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Area Rug Maintenance is Easy

rug-maintenance

Copyright © Rugs Direct ®

No, you don’t need a belt full of tools to properly maintain and care for your area rugs. In fact, keeping an area rug looking new is actually pretty easy. With a little bit of attention it can last a long, long time and withstand a great deal of use.

The single most important tool you’ll need doesn’t fit very well on a belt – your vacuum cleaner. Most of the dirt, sand, dust and debris that ends up on your area rug can be removed easily with a simple vacuuming. (Liquid spills are another matter completely and we’ve covered them in a separate article. Click here if you would like to read it.)

New rugs often have a certain amount of “fuzz” that frequently appears on top of the rug. This is normal and is not an indication that there is something wrong with your rug. It is simply loose fibers that are created during the weaving process that work their way to the surface over time. If they bother you, simply vacuum more frequently. In some cases it may take several months for all of the “fuzz” to disappear. Many people get frustrated and feel they have received a defective product when the “fuzz” continually reappears. Please don’t be one of them!

After all the fuzzies are gone, a thorough vacuuming once ever two weeks is probably sufficient. If you can flip the rug over and vacuum the back as well, that is ideal. Ground-in dirt will actually be closer to the bottom than the top and it is easier for the vacuum to suck it out from there than the surface.

One important note of caution: if your rug has fringe, DO NOT run the vacuum over it. This should be obvious, but based upon how many ruined fringed rugs we see, it apparently is not. Nothing will damage the fringe on a rug more than spinning it around your vacuum’s beater bar. Not only will you have to immediately stop the vacuum and carefully unwind the fibers, but there’s a good chance you will literally tear them off the rug. Not good. Not easy to fix. Just don’t do it.

For braided rugs and flatweaves, avoid using the vacuum’s beater bar entirely. Use the hard-floor attachment instead. Rugs constructed in these ways are too easy to snag and pull with a spinning beater bar and suction alone will usually do a great job of pulling out all the dirt.

A few tips that will extend the life of your rug:

  • At least once a year, rotate your rug 180 degrees. This will ensure the rug gets even exposure to light and wear and will therefore maintain a consistent look over time. Any fading will be spread evenly and no pile will be worn down more than any other.
  • For braided and flatwoven rugs, also flip them in addition to rotating. They are made to be reversible, so reverse them to even out the wear. This will literally double the life of the rug.
  • If you ever encounter a pull or loose thread on your rug, go to the drawer, get a pair of scissors and carefully trim the offending fiber close to the surface of the rug. DO NOT PULL! Remember, a rug is a very intricately woven product. Pulling out a tread can do more damage than you can imagine to the entire structure of the rug.
  • Many people opt not to put a quality pad underneath their rug. We hear lots of excuses why, but none of them are valid. A rug pad does much more than simply keep the rug from slipping on a wooden floor, although this is an extremely important safety concern. It also cushions and protects the rug – and keeps it looking new much, much longer. Instead of crushing the rug into the floor with each step you take on it, the pad absorbs the weight – not the rug’s fibers. Kind of makes sense, huh? So please put a pad under your rug – especially if it’s going to be placed on a hardwood floor.

See how easy it is to care for your fine-quality area rugs? You don’t need a lot of tools – just a good vacuum cleaner and a pair of scissors – nor do you need to invest a lot of time to keep your investment in rugs paying you back with many years of comfort and enjoyment.

If you would like to shop for area rugs at the nation’s leading source, Rugs Direct, please click here.

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Spills Are Inevitable – Rug Stains Are Not

Spilled wine on carpet

Copyright © Rugs Direct ®

It happens to everyone. You finally find the perfect area rug for your home (at Rugs Direct, of course); you carefully position it on the floor in just the right place; your rearrange the furniture so everyone can get a good look at your new treasure – and sure enough, someone spills something really nasty right in the middle of it. Don’t panic. If you know what to do, it’s possible – even probable – that you’ll be able to prevent a permanent stain. But you must resist that temptation to grab a towel and start scrubbing the spot. Nothing could be worse for your beautiful rug.

Here are the proper “first-response” actions you should take to treat the most common household spills that have the greatest potential for damage.

One note of caution: These instructions are primarily intended for use on typical wool rugs. For any synthetic fiber, a Resolve® or Woolite®
carpet spot remover spray will work on most stains. Follow product
directions closely. Do not use either of these cleaners on a natural fiber rug,
including wool, cotton and sisal.

Blood

  1. Add cold water and blot.
  2. First solution: Mix one teaspoon of Dawn® dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of warm water.
  3. Blot stain.
  4. Last solution: Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar with above cleaning solution.
  5. Blot.

Please notice nowhere were you told to “rub” the stain. Blot – and continue blotting until it comes out. Do not rub. I repeat – DO NOT RUB!

Ink

  1. Mix one teaspoon of Dawn® dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Blot stain.
  3. If stain does not disappear, blot with isopropyl alcohol.

