DIY Deep Cleaning Wool Area Rugs

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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Nothing sexier than a man cleaning a rug all Cinderella style…

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…so easy even a baby can do it.. whether you want them to or no…

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“Scrub, scrub, scrub!!” <—- (what my daughter says when she helps me clean)

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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!

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Any other tips or tricks for wool rug upkeep that I’ve missed? Share below! 

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.


Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com


Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

42 thoughts on “DIY Deep Cleaning Wool Area Rugs

  • 23 April, 2015 at 4:13 am
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    Look at that cute little diaper bum helping you! Love that your Prince Charming even helped out! I don’t own any rugs like this anymore, we have moved entirely to tile. If it wasn’t the children destroying my rugs it was the animals!Little piggies 🙂

    • 23 April, 2015 at 1:08 pm
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      Hehe, yeah, Tessa is VERY MUCH in the “I want to help mom!!” stage, lol. And my handsome hubby is such a good sport with chores and projects. When people keep telling me to “take it easy” I have to fess up that it’s really Jonathan doing all the work. 😉

  • 23 April, 2015 at 8:58 am
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    I remember doing this for my grandmother when I was younger… not sure I could keep up with the cleaning of a rug at my age… it turned ou great though Gingi ♡

  • 23 April, 2015 at 11:44 am
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    Gotta say, I’m completely blown away by this post. I would never have thought you would soak a wool rug with water– I can’t believe how clean it came out!!

    • 23 April, 2015 at 1:11 pm
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      It’s pretty much the same method as cleaning a wool sweater by hand.. only much larger and heavier. lol!

  • 23 April, 2015 at 12:37 pm
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    This is awesome Gingi! I have several antique area carpets that I was just about to send out for cleaning. Thank you for saving me a lot of $$$! Now I just have to wait for a stretch of sunshine so I can do this. You’re in a drought and we’re in soggyville.

    • 23 April, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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      No fair Linda, stop hogging all the rain! 😉

    • 23 April, 2015 at 2:30 pm
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      Lol, yeah, she’s always right there helping!! 😉

  • 23 April, 2015 at 1:39 pm
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    Love that it was a family affair! And great tips- much less expensive than taking it to a cleaner!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

  • 23 April, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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    Ahaha that photo of your baby is so cute! When they’re young they’d do anything you’re doing, then when they become teenagers they don’t even wanna talk to you :’D Great tutorial <3

    Fashionably,
    Patricia
    http://www.wingsforliberty.com/

    • 23 April, 2015 at 10:13 pm
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      I never went through the teen-not-liking-their-parents stage so I reeeeally hope Tessa and Thyme don’t either!! I’ll probably cry! haha!

  • 23 April, 2015 at 4:37 pm
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    Beautiful rug and what a great deal! Awesome cleaning tips 🙂

  • 23 April, 2015 at 8:08 pm
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    I so love it when the children help – yes it may take a little longer but the end result so rewarding …

    All the best Jan

  • 23 April, 2015 at 9:18 pm
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    These are great tips! I love craigslist too for furniture, I’m trying to slowly upgrade ours… I’ve never tried it for rugs though (most of our home has carpets), but very cool deal!

    • 23 April, 2015 at 10:13 pm
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      Yeah, Craigslist is kind of awesome!

  • 24 April, 2015 at 5:40 am
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    UM, Wow. You are the master. All of my rugs cost $100 from Lowes and are definitely not made from wool…..I will share this with my mother-in-law. I think I too should become a Craig’s List Queen. OH! And the toddler photo is adorable. Everything that toddlers do is adorable.

    • 24 April, 2015 at 1:37 pm
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      It helps that we live by a Navy base, so there’s always quality furniture on sale foe CHEAP. But most of our designer pieces are all Craigslist finds under $300!!

  • 24 April, 2015 at 4:39 pm
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    Such great tips and totally in need as we have a throw rug that needs cleaning badly. So, thank you so much Gingi! 😉

    • 24 April, 2015 at 5:59 pm
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      <3 <3

  • 24 April, 2015 at 6:03 pm
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    Great tips. I have two very dingy one that look like that may look like those once cleaned. I’ll have to tackle that in the driveway one day. I fear it will take forever for the water to run clear.

