Rugs are a great way to add style to your living space. The bright colors and bold patterns can beautifully complement your décor and complete the look of a room. However, rugs can start to look dull and drab if you don’t maintain them well.

Made of delicate fabrics or wool, a really nice rug can be more expensive than carpet. Regular care and cleaning will extend its life by years.


Where you place your rugs makes a difference in how often you’ll need to clean them. If it is in a high traffic area like an entryway or hallway, the rug will accumulate dirt and grime and quickly turn grungy. And if you have kids and pets, the rugs throughout your house will be much more prone to getting dirty.

While there are specific products and professionals that clean rugs, why spend extra when you can easily do the job yourself at home? If you’ve invested in a rug to liven up your living space and are wondering how to keep its beauty intact, worry no more!

how to clean a rug
Learn how to clean a rug properly

Whether it is general cleaning, stain removal, rug care tips or a quest to get a musty odor out of a rug, we have covered it all.

Read on to learn how you can clean a rug at home using simple household items and equipment.


Method 1: Basic Cleaning

Regular cleaning is essential to prevent dirt from settling in between the fibers of your rug. It will also prevent any stain buildup. Basic cleaning can be as simple as regularly vacuuming the rug. When there is deeply embedded dirt, a steam cleaner can help you deep clean it.

# Using a Vacuum Cleaner

use vaccum cleaner to clean a rug
Before and after vacuuming the rug

Vacuuming is the easiest way to pull the grime out of your rugs. In fact, you should vacuum your rugs once a week to keep them clean.

The right way to clean a rug is to vacuum both sides. However, if your rug is made of wool, vacuum only the front using just the basic suction. If it is made of synthetic fiber, you can vacuum the front and back, and also use a beater bar or brush attachment.

Also, if you have pets at home, simply vacuuming the rug will not suffice. You will need a hard-bristled brush to pull out the pet hair.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to clean a rug-vacuum cleaner

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Hard-bristled brush

Single-Step Method: Vacuum the carpet & use the brush to remove pet hair

clean a rug using a vacuum cleaner and a hard-bristled brush
First, vacuum the carpet and use a hard-bristled brush to remove any pet hair
  • If it is a synthetic rug, put the beater bar or brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
  • Turn the rug upside down and vacuum the back first. This will help break up dirt that has settled into it.
  • Turn over the rug and vacuum the front side using overlapping vertical and horizontal strokes. Make sure that you cover the entire area.
  • Avoid vacuuming any fringes or tassels, as the strong suction can rip them off. Fluff them with your fingers to remove any dirt.
  • Once you have thoroughly vacuumed the rug, use the hard brush to remove any pet hair clumped up with the rug fibers. Run the brush in the direction of the nap only.

Note: If small insects are calling your rug home, sprinkle some borax all over the rug. Let it sit for 20 minutes, then vacuum the rug thoroughly. The borax will cut through the exoskeleton of the pests and kill them instantly. It is also hazardous to their eggs and larvae.

However, make sure your pets and kids are nowhere near the area. Borax can be toxic if ingested.

clean a rug by vacuuming
Your rug now looks much better than before

# Using a Steam Cleaner

Sometimes vacuuming a rug multiple times still won’t budge the dirt. In this case, you can steam clean the deeply embedded grime out of the rug. Apart from deep cleaning the rug, the steaming process will also disinfect the fabric.

Most steam cleaners use detergents or carpet shampoos to remove dirt and stains. However, if you do not wish to use a chemical product, you can use white vinegar to clean a rug.


Note: Before you begin, check the care label on the rug to ensure it is water/steam safe. Also, carefully read the instruction manual for your steam cleaner to learn the correct way to operate it.