There are commercial ink-removers on the market that can do an excellent job, but be sure to test an area of the rug first. They sometimes also remove color from the rug as well.

Drinks – wine, coffee, soda, juice, etc.

  1. Add cold water and blot.
  2. Mix one teaspoon of Dawn® dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of warm water.
  3. Blot stain.
  4. If stain does not disappear, mix one teaspoon of white vinegar with Dawn mixture and try again.

Nail Polish

  1. Blot with a cloth containing either hairspray or isopropyl alcohol.
  2. If stain does not disappear, mix water and nail polish remover on cloth and blot.

Make sure you test the nail polish remover/water mixture on a small corner of the rug. Of course the best recommendation here is don’t have an open bottle of nail polish anywhere near your new rug – but I guess that’s pretty obvious.

Food – ketchup, mustard, chocolate, sauces, etc.

  1. Mix one teaspoon of Dawn® dishwashing liquid with 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Blot stain.

Again, do not rub! That is only going to work the stain deeper into the rug and you will most likely never get it to be completely invisible.

Pet Stains

Rugs and animals typically do not mix. But when your cat or dog ultimately decides your area rug looks an awful lot like a public toilet, here’s what you should do.

  1. Soak up as much as possible, applying pressure with many, many paper towels.
  2. Mix one teaspoon of Dawn® dishwashing liquid. one teaspoon of white vinegar and one cup of warm water.
  3. Blot stain.
  4. Blot stain.
  5. Blot stain.
  6. Repeat.

There are commercial pet odor eliminators that you should consider using once you are finally able to remove the stain. The main reason is that if Fido can still smell any trace of his handiwork with his incredibly sensitive nose, that will simply signal to him that it’s OK to do it again. (I suspect he secretly enjoys watching you down on your hands and knees cleaning up after him, but that’s another topic for a future blog.) More rugs are ruined by pets than any other single source, so do your best to prevent the problem from ever happening in the first place.

Of course if all else fails there’s a good chance most of these stains can be removed professionally, but there are no guarantees. The longer a stain is allowed to set, the harder it is to remove it. That’s why quick action while the spill is still wet is critical.

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The Vacuum: Your Area Rug’s Best Friend

vacuum-rug
Copyright © Rugs Direct ®

Most people who purchase area rugs for their homes want them to last a long time. Yes they are a very economical way to decorate a room and certainly are a lot easier to change than wall color or furniture, but it’s not unreasonable to expect them to provide many years or comfort and enjoyment. With proper care, this is more than possible.

A vacuum cleaner is by far your rug’s best friend. This type of maintenance alone can add years of life to your rug and help maintain its new appearance for a long, long time. But it must be done regularly – and correctly – for best results.

First of all, keep in mind that your area rug is made of fibers. It is not a solid sheet of material, such as linoleum, nor is it an impervious material such as is used in tiles. Dirt and moisture can work themselves into – and under – the fabric of the rug and can even cause it to separate. This is why it is important to vacuum your rug regularly. How often? That completely depends upon where it is used and how much foot traffic it gets. Near a busy entry way or door, you may need to vacuum several times a week. In a spare guest bedroom, probably once a week is more than enough.

The point is, you don’t want dirt to be ground into the fibers of the rug. Frequent once-overs with your vacuum cleaner will prevent this from happening.

On a side note, we’ve all seen photos or scenes in movies where someone hangs their area rug on a clothesline or over a fence and beats the dust and dirt out of it with a broom or tennis racket. There is absolutely nothing worse for your rug than this! (Well, there actually IS one thing worse, but it involves misbehaved animals who don’t know the difference between your rug and the great outdoors – but that’s a whole other issue.) Do NOT beat your rug to clean it! First of all, it’s not very effective or efficient. You’re not going to be able to get all of the dirt out this way. But more importantly, it could ruin the rug. It will most certainly shorten its life. You may cause the threads to loosen and damage the backing to the rug. It might be a great physical workout for you, but it is devastating to the structural integrity of your beautiful floor covering.

There is debate in the world of area-rug care as to whether you should use the beater bar on your vacuum or not when cleaning a rug. At Rugs Direct we are of the strong opinion that sometimes you should and sometimes you shouldn’t. If the rug is tightly woven and of heavy materials, then the beater bar is probably necessary to get it clean. Set it for as short a pile height as you can so you don’t run the risk of tearing any of the fibers loose. Otherwise, use the standard hard-floor attachment and be sure to anchor the rug (or stand on it) so that it doesn’t get pulled up into the vacuum.

If your rug has fringe, make sure you don’t inadvertently run the vacuum over the edge. Don’t be lazy and think this is OK – especially if you simply push the vacuum away from the center out past the fringe. Some of it is going to get caught and torn eventually. You will ruin your rug. You are also going to have to unwind a bunch of fabric that is wrapped around your vacuum’s beater bar. Harder to remove than hair. Don’t do it!

