June 6, 2020

What Is the Best Area Rug Cleaning Method?

Before you decide on the right area rug cleaning method for your home’s beautiful carpets, it’s vital to note some important details about those rugs and the dirt needing cleaning! Area rug cleaning is often more complicated than cleaning wall-to-wall carpeting as area rugs are often manufactured with more delicate fabric or tightly-woven fibers, depending on the look and function of that rug.

Baking soda is often an effective area rug cleaning method, while lightweight steam cleaning might loosen dirt and layers of dried dust. The best way to clean area rugs effectively and safely, however, is to rely on a carpet cleaning company near you instead!

Before you get out the baking soda or rent a steamer and try to tackle your home’s area rugs, you might note some vital information about why this work is best left to the pros. You might then also consider some tips on keeping your home’s carpets and flooring in tiptop shape and for preventing stains and damage. 

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Be sure to discuss your questions and concerns with a carpet cleaning contractor near you and invest in their services as needed. You’ll then enjoy clean, soft carpets and area rugs, beautiful and durable hardwoods, and sparkling tile floors throughout your home.

How Professionals Choose the Best Area Rug Cleaning Method

A professional carpet cleaning contractor typically offers a variety of cleaning methods for wall-to-wall carpets and area rugs. Not only are some methods more lightweight and, therefore, more affordable than others, but some carpet cleaning methods also are not recommended for all types of rugs! To ensure you choose the best area rug cleaning method or know more about the options offered by your contractor, note some important details to consider when it comes to carpet cleaning.

  • Area rugs are often manufactured with either more durable or more delicate fibers than standard wall-to-wall carpeting. Wool carpeting, a wool-cotton blend, nylon, and rayon all offer added durability and stain resistance for high-traffic areas such as hallways and entryways, while silk or silk-cotton blend rugs are often chosen for bedrooms or formal sitting rooms for added comfort underfoot.
  • Hallway and entryway rugs are also typically designed with shorter fibers or a lower nap than other carpets. Tall carpet fibers are very comfortable but also trap lots of dirt, dust, mud, and other debris and might show more footprints as well. Area rugs that see lots of foot traffic are typically designed with shorter, tightly-woven fibers, while rugs for living rooms and bedrooms are often thicker and plusher.
  • Different fiber materials and heights require various cleaning methods to ensure a thorough cleaning without damage. Area rugs with high fibers or a higher nap might require steam cleaning to “fluff up” those fibers and restore their height and crushed areas.
  • Brushes and other tools might pull on tightly-woven fibers, creating a threadbare look, but are sometimes needed for heavily trafficked area rugs to loosen thick, ground-in dirt and grime.
  • Shampoos and detergents are sometimes too harsh for delicate silk area rugs or those containing special dyes. Just like washing a delicate sweater in a machine with harsh laundry soap might fade or otherwise damage that sweater, some area rugs need lighter detergents and gentler cleaning methods.
  • In some cases, an area rug might not need deep shampooing but only a lightweight surface clean to remove dust and dirt. Bonnet cleaning uses a special towel or bonnet over a cleaning wand to apply a light layer of shampoo, while another bonnet is then used to remove that detergent and trapped dirt and dust.
  • Lightweight, gentle bonnet cleaning is also an excellent choice for rugs with tightly-woven fibers or specialty dyes.

Area Rug Cleaning Method Mistakes to Avoid

One reason it’s best to leave area rug cleaning to a carpet cleaning company near you is that homeowners often make some simple yet very costly mistakes when cleaning a home’s floors. For example, tough stains might require specialty detergents and pretreatment or soaking rather than harsh scrubbing! Using stiff brushes on a stain might only push it deeper into fibers or spread it over a rug’s surface, making it larger. 

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Homeowners also tend to neglect cleaning an area rug’s backing. Some stains might soak right through a rug and discolor or damage that backing if left untreated. Dampness along carpet backing also increases the risk of mold or mildew, which damages the rug and leaves behind a very unpleasant odor!

It’s also not unusual for a homeowner to clean just one section of an area rug, perhaps where it shows the most dirt and wear, and not think they need to clean a section that sits underneath furniture or that simply looks clean. The rug might then look uneven, brighter in the clean spots and very dull and drab along the neglected sections! A deep, thorough clean by a carpet cleaning company near you ensures the rug is in good condition and looks its best as well.

Carpet cleaning professionals also ensure area rugs are on safe surfaces before cleaning. Steam cleaning or shampooing an area rug while it’s still sitting on a hardwood floor or wall-to-wall carpeting often results in damage to the floor underneath that rug. Steam cleaning is especially harsh for wood floors and might result in wood slats cupping, bowing, softening, or chipping, which then leads to costly repair bills!

How Much Should Area Rug Cleaning Cost?

While prices vary, average area rug cleaning costs run between $2 and $7 per square foot. This price varies according to the area rug material, levels of dirt needing cleaning, if the rug needs spot or stain pretreatment, and the time it might take for the rug to dry after cleaning.

A carpet cleaning contractor near you might also charge for added services such as odor neutralizer and black mold removal. Commercial odor neutralizers don’t just mask odors with heavy perfumes but contain chemicals that trap and lock odors, removing them from rug fibers. This added charge is well worth the investment in a clean, dry rug in good condition and smelling its best!

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Your rug cleaning contractor might also offer a price break if you have other floor cleaning services performed along with area rug shampooing. For example, if your home’s wall-to-wall carpets need cleaning, a carpet cleaning company might offer a lower price for area rug cleaning at the same time. If they can clean a room’s area rugs and then the tile floor under it, this might also lower your floor cleaning costs.

Is Area Rug Cleaning Performed in the Home?

You might be surprised to hear a carpet cleaning contractor tell you that they will need to take your area rug to their shop for proper cleaning. This service might be needed if the rug is extremely dirty and needs deep cleaning and shampooing, or if the rug is over a wood or carpeted floor. In those cases, the carpet cleaning contractor wants to avoid getting the floor under the rug damp. He or she might also want to inspect the rug thoroughly, to ensure they know the material type, pile height, and the like.

It’s also often easier for a carpet cleaning company to perform a deep clean on an area rug in their shop. Their workspace might have stone or tile floors and built-in drains, to capture soapy water and clean rinse water. Working in such a space means being able to scrub your area rug as needed and rinse it thoroughly without worry about capturing that water.

Some carpet cleaning shops also have high-powered extractors and dryers that remove and dry dampness and rinse water quickly and thoroughly. You’ll have less worry about mold and mildew developing under an area rug when you use a cleaning contractor who ensures they’re as dry as possible before being returned to your home!

Related Questions

Can you take an area rug to the dry cleaners?

The chemicals and foam used during dry cleaning are not designed for area rug cleaning and might damage delicate fibers and threads. Dry cleaning methods also do little to remove tough stains and mildew from area rug backing. Even if your local dry cleaner advertises rug cleaning, it’s best to rely on a carpet cleaning professional instead.

Can you use a lightweight, store-bought rug shampooer on area rugs?

Homeowners today have many options for lightweight rug shampooers, often designed for cleaning spots, stains, and especially worn areas such as in front of entryway doors. While those lightweight shampooers are often safe for wall-to-wall carpeting, note that their brushes might damage delicate area rug threads or fade their specialty dyes.

Can you hose off an area rug?

Using a garden hose is not always an effective area rug cleaning method as plain water might do little to address spots and stains. Garden hoses also don’t kill mold or mildew, and insufficient drying time before putting those rugs back in the home might only encourage mold growth! If you're a DIY homeowner, check out this at-home carpet cleaning machine. 

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