Area rugs are a fantastic way of protecting hardwood floors. They also add warmth and comfort with their soft fabric and design patterns, helping create a cozy ambiance.
Area rugs are often high foot traffic areas of the home, are at risk of pet accidents and need to be cleaned regularly to keep them looking their best.
Regular and thorough cleaning will also help prevent your rug from changing in appearance or, in the worst cases, from staining the hardwood floor it sits on as the area rug fibers get squashed and dirty.
This does not need to be drastic, with just routine care often being enough to keep the entire area rug looking great.
It is hardly surprising that many people ask how to you clean an area rug on a hardwood floor. We have done the research and can take you through the different methods available for a thorough cleaning job on your area rug whilst also protecting your hardwood floor.
Prepare The Area Rug
Before you dive into any intense cleaning, you need to make sure that any excess dirt or grime is removed. You can easily remove loose dirt with a good vacuum on both sides of the rug or with a carpet beater bar over the entire surface of the area rug.
Remembering to vacuum your area rug regularly is a good idea anyway, especially for high traffic areas.
Keep in mind that the underside of the area rug will accumulate dust and dirt just like the top. Vacuum with the brush attachment to get off stuck dirt from natural fiber rugs for the best results.
Got some smells you need to deal with? Deoderising is easy with baking soda. Simply sprinkle over the rug’s surface, gently work into the fibers, and then leave it for a few hours to absorb odors before vacuuming off.
Using baking soda to deodorize is a great option as it does not contain any harsh chemicals that would otherwise damage your area rug or hardwood floor. You can also use this process for spot cleaning or to clean heavily stained areas as it is gently abrasive in nature.
If you have any noticeable patches of debris, be sure to involve a localized stain remover. Spot cleaning is super important to make sure that the entire rug is ready for the deep cleaning process – be it a steam clean or a more technical dry cleaning job.
You also need to remember that harsh chemicals found in many stain removers will interact with your hardwood flooring and may cause permanent markings. We find it is best to put a pad or waterproof sheet between the rug and floor when working with hardwood.
If you want to avoid harsh chemicals, you can try steam cleaning, pressure washing the rug outside, or simple soap and water. Whatever you decide to use, be sure to test your product on a small area of the rug’s edge.
Be sure to let the test patch fully dry before seeing if there have been any negative interactions before working to remove the stain. Good air circulation is important for any type of carpet cleaning or area rug cleaning as it will speed up the process. Try opening a window to increase air circulation.
Be sure to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions while you work. You should check or seek more information if you are unsure. We are always particularly careful when cleaning wool or oriental style area rugs as these are especially delicate.
Once your area rug is prepped, you can start the main cleaning process. Instructions and best options will vary from rug to rug but we think it is important to understand some of the most popular rug cleaning methods.
Shampooing your area rug with a dedicated rug cleaner or with some mild dish soap is the most common method of cleaning an area rug.
Remember to read your manufacturer’s instructions before you begin cleaning to get the best results. We also always patch test to make sure that the rug will not get damaged.
If you are cleaning over a hardwood floor, you need to invest in some protection under the area rug. This could either be a rug pad or a waterproof plastic sheet – you just need something to stop water and cleaning chemicals from reaching your wood!
If you opt for dish soap, the best thing to do is mix a few teaspoons with some warm water – make sure it is warm as hot or cold temperatures can damage synthetic fibers.
You can then use your hand, a sponge, or a soft-bristled brush to work the cleaning solution into the rug’s fibers. Be sure to rinse the brush or sponge well with clean water to get out all the soap to avoid rubbing more dirt into the area rug.
Then rinse the area with a clean but damp towel or cloth to get the soap out of the rug’s fibers. You need to rinse well as any residual soap could damage the rug and hardwood floor, as well as feel and smell unpleasant. You can then blot the area dry.
Steam cleaning is popular, but we think is best saved as a last resort for particularly grubby area rugs. One of the benefits of steam cleaning is that it will disinfect as it removes grime, killing any odor-causing bacteria.
You need to be super cautious when steaming an area rug over a hardwood floor as the hot and moist air can easily reach the wood floor. If your hardwood is not properly sealed and protected by a waterproof sheet, you are likely to cause warping and damage to the wood.
Once your protective sheet is down under the area rug, you can clean it by systematically working from one side to the other and slowly moving down the area rug. We think that this is the easiest way to avoid missing any spots and find it easier to see which stains need another go with the steam.
Leave the rug to dry for at least 48 hours before taking up the plastic sheet that protected your floor. Proper drying is important to prevent mold growth and to prevent or remove odors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do I Need To Put Something On The Floor To Clean An Area Rug?
Unless you are taking your rug outside to clean, you need to place some waterproof protection between the area rug and the hardwood floor. This can be anything from a dedicated carpet pad or plastic tarp laid flat over the floor underneath.
This is because water will be absorbed by the wood, causing buckling and warping.
How Do I Clean An Area Rug On Hardwood Floors?
The easiest way to clean an area rug on a hardwood floor is with some warm water and some sort of detergent. Make sure to avoid extreme temperatures with the water as it may damage the delicate rug fibers.
You also should patch test before you begin cleaning to prevent any irretrievable damage.
Steam cleaning is another option but is a little more time-consuming and inconvenient. Be sure to adequately protect the hardwood floor beneath the rug with some waterproof plastic sheeting or similar.
Pressure washing is only appropriate if the area rug can be taken outside. Do not pressure wash or hose down a rug inside and certainly not on hardwood floors. This is too much moisture for the wood to cope with and, at best, you will cause warping and take out some wood staining.
Can You Clean Carpet On Hardwood Floor?
Cleaning carpet or an area rug on hardwood floor is super simple, you just need to make sure that the floor underneath is kept completely dry. You can do this with any waterproof barrier that is laid between the rug and floor.