It’s also a good idea to vacuum the underside of the rug. Yes, I know this is a lot of work, but not all of the dirt is going to be removable from the top surface of the rug. Also dirt that gets underneath the rug can actually cause it to wear unevenly from the bottom up. So maybe not every time you vacuum, but at least once a month, turn the rug over and vacuum the bottom too. Again, this will add years to the life of your area rug.

Lastly, always use a good quality pad in between your rug and the floor. There are some serious safety concerns for doing this, but it will also make caring for the rug much easier. It’s almost impossible to completely vacuum a rug that slips and slides as you try to clean it. A pad will keep it in place and insure that your vacuuming does the greatest good. If by some chance the pad gets soiled, many of them can be cleaned by simply tossing them into the washing machine – something you’d never want to do with the actual rug. Rugs Direct sells high quality rug pads in sizes that match all popular area rug sizes. If you didn’t buy a pad with your rug, consider adding one now.

So make sure your area rugs and your vacuum cleaner are well acquainted. They will learn to love one another for a lifetime! Good luck.

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Rugs Can Survive Children & Pets

pets

Copyright © Rugs Direct®

Children and pets – two of the greatest joys in life, right? Yes, we agree! But they also represent the greatest danger to the well-being of your home’s beautiful area rugs. More than sunlight, more than water damage, more than years of foot traffic. Kids and pets are the sworn enemies of expensive area rugs!

OK, maybe it’s not that bad. But animals and children are prone to accidents and usually don’t have much conception of the ramifications of their actions on your home’s furnishings, especially those placed on the floor. Mud on my shoes? Need to run through the living room to get to the back door? No problem here.

As gross as it may sound, there is no single substance on the face of the Earth that is worse for an area rug than – yuck – pet urine. It stains. It’s highly acidic and corrosive. And it smells horrible. It’s almost impossible to get out of a rug completely, and as a result, the pet assumes this is now an OK place to relieve itself if there are no better alternatives. It’s a vicious cycle and your area rug is the ultimate victim, not to mention the potential damage to the wood floor underneath.
Quite bluntly, the best way to deal with pet urine on an area rug is to carefully avoid it in the first place. There are products available at pet stores that supposedly will keep a pet from using your furniture and rugs as a personal lavatory. These are considered “training aids” and are not a permanent solution. Most have to be reapplied every 12 to 24 hours to remain effective. Simple Solution, available from Petco for about $10 a can, is one product that seems to work for some people. Of course stories abound of pets who assumed their owners were spraying these types of products to help them FIND suitable places to go instead of the other way around!

Sometimes it works to sprinkle an ounce or so of moth flakes under the rug along the edge to deter a dog from showing too much interest in your floor covering. However, please be certain you use something that is non-toxic and will not harm the animal if it ingests a small amount. Dogs will eat anything. Don’t run the risk of poisoning yours just to protect an area rug.
As for cats, one of the best ways to help them lose interest in your rug is pretty low-tech. Get a spray water bottle or squirt gun and zap them every time they get too close to your nice rug!

If despite your best efforts your pet manages to soil your rug, you should clean it as quickly as possible with a mild detergent and water. If the stain is allowed to set and penetrate the rug’s fibers, you’ve got a much more difficult cleaning problem on your hands. You’ll probably need a product such as Tomlyn’s See Spot Go (yes, that’s what it’s called), again available at most pet stores for around $10.

But let’s back up a bit. What can you do before you buy your rug that will take into account the fact that there are pets and/or children living in your home? Surprisingly, there are many!

First of all, you should only consider wool or it’s synthetic counterpart, olefin. You’ll want the increased “wearability” of these materials and you’ll find they are much easier to clean than most other fibers. In fact, wool is naturally stain-resistant and the fibers hold dirt high, making it much easer to vacuum. If you have children or pets, buy a wool rug.

Color is something else you should consider. A multi-colored wool rug will hide dirt and stains much better than a light, solid-colored one. If you must go with a solid color, remember that dark colors will show lint, dust and pet hair more than light ones; but a light color displays dirt better. One strategy is to buy a rug that closely matches the color of your pet’s coat if, in fact, you have a shedding breed. Don’t use this as a substitute for regular vacuuming! But it certainly will help turn it from a daily to a weekly task – especially during shedding season.

Another thing about households with pets and children is that they often tend to be somewhat noisy. There is a direct correlation between the ambient noise in the home and the square of the sum of the number of children under the age of 10 multiplied by the combined weight of all of the dogs and cats in your domicile. It’s a scientific fact. You can look it up. The best way to cut down on this noise? A nice, plush, thick area rug placed on top of a super-absorbent rug pad. Get them both at Rugs Direct.

A little careful planning prior to purchase, combined with regular care and maintenance, sprinkled with emergency intervention when necessary, can result in your beautiful area rugs surviving childhood and pet ownership for many, many years. Good luck!

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