Six Nifty Rug Care Ideas

So you’ve decided to add a rug to your décor, whether you’re in the camp of those who refer to a rug as something fluffy as opposed to not fluffy, or whether you’re one who thinks of a rug as something for decoration (whereas a mat is for a purpose, like yoga or wiping feet). Anyway, now that you’ve got your rug positioned perfectly, what do you need to do in order to keep that rug in good condition?

Sure, getting the rug professionally cleaned every once in a while (yearly is what the manufacturers recommend) but so you don’t have to call out your local carpet cleaning company every month, what can you do to ensure that your rug stays looking its best?

Taking care of rugs involves regular rug cleaning.
Photo by Catt Liu

To help you, we’ve put together a collection of some of the best ideas that can help you maintain your rug and ensure that it remains a lovely part of your home décor for many years to come.

Tip #1: Vacuum Regularly!

No matter what you’ve got on your floor – or even if you have nothing on your floor but prefer bare boards or tiles – the vacuum cleaner is your best friend. Honestly, I don’t like to think much about how grotty floors and especially carpets must have been in the past before vacuum cleaners were invented. Your rug, just like your carpet, needs to be vacuumed frequently. If you have placed a rug on top of the carpet, you need to vacuum the carpet under the rug as well as the rug itself – no excuses! After all, dirt works its way under that rug and fleas can hide under there as well.

However, one word of caution is needed. If your rug is one of the sort that has a fringe, especially a hand-knotted fringe, then you need to keep your vacuum cleaner well away from these. Otherwise, you will tangle the fringe horribly and there is probably no way to untangle them if this happens. However, the good news is that the fringes won’t collect much dirt of the sort that vacuum cleaners can remove – give the rug a good shake and all should be well.

In the case of a really fluffy rug (shag pile, for example), you may need to vacuum it more frequently than you vacuum your main carpet. This is because (a) the longer fibres will trap more dirt and (b) the cat, the dog and the children will all prefer to sit on that rug rather than anywhere else because it’s so soft and fluffy, which means more hairs and crumbs on the carpet.

Tip #2: Deal With Spills Immediately

Any spills should be dealt with immediately, no matter what sort of spill it is. This is true of carpets and it’s true of rugs as well – especially if the rug is of the sort that has been made from natural materials or something really absorbent or that isn’t colourfast. Scrape up any solids, blot up any liquids and add a spot of water to dilute the stain and make it easier to remove. We’ve covered stain treatment in other posts and rugs should be dealt with similar to carpets.

If the stain doesn’t want to come out with the simple things that you can do at home, then you had better shout for a professional rug cleaner who offers emergency stain removal. The last thing you want to happen is to have the stain set in your rug permanently (jute rugs, I’m looking at you!) so the sooner you can call someone in to tackle it, the better!

Tip #3: Avoid Direct Sunlight

In some old novels, you’ll hear mentions of people (usually housemaids) having to draw the curtains in the middle of the day to stop the sunshine streaming in and fading the upholstery. Sure, Victorians had a real thing about deep, intense colours and weren’t as passionate about sunlight in the home as we are, but they still have a point. Some colours will fade over time courtesy of ultraviolet light getting directly on them. Red seems to be the biggest culprit here, although it’s not the only colour that will fade with sunlight.

Cleaning and Maintaining Afghan Rugs
Photo by Son Tung Tran

I wouldn’t go to the Victorian extreme of blocking all the sunlight out of your living room but in order to keep your rug looking good for longer with the full intensity of colour, place it somewhere that the sunlight won’t fall directly onto it, or at least won’t fall out of it for most of the day.

On the other hand, if you love sunshine in the home and don’t mind a spot of gentle wear and shabby chic, then the fading from exposure to sunlight might add a bit of charm and character to the rug – and you may like it that way. Totally up to you!

Tip #4: Put The Right Rug In The Right Place

We may have dreams of a home filled with very fluffy perfectly white rugs, but if you have small children, pets or a job that involves the outdoors, this is not going to be a reality. It always pays to think about your needs and your lifestyle before picking the rug for your house to save yourself a lot of hassled and heartbreak. Sometimes, we have to step outside the photoshopped world of carpet and rug advertisements and get real:

  • Deep pile rugs and dining areas do not play nicely together, as food will inevitably fall down and get stuck on the carpet fibres and will be a right pain to remove.
  • Anything that singes easily should not be used as a hearthrug in front of a fire that actually gets lit. The whole point of a hearthrug is to act as a shield if sparks and embers fall out. Modern fires don’t spit sparks the way that old log fires did, but it still happens now and again. The best choice for a hearthrug is something made from wool or animal hides, rather than jute or cotton.
  • Large and very fluffy rugs on the floors of children’s play areas may end up limiting their play ability, as things with a deep pile are unsuitable for standing up plastic animals and moving toy cars – and they’re absolute Lego traps!

Tip #5: Rotate Rugs

You’ve probably already seen how regular foot traffic wears down carpets. The same will happen to your rug if it’s placed in a high-traffic area. The one thing that you can do with rugs that you can’t do with carpets is rotate the rugs and move them about. At the very least, you can turn a rug around through 180° – it actually does make a difference, unless the rug is smack in the middle of a corridor. Reposition or rotate the rug every six months or so in order to get them wearing out evenly (some wear is inevitable!) rather than developing tracks.

Rug Cleaning London

As an aside here, if your carpet is starting to show signs of wear and replacing the carpet isn’t an option for you (because you’re in a rental property, for example), then a rug can help you. It will do this by hiding the threadbare bit of carpet and by protecting the carpet beneath from further foot traffic. Although a rug that’s been laid for a purpose like this could probably be defined as a mat…

Tip #6: Shoes Off!

Dirty shoes that have been walking the streets or, even worse the garden, should stay off rugs. It’s best if outdoor shoes don’t go in the house at all. However, even if you don’t insist on taking shoes off at the door, then you should at least keep them off the rug. Beside, a nice fluffy rug feels great under bare feet.