Cleaning the Post-Holiday Mess Out of Your Rugs

after the partyYou’ve finished the cheese balls and wine, run out of desserts, and burned down the candles. The guests have finally left. After counting the silverware, you take out the trash, fluff the pillows on the sofa, and return your dining room to its normal configuration. Time to relax, right?

Wrong.

If your holiday parties are anything like ours, you’ll find a half-full glass tucked behind a chair. You’ll notice the wine stains on your beautiful Oriental rug in the living room, discover an unsightly mixture of fruit and chocolate smeared on the tufted dining room rug, and to your great dismay, see that wax dripped down onto the new throw rugs you placed in the spare bedroom.  After the expense of the holidays, the last thing you want to do is to refurnish your floors. Luckily, you can take steps to clean your rugs so you can enjoy them into the next holiday Wine on rugseason and beyond.

Cleaning Orientals

Let’s start with your fabulous Oriental rug. Hand-knotted rugs should be professionally cleaned. If you invested in a quality wool masterpiece, we recommend you take it to the experts. But you can do it yourself … if you’re very careful.  Start by vacuuming both sides, using suction from a hand tool to keep the beater bar from pulling up loose strands. Then use a mild soap — Dawn dishwashing soap is ideal — mixed in cool water. Avoid products that contain bleach, ammonia, or other strong chemicals. Test a corner of the rug to make sure the soap doesn’t alter the dye colors.

vaccumScrub the rug gently with a long-bristled soft brush or sponge, rubbing in the direction of the nap. Thoroughly soak the rug. When done, squeeze out the water — a rubber squeegee does the most efficient job. Push the moisture out towards the end of the rug along the pile of the nap. If you have enough space, hang the rug to dry. Otherwise, lie it flat to dry. Once the nap is dry, turn it over to let the back dry.

Other Cleaning Solutions

Hand-tufted rugs are a different story. These rugs have a canvas backing glued on to hold the wool fibers in place. You can’t get these rugs wet. The best way to tackle stains is with a spot cleaner such as Capture (sold at all Rug & Home locations). Clean each spot separately, patting Capture Products availabel at Rug & Homethe excess moisture quickly so it doesn’t seep through to the glue. Pat the spot repeatedly with a damp sponge. Try it again if necessary and keep at it until you’re satisfied.

Getting candle wax out of a rug requires paper towels and a warm iron. Layer paper towels over the wax and rest the iron on the spot. Do not let the iron touch the wax directly. After a few seconds, lift the iron; the wax has melted into the paper towels. Repeat with clean paper towels until you’ve lifted out all the drippings. As a final step, treat with a spot cleaner.

Once you finish cleaning, rub the dry fibers on your rugs with a soft brush to loosen them up and release any leftover soap. Vacuum. Now you’re ready to send out invitations for a spring fling!

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Rugs for You and Your Pets

Make it easy for your dog to live in your home with a pet-friendly rug.

Pets are part of the family. Dogs, cats, and other animals share our houses and our lives. They therefore influence the decisions we make about decorating and furnishing our homes. This is especially true when it comes to rug-buying. Many pet lovers would rather live with bare floors than relegate their pets to the mud room or even worse — outdoors.

Whether it’s the musty odor a pet leaves behind, the inevitable accident during training, or the outright misbehavior that sometimes occurs, you need to consider the consequences of pet damage when you buy new rugs. The first line of defense for making your rugs — and your house — pet-proof is to consider the type of rug you lay on your floors.

Indoor/outdoor rugs come in a wide range of colors and styles now; they can complement almost any indoor decorating scheme. The beauty of an indoor/outdoor rug is that you can easily clean it when it gets dirty. Just take it outside, scrub it down with a mild detergent, and let it air-dry over a porch railing or clothesline. Niggling pet odors and accidental discharges disappear completely. Once it dries, you’ve got a rug that’s as good as new.

The weave on various kinds of rugs may undergo substantially more wear and tear than others when you have pets. Long nails and claws, for example, can get caught in hooked rugs. Simply by treading across a hooked rug, your cat or dog can create a snag or pull. Similarly, shag rugs and thick hand-tufted pieces, with pile that’s a quarter-inch high or longer, can catch long nails too. Your pet can pull out fibers inadvertently when trying to free itself. Instead of hooked or shag rugs, stick with flat, low pile to prevent this kind of wear.

If you prefer hand-knotted beauties on your floors (or if you’ve got other rugs you can clean), you must get to an accident as quickly as possible. Spot cleaners made by Capture® are ideal for such messes. Blot the cleaner on the spot with a wet sponge. Avoid rubbing or scraping, which can destroy the rug’s fibers and spread the mess. Use cold water so you don’t damage the rug’s color or wool fibers. Continue blotting with fresh cool water until the mess is gone.

If your pet marks a certain spot on a rug repeatedly, spray an enzyme-based neutralizer such as Nature’s Miracle® to remove any scent. You may not be able to smell anything, but the scent might be what keeps attracting your pet to the area.

For the best of both worlds (beauty and ease-of-use), we recommend a hand-knotted rug with a low pile. Rugs made of natural materials are the only ones you can have professionally cleaned. Once your pets have an accident on synthetic, machine-made rugs, they will never be pristine again. While you can certainly spot clean anywhere Spot made a spot, in the end, you may still be able to spot that spot. A thorough professional cleaning for your tufted or machine-made rugs just isn’t possible.

So if you have pets, your best bet is an all-natural, hand-knotted rug or an inexpensive indoor/outdoor rug. Even Spot will enjoy it.

Fall Rug Care

Bring your outdoor rug indoors for the winter.

October means it’s time once again to get into the spirit for a big fall cleanup. What? You think spring is the only time to clean? That’s a myth. Spring is simply a time to open up the house from the hunkered-down months of winter, sweep away the dust, and uncover the patio furniture.

