Cleaning Area Rugs: Tips and Tricks
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
by: J&M Keystone Restoration

Section: Trends and Tips

When it is cleaned properly, an area rug is one of the easiest things to salvage after a flood or fire. J&M Keystone is happy to share "Tips and Tricks" with readers to help them understand the best way to clean area rugs safely and effectively after a disaster:
  • Drying is key.  If the rug is simply wet, remove it immediately from the water and hang it up so it will get plenty of air flow.  The more quickly an area rug is dried, the more likely it is that it can be salvaged.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals. Many area rugs are made of delicate fibers that, while they can withstand wetting and drying, cannot stand up to harsh cleaning chemicals. It is important that area rugs are cleaned with approved chemicals to protect the fibers of which they are made.
  • Know your material. In order to decide which cleaning products can be used on an area rug, you must know the material from which the rug is made.  Normally there is a tag that gives this information, but the tag could be missing.  Area rugs can be made of anything from silk to Orlon, so it is important to be able to tell the difference. The following table gives a guide to making an educated guess as to the material of which an area rug is made:

Material Distinguishing Features Cleaning Considerations
Wool Very soft, natural fibers, dull appearance
without shine
Fades easily, shrinks; dry
cleaning may be more
Silk Protein fiber often blended with other
fibers for softness and sheen; reflects
light at different angles
Difficult to clean; often dry
cleaning methods are
Cotton Soft and strong; often used for rug
Easy to clean; may not
be colorfast
Grass Fiber Coarse and highly textured May stain easily; often
cleaned with simple
natural soaps
Synthetic Fibers May feel coarse and crush easily
under weight
Can be cleaned with a
variety of chemicals rated
for those substances

If it is possible to identify the material, cleaning is much easier. If not, standard cleaning methods may be tried one by one until the right method is found.
  • Spread rugs out.  When cleaning area rugs, it is important to spread them out not only for maximum drying but also to prevent wrinkles and creases.  When they are dry, roll them for storage or transport.
J&M Keystone can help devise methods to clean all types of area rugs and carpets after a flood or disaster.