Can You Use a Carpet Cleaner on an Area Rug?

Natural Area Rugs Blog Staff

Natural Area Rugs Blog Staff

You’ve finally taken the plunge and purchased that beautiful area rug you’ve been eyeing for months. But now that it’s in your home, you’re wondering how to care for it. Can you use a carpet cleaner on an area rug? The short answer is maybe. I know that may not be the most helpful answer, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you start scrubbing.

carpet cleaner on rug

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Is Carpet Cleaner Safe on Area Rugs?

Carpet cleaners are safe for rugs made with synthetic fibers or rugs that are labeled “machine washable”. However, carpet cleaners may not be safe for natural fiber rugs. 

This really comes down to the type of area rug we’re dealing with and the rug fibers the rug is constructed with.  

Below are some helpful tips when considering using a carpet cleaner on your area rug

  • First, make sure you read the labels on your carpet cleaner and rug. Some cleaners are not meant for use on delicate fabrics. And some rugs are meant to be cleaned differently. 

  • Second, test a small area of the rug first to make sure the cleaner does not damage it.

  • Third, be sure to vacuum the rug before you use the cleaner. This will help remove any dirt or debris that could be caught in the cleaner.

  • Finally, be sure to follow the directions on the cleaner and don’t over-wet the rug. If you keep these things in mind, you can use a carpet cleaner on an area rug with no problem. 

Rugs Not Safe to Use Carpet Cleaner On: 

Wool Rugs

When it comes to cleaning your wool rug, you want to be careful not to damage it. Using a carpet cleaner on your wool rug is not safe and may actually damage the rug.

Wool rugs are made of delicate fibers that can be easily damaged by the chemicals in carpet cleaners. The chemicals can also strip the wool of its natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle.

If you must clean your wool rug, it’s best to hire a professional carpet cleaner who knows how to safely clean wool rugs.

Shag Rugs

Shag rugs are not safe to use carpet cleaners on.

The carpet cleaner can damage the delicate fibers of the rug and leave it looking matted and worn.

Carpet cleaners, such as the common Bissell Carpet Cleaner or Rug Doctor, are designed for smooth surfaces, and shag rugs have a deep pile that can get tangled in the cleaner’s brushes.

If you have a shag rug, it’s best to vacuum it regularly and spot clean it with a mild soap and water solution.

Oriental Rugs

Oriental rugs can be easily damaged by carpet cleaners.

The first reason why you shouldn’t use a carpet cleaner on your oriental rug is that the dyes in the rug can be easily faded or removed. Carpet cleaners use a lot of water and the chemicals in the cleaners can strip away the dyes in the rug, causing it to lose its color and pattern.

Another reason why you shouldn’t use a carpet cleaner on your oriental rug is that the rug can absorb too much water. Oriental rugs are often made of natural fibers like wool or cotton, which can absorb a lot of water. If the rug absorbs too much water, it can start to mold or mildew, which will ruin the rug.

If you have an oriental rug, it’s best to take it to a professional rug cleaning company to have it cleaned.

Jute and Sisal Rugs

Jute and sisal rugs are a type of carpet that is not safe to use a carpet cleaner on.

Jute and sisal are natural fibers that are often used in rugs and carpets. They are strong and durable fiber, but also very absorbent. This means that they can easily absorb liquids, including carpet cleaner.

If you use a carpet cleaner on these types of rugs, they will likely absorb too much of the cleaner and become wet. This can lead to mold and mildew growth, which can be difficult to remove. Steam cleaning is also an ideal cleaning method for these types of area rugs.

Additionally, natural fibers like jute and sisal are more delicate than synthetic rugs. The strong chemicals in carpet cleaners can damage the fibers, leading to rugs that are frayed and falling apart.

It is best to avoid using a carpet cleaner on jute rugs altogether. Instead, vacuum it regularly and spot clean it with a mild soap and water solution.

Rugs You Can Use Carpet Cleaner On: 

Synthetic Rugs:

You can use a carpet cleaner on synthetic rugs, but you have to be careful and be sure to read the labels of the rug carefully. 

Carpet cleaners are designed to clean carpets, not rugs. Rugs are usually made of different materials and have different cleaning requirements.

That being said, you can use a carpet cleaner on a synthetic rug if you’re careful. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use the gentlest setting on your carpet cleaner. You don’t want to damage the rug.

  • Test the carpet cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area of the rug first to make sure it doesn’t damage the material.

  • Be extra careful when moving the carpet cleaner around on the rug. You don’t want to catch or pull up any fibers that may be loose. 

Machine Washable Rugs

Machine washable rugs are ok to use carpet cleaner on, as they’re designed to withstand the powerful cleaning solution and water. Just be sure to follow the instructions on your carpet cleaner carefully, as using too much or leaving the solution on for too long can damage your rug.

I guess this goes without saying, but why not just throw a machine-washable rug in the washing machine in order to get a clean area rug? Seems a lot easier and will save likely save you money from renting a carpet cleaner and/or buying carpet cleaning solutions. 

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