Keep Your Wool Rug Clean and Cozy (2023)

One of the best investments you can make in home decor is a wool rug or carpet, and like other textiles, you can clean a wool rug at home to maintain its condition. Wool floor coverings are warm underfoot, durable, and work beautifully with any style of home design. As an organic, renewable fiber that deters bacterial growth, wool contains lanolin that naturally repels stains and dust mites. Whether you have a vintage hand-knotted Persian rug, a contemporary machine-woven wool rug, or wall-to-wall wool carpet, you can clean your wool rug with a few simple steps to protect your investment.


Along with using commercial wool wash detergents, it's also possible to clean a wool rug with baking soda or vinegar. Baking soda is safe for wool rugs and offers a moisture-free option for a quick refresh, while vinegar is best for removing odors like pet urine.

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How Often to Clean a Wool Rug

Regular vacuuming is the key to maintaining the beauty of the fibers. A new wool rug will shed fibers. Don't be alarmed: This is normal due to the nature of how wool fibers are woven, and your rug won't become bare. The majority of shedding will occur in the first few months. If you vacuum the rug at least twice weekly during this time, the shedding will quickly diminish.

Use a good vacuum with a beater bar to help lift embedded dust and dirt. If your rug is fringed, start vacuuming in the center of the rug and avoid the edges to prevent damage. Vacuums with beater bars can damage fringe, so use a hand-held vacuum or an upholstery attachment to clean the fringed edges.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Broom
  • 2 buckets
  • Sponge
  • Old towels


  • Cool water
  • 1 to 2tablespoons gentle wool wash detergent
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Keep Your Wool Rug Clean and Cozy (1)

  1. Shake out the Dirt

    Choose a sunny, moderate day to deep clean a smaller wool area rug. Take the rug outside and hang it over a sturdy clothesline, porch railing, or a couple of strong chairs. Use a broom, tennis racket, or rug beater to hit the rug all over and loosen deeply embedded dirt.

    This is also the time to remove the rug pad, give it a good shake outside, and clean the flooring under the rug.

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  2. Vacuum the Rug

    Spread the rug flat on your deck, patio, or a clean tarp with the wrong side up. Vacuum it well. Turn the rug over and vacuum the other side. If you don't have an outside spot, use your kitchen floor, garage, or any dry area.

    Keep Your Wool Rug Clean and Cozy (3)

  3. Mix a Gentle Detergent Solution

    Use a gentle detergent like Woolite to clean your wool rug safely. Fill a large bucket with cool water, then add one to two tablespoons of detergent (or your homemade wool wash) and mix well. Fill a second bucket with clean, cool water.

    Keep Your Wool Rug Clean and Cozy (4)

  4. Lightly Scrub

    Dip a sponge into the cleaning solution and begin sponging at one end of the rug. Work in a grid of about 3 feet by 3 feet and sponge on the cleaning solution using gentle pressure. Rinse out the sponge frequently as the soil is transferred from the rug. Do not over-wet the fibers. Wool is very absorbent and can take a long time to dry.

    Keep Your Wool Rug Clean and Cozy (5)

  5. Rinse Away Suds

    Dip a clean sponge in fresh water, then "rinse" the area you've cleaned by dabbing it in each section. Do not skip this step because any detergent left in the fibers will attract more soil.

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  6. Blot the Moisture

    Blot the cleaned area with old towels to absorb any excessive moisture. Move to a new section and repeat the steps until you've blotted the entire surface.

    Keep Your Wool Rug Clean and Cozy (7)

  7. Allow to Dry

    Allow the rug to dry completely before placing it back on the rug pad. To speed drying time, hang the rug or elevate it to improve air circulation. You can also use a carpet cleaner on wool carpets to remove moisture; simply use the machine on a vacuum-only setting without applying the cleaning solution, then hang the rug until it dries completely.

    Keep Your Wool Rug Clean and Cozy (8)

Can You Machine-Clean a Wool Rug?

It may seem easier to use a carpet cleaner on your wool rug or rent a carpet extractor from the home improvement store. While carpet extractors can be used to successfully deep-clean this material, it has to be done properly, or it can end in damage.

The key to properly cleaning a wool rug is to not flood it with too much water and to not let it stay wet too long, as wool naturally holds onto water and can cause mold growth readily if not dried properly. Wool is also easily damaged by hot water temperatures and bleach-based soaps offered with some extraction machines.

If you want to use an extraction machine to speed up cleaning your wool rug, you need to follow some key steps:

  1. First, use a carpet extractor with a true upholstery wand—not just a big carpeted floor attachment with scrubbing bristles, as that might be too intense for some rugs, and these units tend to dump more water.
  2. Use cool water and a wool-safe detergent like Woolite, just like with the manual method, as hot water and strong detergents with bleach will shrink and discolor the wool.
  3. Work quickly and evenly as you pull the extraction wand along the carpet so you don't flood any spots.
  4. If your machine allows you to use the suction of the upholstery attachment without spraying solution, run it "dry" over the carpet several times to suck up as much water as possible before allowing it to dry. If your machine won't dry extract, blot the carpet with towels like the manual method.
  5. Finally, dry the carpet with as much airflow as you can create, either by turning on fans, lifting the carpet off the ground, opening windows, or even better, doing all three.

