Spot cleaning of area rugs helps to reduce stains, but a professional will clean it more thoroughly.

A clean area rug is a stylish and popular accessory in many households. It beautifies the home and makes it cozy and inviting.

Area rugs, however, are exposed to tremendous wear and tear on a daily basis. They trap dust, dirt, mud, odors and oils due to heavy foot traffic, pet accidents, smoking and spills. A proper area rug cleaning and maintenance routine will prolong the life of your rug, and prevent it from wearing out prematurely.

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Avoid store-bought carpet shampoo on area rugs

Some homeowners prefer DIY methods and spot clean their area rugs at home with store-bought carpet shampoos and detergents. Unfortunately, these harsh cleaners are designed for wall-to-wall carpeting with synthetic fibers. These carpet shampoos are not designed for natural fiber rugs.

Area rugs have rich dyes that may easily bleed and discolor not only the rug itself, but also the floor underneath. Some of this damage may be irreversible.

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In the event of a spill and stain, blot all excess liquid with a cloth or paper towel. Loosen the stain with a little club soda, if necessary.

One advantage to hiring a company that specializes in cleaning Oriental rugs, for instance, is that most will pick up your rug and reinstall it.

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Area rug cleaning vs. carpet cleaning

Carpet cleaners are often mistaken for area rug cleaners. However, the process of carpet cleaning is completely different than the one for area rug cleaning.

Carpet cleaners come to your home and steam clean your area rug right then and there. They add abrasive carpet cleaners to wash your area rug then extract the water, often leaving detergent residue that accumulates in the rug and makes natural fibers clump and stick to each other.

Moreover, a heavy area rug may remain damp for at least 24 to 48 hours, enough time to start breeding bacteria and mold.

The surface below an area rug can be damaged in the process, not only due to possible discoloration from bleeding dyes, but also from the dampness and humidity of a wet rug. Steam cleaning is standard for synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting, but it’s not appropriate and is often damaging to delicate, handmade and natural fiber rugs, such as wool and silk.

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Professional area rug cleaning

Professional area rug cleaners come to your home to inspect your rug. They analyze the fibers, dyes, origin and condition of the rug to determine the appropriate cleaning solution. They take the time to answer questions and give an estimate for the proposed work.

Once you’re satisfied with the best approach, your rug is taken to a dedicated facility where the rug is analyzed again in even greater detail. It is dusted using a gentle compressed air technique that removes dirt and small particles. Your rug is then hand cleaned and gently rinsed to avoid color runs.

Just like the washing process is particular to your type of area rug, so is the drying method.

Some rugs are hung to dry naturally, with gravity pulling the water out, while others are dried flat and some are dried using a fresh air breeze. During the rug-drying process, trained technicians comb, brush or fluff the pile to bring out the natural beauty of your rug. No harsh chemicals or rough machines are ever used to wash or dry your area rugs.

After vacuuming and grooming the rug one more time, there is a final inspection to make sure the results are satisfactory. If they are not, the process is repeated. Once the area rug is looking and smelling great, the area rug is then delivered to your home and placed according to your specifications.