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How to Protect Your Rug


All rugs - whether machine made, hand made, small rug or a large rug carpet - will last longer and retain value through the years if properly cleaned and cared for.

There are protective sprays on the market that protect a rug from soaking spills into the fibers. However, some rugs are prepped with these chemicals by the store or manufacturer, and some fibers and some sprays may not work well together. Ask your rug seller before taking this step.

In addition to preventing slippage, rug pads also help guard against wear and tear on your rug since rugs wear from the bottom up. Rug pads also allow the rug to “breathe.” There are several choices available on the market depending on the type of rug you have. Check with your rug seller, but most rug pads will not mar, stain or discolor the floor or carpeting. Because most underlay materials are stretchy, you don’t want it to be visible on the edges of your rug. A rug pad should be trimmed one inch shorter than the edge of the rug.

All rug pads work with all types of rug constructions, such as hand knotted and machine made. However, it is important to choose a rug pad based on the type of floor the rug will sit atop.

On hard surfaces, use:

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Rug Gripper Tape

Good for uniquely shaped rugs and small mats. Apply it only along the edges to keep rug from curling. This is applied to the rug (not the floor) and is safe to use on all types of hard surface flooring.

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Non-Slip Cushion Rug Pad

Non-Slip Cushion is a thin underlay that covers the entire surface of the rug in order to keep it in place.

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Premium Cushion Rug Pad

Premium Cushion is a thick pad that provides extra cushioning and prevents slippage. This rug pad is best for use under large area rugs.

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Non-Slip Reversible Rug Pad

This rug pad is a double-sided adhesive that you trim to size and then peel off a plastic backing to apply to your rug. It is offered under many brand names.

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Premium Reversible Rug Pad

Premium Reversible is one of the thickest underlays and is best suited for 8x10 rugs or larger. It is a good option if heavy furniture sits on your rug.

On carpet, use:

Non-Slip Reversible Rug Pad

This rug pad is a double-sided adhesive that you trim to size and then peel off a plastic backing to apply to your rug. It is offered under many brand names.

Premium Reversible Rug Pad

Premium Reversible is one of the thickest underlays and is best suited for 8x10 rugs or larger. It is a good option if heavy furniture sits on your rug.

Day-to-Day Rug Cleaning

When you first receive your rug, make sure to vacuum it and lay it flat. Since it has been rolled up for a while, you may need to let it breathe and relax before it looks its very best. Some shedding, mild odors and crinkling is normal when you first receive your rug. However, this should remedy itself within a few weeks with gravity and vacuuming. If you are not happy with the nap and wrinkles in the rug after this time, you should contact the company where you purchased it and consider an exchange or refund.

  • Sweep your hard surface floors often. This helps keep the dirt at bay that would eventually get caught deep in the rug’s fibers.
  • Vacuum the rug at least once per week to prevent dirt from being ground into the pile. Vacuum the back of the rug every other month.
  • A good quality vacuum is important to provide cleanliness and helps to prevent the presence of dust mites, moths and carpet beetles. Look for a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Change your air conditioner and furnace filters often to reduce the amount of dust in the air.
  • Leave shoes at the door. Shoes drag in the outdoor elements and help to crush down the fibers of the carpet faster.

In addition to children and pets there are three types of damage that you need to protect your rug from:

Sunlight

Direct sunlight can fade colors on your rug over time. To prevent uneven fading, remember to rotate your rug several times a year. You can also rotate rugs between rooms to give them equal exposure to the brightest rooms in the house.

Moths

Typically moths will nest in rugs that have been rolled up in storage areas. See the Textiles Museum's tips to keep them at bay.

Carpet Beetles

These insects look like bed bugs and feed off of textile fibers. If an infestation is left for too long, they will actually weaken the fibers in the rug, making them brittle. Good housekeeping habits help infestations from occurring.

Professional Rug Cleaning

Every three to five years, a rug should be professionally cleaned.

When a rug states that it is 100% wool, that only refers to the yarn. The backing of a rug can be made of cotton, wool or synthetic fibers. Although wool is the best material for the rug pile, it is not the best material for the foundation of the rug (after washing, a wool foundation rug will not lie flat). Be sure to hire a professional cleaner who can identify the various fibers.

Rugs with rayon pile should always be dry clean only.

Stain Removal Process

Since children, pets and accident-prone adults often are the biggest hazards to a rug, it’s good to know the best ways to promptly and safely remove all types of spills and stains.

Take these tips will help to keep your rugs looking great.

1. Promptly blot liquid spills, scrape solid spills and vacuum dry spills. Many liquid spills can be completely removed with just blotting. Important tip: Never rub or scrub a stain and always move from the outer edges toward the middle.

2. Before you use any solution on your carpet, test it on a hidden spot, like under a chair or in a corner. Apply several drops of solution to the carpet and blot with a white cloth for 10 seconds. If no color or fiber damage is apparent, it's safe to proceed.

3. Apply the recommended cleaning solution to a cloth, then to the carpet or, if necessary, apply sparingly to the carpet. Work from the outside of the stain in, gently blotting and lifting the stain out with a clean cloth. Avoid rubbing. Turn and change the cloth frequently.

4. Next, spritz the area lightly with water to rinse. Avoid over wetting the carpet, because excess water will seep into the padding and can damage the carpet.

5. Blot again with a clean cloth. Cover the stain with paper towels and weight them down with a heavy object. Leave overnight so the paper towels will absorb any remaining stain. Fluff up the pile and allow it to dry thoroughly.

6. Repeat if necessary. Many stains take time to respond to a cleaning formula and may even need a second treatment.

Stain Removal by Type

Different types of stains require different kinds of action.

Water-based stains

Water-based stains include: fruit juice, coffee, ketchup, urine, soft drinks, wine, chocolate, vomit, etc.

Generally accidents such as pet stains come out easier than oil-based stains and require a gentler treatment. Mix one quart of water with one teaspoon mild detergent and one teaspoon white vinegar. Immediately blot with a soft towel and do not saturate. Use a hair dryer to dry the cleaned area.

Oil-based stains

Oil-based stains include: lipstick, glue, wax, crayon, salad dressing, hair products, butter, shoe polish, etc.

First, do not use a cleaner containing silicone; this will weaken the rug’s fibers. Instead use a solvent spot cleaner or powder-based rug cleaner and carefully follow the directions on the label.

Other types of stains

Blood - Beginning with cold water is key to successful removal. Next apply the detergent and white vinegar solutions.

Gum - Put an ice cube on the gum for 15 minutes. Then gently scrape off with a knife.

Ink - Apply a little nail polish remover and then use a mild detergent solution.

Homemade Stain Removers

Before trying any of these solutions, first spot test it on your carpet. These recipes were provided by Good Housekeeping.

Ammonia solution

Mix two tablespoons of non-sudsy household ammonia with one cup of water and pour into a spray bottle. Do not use this cleaning solution on wool carpeting.

Detergent

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with one cup of warm water. Use in a spray bottle.

Dry-cleaning fluid

Dry-cleaning solvents, such as Afta by Guardsman, are available at hardware stores and supermarkets.

Nail polish remover

The nail polish remover must contain acetone to be effective. Avoid products with added lotions and fragrances.

White vinegar solution

Mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups of water and pour into a spray bottle.

Warm water rinse

Pour warm water in a spray bottle or used a saturated clean cloth with warm water.

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