How to Wash Rugs

There are so many varieties of rugs: throw rugs, area rugs, inexpensive, "wipe your feet" rugs and costly antique Persian rugs.

Machine Washing the Rug

Knowing how to clean the rug at home and when to call a professional is an important factor in cleaning rugs. Always check the care label on the rug, and if it doesn't have one or the rug is expensive, proceed with caution when cleaning the rug at home. Many rugs can be washed without the need to invest a lot of money or time involved scheduling a rug cleaner to come to the home. .

Determine if the rug can be machine washed and dried, machine washed and hung to dry, or hand washed and hung to dry by reading the care instructions on the rug label. Proceed with section 1 if the rug's care label allows for machine washing or drying. If in doubt about machine washing the rug, skip to section 2.

Treat the rug with a stain remover such as Spray n Wash or with a rug stain remover spray by spraying any stain. If there is ground-in soil, scrub the area with a scrub brush and soapy water (detergent and water), until the ground-in substance comes loose. Circular scrubbing motions work best.

Set the washer on the smallest load setting as instructed by the washing machine's manufacturer's directions.

Wash the rug in cold water in the machine by adding detergent according to the wash machine's manufacturer's recommendations. Wash alone or with a few towels of the same color.

Dry the rug in the clothes drier or hang to dry as determined by the rug's care label. If in doubt, hang to dry by hanging over an outside railing, fence, clothesline or the bathroom shower curtain or door. Many natural fibers shrink in the dryer.

Hand Washing the Rug

Place the rug on the ground outside on a patio or other cement/wood surface or in the bath tub or shower.

Scrub the rug with a scrub brush and rug cleaner, rug foam, or rug shampoo. A paste of equal parts baking soda and water can be applied to the soiled area. Circular scrubbing motions work best. The vigor of the scrubbing is determined by the resistance of the substance staining or sticking to the rug fibers.

Spray a rug stain remover or laundry stain treatment such as Spray N Wash to any stains. Continue scrubbing until stains and soil are removed.

Spray with garden hose if outside, or use water from the bathtub using a cup or removable shower head to rinse. Don't immerse it in water, only rinse the soap suds away.

Allow to drip dry by hanging over a outside railing, fence, clothes line, or from the bathtub shower rod or shower door.

Things You Will Need

  • Wash machine
  • Clothes dryer
  • Clothes detergent
  • Foam rug cleaner
  • Rug shampoo
  • Baking soda
  • Rug stain remover
  • Scrub brush
  • Garden hose
  • Car wash
  • Clothesline
  • Old towels


  • Call a professional cleaner to come to the house when the rugs are too large to move, it is expensive, made of unknown materials, or an antique.


  • Only professionals should wash expensive rugs as some rugs require specialized treatment due to hand knotting, fringe accessories, or older dyes that are not colorfast.

About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.