With any carpet or rug it is important to keep it maintained properly and spot clean accidents as soon as it happens. But normal wear and tear will happen and when it gets too dirty a full cleaning will be necessary. So what do you do…. take it to a Professional Cleaner or Do It Yourself? Have you been pondering spending that money on a professional area rug cleaner? Hopefully these tips can help make your desicion a little easier, we will go over what it takes to clean and area rug, and then we will compare it to what it would take to get it professionally cleaned. In order to keep your rug well maintained you will want to probably have your area rugs cleaned every 6 – 9 months, depending on the amount of traffic it gets. Some rugs that are rarely seen or stepped on can take 1 – 2 years to get to the point where a full cleaning needs to be done. Mostly, vacuuming and spot cleaning these unseen rugs are plenty to keep it in good shape. But a foyer or living and dining room rugs that are walked over multiple times a day will inevitibly get dirty much sooner.
When it come time to do a full cleaning it is important that you know what type of rug you have and if their are any special precautions to take when cleaning. Some area rugs are made of very delicate materials, such as silk, or fur, which require very special attention when cleaning, and will require a professional.
For most rugs though a gentle carpet cleaning machine will work just fine. You can either buy these at any Wally World (Walmart for those who are unfamiliar with the term), or any store of the like. You can also rent a carpet cleaner from most grocery stores. Each type of carpet cleaner has its own set of instructions and sometimes a special cleaner is required. (Please read all the instructions prior to starting any cleaning job!) Other carpet machines don’t require a particular cleaner, but either way a cleaner will be needed.
With the variety of cleaners on the market it is very difficult to know which ones will work best on your area rug, and if the cleaner has additives for pet stains, or odor, or mildew, it can be quite a headache. The best thing to do is try something that has the least amount of ingredients in it, especially for brightly colored area rugs, and almost always opt for a NON-BLEACH cleaner. It is not uncommon for commercial cleaning products to have ingredients that can make dyes bleed, which is unfixable. With this being said it is also important to do a patch test on the rug to make sure the cleaner you did buy will not make your colors bleed.
To do a patch test just apply a small amount of cleaner (mixed with water if the direction instruct), and dab a small amount onto a small unnoticeable area of the rug. Wait for about 30 minutes and if the colors don’t bleed you should be good to go.
After you have patch tested and picked a good cleaner you can start cleaning your rug. Make sure to follow the individual instructions given by the manufacture. Also, it is important when cleaning to make sure you have your rug laid out on a flat, hard surface that you wont mind getting wet; smooth concrete like in your garage will work just fine for this. (Make sure this area is also clean of any dirt, and debris).
During cleaning it is important to avoid suctioning the fringe, the fringe could very easily get caught in the brushes of the carpet cleaner and rip them from the rug. Also it is very important to make sure you extract as much water from the rug as possible. Suction up the water several more times than you think it needs. This will ensure that your rug doesn’t sit in water and potentially start to mildew.
After you have cleaned the rug, cleaning the fringe must be done. Because you shouldn’t suck up the fringe in the carpet cleaning machine, this has to be done by hand. You can take a spray bottle filled with your cleaning solution and spray it onto the fringe – it does not need to be saturated! Take a cleaning brush and proceed to brush the fringe, paying special attention to any spots or stains it might have. ALWAYS BRUSH YOUR FRINGE IN ITS NATURAL DIRECTION TO AVOID WARPING AND TEARING THE FRINGE! Continue to do this until you feel that it is pretty clean. Now you can take a spray bottle with some clean hot water and spray it over the fringe, wiping it again. Do this process a couple of times to ensure you are getting the cleaner out. After you feel that the cleaner is mostly out take a dry clean towel or rug and push down firmly over each part of the fringe, letting the water transfer into the rag. Once the rag gets wet, get a new one and continue until the fringe has been mostly dried.
Now you can let the rug dry for 6 – 8 hours and it will be ready to go. When drying you can either let it lay on the floor, but the best practice would be to hang it up so that the fringe hangs freely, but often times it is not easy to find a large enough spot to hang up an area rug. If you have enough space in your garage you can hang it over 2 chairs that are back to back, and if its small enough, hanging it over the bathtub would be easy as well.
So now you know the steps you will have to take to DIY, and is it worth it? Well lets see… buying or renting a carpet cleaner can be pretty expensive, buying can easily set you back a couple hundred, while renting can set your back $50 or so bucks. So for the sake of arguing, you are out $75 off the break for the cleaning machine… then you need to purchase cleaner, which can average $10 – $25, making your total at about $100. Then you add in the time it takes to do a patch test, clean the rug, extract all the water, clean the fringe, extract all the water, so lets say about 2 hours for a 6 x 8 area rug, and then about 6 – 8 hours for drying time. This doesn’t include any extra time it would take to spot clean all the spots and stains from the rug (which could easily take another hour or two). This also assumes that you have the space to adequetly lay out the rug and hang it to dry.
Now when you have your rug professionally cleaned, your cost will rise, and sometimes quite significantly. Rug cleaners can charge anywhere from $0.50 – $3 per square foot, depending on the rug and the amount of attention it needs. So in order to estimate how much your rug will cost you can do a simple formula. Take the length of the rug and multiply it by the width of the rug. Now take that number and multiple it by $1.50 (about average), and you will come up with a figure that will be a really rough estimate to get your rug cleaned. Using our formula on a 6 x 8 rug would make the price for professionally cleaning your rug around $72, which doesn’t include any pickup or delivery fee (which often enough can be avoided by dropping the rug off yourself and picking it up yourself). So basically you are getting a better service for about the same price.
So if you have the money to get them cleaned you will probably want to go with a professional for most rugs. Any rugs over 50 sq. ft will start to get more expensive, but you will surely save yourself some time, and the work done can be guarenteed by the rug professional. Also a rug professional will be able to give you some tips to keep it clean and well maintained so you won’t have to bring it back as often.
Basically it boils down to your preference of time or money, and the size of your rug. DIY will save you maybe a couple bucks with bigger rugs or multiple cleanings, but most likely you will not get as good of a result as you would if you get it professionally done. Having your rug professionally cleaned will ensure the integrity of the rug, done to high standards by people who look at rugs often.
Hopefully this helps your decision!