Dogs love to dig in a high pile rug so short pile rugs are preferable (and easier to clean). Dark colours will hide stains and scratches.'
  • Shoes off rule: Avoid mud and grub in the first place and leave outdoor shoes at the door!
  • Find the best vacuums for pet hair in our guide.

How to clean a ruglike Mrs Hinch

Cleanfluencer Mrs Hinch loves a rug – her home is full of them – and she knows how to bring them up really well! Her method should work on different types of rug, including wool rugs – but always do the patch test!

Simply get yourself some fabric conditioner, washing gel (we recommend clear), a clean, lint-free light-colored cloth (to avoid color transfer), and a bucket. You'll need a capful of the fabric conditioner, then add the washing gel, mix, and add warm water. That’s your rug-cleaning solution. Then all you need to do is put your cloth into the mixture, wring it out so it’s not going to make the rug over-wet, then wipe on to the rug.Make sure you tackle just a small area at a time, and dip the cloth back into the mixture and wring again before working on the next section.Leave to dry fully before you let feet, the kids and your pets near your fresh, clean rug. Your rug has been hinched!

  • Puppy had an accident? This is how to clean urine from upholstery and more.

Hello and Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend so far! It still feels so strange for me to say my dining room 🤣 because I’ve never had one before! But as you can see this room was once my lounge and I love the fact that it still feels cosy which is exactly what I wanted! I also wanted to take this chance to say thank you for tagging and sharing your Activity Journals with me! It’s been so amazingly overwhelming guys and I can’t believe this is my second book to reach #1 and it’s all because of you ❤️ Ive loved seeing your hinchlists and I’ve ticked quite a few things off my list today and I’ll be adding some more ready for the week ahead ✅ But for the rest of today me Jamie Henry Ronnie and Abi are going to go for a quick walk to the park 🍁 and then I’m going to attempt to make some sort of sausage casserole/ hot pot thing for us 🙈😂 so wish me luck because I can’t cook 🤣 but I’m just excited for us all to sit up at this table and eat it! (If it’s edible) I hope you all have the best cosy evening indoors , candles on, TV, sofa and blankets! Because that’s exactly what we’ll be doing! Lots of love and thank you for everything ❤️ #mrshinch #mrshinchtheactivityjournal #imahincher #diningroom #iloveoctober Mirror: @furniturevillage Curtains: @veryuk Table: @barkerandstonehouse * Carver chairs: @charlestedinteriors * Table accessories: @dunelmuk Rug: @therugseller * Vase: EBay • {*gifted items} #gifted Sophie Hinchliffe

A photo posted by @mrshinchhome on Oct 20, 2019 at 7:01am PDT

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How to clean a rug – give cotton, wool, jute and shag pile rugs some TLC at home (3)

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Shoes off please!

How to clean a rug – give cotton, wool, jute and shag pile rugs some TLC at home (2024)


How to clean a rug – give cotton, wool, jute and shag pile rugs some TLC at home? ›

Use a mild detergent made for cleaning natural fibers or use a 50/50 white vinegar and water mixture. Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the detergent and gently scrub the stained area. Do not rub vigorously—that will just push the stain further into the rug fibers. Dry the area with a hair dryer to prevent staining.

How do you clean a jute and cotton rug? ›

Use a mild detergent made for cleaning natural fibers or use a 50/50 white vinegar and water mixture. Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the detergent and gently scrub the stained area. Do not rub vigorously—that will just push the stain further into the rug fibers. Dry the area with a hair dryer to prevent staining.

Can I wash a cotton and wool rug? ›

Typically, natural fiber rugs are not machine washable, or even washable at all. This includes any type of wool rug, silk rug, or jute rug. The carpet fiber of these rugs will absorb and hold water, making the drying process quite difficult.

How do you deep clean a low pile rug? ›

Use a carpet cleaning solution or dry shampoo that you can sprinkle on top of your rug. Work it into the rug with a broom or a vacuum brush head that isn't turned on. Let the solution sit for 30 minutes or the time that's listed on your product. Then vacuum your rug.

