How to clean a jute rug, wool rug & more: the ultimate guide on how to wash a rug

How to clean a jute rug, wool rug & more: the ultimate guide on how to wash a rug image

Rugs are a sophisticated addition to all home decor designs. Whether you prefer luxurious Moroccan rugs, feminine floral designs, or like to make an impression with a vibrant geometric affair, a rug can add a touch of character to any living space.

However, rugs can’t stay fresh forever. Like anything worth having, rugs need tender loving care and regular cleaning to maintain colour, condition, and shape. 

Different materials, weaves, and styles require different kinds of care so the rug is not damaged - or worse, ruined completely - but we’re here to help. In this blog, we share tips on how to wash a rug, whether it’s wool, jute, or leather. Read on and keep your rug in fantastic shape.

How to clean a shag rug 

Liam Plain Shaggy Rug

Liam Plain Shaggy Rug

Shag rugs make for beautiful floor art. With long, luxurious piles of fluff and fabric, shag rugs are a top choice for homes with modern decor. However, the average homeowner might also look at a shag rug and wonder how on earth they’re supposed to clean it if something goes wrong (note: keep dreaded red wine away from the shag rug!). 

Shag rugs take a few extra steps to clean, but it’s 100% achievable. There are five simple methods for how to clean a shag rug - pick one or combine them based on the state of your shag rug.

  1. Shake. This is the oldest trick in the book. Simply take your shag rug outside to minimise clean up afterwards, take the rug by two corners, and shake it as hard as you can to knock the dirt and debris from the fluff. Alternatively, if you have an extra-large shag rug, consider hanging the rug from a fence or the clothesline and hit it with a broom.

  2. Vacuum. If there’s some dirt and debris leftover in the rug after giving it a good shake, make sure to get out the vacuum cleaner. Adjust the height of the vacuum based on the length of the shag (for example, for long shag rugs, you will want to adjust the vacuum higher). This will ensure no fibre gets caught in the vacuum. It can also help to vacuum the back of the rug to remove any debris from there.

  3. Spot clean. Sometimes spills happen… it’s unavoidable! Unfortunately, it’s also near impossible to shake or vacuum out. So, in the event of a spill, grab a dry cloth and try to soak up as much liquid as possible. Then, spray a gentle carpet cleaning solution onto the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes. After that, just dab the area with a clean cloth and repeat until the area is clean.

  4. Shampoo. This method can be a little risky, so always make sure to read the cleaning instructions on the rug’s tag. If the rug can handle getting wet, use a carpet cleaner to spread carpet cleaning solution and warm water across the rug. The carpet cleaner should then vacuum up the excess liquid and your rug will be ready to hang outside in the sun.

    For shag rugs that can’t get wet, consider getting some powdered carpet shampoo, let it set, and then vacuum up the powder.

  5. If worse comes to worst… professional cleaning! Sometimes, the easiest way to clean a shag rug is to have it professionally done. This is the safest method of cleaning a rug - it will be taken care of by a professional who has experience with delicate rugs and the specific chemicals required to clean them (which you normally can’t get off a shelf). 

How to clean a jute rug

Chunky Jute Handwoven Rug
Chunky Jute Handwoven Rug

Jute or “sisal” rugs are a popular choice for contemporary, eco-conscious homeowners. Made from natural fibres and lovingly handwoven into a gorgeous piece, jute rugs are having a serious moment, so it’s best to learn how to clean a jute rug now, rather than later!

Jute rugs sometimes have the tendency to “shed” - they are au naturale, after all. This means jute rugs need some extra care throughout the cleaning process. Here are some expert tips on how to clean a jute rug:

  1. Always dab spills, never rub them. As soon as something is spilt on your jute rug, grab a dry towel and start dabbing. Avoid rubbing the spill because this can make more of a mess! Just dab away until all the moisture has been soaked up - rug experts claim the best way to do this is to dab from the outside of the spill to the inside.

    If you’re still having trouble after this, try using some mild dishwashing detergent on a wet, clean cloth.

  2. Vacuum and clean your jute rug on a regular basis. We recommend vacuuming your jute rug every now and then to clear out any dust, debris, or shedding - from the rug or your pet! This will help keep your jute rug in top shape and looking clean as ever.

