Srini asked: How do I clean a rug that was left out in the rain? It now smells musty and damp. What is the best way to clean it and make it usable? The rug is made of synthetic materials and is 3 feet by 5 feet in size.
Rugs get a lot of use and can quickly become soiled and sometimes develop a smell. Fortunately, the cleaning process is quick and simple using your regular washing machine. If the rug is too large to fit into a washer, then it will need to either be washed by hand in a bathtub or cleaned in the same way as a carpet. See the Additional Tips section below for more methods of cleaning an area rug.
Cleaning the Rug in the Washing Machine
You Will Need:
- Laundry detergent
- Stain remover (optional)
- White vinegar
- Drying rack (optional)
Steps to Clean the Rug:
- Most synthetic materials are machine washable. Check the care instructions on your particular rug if you are unsure.
- First, shake out the rug outside to remove as much dirt and debris as possible.
- Begin by pre-treating any stained areas as necessary with a stain removing spray or stick.
- Place the rug into the washing machine with a few towels or other items to help keep the machine balanced (for top-loading washers).
- Add the appropriate amount of laundry detergent.
- Set the machine to wash on the gentle cycle using warm water.
- Allow the machine to run through the washing cycle as normal.
- Add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. For front load washers, add the vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that will help to remove the musty smell.
- To dry the rug, place it in the dryer on a low-heat setting.
- If the care instructions do not allow for drying, hang it over a drying rack, shower curtain rod or on a clothesline and allow it to air-dry.
Hand Washing the Rug in the Bathtub
You Will Need:
- Mild laundry detergent
- White vinegar
Steps to Wash the Rug:
- Flip the rug over and shake it to remove as much dirt and debris as possible.
- For very dirty rugs, vacuum them with the upholstery brush attachment on the hose, going over the dirtiest areas several times.
- Fold the rug like an accordion.
- Fill the tub with enough water to cover the rug. Use lukewarm water.
- Pour some mild laundry detergent like Woolite or Dreft into the tub and move your hand around in the water to mix the detergent.
- Put the rug in the tub.
- Pump your hand on the rug to move the water around on it and if possible, through it. Lift the various folds to move the water through them.
- After you have pumped the water around the rug for several minutes, drain the tub.
- Refill the tub with water and add a cup or two of white vinegar. (Use one cup for half a tub of water, two cups for a whole tub.)
- Pump the rug again to remove the soap and move the vinegar around.
- Drain the water from the tub again.
- Step on the rug to squeeze out excess water.
- Hang the rug over the shower curtain rod to dry.
- Turn on the bathroom fan and point any freestanding fans you have toward the rug to speed the drying process.
- When the bulk of the water has been removed, press the rug with a towel to remove more of the remaining water.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- Check the quality and condition of the rug prior to washing. Some cheaper rugs come with a rubber backing that is not made to be washed. These rugs should either be washed by hand or simply purchase a new one to replace the damaged one.
- Rugs with rubber backing should never be put in hot water or put in the dryer. In the dryer, they can even catch fire.
- If washing the rug in the bathtub, be sure to rinse the soap out completely or the residue will attract future dirt and dust build up.
- Steam cleaning is one of the best ways to clean area rugs as it uses a minimum amount of moisture, which will drastically decrease drying time. The steam is usually efficient for deodorizing in addition to killing bacteria.
- Sunlight is a natural cleaner and deodorizer. If you can hang the rug outside in the sun for an hour, that will help to remove any odors and bacteria that may be on it. Hanging it over a clothesline or porch railing allows the air to circulate through and around it.
- Beating the dust out of a rug outside is the traditional way of cleaning it. A tennis racket is a great tool for this.
- Clean It Fast, Clean It Right by Jeff Bredenberg
- The Cleaning Encyclopedia by Don Aslett
- 10,001 Hints & Tips for the Home by Reader’s Digest