Rug Spot Cleaning Guidelines

Spot Cleaning Guidelines for Rugs

Following six basic guidelines will limit the potential damage to your rug.


First Guideline:  Timing.

Tend to debris, stains, and spills as quickly as possible.  Debris grinds deeper and stains set harder with time.


Second Guideline:  Dry Debris.

Use a dry method of vacuuming for dry debris (e.g., dirt, sand, ash, toner, or powder).  An early application of moisture on dry particulate may make the problem worse.


Third Guideline:  Liquids.

Blot or wet-vacuum liquids to avoid spreading the problem.  Only after you have extracted as much as possible by blotting or vacuuming should you potentially introduce a water or a liquid cleaner; otherwise, an early application of moisture may drive the problem deeper or expand the problem wider.


Fourth Guideline:  Technique.

Use a (1) white, clean, absorbent towel or (2) a smooth nozzle on your vacuum.  Stroke the yarn in one direction at least 10 times before stroking in a new direction.  The rug’s pile (i.e., yarn) can become permanently distorted by using a scrub brush or a back-and-forth scrubbing action.


Fifth Guideline:  Cleaning Agents.

Use a cleaning agent that is as mild as possible to ensure that your rug is not ruined by the cleaning agent.  Start with only tap water (which is almost a neutral 7.0 on the pH scale).  If water alone is insufficient, try a diluted, mild, alkaline cleaner (pH 7 to pH 10).  (We recommend Spot Out.)  Carefully follow the instructions if you use an over-the-counter rug cleaner.  (Test an unfamiliar cleaner in an inconspicuous area and inspect after 24 hours.)  Apply the cleaning agent to a white cloth.  Then, use the cloth to remove the stain.  The yarns for rugs are frequently more delicate than those of residential or commercial carpet.  Furthermore, the dyes in rugs are oftentimes less colorfast than the dyes used for residential or commercial carpet.  As a result, the dye may bleed or run in some delicate rugs, even with exposure to water.


Sixth Guideline and Last Step:  Rinse.

When finished, leave the floor free of cleaner residue and as dry as possible by rinsing and again blotting with a dry towel or extracting with a vacuum.

Remove Petroleum Byproducts

Use a clear solvent-based product to remove petroleum-based problems.  Petroleum byproducts include some inks, paints, markers, crayons, cosmetics, lipstick, lotion, sunscreen, furniture and shoe polish, lubricant, oil, grease, asphalt, and tar.  Solvent-based cleaners include rubbing or isopropyl alcohol, mineral spirits, lighter fluid, or acetone (as found in fingernail polish).  Again, apply the solvent to a towel.  Then, use the towel on your rug.

CAUTION:  Solvent liquids are flammable.  A solvent can delaminated a non-woven rug if allowed to seep to the backing.

Products with Risk

Some name-brand cleaners (especially “oxy” products) will alter your rug’s dye.  Most rugs are vulnerable to janitorial chemicals and industrial products, including strong acids or alkalines, bleaching agents, acne medicine, food or hair dyes, solvents, pesticides, petroleum byproducts, and more.  Tar and asphalt residue can permanently yellow rugs, carpet, stone, hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and rubber flooring.


Read:  Stain Removal Guide for specific instructions. Read:  How to Maintain a Commercial Rug for general maintenance instructions. Read:  How to Maintain a Residential Rug for general maintenance instructions.