Single-Step Method: Fill the steam cleaner with hot water and detergent or vinegar & run it over the rug

use steam cleaner to clean a rug
Use a steam cleaner to get the deeply embedded dirt out of your carpet
  • Read the instructions on the carpet shampoo and stick to the mentioned quantities. A higher concentration can ruin the fabric.
  • While the steam cleaner will heat up the water itself, it is best to fill it with hot water.
  • Run the steam cleaner over the rug in overlapping strokes, horizontal strokes followed by overlapping vertical strokes.
  • Allow the rug to air-dry completely before you use it again. You can also place it on a drying rack. However, do not hang it out in the sun, as the strong sunlight can fade the color of your rug.
steam cleaning to clean a rug
Steam cleaning will remove the deeply embedded filth from your rug

Method 2: Stain Removal

how to clean a rug-stain removal
Before and after stain removal

Even if your rug has sustained a nasty stain, there is nothing to panic about. A mix of liquid dish soap with vinegar forms a gentle yet powerful spot treatment solution to cut through the toughest of stains.

While the dish soap breaks the grease, the acetic acid in vinegar helps pull the stain out of the fabric. You will need to dilute these ingredients first to make them safe for use on your pricey rug.

Caution: Do a patch test first on a hidden part of the rug to check for any color bleeding.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to clean a rug-stain removal

  • Liquid dish soap – ¼ teaspoon
  • White vinegar – ¼ teaspoon
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Spare cloth
  • Dishcloth

Step 1. Prepare the cleaning solution & pour it into a spray bottle

prepare cleaning solution to clean a rug
Combin water, liquid dish soap, and white vinegar to prepare the cleaning solution
  • Pour 1 cup of water into a container.
  • Add a ¼ teaspoon each of liquid dish soap and white vinegar.
  • Mix well until the soap dissolves completely.
transfer the cleaning solution to clean a rug
Transfer the cleaning solution to a spray bottle and screw on the nozzle
  • Funnel the solution into a small spray bottle and screw on the nozzle.

Step 2. Spray the solution on the stain & blot it with a clean cloth

spray and blot to clean a rug
Squirt the cleaning solution on the stains and blot with a piece of spare cloth
  • Spray the cleaning solution directly on the stain.
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Use a clean spare cloth to blot the stain. Continue blotting until the stain is transferred onto the cloth. Do not rub the stain, as it will mat up the fibers and also spread the stain.

Step 3. Clean the area with plain water

wash with a damp cloth to clean a rug
Do a final wash with a damp cloth to remove any remaining residue
  • Fold a dishcloth and soak it in plain water.
  • Dab it on the stain to pick up the leftover cleaning solution. Repeat a few times until the soapy residue is completely rinsed out.
  • Allow the rug to air-dry.

Method 3: Odor Removal

Rugs are also prone to developing a funky smell over time. It can be due to your pooch napping on it or the rug being left in storage for too long, which can make it smell musty. Sometimes a stain can also leave behind an unpleasant smell.

An easy and inexpensive solution to get rid of the odor is baking soda. The granules of baking soda work as an excellent absorbent to absorb the smell as well as any moisture that can contribute to the funky odor. In fact, you can also use baking soda to remove odor from your fridge.

Things you’ll need:

things needed to clean a rug-odor removal

  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner

Single-Step Method: Sprinkle baking soda on the rug & vacuum it up

use baking soda to clean a rug
Spread baking soda over the rug to absorb the foul odor and then vacuum
  • Sprinkle about 1 cup of baking soda all over the rug. Adjust the quantity as needed according to the size of your rug.
  • Let it sit for 1 to 2 days to allow it to absorb the smell and moisture.
  • Vacuum the rug thoroughly to remove the baking soda.
  • Repeat the process until the smell is gone for good.


  • Place durable doormats at all entries of your home to prevent the dirt from reaching your rugs and carpets.
  • Rotate your rug regularly to prevent the formation of wear tracks on the fibers. If you’ve slipped a rug under the furniture, keep shifting the furniture regularly to avoid color fading and dents in the fabric.
  • Always roll up your rug tightly when storing it away. This will prevent creases and folds.
  • If the dish soap and vinegar aren’t cutting it, mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 5 parts water and use it as a spot cleaning solution for stubborn stains. This blend will also help with mold and mildew stains.
  • If you wish to use vinegar for steam cleaning, mix water and vinegar in equal quantities and pour it into the water tank of the steam cleaner.