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How to Clean a Needlepoint Rug

Elizabeth Tumbarello

Needlepoint rugs, both homemade and store bought, are a common item. They often have high pile carpeting that can make the rug itself difficult to clean.

A variety of fibers from silk to wool to acrylic are used to make needlepoint rugs, and not knowing the fiber content can pose a problem when cleaning needlepoint rugs at home. Despite this, there is an easy way to clean just about any type of needlepoint rug.


  1. Cut a piece of nylon screen and secure it around the vacuum hose with a hair tie.

  2. Use the hose to vacuum the rug in long slow motions from the top of the rug to the bottom.

  3. Vacuum in this manner several times until all the dust is removed from the rug. If the nylon screen becomes clogged, brush it off and continue to vacuum in this manner.

Washing the Rug

  1. Wet the cotton swab. Use the cotton swab to gently sweep across one of the fibers of the rug to test for colorfastness. If the cotton swab is still white, the rug can safely be washed.

  2. Fill the bucket or tub with cold or lukewarm water, and add a pH-balanced soap specifically designed for preserving needlework. Soak the rug for five to 10 minutes in this mixture. Scrub any spots that are particularly dirty, being careful not to tug on the fibers of the rug.

  3. Rinse the rug under a running source of cold water until the water runs clear.

  4. Place the rug on the piece of plywood in a warm, sunny spot. Reshape the rug so that it resembles its original shape. Allow the rug to dry in this manner.

  5. If any dirt or debris remains, repeat the vacuuming process and spot clean with a mild mixture of soap and water.

  6. Tip

    The nylon screen keeps the fibers of the rug from being pulled out by the vacuum. Even rugs that experience heavy traffic often only need to be vacuumed, not washed completely. Some fibers, such as wool, will shrink in the washing process. Reshaping after washing allows you to pull the rug back into its original shape.


    Rugs that do not pass the cotton swab test should not be washed at home. Allow plenty of time for the rug to dry completely, otherwise it may develop mold or mildew, which can harm the fibers of the rug.