Wool carpets and shag rugs are excellent for use at home because wool is a natural material. Plus, it adds character to your interiors. However, they do require care, especially if you want them to last longer. Note that I will mention carpets in the techniques mentioned below, but they all apply to rugs as well.
Stains are inevitable, but there are techniques for cleaning almost any type of stain. In fact, cleaning a wool carpet or rug is comparatively easier than cleaning a carpet or rug made of synthetic fibre. This is so because the wool fibre has a unique structure that helps it release stain better than synthetic material. Irrespective of whether there’s a major stain or not, you need to clean woollen carpets and rugs regularly.
There are quite a few myths about the dos and don’ts of cleaning a woollen carpet and/or rug. I think it’s time to bust those myths and tell you more about how to care for your beautiful deep pile carpets and rugs. The three keys things to keep in mind are that a) you need to vacuum wool carpets regularly, b) in case of a spill or stain, take care of it right away and c) once a year get the carpet professionally cleaned.
Removing Stains From A Deep Pile Rug
One good thing about wool is that it doesn’t readily absorb liquids. However, that doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect any drink, food or any other thing that spills on a wool carpet or rug. Firstly, scoop out any solid things and use kitchen napkins or sponge (basically any material that absorbs liquid well) for drinks that might have spilt on the rug, before they leave a stain. Remember to not rub the spill in an attempt to remove it, instead blot it.
This is best for wet stains. Sprinkle or spray lukewarm water over the stained area and then use a soft piece of cloth or sponge to rub off the stain. Next, use a dry absorbent cloth or the thick kitchen napkins to remove any excess water.
Wool Detergent and Vinegar
Mix one teaspoon of wool detergent and one teaspoon of white vinegar in one litre of warm water. Spray it on the affected part of the carpet and follow the same method of cleaning and removal of excess water as mentioned above. Remember to always begin from the edges of the stained area and move towards the centre and not the other way round. This ensures that stain doesn’t spread any further than it already has.
Freezing and Picking
This method is specifically for dry stains. In a clear plastic bag/ziplock bag pour a few ice cubes. Hold the ice cubes, with the plastic bag in between, against the stain till it freezes/hardens, then use a blunt knife like a butter knife or a spoon to pick and/or scrape off the stain. Once the dry bits are out, you use one of the wet cleaning methods mentioned above to further clean the stain.
In addition to these techniques, there a few other important things you need to know.
- Firstly, never scrub or harshly rub a wool carpet, because this can result in a fuzzy spot instead of cleanly removing the stain.
- Secondly, before actually employing any of the techniques mentioned here, first test it out on a tiny portion of the carpet near the edges to check for possible colour changes or damages.
- If you plan to use more than one technique, then between each method use white paper towels to dry off all excess moisture. Begin the next method only when the carpet is adequately dry.
- After cleaning/treating the stain, cover the area with multiple layers of white paper towel and place something flat and heavy like a book over it. You can use a hair dryer to quicken the drying process, but in moderation to ensure that the carpet does not heat up excessively.
- In case of spills caused by soft drinks or coffee, there’s a chance that a sugar residue is left on the carpet even after cleaning. Similarly, if you use detergent and don’t rinse sufficiently, there’s a possibility that a sticky residue is left behind. While these may not be apparent immediately, their stickiness attracts dirt from shoe soles and appear like a stain. Hence, the need to rinse and then remove excess moisture.
- Don’t (and I can’t stress this enough) use any other aggressive cleaning methods such as using mineral turpentine. This could lead to permanent discolouration. Yes, it will cost you a bit, but seek professional help.
Regular Vacuum Cleaning
Cleaning stains is a special/emergency situation, but regular vacuuming of wool carpets is a basic requirement. It not only keeps the carpet or rug clean, but it also extends the lifespan and helps maintain appearance. To begin with, when the carpet is first laid, vacuum it lightly every day for the first week. After this, vacuum at least once a week the areas where not too many people tread the carpet and vacuum at least twice a week the areas where the frequency of people walking on the carpet is high.
It’s advisable to use a lightweight vacuum for cleaning wool carpets. You will not have to worry about the vacuum cleaner leaving marks on the carpet if it’s lightweight. Plus, you can manoeuver it better than heavier models, allowing you to reach into corners. You should also ensure that the vacuum has high-quality filters to remove minute dust particles off the carpet.
If you have pets at home, then you should definitely invest a specialised vacuum to deal with pet hair. Deep pile wool carpets are especially vulnerable to pet hair. Pet vacuums have extra attachments like rollers to extract embedded pet hair.
Vacuum Etiquette for Wool Carpets
- Change dust bags frequently.
- Don’t delay replacing the filter(s) much beyond what the manufacturer has suggested.
- In the first round, vacuum against the pile to loosen dirt, while in the final round, vacuum in the direction of the pile for best results.
Keep these handy tips in mind while caring for your shag carpets and rugs and you’re sure to have them looking as good as new all-year round!