Is It Safe To Wash Area Rugs At Home?
Learn more about the types of rugs you can throw in the wash and how you can avoid a damaged piece
A rug can help define a space. It gives character and can instantly add warmth to any room—regardless of its material, shape, and size. However, without proper care, we all know that a rug can easily lose its charm as it accumulates dirt, dust, and even allergens over time. If left dirty and dusty, a soiled rug can affect your interiors and make it look cramped and gloomy.
Since a rug is an investment that needs tender loving care, it's essential to know how to care for it. Keep in mind that various rugs require different care patterns. In most cases, you will find a cheat sheet attached to the underside of every rug, known as the care tag. Make sure you read it before attempting to wash your piece as not all types of rugs can be washed and dried. Depending on the material, dye, and size, here are some things to consider before throwing your rug in the wash:
Materials to look out for:
Rugs made of plant-based materials (usually made of sisal, jute, and seagrass) should be cleaned with little to no water
Make sure that you follow the direction of the hair when cleaning
Should not be saturated in water or cleaning materials; do not scrub as the yarn may fuzz
Cleaning rugs made of the abovementioned materials only requires vacuuming. Remember to blot spills immediately to avoid stains. Professional cleaning is recommended for larger stains and general cleaning. Do not try to machine-wash these rugs.
Rugs that you can launder
Rugs made of cotton or cotton blends (a combination of cotton and another material) can (almost) always be thrown in the wash. Just make sure you do spot cleaning first to check its color-fastness—you wouldn't want to find out that the dyes run when it's too late to pull the rug out.
You will find that olefin, polyester, acrylic, nylon or a blend of materials can be hand washed—but it's not advisable to put it in the machine. Some materials are more brittle than others and won’t hold its shape if machine-laundered.
Before washing, make sure you shake off loose dirt and dust from the rug. Once the rug is loaded, set the machine on full load and on delicate cycle. See to it that the rug has enough room to move. Do not use too much detergent and choose a mild kind. After the machine cycle, always hang your rug to air dry.
Bonus tips to keep in mind:
- The size of your machine should also be in proportion to the size of your rug. Bath rugs and smaller area rugs can go in the wash, but you might want to hand-wash or use industrial washing machines for bigger-sized rugs (around 4’x6’ and up).
- Small, braided rugs made of cotton or synthetic fibers should be placed in mesh laundry bags before washing. This will prevent too much stretching of the rug—helping retain its shape.
- Some rugs have non-skid rubber backing, note that these can easy crumble when laundered. Anything larger than a bath mat should be brought to a professional for washing.
Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]gmail.com.
Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at]gmail.com with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.
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