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.

Extend Your Rug’s Life

Extend your rug’s life with simple steps like vacuuming and rotating it.

Whether you paid thousands for a one-of-a kind, exquisite, hand-knotted rug or merely a few hundred on a whimsical machine-made rug, you can take some simple steps to extend your rug’s life. In many cases, less is more when it comes to practical, effective rug care.

Whether you have a busy office with lots of traffic, a household full of active children, or it’s just you and your cat, you don’t have to treat your beautiful rug like a fragile antique. Rugs are made to withstand everyday use. Although most have a built-in life expectancy, you can extend them by following these tips for caring for your rug:

  • Use a pad. We’ve covered this subject before, but we can’t emphasize it enough. An effective pad keeps the entire rug off the floor and ensures the rug stays in place, avoiding excessive sliding that loosens the pile. A pad also stops musty odors from building up. A rug pad made of organic materials like the ones at Rug&Home allow your rug to breathe, providing life-extending air circulation.
  • Clean spills immediately. Using an effective spot cleaner such as the Capture products sold at Rug&Home, blot the spills until the spot is gone. Immediate treatment keeps spills and dirt from penetrating the rug fibers and creating permanent stains.
  • Vacuum properly. The beater bar on your vacuum cleaner that so effectively loosens dirt in your wall-to-wall carpeting actually harms your area rugs. The fast rotations of the bar snag the fibers, causing strings to pull out unnecessarily, leaving a thinner layer of pile. So when you vacuum your rugs, a chore we highly recommend on a regular basis, raise the bar to its highest setting. By forcing the vacuum to use only its suction for cleaning, you will prolong the life of your rugs. In addition, flip your rugs once a year to vacuum the undersides with suction.
  • Avoid protectants. Treating your rug with a carpet protective coating will certainly keep the first stains from penetrating into the fibers. When you clean that first spill, however, you remove that protection and leave the spot bare. If you follow the directions on the protectant and re-treat the spot, you’ll inevitably create some overlapping that will lead to rings and darkened areas that you can never remove.
  • Turn your rugs at least once year, more often in heavily trafficked areas. Don’t allow one side of your rugs to be exposed to constant foot traffic, pet abuse, or dragging chairs. Instead, remove all the furniture and turn the rug 90 degrees if possible, given the size of the room and the rug. Our advice is even more aggressive: turn your rug 45 degrees every four months. Not only will you expose various sides of your floor art to the traffic, you’ll also get a new experience as you get to know another side of the pile on your rug.
  • Repair minor pulls. Bring your rug into a professional for repairs as needed, especially if a piece of fringe becomes untied. A few stitches can reinforce the fabric, ensuring that your rug will continue to give you years of enjoyment without unraveling.