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An area rug is not only beautiful, functional and practical, but it can be a worthwhile investment if you choose one that was made by skilled hand. These classic rugs are often considered family heirlooms which can result in a single rug being passed down generation after generation. Because of this, and because these rugs aren’t that cheap to begin with, it’s important to know how to clean and maintain your area rug so it will last for as many generations as you intend it to. Here are a few proven practices for keeping your area rug looking its best.
Vacuuming
Vacuuming an area rug is recommended for routine cleaning, although it is important that you watch the fringes as they can be pulled out by the vacuum’s rotating brush. If the rug is hand-made, it is recommended to carefully lift the rug and turn it over to vacuum the underside. Since a lot of dirt will fall through the weave, use the vacuum’s wand attachment to pick up any dirt left behind on the floor.
Spot and Stain Removal
If water is spilled on the area rug, blot it up immediately and use a hair drier (on a warm setting) to dry both side of the rug. If a colored liquid is spilled on the rug, blot the excess up immediately and cover the spot with salt or baking soda. Wait for the spot to dry and then vacuum up the salt or baking soda.
If the stain is severe, professional rug cleaners are available but check for color-fastness before using these powerful products on your area rug. Meanwhile, if the stain is an old one, don’t try cleaning it yourself or you might make it worse. Instead, take it to a professional cleaner who specializes in treating hand-made rugs.
Rotate the Rug Annually
Once a year you should rotate the area rug. This will help ensure a more even wear and reduce the chance of one part of the rug wearing faster than another. If the rug is exposed to sunlight, you may even consider rotating it twice a year to allow even color fading across the surface of the rug.
How to Clean an Area Rug
Only machine-made area rugs should be cleaned at home; hand-made rugs should be taken to a professional rug cleaner that specializes in cleaning hand-made rugs. Machine-made rugs can usually be scrubbed with soap and water and some may even be able to be placed in a washing machine. If you have a machine-made area rug, check the manufacturer’s label to find the cleaning recommendations for your rug.
Storing an Area Rug
If you are storing your area rug for a while, it is important that you roll the rug instead of folding it. Before storing the rug, vacuum it or have it professionally cleaned. If the rug is made from natural fibers, you may want to pack it with mothballs to keep insects away.
Don’t Baby Your Rug – Use It!
One of the best things you can do to your area rug is to use it. Don’t cover it up with plastic or some other protective material; it’s a rug and it’s meant to be walked on. Plus, walking on a rug will give it character that will only serve to increase its beauty and value.
Area rugs aren’t cheap, so use these maintenance and cleaning tips to keep it looking its best but don’t forget, you should also enjoy your investment!

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