By comparison, autumn is a time for real cleaning. To prepare for winter, you have to clean everything before you pack it away. You have to rake the yard and cover the pool, bring in the cold-sensitive plants and slide the storm windows into place. Indoors, you perform some major cleaning, wiping down the windows, baseboards, fan blades, and vents. And for heaven’s sake, don’t forget about your rugs.

While the indoor/outdoor rugs on your deck and patio can withstand the harsh overnight chills, they will last for many long spring and summer seasons if you bring them indoors when the cold hits. Chances are you won’t be entertaining outdoors anyway (and it will be too cold to chill out next to your frozen grill), so put your removable outdoor rugs on the cleaning list and make room in the attic.

It’s fairly easy to clean most indoor/outdoor rugs, since they are made of synthetic materials designed to withstand mild soap and water. Lay out your rug and scrub it with a soft-bristled long-handled brush using mild dish soap that does not contain bleach. Turn the rug over and repeat on the backside. Hang the rug over a railing or on an incline so the water can drain until the entire rug dries.

Once it’s completely dry, roll up the rug, careful to keep edges even to prevent crinkling. Tape or tie the rug into a secure cylinder and store it in a cool, dry place. Come spring, your rug will look brand new when you once again unroll it onto your patio.

Your big fall cleanup should also include steps to maintain the other rugs in your home. At the very least, you should use the seasonal housework push to turn any rugs that have been exposed to the direct rays of the hot summer sun. Wool rugs are very sensitive to light. The natural fibers can fade or even discolor when exposed to ultraviolet light. Once the sun’s rays have bleached the dye in a hand-knotted wool rug, no amount of cleaning can restore its original vibrancy.

By turning your wool rugs, you help them fade evenly, allowing the aging process to occur gradually and gracefully. At the same time, you’ll appreciate your rug from the many different vantage points turning provides you. Here’s all you do: move the furniture off the rug and turn it 90 degrees.

For some rug aficionados, a faded look implies antiquity and adds personality to the rug. But uneven fading reduces a rug’s attractiveness. Be good to your rugs, and you’ll be able to enjoy them for many autumns to come.

The Benefits of Hand-Knotted Rugs

Hand-knotted rugs are truly works of art. Each is as unique as a Rembrandt, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece made of love, sweat, and fabric. These wool or silk rugs are creations you can be proud to add to your estate and pass down to the next generation as family heirlooms.

Some people insist that a hand-knotted rug is impractical because they have young children or pets. Others claim that only the colors and patterns of their rugs are important, not the source. Still others decry the price of a hand-knotted rug and question the value.

As you rifle through a rack of hand-knotted rugs, consider the work that went into each piece. A skilled weaver may have spent as long as a year tying each knot. Large hand-knotted rugs often require a team of experienced weavers working for months to achieve the intricate patterns found in these tightly knotted floor coverings. If you don’t want to throw just anything onto your floors, a hand-knotted rug can add grace to any surface.

In addition to the superior workmanship, you will find other benefits associated with hand-knotted rugs:

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Caring for Your Handmade Rug: Part 2

Handmade Rugs 101 Series
Caring for Your Handmade Rug: Part 2

We talked about several things you can do to keep your rug looking its best in Caring for Your Handmade Rug: Part 1. What else can you do to be sure your investment lasts a lifetime?

Keep Moths and Other Pests Away

Moths are pesky creatures. They love nothing more than to dine on the most costly fabric investment in a home. Fortunately, periodic sweeping or vacuuming of your rug can easily keep them at bay. Moths hate to be disturbed and will generally infest a rug that is in storage or areas of your rug that are under furniture. Just as rotating helps ensure consistent wear and tear, it also sends a clear message to pests: keep out!

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Caring for Your Handmade Rug: Part 1

Handmade Rugs 101 Series
Caring for Your Handmade Rug: Part 1


You may have noticed that handmade rugs typically cost more than machine-made rugs. But don’t let the cost deter you, as they’re a great investment. With proper care, handmade rugs can easily last for hundreds of years thanks to the high quality fibers, dyes, and techniques used to create them. We’ll go into more detail on the process in other posts in this series, but for now, let’s focus on just what proper care entails.

Clean Regularly

Regular cleaning plays an important role in extending the life of your rug. While heavy-duty cleanings are best left to the professionals and should be preformed on a semi-regular basis, there’s plenty you can do to keep your rug looking its best, too. Here are some tips:

  • Sweep or vacuum daily/weekly. We know that there aren’t enough hours in the day. If you can’t sweep or vacuum daily, do try to make at least a weekly routine of caring for your rug. If vacuuming, you’ll want to choose a machine without beater bars—those rotating plastic brushes found on the undersides of almost all standard vacuum cleaners. They’re not gentle enough for handmade rugs and can tug at the fibers. You may be able to turn off the beater bar on your vacuum. But, if not, make the broom your friend!
  • Spill? Act quickly. For a liquid spill, blot immediately with a paper towel or clean white rag to soak up as much liquid as possible. For a solid spill, quickly blot with a paper towel or clean white rag, then gently scrape any remaining debris away with the dull edge of a knife or spoon. Still there? You may be able to use products you already have at home—like vinegar and wax paper—to help remove the spill. Or, you may need to use a cleaning product specifically made for rugs. Rug & Home recommends Capture products by Milliken (www.captureclean.com). Their cleaners contain no bleach, solvents, or harsh chemicals and are easy to use. All you need is a vacuum! For a list of possible spills and how to clean them, CLICK HERE. It’s also possible that a professional cleaning may be needed to properly remove the spill or stain. Please call Rug & Home for our recommendations on the best professional cleaners in your area.

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