Even if you prefer the looks of wooden flooring, flagstones or a similar hard surface for your flooring, you probably have a loose rug or two somewhere around the house. Rugs soften the appearance and feel of hard surfaces and are comfortable for activities that take place on the floor, such as exercise or playing with children. But the time will come when loose rugs will need to be cleaned.
You can do a reasonable job of cleaning a loose rug with a vacuum cleaner. This will require some co-ordinations, as a very strong vacuum cleaner will move the rug around or even latch onto part of the rug and start lifting it up. You will need to put the vacuum cleaner on one half of the rug while vacuuming the other half, then swap over. You will still need to smooth the corners down and rearrange the rug so it is sitting straight. This technique, however, only works on larger rugs. Smaller ones are more of a nuisance if you try to vacuum them.
To clean a smaller rug or any rug that has a thicker pile and doesn’t get thoroughly clean with just vacuuming, roll the rug up and take it outside. Find a good open space, and give the rug a hard shake. This requires a fair amount of physical strength. Shaking will dislodge larger items of debris and dust, but dust and hair will probably still be trapped in the pile. Small rugs can be shaken for longer, and this is likely to get them properly clean.
The next step in cleaning large loose rugs is an old-fashioned one: beating. Hang the rug over a washing line and start hitting it. If you can get hold of an old-fashioned carpet beater, this is ideal. Unfortunately for the rest of us, these are harder to come by – this writer has never seen one in an antique shop or a second-hand dealer’s store. A tennis racquet works pretty well, or even a very stout stick. Beat the carpet on both sides, working systematically over it. Be warned: this is exhausting work and you will appreciate why the vacuum cleaner was invented.
Very filthy rugs will have to be cleaned with soap and water. Smaller ones can be washed in a machine if they’re in good enough condition (frayed rugs will disintegrate). Larger ones, however, will have to be cleaned in situ. For this, you can hire a carpet cleaning machine and use it like you would for fixed carpets.
However, if you live in an area where hiring a carpet cleaner is unfeasible (for example, a remote rural area), then you can try cleaning it by hand. Use warm water, soap and a scrubbing brush. It’s best if this job is done outside, as it makes the job of rinsing much easier. Draping the rug over the washing line or a stout fence before beginning is also a wise idea if you lack the strength to lift and move a sodden carpet. To clean the carpet, sprinkle warm water over the pile, then rub soap in. Scrub to a foamy lather, like shampooing your hair. Afterwards, use a hose to rinse the foam (and dirt) out. This is a job best kept for when dry, settled weather is likely, as carpets take a long time to dry out again. Afterwards, woollen rugs seem to have a pleasant fluffy texture and can take a while to settle down again.
Do not wet-clean a carpet that is not colourfast. If you are not certain, then test an obscure corner with water and see what happens. If it is not colourfast, then you will have to keep to the beating and shaking methods.
Nick Vassilev is the founder of Anyclean, a successful cleaning company based in London, UK. His extensive knowledge about the cleaning industry helps him provide excellent cleaning services London and increased value for money to his clients.