You don't have to pay professionals to get a deep clean on your area rugs.

Alaina Ralph Living Room
What is now the family room was once a porch. From the windows to the couches, Ralph embraced the space's connection to the outdoors. She emphasized three walls of tall windows (a rare feature for low-slung ranch houses) by dressing them in unlined, sheer curtains to capitalize on the light pouring through. She had the sofas built extra deep to maximize comfort and outfitted them in indoor/outdoor fabric (Tisket Tasket in Sea Salt; "If we were going to be daring enough to go with a cream fabric in the family room, it had to be a material that could easily be bleached," adds Ralph. Ralph grounded the cream walls (Benjamin Moore's Seapearl, OC-19) with a berry- and coral-colored vintage kilim rug.
| Credit: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Liz Strong

Of all the areas in the house we have to clean, one always seems to require more frequent attention than others—the floors. Even if you're an extremely tidy cook or require everyone who enters your house to take off their shoes, dirty floors are inevitable. Most of us are good about staying on top of regular sweeping and vacuuming, but what about deep cleaning your rugs? Those soft surfaces can take a beating if they're in a high-traffic area—and if there's any sort of pattern or dark coloring, it may hide how dirty it really is. *Cringe.*

As opposed to carpeting, rugs do have a big advantage when it comes to cleaning: You can take them out of your house to do so. And to get the best deep cleaning, you definitely should. If you're ready to get a head start on your spring cleaning and want to skip the cost of paying professionals, check out the tips below for getting your area rugs super clean.

First, Should You DIY?

There are a couple exceptions to which rugs you can get away with cleaning yourself, and you probably know if yours fall into this category already. Any antique or Persian rug, or anything super delicate should be left to the professionals. You don't want a DIY fluke to ruin an expensive heirloom. Also, if you have an area rug that is simply too large for you to maneuver, it certainly makes sense to pay for help. On the flip side, if you have a small, lightweight rug that is safe to go in the washing machine, let it do the work.

Dry Cleaning

As a step up from your regular vacuuming, you can give any high-traffic rugs a fairly deep cleaning every few months without getting any water involved. You'll still want to do this outside, so as to not get dust all over your house. First, shake out the rug as much as possible to dump any already-loose debris. Then, sprinkle some baking soda over the top of your rug (to help neutralize any odors) and thoroughly vacuum both sides of the rug (be careful with the setting you use, though, so you don't wear out the fibers).

If you're able to drape the rug over something sturdy (a fence or pick-up tailgate works great), go the old-school route and hit the rug with a broom handle or something similar to dislodge any caked-in dirt and dust. If a lot comes off, you might want to vacuum one more time.

Wet Cleaning

Once a year, or anytime dirt and stains have visibly built up, you'll want to do a deep, soap-and-water scrubbing of your area rugs.

First, check the material of your rug. If it's wool, use as little water as necessary—follow the below steps but use a rag to apply and wash off soap. Don't saturate the rug. If it's jute or sisal, avoid using water altogether and stick with the dry cleaning steps. Many area rugs are made of synthetic fibers, though, and can handle being soaked with water.

Start by following the dry-cleaning steps above, and then mix up a cleaning solution. If you want to use a specific rug shampoo, follow the directions on the bottle. Or, you can use a mild dish or laundry detergent in a bucket of warm water (not hot, as that can shrink the rug). A few suds will go a long way.

Before you get started, test a corner of the rug with your cleaning solution to make sure the colors don't bleed. Let it dry completely, and if the colors do run, you'll want to consult a professional.

Take a soft cleaning brush and work your cleaning solution into rug. Make sure the rug gets completely wet and scrub the soap in all over the rug. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes and then rinse your rug with a waterhose until the water runs clear. You can use a pressure washer to do the rinsing as long as it's not harming the rug—it certainly will save you time. You may have to flip the rug a couple times to get all the soap out.

Let the rug completely dry before bringing it back in your home—it may take up to a couple days. If you have a squeegee or wet-dry vacuum, that can help get a lot of the initial water out. Several hours out in the sun can do the trick, or prop the rug up on boxes and run a fan on it overnight. Once your rug is completely dry, it might feel a little stiff. Once it's back in its home, a once-over with the vacuum should soften it up.