floor rug

How to Clean a Rug – The Complete Guide

Designed to cushion hard floors, protect your carpets from dirt and add flair to living spaces, rugs are an essential part of any home.

However, they can also be a magnet for dirt, dust and spill, so it’s important that you know how to clean a rug properly.

But with so many different types of rugs available, it can be hard to figure out the best way to go about it.

With that in mind, we’ve created this handy guide to teach you the best ways to clean your rug and keep it looking its best, whatever the style or material. Let’s get started!


How to Clean a Large Synthetic Rug

synthetic rugs

While small polyester rugs can often be machine washed, this isn’t an option with larger rugs.

Luckily though, short pile synthetic rugs are some of the easiest to clean as they are more robust than natural fibre designs.

Here’s the best and easiest method for how to clean a rug:


vacuuming floor rug

  1. Start by shaking the rug off outside and then vacuuming both sides. This way, you won’t smear any excess dirt around when applying moisture. Just be careful to avoid any tassels that could get caught up in the brush.
  2. Next, fill a bucket with warm water and add a capful of laundry detergent and a scoop of Oxi Action Powder. This will help to remove ingrained stains and is colour safe, but you should still test the solution on a small patch before applying to the entire rug. Alternatively, you can use a specially designed formula like 1001 Carpet Shampoo.
    to remove oily marks, swap the detergent for biological washing powder instead.
  3. The next step is to lay your rug out prior to cleaning it. A large table covered with several old towels to soak up any excess moisture will work. Or you can lay it on your garage’s concrete floor – or even a clean, recently brushed patio if the weather’s nice.



cleaning rug

  1. To clean your rug, dip a clean sponge into the soapy solution and then dab it onto the surface. Apply just enough to form a lather, without saturating the material.
    Once you’ve covered a third of the rug, go back in with your sponge and work the dirt out in circular motions.
    If the rug is really dirty, use a soft bristle brush for extra scrubbing power and spot treat stains with vinegar. Then repeat for the remaining sections until complete.
  2. When you’ve finished cleaning, it’s time to rinse the dirty water and soap suds from the rug. The fastest and most effective way to do this is with a wet-dry vacuum cleaner. It will also reduce the drying time considerably, by sucking most of the moisture out.
  3. And if you have kids or pets, you can do a quick rinse by hand to remove any leftover residue. Refill your bucket with fresh water and add 10ml of white vinegar. Lightly blot the mixture onto the rug with a clean sponge, then run the wet-dry vacuum over it again.



drying rug with dehumidifier

  1. Finally, lay the rug flat over a clothes airer and leave to dry fully before replacing it.
    A fan or dehumidifier can help to speed up the process, but avoid direct heat.
    You can also lay it outside to dry in the sun, but don’t be tempted to hang it on your washing line as it may develop a crease. Plus, the weight of a large wet rug could damage the line!


If you don’t have a wet-dry vacuum cleaner

If you don’t own a wet-dry vacuum and you’re wondering how to clean a rug without one, we’ve got you covered. Follow steps 1-4 above, then rinse the soap and dirt out by hand. Here’s how:

  1. Begin by gently wiping away the visible soap suds with white kitchen paper – avoid colourful designs as these may transfer onto light coloured rugs.
  2. Next, roll up the rug to squeeze out as much excess moisture as you can. It’s a good idea to do this outside to minimise mess.
  3. Then, take a clean old towel (white or light coloured) and blot the water out of the fibres. Don’t be afraid to apply firm pressure as long as you’re patting the material rather than wiping it. You should be able to see the dirt coming up onto the towel as you cover each section – you may need several towels if the rug is very dirty.
  4. Finally, leave to dry flat as explained in point 7 above. Once completely dry, run your regular vacuum cleaner over the rug to lift any fibres you flattened during the cleaning process.


How to Clean a Wool Rug

special products to clean wool rug

While some people opt to get wool rugs professionally cleaned, you can definitely clean yours at home.

The key thing is to keep moisture to a minimum. To do this, dab the rug clean with cold water mixed with a small amount of gentle wool detergent using a microfibre cloth.

Wring out excess water before applying and this will help to prevent oversaturation that can cause warping.

As wool is more delicate, it’s also best to dry by hand rather than using a vacuum.


How to Clean a Shaggy Rug

clean shaggy rug with dry clean carpet powder

Similarly, if you’re cleaning a sheepskin or shaggy rug with a deep pile, you’ll need to take extra care.

Shake the rug out, vacuum the underside and then hoover up loose debris on the top side using a nozzle attachment. This way, you won’t accidentally suck up the fibres and rip them.

To clean a sheepskin rug, follow the same process you would for a wool rug. But first, brush the fibres up with a pet brush to release trapped dirt.

Again, you can use a wool cleaner or even baby shampoo applied to a damp microfibre cloth. Leave to dry fully then re-fluff with a brush.

To clean a shaggy rug, a specially formulated Dry Clean Carpet Cleaner is best. Simply sprinkle on then vacuum up to lift stains and reduce odours without the risk of mildew. The same goes for delicate Jute rugs that don’t fare well when exposed to moisture.

We hope this post proved helpful! Discover more rug and carpet cleaning hacks on our blog.