How to clean a rug without causing damage

< Back

Picture 150

Rugs can become tired and filthy quickly, especially if they’re placed in a high-traffic area of your home. Cleaning up spills and dirt as soon as they appear is the best way to keep your rug looking as good as new, but if life has gotten in the way and you’ve not been able to keep on top of it, you should be able to get it clean without much trouble by following the advice below.


How to clean rugs

When it comes to how to clean our rug, there are certain precautions you need to follow to make sure you don’t cause any damage. Although synthetic rugs can usually take a bit of a bashing, finer, hand-woven rugs may be more delicate. Below, we’ve outlined general rug cleaning advice for area rugs that need a freshen up.


A word of warning: not all rugs can be washed or vacuumed. You should be very careful to follow advice specific to your rug by checking the rugs label, or to contact the manufacturer or producer of your rug to check what you can and can’t do before cleaning.

If you’re unsure, it’s always best to approach professionals for advice or their services to make sure you don’t end up causing any damage. If you have a Frith Rug, refer to our product care page.



Cleaning Washable Rugs

If your rug is labelled as washable, you’re in luck. You can usually afford to get these rugs wet and give them a bit of a scrub. Wait for a dry, sunny day as you’ll need to get your rug dried as quickly as possible after cleaning to prevent damp smelling fibres.



  • Vacuum
  • Rug shampoo; choose one specific to your rug type
  • Tarp larger than our rug, or similar
  • Garden hose
  • Sturdy, soft-bristled brush


Cleaning steps

1. Vacuum up dirt and debris – choose an appropriate setting for your rug, ensuring that if it has a beater bar, this is set for the rugs pile depth. Your vacuum should have soft bristles, and you might want to unplug and give it a clean before using it on your rug. Vacuum thoroughly in both directions. Be aware that some rugs can not be vacuumed, and doing so might ruin them

2. (Optional) Shake and/or beat yourrug – if you can manage it, take your rug outside, and shake off any remaining dirt. For larger rugs, you can drape them over a washing line and beat them. If you have a larger rug, this will probably be a two-person job, and you should make sure to do this on a dry day

3.Take it outside and prepare to clean – if you haven’t already, take your rug outside and place it in a clear, dirt and dust-free area. We suggest laying down a tarp or similar to stop your rug touching the ground directly.

4. Test your shampoo – apply some of your shampoo and a bit of water to an inconspicuous area of your rug and leave it for a few hours. On return, check that the shampoo has caused no damage. If it hasn’t, you should be okay to proceed

5. Hose it down – get your washable rug wet with the garden hose, or if you don’t have a hose, buckets of water. It needs to be very damp to let the shampoo get right into the fibres so don’t be shy

5. Scrub it down – apply shampoo to your rug and work it in with your brush, working with the pile where possible, and not against it. Leave the shampoo to soak in – timings for this will be specified on the product label

6. Rinse off - once you’ve worked up a good foam and attacked all the stains on the rug, it’s time to rinse it down. Grab your hose and rinse until all the soap is gone

7. Dry your rug – now, you have the task of getting your rug bone dry as fast as possible. Use a squeegee to push excess water off and away from the rug. When you’ve done all you can with that, loosely roll the rug up and stand it upright, squeezing it gently to let the water drain out. Drape the rug over something sturdy enough to hold it, ensuring air can get under and above the rug. Leave it to dry out completely before bringing back inside

8. One last vacuum – restore the pile of the rug by giving it one last vacuum once it is dry and back inside



Cleaning Delicate Rugs

Some rugs, like antique, Indian, and Bokhara rugs are a lot more delicate and need specific care giving to them. These rugs are usually made with natural fibres like wool, and their dye may run when moisture is applied to them. Excessive pressure or suction from a vacuum could also damage the pile.

If you aren’t confident in cleaning these rugs, you can hire a professional to do it for you. In any case, proceed with caution. The advice below is for spot cleaning the rugs to freshen up areas that have been soiled.



  • Vacuum
  • Rug shampoo; choose one specific to your rug type
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Tea towels and paper towels


Cleaning steps

1. Follow step 1 and 2 above – follow the first two steps for Washable rugs, being careful not to have your vacuum’s suction setting too high

2. Test your cleaning product – test your rug shampoo on an inconspicuous corner and leave it to settle for a few hours before proceeding

3.Prepare your cleaning product - fill a tub with water and the correct measurement of rug shampooas specified on the label

4. Gently clean soiled areas - Slightly dampen one of your microfibre cloths and dab the rug gently, making sure to work the cloth with the pile of the rug, not against it. You can either stick to cleaning areas that look dirty, or work your way around the whole rug, being careful to not get the rug wet

5. Rinse and repeat – if needed, repeat the process with clean water

6. Dry your rug – get your rug dried out as quickly as possible. Use your tea towels and paper towels to blot off any excess moisture and dry naturally outside


Guides for cleaning specific rug types



How often should you clean your rug?

We recommend deep cleaning your rug (or hiring a professional to do the job) at least once every 12 months.

You should be vacuuming your rug once or twice a week, depending how often it’s walked over. Leaving it un-vacuumed means dust and dirt gets worked further down into the fibres, making it harder to clean completely.


Enjoy a clean, dirt-free rug

We hope you’ve found the above advice helpful, and that you can not go ahead and clean up your favourite rug without worrying about causing damage. Remember, when in doubt, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions!

If your rug has really seen better days and it’s time for a new one, feel free to browse our selection of rugs online or find your nearest Frith Rugs store to browse in person.


Haven't registered yet? Register here