How to Clean A Vintage Rug

A question we often hear from rug owners and those looking to purchase is how to properly clean a handmade vintage rug. The idea of the piece being old and crafted by hand makes it seem like it needs to be handled delicately. And while we agree that everyone should treat their rugs with the utmost care, we also know these beauties are durable and can withstand quite a lot of activity, including the inevitable spill.

Handmade vintage rugs are constructed with natural materials that wick away liquid and dirt, so clean-up is easier than you might think!

Here are some simple ways to clean a handmade vintage rug:

Spot Clean:
If you knock over a cup of coffee or your kids spill their drink, first sop up the extra liquid with a towel, making sure to remove as much as possible. Next, with a rag and some mild soap and water (we recommend baby shampoo or any other gentle soap. Steer clear of hand and dish soap, as those are harder to wash out), simply dab the spot until you’ve removed all remnants of the spill. Last, dab the spot with a wet towel or rag to remove the soap, and the spill should be gone!

If the stain is very stubborn, don’t be discouraged. Handmade rugs have a lot of variation in color, as they are dyed by hand. So if there’s a little stain somewhere, odds are it won’t ruin the overall aesthetic of the rug. We like to call variations like stains or extra wear beauty marks!

Whole-Rug Clean:

If your rug needs a nice all-over refresh, you have a couple of options.

First, vacuum the rug thoroughly, then flip it over so the back side is facing up, and vacuum again. This will remove a ton of dirt and dust.

Next, if the rug is small enough, you can soak it in your bathtub with mild soap and warm water. If the water becomes dark with dirt, drain the water, refill the tub, and let the rug soak some more. Repeat as many times as you’d like. Once you’re done, squeegee the water out, lay it over a railing or clothesline, and let the rug dry. It’s okay to bring it outside and let it dry in the sun. In fact, it’s encouraged! If you ever take a trip to Turkey, you’ll see rugs adorning rooftops as they dry in the sun.

What makes handmade rugs so much easier to wash than machine-made is that they are pliable and can be submerged if you have a tub big enough. It’s a nice perk!

For larger rugs, fill a bucket with warm water and a mild soap. With a soft-bristled brush, rub the soapy water on the rug and gently brush it along the rug just as you would if you were to vacuum it, focusing more on any stains or particularly dirty sections. Once you’ve brushed the whole rug with soapy water, you’ll need to rinse out the soap. If the rug is too large to fit in a tub, you can bring it outside and rinse it off with a hose with a nozzle attachment so you can control the force of the water, making sure to choose a low- or medium-power water stream. When the water runs clean, squeegee the excess off and hang the rug to dry.

You can always bring your rug into get professionally cleaned, which we recommend doing every 5-7 years so it can get a complete refresh. A local favorite of ours is American Rug Laundry.

With weekly vacuuming on both sides and spot cleaning when there’s a spill, your rug will withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. Resist the urge to put your beautiful rug in a low-traffic area for fear of ruining it. These rugs are built to last, so put them where they belong – where everyone can see them!

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