Caring for Area Rugs

Manufactured area rugs — particularly those doubling as walk-off mats at entrances and other high traffic locations — may be vacuumed just like carpeting. The more traffic the rug gets, the more often it needs vacuuming. Dirt abrades the fibers as folks step on the rug and grind accumulated grit into its surface. This abrasion is why neglected rugs will wear out much more quickly than those that are vacuumed regularly. Use a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar, working in perpendicular directions and overlapping each stroke. Be sure to turn the rug over and vacuum the backing occasionally. Rugs too small for easy vacuuming may be hung outside and brushed clean.

True oriental rugs, on the other hand, can’t withstand cleaning procedures used on modern rugs and carpets. While they need regular vacuuming or cleaning just like any other floor surface, avoid using an upright vacuum with rotating brushes. Use a canister vacuum instead. If small enough, it’s better to hang the rug outdoors, removing dust and dirt with a soft brush.

Colorfast rugs may be spot-cleaned carefully by blotting the stain with paper towels or a clean, white cloth dipped in a highly diluted solution of water and hand dishwashing liquid. Rinse by blotting with clean water. First, test for colorfastness by dampening a clean, white cloth with water and rubbing it against different colors in the rug. It's not colorfast if any of the colors begin to rub off. Dry the treated area thoroughly by blotting with a clean, dry cloth. Avoid using laundry detergent, enzyme pre-treaters or the temptation to scrub the rug. Detergent will bleach the rug dyes; enzyme-based products may contain brightening agents that will cause the spot to stand out; and excess rubbing can damage the fibers. Solvent-based spot cleaners also shouldn’t be used.

Reference: Consumer Reports editors in How to Clean and Care for Practically Anything.

© 2006 HousekeepingChannel.com


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