How to Clean & Protect Your DIY Area Rugs

The do-it-yourself revolution has led to an uptick in homemade area rugs. A Google search will reveal pages upon pages of projects that save homeowners money on what was once considered an expensive luxury item. However, creating your own area rug is only the first step. Once you are finished you will need to keep that DIY project clean while also protecting it from damage. Keeping your new area rug in good condition will depend largely on what material you used in its construction.

1. Burlap

A fun and easy project for caffeine addicts is the burlap coffee bag rug. The main tip to protecting your favorite burlap sack is to use it in areas of low humidity and moisture because it will mold easily. Gentle hand washing in cold water is preferred in order to keep it from fraying. Stains should be blotted, not scrubbed, and burlap should be dried flat.

2. Cotton

Those traditional braided rugs are usually made from clothing remnants. Those made from 100 percent cotton can be washed as usual in a normal, warm water cycle and tumble-dried on low. However, those made with cotton blends may require a different approach so be sure to check the garment labels before starting your project.

3. Canvas

Most people would love to have a zebra-skin area rug in their home, but have no desire to use a real skin. Therefore, the latest DIY projects include the use of canvas painted with zebra stripes. For best results, a simple wipe down with soap and water is sufficient, but be sure to keep the rug flat to avoid warping while drying. Also, priming the canvas with gesso before starting your project will make your future area rug cleaning efforts easier.

4. Cork

Cork mats are easiest to keep clean if you can spot clean them regularly. For more difficult marks you can use sandpaper to scrub the area and then blow off cork dust and wash with warm soapy water. Be mindful to dry cork thoroughly as these mats will easily grow mildew if left damp. This is especially true when storing the mats between uses.

5. Felt

The colors used in traditional wool felt are likely to bleed if not washed properly and should only be hand washed in cold water and laid flat to dry. Newer felts, such as those made from recycled plastics can be machine washed, but most crafters still recommend that you avoid using the dryer.

6. Paint

If you have created a painted rug, such as the aforementioned zebra-skin, the paint itself will require a different process of cleaning than the canvas on which it exists. First, you should dust the surface well before cleaning. New spots can usually be cleaned with plain water or you can use a mild soap solution in circular motions with a barely damp sponge or cloth for more resistant stains. Then be sure to rinse the area with plain water and dry it thoroughly with a towel.

7. Remnants

Carpeting made from polypropylene and other synthetics, including nylon and polyester, are quite stain resistant and easy to spot clean. If you vacuum these rugs often, they are less likely to need deep cleaning. Depending on the severity of the stain, you can use warm water, a mild soap lather, or vinegar solution. Just be sure to blot – not rub – spots to get them clean.

8. Rope

The nautical-themed, twisted nylon rope rugs look amazing in bathrooms and kitchens. For effective maintenance, use a mesh bag in the washing machine with cold water. Woolite is usually sufficient for light cleaning or you can use regular detergent for dirtier mats. The rope’s softness can be revitalized by simply placing it in a bucket with fabric softener overnight, and then rinsing it clean before hanging it out to dry.

Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Keeping your area rugs clean is easy to do as long as you do it in such a way that will not damage your project. However, it is highly recommended that larger area rugs are professionally cleaned at least once a year.