Home tips: How to maintain rugs of different materials

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Check the label to determine if it is washable. If it is, a small rug can be placed in a zippered pillowcase or mesh laundry bag, and machine washed in cool water on a gentle cycle. For a large rug, place it on a vinyl or concrete floor, or put an old blanket beneath it. Sponge a recommended cleaning solution over the surface and rub it in according to label instructions. Finish by rinsing or vacuuming. Dry thoroughly before putting back in place. Also, check the stitching before and after you clean the rug to see if there are any breaks. If you notice breaks, it’s best to have it professionally repaired before cleaning the rug, to avoid further damage.


Whether new or antique, these rugs require special care because of their delicate fibres. When vacuuming, place a nylon screen over the rug, and vacuum over the screen. This will remove dirt without damaging the rug. Alternatively, you can tie a piece of nylon mesh over the vacuum attachment and change the mesh frequently as dirt accumulates. Immediately treat spills by using baking soda to soak up the liquids. It is also important to have an oriental rug professionally cleaned at least once a year, especially if the rug is placed in an area with heavy foot traffic.


Rugs made from natural fibres, such as sisal, jute and seagrass, feature an open weave that allows dirt to sift through to the floor beneath. Vacuum frequently on both sides, as well as the floor underneath them. Many of these rugs are reversible, so flip them every time you vacuum for even wear. Blot spills immediately. To clean stains or discolourations, protect the floor underneath with a plastic drop cloth before scrubbing the rug with a soft brush dipped in soapy water. Rinse with clear water, and place a towel over the wet area. Make sure to blot the cleaned area as dry as possible; use a fan or hair dryer (set on low heat) to speed up drying.


Talcum powder works miracles on these delicate rugs. First, sprinkle some unscented talcum powder on the rug and leave it for several hours (or overnight, for best results). After that, brush the talcum powder through the hair, then shake it out from the rug. This should be repeated several times, depending on the length of the fur. Remember to brush gently in order to prevent pulling on the hair and causing it to fall out. To clean the back of the rug, use a clean cotton cloth dipped in lukewarm soapy water. Wipe off any dirt or spills. Rinse with a cloth dipped in clean water and allow to dry completely.

Here's an additional tip: Never hang a wet rug over a single clothesline because it will distort the shape of the rug as it dries. Instead, lay it over a clothes rack, on the patio or balcony floor, or on a table or counter that is protected by old towels or sheets.


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