  3. Clean any pet stains as soon as possible. We all know pets are prone to having little accidents every now and then… but when it happens on your jute rug, make sure to scoop it up right away and follow the instructions in point number one! Never leave pet stains unattended for too long.

  4. Try using bicarb soda to soak up spills. If the spill is particularly large and the dabbing method isn’t working well, try using some bicarbonate soda to soak up the liquid. Bicarb soda balances the acid in the juice and prevents further discolouration.

  5. Avoid getting your jute rug wet wherever possible. Avoid steam cleaning, wetting, or shampooing jute rugs. When jute is exposed to water, it can release some oils that can oxidise and darken the rug. The natural fibres can also be damaged over time. 

How to clean a wool rug

Erma Flatweave Wool Rug
Erma Flatweave Wool Rug

Wool rugs are snuggly, soft, and super comfortable to stretch out on after a long day out-and-about… so it’s essential to learn how to clean a wool rug to keep it fresh and clean for that instant cosy and comfortable feeling upon arriving home.

Similar to shag rugs, wool rugs have longer fibres and feel fluffier underfoot, so the cleaning method is essentially the same. However, there are a few extra tips you can try to keep your wool rug fresher for longer:

  1. Have your wool rug professionally cleaned every couple of years. If foot traffic is high throughout your home, a professional clean wouldn’t go astray every 1 - 2 years. This will help clear up discolouration, stains, dirt, and debris that hasn’t come out with regular cleaning.

  2. Add anti-slip pads to your woolly rug to prevent too much wear-down. Once again, if foot traffic is high, you might want to consider adding anti-slip pads so your woolly rug doesn’t slip, slide, and wear down over time.

  3. Rotate your rug every now and then so any wear is even. Just like walking down a dirt track or path, you tend to follow where others have walked… and the same can be said for your favourite rug. If you’ve started to notice discolouration or wool being trampled down, give your rug a shake outside and rotate it to even out the effect.

  4. Clean your wool rug regularly, even if it looks perfectly clean. Did you know your rug can collect kilograms of dirt, dust, and debris before looking dirty? Yes! Your wool and shag rugs can collect dirt for months, which can eventually start triggering allergies. It’s important to clean your wool or shag rug every time you’re cleaning the house to ensure your rug isn’t collecting too much dust.

How to clean a cowhide rug

Atlas Cowhide Patchwork Rug
Atlas Cowhide Patchwork Rug

Leather rugs are the height of sophistication. Hand-stitched with fascinating textures, a leather cowhide rug is a must-have item for contemporary home decor designs. 

If cared for properly, cowhide rugs can last a lifetime. You can clean a cowhide rug in a similar fashion to a shag, wool, or jute rug - shaking, vacuuming, and spot cleaning your cowhide rug is always a safe option. However, there are a few extra things to think about when cleaning a cowhide rug: 

  1. Treat your cowhide rug how you’d treat your own hair. It sounds strange, but it’s true! To clean your cowhide rug, use a damp cloth and mild soap (like baby shampoo or Dove Soap) to wipe down the rug - with the grain rather than against it, just like you’d shave or brush your hair. This will minimise the amount of hair that comes off the rug.

  2. Do not use specialist leather products to clean your rug. Saddle soap and specialist leather cleaning products can be harsh and could ruin your rug. Make sure to use mild and gentle soaps.

  3. “Polish” your leather rug with vinegar - but only a little! After shaking, vacuuming, or cleaning your cowhide rug, you can “polish” it using a solution of 1% white vinegar and 99% water.

  4. Use a small amount of eucalyptus oil to remove food and grease stains. Eucalyptus is a wonderful natural oil to remove marks and stains. Add a small amount of eucalyptus to a cloth or cotton ball and gently push the oil into the affected area. The eucalyptus will gradually break down the food or grease stains.

  5. If you’re worried about damaging your leather rug, do a spot test first. Spot testing is always recommended before committing to a whole wash or treatment.

Cleaning a rug can be quick and simple - no matter the material

Cleaning a rug can be a simple five-minute job - if you know what you’re doing and do it regularly. Now, you should have the skills to clean any kind of rug, whether it’s made from super soft wool, natural jute, or luxurious leather.

The next step: add “clean rug” to your weekly, fortnightly, or monthly cleaning schedule! Removing dirt, dust, and stains on a regular basis will extend the life of your rug, keep it looking fresh and clean, and guarantee a sophisticated look for your living space.

Good luck!