How to Keep Rugs Safe in the Washing Machine

Sheila C. Wilkinson

Area rugs are so nice to have. They're so much cleaner than wall to wall carpet that you can never get underneath. The problem with area rugs has always been how to clean them, or how to clean them easily without ruining them. Here are some tips.

Better to be Safe than Sorry

  1. Always test your rugs before you try to clean them with anything. It's better to have a tiny spot that's barely visible than to have the whole rug a mess.

  2. Put a clean piece of paper or newspaper under the rug. Push the fibers of the rug apart and pour a little warm to hot water onto it. See if any color comes through onto the papers underneath. If it bleeds at all, you cannot put it in the washing machine. Even in cold water, the soap would probably be too risky for it.

  3. Vacuum or shake the rug thoroughly before you start. The dirt that gets inside rugs are not good for your washing machine.

  4. When the rug is ready to go, roll it loosely and place it-carpet side out-in a large pillow case. Close the top of the case with safety pins so that the rug doesn't slide out.

  5. Wash the rug in cold water on the gentle cycle. The bag will keep it from being torn or having the fibers shredded by the agitator.

  6. Don't put rugs in the dryer. Hang them outside or over a door to dry. If they seem a little stiff, run the vacuum over them after you lay them down.


Freshen rugs between cleanings with a little baking soda. Sprinkle and let it sit for a few minutes and then vacuum up.


Don't cram a rug that's really too big into the pillow case. It won't get clean and it could damage it.