  • 24 April, 2015 at 6:43 pm
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    Great post, my in-laws have 2 wool rugs so this tips will be helpful for them!
    Back home we also cleaned rugs in winter, when there is a lot of snow just pull the rug outside (vacuum first), scrub with snow and then beat it off and let air dry. Not only it becomes clean it also smells so good)
    Happy weekend!

    http://www.StripesNVibes.com
    Anthropologie Giftcard Giveaway
    BlogLovin

    • 24 April, 2015 at 7:48 pm
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      I saw the “clean on the snow” method when I was researching how best to care for the rug!! That is so cool… too bad it never snows here!

  • 2 December, 2015 at 5:06 pm
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    Wow, the colors are so much brighter now! I have never even thought about cleaning my rugs before but now I think I may have to. It’s hard to pass up getting your rug to look brand new. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • 14 January, 2016 at 9:46 pm
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    I just bought a nice, wool rug last month and I don’t know how to clean it! So, thanks for these great tips! I didn’t know that you have to soak the rug. Like you, I’ll probably enjoy that part so much!

  • 26 January, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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    MY FRIENDS WOOL AREA RUG BECAME FLOODED BY A WATER LEAK, SHE HUNG IT TO DRY BUT NOW IT IS BUBBLED IN THE MIDDLE. HOW CAN SHE GET THE BUBBLE OUT AND GET THE FRONT AND BACK TO ADHERE AGAIN.

  • 5 February, 2016 at 8:00 pm
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    I also am a crazy cat lady, and all of the cat hairs seem to also stick to the rug or clog up my vacuum cleaners. Your tip to use a soft bristle brush may just be what I need to finally get them out of my rug for good! It seems like that, combined with varying the angles of the vacuum strokes, might really make a difference. Thanks for the tips!

  • 10 February, 2016 at 4:21 pm
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    Steam cleaning carpets or rugs is a must! Especially since I have two cats, a dog and a toddler. I move sofas and chairs slightly to put the legs of furniture on wax paper. Thus the carpet and the furniture are protected. I also open the windows to quicken the drying process. I also shake my welcome mats really good and clean them so people don’t track pollen and other allergens inside. But it’s amazing how dirty the flat can get!

  • 17 February, 2016 at 11:36 pm
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    A deep cleaning on a wool rug is one task that I’ve been trying to get done. Looking at the rug that my father gave me, it sure has ended up very dirty. My thought was to maybe clean the rug with the tube like thing from the vacuum.

  • 18 April, 2016 at 5:25 pm
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    I’ve cleaned my wool rugs this way for years. I actually use a long handled soft scrub brush on the rug.

  • 18 April, 2016 at 6:54 pm
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    I just opened “How to Clean a Wool Rug” in Pinterest and discovered you are from Lemoore, CA. I used to stay with my sister and family on the base there in the 1960’s and 70’s. In fact, that sister still lives in Hanford. What a small world. Anyway, I read this article with deep interest, because I need to clean a heavy wool rug that has become very stained. I tried to clean a rug using this method a few years ago, but it was completely ruined by the next day or two with mildew, even out in the sun. It may have been synthetic materials, though. Have you ever had this happen and do you have any advise for me?

  • 22 April, 2016 at 8:26 pm
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    Once a month to do a deep clean feels like a lot. How long does it take you to deep clean to the house, always takes me ages?

  • 23 May, 2016 at 10:12 pm
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    Thanks for the great tips. I gonna show this to my wife. She would appreciate this for sure.

  • 6 October, 2016 at 10:25 am
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    Great post! Great to see people making real effort to maintain rugs and carpets properly. Especially for such a gorgeous rug! Keep up the posts!

  • 6 October, 2016 at 3:50 pm
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    This is a cool post!So cute seeing your daughter getting involved with the cleaning 😀 hopefully it will stay clean for a long time, looked like a pretty intense cleaning process you went through there!

  • 7 October, 2016 at 5:01 am
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    Hey! Great share…..

    Cleaning a woolen rug is quite a difficult task as vacuums miss out lots of dirt. Your cleaning DIY looks amazing.I am surely going to follow this rug cleaning procedure.

    Thanks for sharing this post. Keep sharing more useful stuff…..
    Cheers!!

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