Can I use carpet cleaner on jute rug? ›

Cleaning a jute rug by shampooing or using a steam carpet cleaner is not recommended because it can cause discoloration and weakening of the jute from too much moisture.

Can you wash a cotton and jute rug? ›

Because water can stain jute, they should not be put in the washing machine to clean. In fact, if your jute rug is washable, then there's a strong chance it's not an authentic jute rug made of dried plant fibers.

How do you clean a wool and jute rug? ›

Gently clean with water and a Soft Brush.

As intriguing as it might be to deal with stains the traditional way with water, know that too much moisture can instantly damage a jute rug. It's okay to do a little amount of water as long as you mix it with white vinegar.

How do you clean a shag rug? ›

For lightly soiled shag rugs, use a dry carpet shampoo. Dry shampoos contain absorbent compounds designed to break up stains and refresh the fibers. Just sprinkle it directly on the rug. If the soil level is deeper, an all-over steam clean is needed.

How do you clean a wool cotton blend rug? ›

Go gentle: Always use a stain remover recommended for wool rugs like Emergency Stain Rescue, a gentle cleaner like Woolite, or simple dishwashing liquid and lukewarm water. Avoid bleach: Never apply chlorine bleach, ammonia, or oxygen bleach to a wool rug.

Can I use Dawn to clean a wool rug? ›


Blot - do not rub - any excess liquid spill before adding a cleaning solvent. Repeat: DO NOT RUB! Wool rugs should be cleaned with a neutral detergent and dried quickly. A good example of this is Dawn® dishwashing liquid mixed with water.

How do you clean a rug without rinsing it? ›

6. Baking Soda
  1. Get rid of all noticeable dirt particles.
  2. Vacuum the carpet.
  3. Sprinkle the baking soda on the carpet.
  4. Brush the carpet.
  5. Leave the soda to soak for one night.
  6. Remove the baking soda and the accumulated dirt with the vacuum cleaner.

How do you clean a fluffy rug at home? ›

Hang your fluffy rug over a washing line or railing to air dry. If it's a particularly stubborn stain, you can sprinkle it with a bit of baking soda to remove the smell and dampness. After around 30 minutes, vacuum up the remaining powder. Baking soda can be used on a variety of stains.

How do you deep clean a very dirty rug? ›

Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup borax, and 1/4 cup vinegar, then apply this paste to deep stains or heavily soiled sections of carpet. Allow the paste to sit on the carpet for several hours until it dries completely, then vacuum it away.

What happens if a jute rug gets wet? ›

Jute is super absorbent and will hold onto water and other liquids. If they're not allowed to dry completely, jute rugs will mold. That's why it's important to use as little water as possible when cleaning jute rugs. We don't recommend soaking jute rugs and powerwashing is a no-no.

Will water stain a jute rug? ›

Jute fibres are susceptible to mould and mildew which can cause the fibres to break down. Water, liquids and other types of moisture will release the natural oils within your jute rug, causing it to stain and turn a dark brown colour.

Why is my jute rug so dirty? ›

Jute rugs get dirty because they are made of natural fibers that are both prone to shedding and also holding tightly onto dust and dirt.

How do you clean an entire jute rug? ›

You should never steam clean, use wet shampoo, or wash your jute rug — and don't use any other method that involves water saturation on a natural fiber rug, either. We recommend that you use a dry cleaning process, like the Host Cleaning Kit mentioned above.

How do you get dog urine out of a jute rug? ›

Blot up as much of the spot as possible by pressing firmly with clean, white paper or cloth towels, working from the outside of the spot inward to avoid spreading. To neutralize odor, mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with ¼ cup of water. Alternately dab a towel dampened in the solution with a dry towel.

Are jute rugs hard to clean? ›

While jute rugs are easy to clean and don't tend to hold stains or need special care and equipment to maintain their condition over the years, improper care and stain removal can ruin even the most durable rug no matter its material!

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