An area rug can be a room's most definitive and stylish decorative item. Depending on its size, shape, and color, an area rug can change the entire look and tone of a room, or establish an elevated sense of cohesion among furniture. It's for this reason that homeowners continue to turn to the area rug when decorating a home's interior.
While area rugs are staples of home décor, some homeowners may be unsure of how to best protect and preserve their rugs. To extend the longevity of your area rug, it's essential to be diligent about regular care and upkeep. The quality of an area rug can quickly diminish as a result of foot traffic, sunlight exposure, dust, dirt, and stains if adequate care isn't given. For area rugs delicately constructed or made of fine materials, this care becomes even more important.
So how can you properly care for your area rug from a furniture store in NYC?
Essentials for Regular Upkeep
Area rugs should be cleaned on a frequent basis. This includes vacuuming, which should be done at weekly intervals at minimum. Unlike most traditional styles of carpeting, an area rug should be vacuumed on your machine's rug cleaner setting. This will stop use of the vacuum's rollers and instead rely only on its suction capabilities, ensuring that elements like fringe are not damaged during vacuuming. If your vacuum cleaner doesn't have a rug cleaner setting, clean on the lightest setting possible. For even better cleaning results, empty your vacuum bag when it becomes half full; this will increase your vacuum's suction power and help collect dirt embedded deep within the rug.
It's also important to regularly brush out hair, and to remember to brush with the rug's flow of fibers rather than against them to avoid any damage. Even for homeowners that don't have pets, human hair will easily accumulate on rugs, and vacuums can have a more challenging time picking up this hair. There are brushes available that are specifically designed for extracting hair from carpet; these brushes can be found at affordable prices, and most feature long handles to prevent a user's need to bend over.
To minimize the chance that sand, dirt, and even water make their way onto an area rug, it's also helpful to place highly absorbent door mats at your home's entrances to collect the majority of these unwanted particles.
An area rug's appearance and fiber integrity can also be worn down by exposure to sunlight. Over time, area rugs placed in the direct line of sunlight can begin to show signs of fading. If possible, move your area rug into a position that does not receive direct sunlight, or be mindful to close blinds and curtains when out of the home during the day. If sunlight exposure is unavoidable, ensure that one side of a rug doesn't fade faster than the other. As a general rule of thumb, rotate your area rug approximately four times a year
There's a good chance that at some point, your rug will acquire a stain. Accidental spills and messes are a seemingly unavoidable part of area rug ownership, yet they need not spell the end of your rug's pristine appearance. Most area rug stains can be easily removed with the proper techniques and cleaning solutions.
In the event of a stain, first attempt to absorb as much liquid as possible, and as quickly. The sooner you can extract that juice, wine, or coffee, the less is left to dry and adhere itself to a rug's fibers. As with removing stains from upholstered furniture, always blot stains, rather than scrub or rub them. This will ensure that a stain doesn't move deeper into rug fibers or spread. A soft cloth or piece of paper towel should work well as an absorbent material.
After absorbing as much of the spill as possible, you'll want to apply a cleaning solution. It's always important to check your area rug's label for care instructions before applying any type of cleaner; care instructions will typically be based on a rug's material. Always test a cleaning solution, whether commercial or made via common household items, on the back or corner of a rug.
This step of the stain removal process can depend upon both a rug's material and type of stain. The more you understand about your rug's material, the more effective your removal process can be. As a reference, these common rug materials include:
- Woven and braided rugs
Before cleaning woven or braided rugs, check to see if any damage has occurred to the fibers. Using any commercial carpet cleaning products and/or vacuuming if a rug is damaged could worsen its condition.
- Hand-knotted or Oriental rugs
These rugs are more delicate, and should therefore be treated with extra care during regular vacuuming (vacuum on lower settings or consider placing a nylon screen atop it and vacuuming over the screen) and during the stain removal process.
- Natural fiber rugs
Natural fiber rugs are made of materials like jute, bamboo, sisal, and seagrass, and because of their loose structure, many natural fiber rugs will allow dirt and water to pass through them and onto the floor. To prevent cleaning products from seeping through to the floor, place a towel or drop cloth beneath the rug before cleaning.
- Fur and sheepskin rugs
Rugs made of this fabric can be regularly cleaned with talcum powder that is left to sit for several hours, and then shook out. When removing a stain, it's important not to brush or rub a fur or sheepskin rug after wetted with cleaning solution.
Approaches to Stain Removal:
As mentioned, there are different removal approaches for different types of stains. These include:
Soft drinks, alcohol, coffee: Combine 1 teaspoon of liquid dish detergent, 1 quart of warm water, and ¼ teaspoon of white vinegar. Mix well, apply, and blot clean using a soft cloth.
Butter, gravy, margarine: Use a commercial carpet cleaner that is characterized as a dry solvent.
Tomato sauce: Use a sponge to apply cool water to the stain, then blot with a detergent solution. Next, rinse with a mixture of 1 cup white vinegar and two cups of water, and use a soft cloth to blot dry.
Gum or melted wax: First, attempt to scrape off as much as possible. Next, harden the gum by rubbing a plastic bag containing ice cubes on top of the surface. This will make it easier to continue scraping off the gum. Use a dry solvent commercial cleaner to remove any remaining stain and vacuum dry. After scraping off hardened melted wax, use a cloth or cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol to eliminate any wax that remains.
What other common household items can be used to remove stains from area rugs?
- Shaving cream
- Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) and Cream of Tartar Mixture
- Baking Soda
- Club Soda
Finally, for optimal preservation, have your area rug cleaned by a professional cleaning service every 1 to 2 years. While vacuuming and brushing are important, they won't be able to eliminate all of the dirt and dust that accumulates deep within your rug's fibers. A professional service can offer a deep cleaning with steam, advanced vacuums, and more effective cleaning solutions.