How to Wash a Chenille Rug

Kim Hoyum

Learn how to wash a chenille rug, whether you need to spot clean it, run it through a washing machine, or wash it by hand. Chenille takes some care, but it's nothing a pair of willing hands can't manage. Learn tips and tricks to keep your chenille rugs looking fresh and colorful for years.

Spot Cleaning Chenille

  1. Vacuum the rug, if needed. To get up any dry dirt or powdery stains, vacuum the rug before using a cleaning method. Do not use a beater bar or rotating brush; it will tear and tangle the rug's fibers. Either lift the beater bar up, or use the vacuum's upholstery attachments. The goal is to clean the rug with suction, and avoid brushes or rotating pressure.

  2. Check a small area for colorfastness. Use a tiny amount of your rug cleaning product on a spot on the back of the rug to make sure it will not stain or bleach the material. Follow all directions on the cleaner bottle, and wait until the spot is dry before cleaning the whole rug.

  3. Wet any stained areas. Use a rag and warm water to loosen the chenille fibers where stains exist. Blot instead of rubbing; the fibers can be damaged by harsh treatment.

  4. Apply the cleaning product. Follow directions on the bottle, and remember not to rub, but press or blot the stained areas. Cleaners that can safely be used on chenille include oxygen cleaners and carpet spot removers, but do not use bleaches or other alkaline substances, as they can damage the fibers.

  5. Blot and rinse the stains. Use the clean cloth rags to absorb the cleaner and water. Then rinse the area using a wet, clean rag, making sure to get all the cleaner out of the rug.

  6. Allow the rug to dry. Don't put it in a dryer, which can damage the rug. Instead, allow it to dry flat on a drying rack or drip-dry on a clothesline, where possible. If a more thorough cleaning is needed, proceed to washing the whole rug.

Washing Chenille

  1. Read the tag. If the manufacturer's directions say not to machine wash, you can wash the rug by hand, or have it professionally cleaned. If machine washing is ok, put the rug in the washer by itself.

  2. Select your wash settings. The coldest wash is best; usually labeled as cold wash, cold rinse. Hot or warm water will encourage the chenille to fade, shrink, stretch and shed. Choose the gentlest wash cycle. You may need to select the delicate cycle, or the gentle wash speed, depending on your washer. The idea is to minimize agitation, which puts wear and tear on the chenille rug.

  3. Add detergent. A delicate detergent such as Woolite is safest to use on a chenille rug, as it will best maintain the shape and colors. Never use a detergent with bleach on chenille. If the rug is a dark color, consider also using a dark-color specialty detergent such as Woolite Black. A small amount--a quarter-cup--is enough, unless the rug is badly soiled; then use a half-cup. The detergent should be gentle enough not to harm the material. Wash, and spin dry.

  4. Dry the rug. Do not put in the dryer; the tumbling will break down the chenille and leave stray fibers all over the dryer. Either allow it to dry flat on a dryer rack, turning it over as needed, or hang it on a clothesline in the shade. Direct sun will cause chenille to fade.

  5. When dry, restore the nap. Chenille has a thick pile which looks flat and matted after washing. Use a soft-bristled brush, such as a baby's hairbrush, or a soft whisk broom, to stroke the rug fibers up and fluff them into softness. Go against the nap to raise the chenille fibers, and you can stroke in several directions to give a casual, rounded appearance to the rug. Don't brush very hard, but just as needed to perk up the rug's fibers.


To keep chenille rugs in good shape, they should be cleaned professionally on occasion. The rug's manufacturer will suggest a frequent deep-cleaning schedule, but once or twice a year should be fine. A dry cleaner or carpet cleaner can do the job, as can in-home cleaning companies, which will clean rugs and furniture using a dry foam system in your home. A more thorough rug cleaning also can be accomplished by using a home steam cleaner made for carpets. If you don't have one, they're often available for rental at supermarkets or appliance stores. Follow the steam cleaner directions, as some use special cleaning solutions and some do not. Regular vacuuming, without the use of a rotating brush or beater bar, will extend the life of your rugs by removing ground-in dirt and household soil. Use upholstery attachments without brushes, only suction, as often as weekly on your rugs. If you must hand wash your chenille rug, use a gentle detergent that you would use on delicate clothing, and swish the rug gently back and forth in a large sink. Rinse until water coming off the rug runs clear, and allow it to dry flat on a rack, or hanging from a line in the shade; long exposure to sun will cause the rug's colors to fade. Do not wring out the rug by twisting, but only squeeze it, to avoid damaging the fibers.


Do not wash chenille with bleach or other alkaline cleaners. The fibers will start to fall apart, and will fade dramatically.

Do not put chenille rugs in the washer with any other articles. They tend to shed tiny fibers, and bleed their colors out. If the rug is a very dark color, you also might end up staining the inside of your washing machine.

Don't use dry powder cleaners on chenille. The looped pile makes it difficult to remove the cleaning product from the rug.