DIY Deep Cleaning Wool Area Rugs
My spring cleaning list is only about a bazillion miles long, and it’s filled with time consuming and all-day chores. I’ve been trying to prioritize chores in order of importance, and as a first time wool rug owner, “deep clean the wool area rug” was one I thought I needed to NOT let get swept under the rug. (Haha, see what I did there?)
When we first moved into our house last year, I knew I wanted to slowly collect rugs for our all hardwood and tile floored home. After a lifetime of collecting junk furniture and fixtures that need to be replaced frequently, my husband and I have been in the process of only purchasing quality items that last. We’ve been persistently and patiently trolling Craigslist and online buy, sell and trade forums for bargains, and so far have had GREAT luck finding leather furniture, marble tables, wool rugs, etc… all at reasonable prices we can afford!
I was tickled pink when I found our 100% wool Karastan rug from a Craigslister who had nooooo idea what he had on his hands. (This particular model retails for $900 new, $500 used. I picked it up for $100. Can I get a woot woot?!)
Wool, being a natural fiber fabric, requires annual upkeep and care to stay beautiful and strong. If you own a wool rug, it SHOULD be on your yearly spring cleaning list. While sending it out for a professional cleaning is an option, I figured I’d save the money since:
1) Professionals generally clean via synthetic chemical cleaners and steam cleaning, which is a controversial and risky treatment for wool, causing long term harm to the wool fibers in the form of shrinkage; and
2) It’s kind of stinkin’ easy to clean a wool rug all by your onesie with natural ingredients!
To Clean Your Wool Area Rug…
Pick a spot outside where you can wash your rug without it getting dirty or too much sun. Sweep up the area, and then lug your rug outside and spread it out on the ground.
Ewwwww, look how gross my rug looks! Keep in mind, as a stay at home housewife with severe allergies, I vacuum my rug AT LEAST three times a week. But 3x a week vacuuming vs. 5 cats and a dog?? The animals win.
1. Get all of the dirt and debris out of the rug.
The first step is to get all of the dirt, dust, and other debris out of the rug. Dirt is the worst enemy to wool, rubbing against the fibers and damaging them over time.
If your rug is light enough, you should shake it out as much as possible in an area away from your cleaning space to loosen up debris and dirt. You could even hang it up on a line or over a fence and beat the crap out of it old school style with a wicker carpet beater or broom if you’re feeling saucy and turn of the century house wifey. (Some contend that carpet beating is pointless with a strong vacuum cleaner and may actually harm the wool rug fibers and weave. So only resort to this method if your vacuum sucks… or if you really wanna wail on something.)
Once your rug is spread out on the ground, use a quality vacuum on the front AND the backside of the rug, being careful the rotating brush does not create excessive agitation to the wool fibers (which can cause pilling and shrinkage).
If you are a crazy cat lady like me, you can take a soft bristle brush and lightly brush your rug to loosen and remove cat hairs and then go over the rug a few more times with the vacuum, varying the angles of the vacuuming strokes to catch dirt that the fibers might be folding over and trapping.
Vacuum vacuum vacuum.. a lot! Speaking of vacuums, we got this Kirby off of Craigslist with all the attachments for just $50! I told you.. I am the Craigslist QUEEN!
2. Thoroughly soak the rug.
This part is fun! With a garden hose set to “shower” or “sprinkle” or whatever setting you have on your hose that gives a good gentle soak, go to town on that sucker!
Make sure the fibers are completely soaked as much as possible. This will take a lot more water than you’d imagine, wool is what is known as a hygroscopic insulator, meaning it holds A LOT of water before it’s fully wet. Once your wool rug is soaked..
Yeah, so I totally made my husband clean this rug while I took picture of him. YAY TEAMWORK!
3. Soap up your rug.
Mix about a quarter cup of castile soap into a gallon of water. With a clean cloth, work the sudsy mixture over the rug – gently rubbing and scraping at the fibers to work out any stray pet hairs or debris. Be kind to your rug though, excessive or vigorous scrubbing can lead to shrinkage of the wool fibers!
Once your rug is soaped up, pick it up and hang it up over a fence, a clothes line, or a clean piece of lawn furniture where
it can fully drain and drip. Get that garden hose out again and wet it down THOROUGHLY till the soap is all washed out.
Nothing sexier than a man cleaning a rug all Cinderella style…
…so easy even a baby can do it.. whether you want them to or no…
“Scrub, scrub, scrub!!” <—- (what my daughter says when she helps me clean)
Rinse it till it runs clear.. then rinse some more!
4. Let your rug air dry.
Now, the easy part! Just leave your rug to dry! While prolonged direct sunlight is not good for the rug (it causes colors to fade) a day in the sun on a moderately warm day while drying won’t hurt it.
Check back on the rug frequently, the moment the rug is dry, bring it inside! But don’t be too hasty.. it must be FULLY DRY before bringing it inside, or the remaining moisture can lead to mildew.
Once it’s back inside, go over it one final time with a vacuum and YOU ARE DONE! At this point your rug should be brighter, fluffier and, of course, cleaner!