How To Clean A Wool Rug

Posted by Natural Area Rugs on May 24th 2018


Wool rugs are some of the softest and most beautiful area rugs that you can buy, but many people are concerned about how to clean a wool rug properly. Fortunately, wool naturally repels water, allowing you to quickly blot away small spills and minimize stains. To keep your rug clean, avoid tracking dirt on it as much as possible, vacuum regularly but with caution, and treat any messes immediately, before they have a chance to set. You should schedule a professional wool rug cleaning every year or two to return your rugs to their best appearance.

Minimize Dirt

While we can provide lots of tips for how to clean a wool area rug, the best advice is to take a few simple actions to minimize dirt in the first place. Ask family and visitors to wipe their feet when entering your home, and take off your shoes before walking through the house. It can be more difficult to keep pets off of your area rugs — especially nice soft ones made of wool — but you can check their paws before they come in the house from being outside. If possible, you should also try to keep food, paint, craft supplies, and similar potential messes away from your rugs.

Placement also has a big influence in how often you need to clean your wool rug. Wool is durable, so many people like to use this type of rug in high traffic areas. Make sure that you rotate your wool rug regularly so that dirt doesn't get ground into specific patterns. Always use a rug pad; not only do pads give your rug more stability and cushioning, they also make wool rug cleaning easier and reduce wear and tear.

Vacuum Regularly

The best advice for how to clean a wool rug and keep it looking good is to make sure that you vacuum regularly — and correctly. Wool rugs have a tendency to shed, although this should decrease over time. Using a vacuum with a very high suction and beater bars can damage the fibers and cause them to shed more than they should, wearing out your rug more quickly. It's best to use a vacuum with adjustable suction and no beater bar so that it's gentle on the fibers. Flip your rugs over and vacuum the back regularly too.

Many rug experts recommend that you perform wool area rug cleaning with a vacuum once a week at most, and only every other week unless your rug is obviously dirty. This will help keep the wool fibers in good condition.

Beat Your Rug

Depending on the size, one common method to clean a wool area rug is to take it outside and shake or beat it. A small rug can be shaken aggressively for 30 seconds or so to allow loose dirt to fall free, and even left outside (out of direct sunlight) for a few hours to air out and release any odors. Larger rugs really cannot be shaken, so hang them from a sturdy clothes line or drying rack and use a broom or rug beater to knock the dirt free. Complete your wool area rug cleaning with a good vacuuming to remove any debris that has been loosened.

Treat Spills Immediately

Because the surface of a wool rug naturally repels liquids, you should be able to avoid many stains by treating spills as soon as they happen. Always use a clean, white towel and always blot — press the towel over the spill firmly so that any liquid can be absorbed. Do not rug a stain. While the top of a wool rug repels stains, the deeper fibers actually attract and hold liquids. If you rub a stain, you risk grinding it into the wool and making it harder to remove.

How to clean a wool rug stains

  • Use a clean, white towel to absorb any liquids. (Avoid colored towels, which might release dye onto your rug, making the problem worse.)
  • Carefully scrape away any dried substances, such as mud or food particles. A metal spoon can be a useful tool for this.
  • Combine a small amount of mild clear dish washing soap with water. Dip a clean, white cloth in the soapy water and gently blot the spill, being careful not to rub or oversaturate the fibers. Once the spill has been removed, use a clean, damp cloth to remove any soap solution.
  • Add a small amount of white vinegar to your wool rug cleaning solution to treat food and pet stains, along with many other types of messes.

Always test any cleaning methods on a small, inconspicuous area before using it on your rug. Never apply cleaners directly to the rug; put them on a clean rag instead. Work from the outside of the stain toward the middle to minimize the chances that the stain will spread.

Wool Rug Cleaning Methods to Avoid

Wool rug fibers can be easily damaged if not treated with care. Avoid any cleansers with bleach, as well as "oxy" products, which may remove color from the rug fibers. Most experts also do not recommend using a steam cleaner or any method that involves completely saturating the rug with water. As mentioned above, any liquids that penetrate the surface of your wool rug will quickly be absorbed by the fibers. Once wool is wet, it's extremely difficult to dry completely and may discolor with mold or mildew. In addition, it's best to avoid using steam to clean wool because the heat can damage the fibers.

While you may read tips online for how to clean a wool rug with laundry soap, soda ash, or similar products, it's best to avoid these cleaners. Alkaline cleansers can damage wool fibers and may make colors bleed. Many rug experts also recommend against using ammonia on wool rugs. Use caution with any dry powder cleaners as well, as they can quickly get trapped in the rug and may be extremely difficult to remove. Do you have more questions about wool rugs? Call the friendly team at Natural Area Rugs. You can reach us at 1-800-661-7847 or use our online contact form.

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