Rug cleaning is a bit different from carpet cleaning and requires a different process to complete a thorough cleaning.
Ideally, rugs are removed from the home and cleaned at an appropriate off-site location, referred to as a rug cleaning plant. Some rug cleaning plants are large and have the capacity to clean a great number of rugs using automated equipment. These types of rug cleaning locations are the exception. Most rug cleaning plants are small and set up to clean perhaps a dozen rugs at a given time. However, even at a small rug cleaning plant, you should expect a professional cleaning.
Rug Cleaning Process
Step 1 – Pre-cleaning inspection: Prior to cleaning, a thorough inspection of the rug, front and back, is performed to identify existing and/or potential problems.
Step 2 – Dusting: Dry soil removal (referred to as dusting) is perhaps the key element in rug cleaning. Dry soil is abrasive and chafes the fibers used to construct a rug. This results in a dull appearance that cannot be removed with cleaning. And, because most rugs are tightly woven or have a very dense pile if tufted, even regular vacuuming does not remove all the dry soil particles. This is the major downside to in-home rug cleaning. Pile lifting and vacuuming are part of the dusting step.
Step 3 – Dye testing: The dyes used to color the rug’s fibers should be tested to determine the likelihood of becoming unstable and running during the cleaning process. If this is an issue, products are available to stabilize the dyes.
Step 4 – Shampooing: A specialty rug shampoo is applied to the surface of the rug. A rotary pad machine is then used to “scrub” the rug.
Step 5 – Rinse: Rinsing the rug flushes out the remaining soil and removes the shampoo residue.
Step 6 – Drying: Rugs should be dried flat as opposed to hanging. Drying a rug flat helps prevent any number of post-cleaning issues.
Off-site vs. In-home Cleaning
Some rug cleaners insist on taking the rug out of the home to clean it. The reason being is that there are steps in the cleaning process – dusting the rug for example – that cannot be performed in a house. However, with relatively inexpensive rugs becoming more common, off-site cleaning can account for a large percentage of what the rug cost new. Although not the ideal approach, as long as the correct cleaning solutions and rinse agents are used, a rug can be safely cleaned in a home.
Heavily Soiled Rugs / Rugs Affected by Pet Urine (or other unpleasant issues)
For heavily soiled rugs and rugs affected by pet waste, or other equally unpleasant substances, a full-immersion wash is the best approach for cleaning. Using this cleaning method, the rug is receiving a good, old-fashioned bath. If your rug fits into this category of cleaning, ensure any rug cleaner you are considering is set up to provide a full-immersion cleaning.
Whether you have a recently purchased machine made rug or a hand-woven family heirloom, proper cleaning is an important part in ensuring you are able to enjoy your rug for a long time to come.