How to Remove Stains From a Wool Rug

Spills and muddy footprints happen, but prompt treatment is the best thing you can do to protect your wool rug. To remove many other problems, follow theguidelines for specific stains. However, there are some tips you should use each time you clean a stain from a wool rug:

  • Don't rub: Never rub a fresh stain. Immediately, lift away any solids with a dull edge like a spoon or spatula and blot up liquids with plenty of paper towels. Rubbing only pushes the stain deeper into the fibers.
  • Let mud dry: When it comes to mud, wait until it dries on the rug before cleaning it up. Dry mud stains are easier to remove using a dull edge tool along with vacuuming up the crumbly bits.
  • Dab stain remover: Never pour any type of stain remover directly on wool rugs. Place a dab of the cleaner on a white cloth and test it to make sure that it does not cause the colors to bleed or disappear. This also helps avoid excess soapy residue left in the wool fibers.
  • Go gentle: Always use a stain remover recommended for wool rugslike 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. These chemicals can damage the wool and cause colors to bleed or disappear.
  • Try baking soda: Clean a wool rug with baking soda by lightly sprinkling it over the affected area. Let it rest for up to an hour, then vacuum. Repeat as needed until the stain is lifted.

Tips to Keep Your Wool Rug Clean Longer

  • Institute a "no shoes indoors" policy that can help stretch the time between necessary cleanings.
  • Hiring a professional carpet cleaner is the best choice to clean wall-to-wall wool carpeting.
  • When dealing with cat or dog urine, clean a wool rug by neutralizing the odor with vinegar. Mix a few tablespoons of distilled white vinegar into a cup of water, then use it to dampen the affected area. Gently blot it dry with a towel, then repeat as necessary until the odor is removed.
  • To freshen your wool carpet between cleanings, opt for a "dry bath" of dry carpet shampoo formulated for wool rugs.
  • Seasonally, rotate the rug to prevent excessive wear patterns and uneven fading from sunlight. This will help the rug last longer and develop an even patina overall.
  • Steam clean your wool rug annually to remove dirt and debris from deep within the carpet. Avoid steaming on a regular basis, as heat can damage wool fibers.

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How do you clean and maintain a wool rug? ›

Wool is absorbent, so it's crucial not to overwet it. Use a damp microfiber cloth and dab gently using a manufacturer-recommended cleaner or one that's suitable for a wool rug to avoid this. Once rinsed, blot dry the rug with dry microfiber cloth, and don't walk on the rug before it's completely dry.

What is the best wool rug cleaning solution? ›

All you'll need is soap, water, and vinegar, though not just any soap. "Our favorite thing is Orvus Paste Shampoo," Mead explains. "That is mainly because it is fairly organic and is designed for animal hair, which of course is what wool is."

How often do you vacuum a wool rug? ›

Wool area rugs should be vacuumed at least twice a month, even more often if it is located in a busy spot in your home or if you have pets. Even if your pets don't have accidents very often, their hair and dander can get ground into your rug, just like dirt and other debris.

Are wool rugs easy to keep clean? ›

Wool is a very durable material for rugs. Since the fibers are coil-shaped, wool rugs tend to keep their shape even if they are exposed to heavy foot traffic. Wool naturally repels stains, so it's the type of rug easier to keep clean than many other rug materials.

Should wool rugs be steam cleaned? ›

You need to steam clean your wool carpet at least once a year. At a glance, your carpet may appear clean, but there is a chance of a lot of hidden dirt. Dried mud, dust or trapped sand can wear the fibres of your carpet as you move around day today. Steam cleaning once a year can remove this hidden build-up of dirt.

Can I steam clean a wool area rug? ›

Wool carpets respond well to steam-cleaning because the moisture from the steam makes the fibers swell, releasing dirt. Wool is highly-absorbent and reacts well to most dyes, which means wool carpets can be dyed in vivid colors that will last the lifetime of the carpet.

Can you use Dawn soap on wool rug? ›

Mild dish soap, diluted with water: Dish soap (ideally dye-free) will gently remove stains without damaging rug fibers. Avoid using too much soap, especially on wool.

What is a natural cleaner for wool rugs? ›

A mix of white vinegar and baking soda makes a classic cleaning combination that is both safe and effective on most surfaces. Use the mix to spot clean your wool rugs, or as a stain remover to get rid of deep seated stains. Mix the baking soda and white vinegar well to make a paste.

Can 100% wool carpets be cleaned? ›

Wool carpet is very easy to clean and care for – after all, wool is naturally designed to protect sheep from all weathers, in all conditions. Wool carpets are naturally stain resistant, which means that most stains can be easily removed using water and an approved spot cleaning spray.

Can you vacuum wool rugs? ›

Wool area rugs are best when vacuumed using suction only. It is best to avoid the harsh or heavy duty bristles of a rotating brush and/or beater bars, as they can suck up the rug's finer fibres, while causing early and unnecessary wear and tear to the rug.

Can wool rugs be carpet cleaned? ›

You have a dirty carpet or rug = use a carpet cleaning machine! Unfortunately, this solution is not woolsafe. Wool rugs are like your silky delicates you have to hand-wash without detergent and lay flat to dry in the shade.

How many years does a wool rug last? ›

Due to their reliability and aesthetics, wool rugs are costly compared to nylon and other synthetic rugs. How long do wool rugs last? With proper care & maintenance, a wool rug can last anywhere from 30 to 50 years. On the other hand, synthetic rugs will only last 3 to 5 years.

How long does it take a wool rug to dry after cleaning? ›

It usually takes 10-12 hours for wool carpets to dry after cleaning. * Olefin (Polypropylene) – This material is known for being very affordable but also less durable than other types of fibers. It generally takes 4-5 hours for olefin carpets to completely dry after cleaning.


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