How to Clean Wool Rugs and Wool Carpets

How to Clean Wool Carpets

Wool carpets and rugs are timeless. They are one of the few things that remain unchanged between our modern world and our distant past. We can thank the region of Central Asia for creating the first type of carpet—the handmade wool rug.

It was originally designed to combat the cold; however, as the years went by, wool rugs became something of a style statement, and we still use them like that. Although there are many different types of carpet material available these days, wool carpets are still considered in a league of their own because of how well they are able to hide dirt and dust.

Unfortunately, this is also their main weakness. Thats why regular rug cleaning is so important for these carpets, even if they don’t look dirty. In this article, we’re going to give you all the information to do just that. 

Why Wool Rugs Needs Extra Care

Before we get started on how to clean wool rugs, its essential to understand that you have to be extremely gentle during the cleaning process. There are many things that can go wrong. We’ll shed light on some of the most common issues wool carpets face if they are not handled properly.

• Possibility of Shrinking

Its almost painful to visualize this. Wool carpets are known to shrink when they are exposed to intense heat after being hung to dry. Its worth mentioning, this only happens if the drying period is unusually long. If you are drying your carpet in the sun, theres no problem. Just make sure to not leave it out for too long.

• Loss of Color

There are many rug cleaning tutorials on YouTube that suggest using bleach and brightening agents to clean your wool carpets. If you want your carpet to be bright and radiant, please do not follow such instructions. Bleach is known to strip the color integrity of carpets and can also damage the wool fibers in the long run.

• Growth of Mold

One of the more icky consequences of not handling wool carpets properly is the growth of mold and the unpleasant smell that comes with it. We see this mostly when carpets are not given enough time to dry. If you’re too anxious about the possibility of your carpet shrinking, you can always dry it indoors under a high-powered ceiling fan.

How to Take Care of Wool Rugs

• Minimize Spill Risks

Theres nothing more annoying than a carpet stain. It looks odd and can be quite difficult to fully remove on your own, so prevention is key here. Try to avoid drinking strong drinks like wine and coffee around the carpet. It is also best to move the carpet to a safer area during house parties.

• Don’t Wear Shoes in the House

You might have seen a lot of Asian homes putting a strong emphasis on removing shoes at the door. There might be some cultural angle to this but it certainly makes perfect sense. Your shoes go everywhere with you, collecting God knows what sort of filth. Why allow those same shoes on your carpet, let alone in your house?

• Get a Doormat

So you don’t want to constantly remove your shoes at the door? Although we highly recommend doing that, if it seems too taxing, get a doormat. And not a soft one. Invest in a scraper doormat that is abrasive enough to remove any dirt stuck on shoes. This is especially useful in muddy areas.

• Rotate Every 6 Months

Just like mattresses need to be flipped every now and then to maintain their structural integrity, carpets need to be rotated as well. One of the benefits of doing this is that it prevents sunlight from discoloring your carpet. It also relieves the carpet fibers from the constant weight of the furniture.

• Keep Them Clean

This goes without saying but to keep your wool carpet in perfect shape, its important to keep it clean on a regular basis. This means that you should establish a rug cleaning routine where you vacuum all carpets placed in high-traffic areas at least twice a week and all carpets placed in low-traffic areas at least once a week. You should also immediately blot any stain before it becomes permanent.

How to Clean a Wool Rug in 6 Steps

1. Beat the Carpet

No, really. The first step requires you to take your carpet to a large area that can afford to get dirty, such as the driveway, hang it on a wire, and then just beat it with a carpet beater or even a stick. This is one of the oldest rug cleaning methods and it works like a charm.

By beating the carpet, you will take out most of the dirt trapped on the outer edges of the wool fibers. It also loosens some of the dirt trapped deep inside the carpet which is then easier to remove in the second step. We would suggest beating the carpet until you can’t see any more dust particles falling out. Please do wear a mask, however.

2. Start Vacuuming

After a violent activity like beating the carpet, its time to cool down a bit and return to a more peaceful method of cleaning the carpet—vacuuming. This is a crucial step to follow because any of the leftover dust particles that didn’t come out in the first step will be sucked right out in this step. Make sure to use soft bristles as they are more gentle on the wool fibers.

If you vacuum regularly, you probably already know how to clean a wool rug but we would still suggest doing 3 passes on each side as this will ensure all the wool fibers are equally cleaned. And yes, by each side, we mean even the back side of the carpet as this area doesn’t usually get cleaned that often.

3. Apply the Cleaning Solution

Just like our hair needs to be cleaned every now and then with a gentle cleaning solution, wool fibers need the same treatment. Gentle is the keyword here because as mentioned before if the cleaning solution is too strong like an industrial bleach, chances of discoloration increase, especially on handmade wool rugs.

If you’ve ever read a “how to spot clean a wool rug” tutorial, you’re probably aware how life-saving the cleaning solution of vinegar, baking soda, and water is. Well, since we’re cleaning the full carpet, and not just a single spot, theres no need to use this solution.

Instead, mix two tablespoons of detergent in a bucket of cold water and use a fresh sponge to apply the solution to the carpet. You can scrub but remember, be gentle.

4. Rinse the Cleaning Solution

After you have applied and lightly scrubbed the cleaning solution, its time to prepare another bucket of clean, cold water because now you have to rinse the cleaning solution out of the carpet. Its good practice to use a separate sponge to prevent transferring dirt back to the carpet. As you keep rinsing the carpet, keep cleaning the sponge as well.

The most important thing to know over here is that you must not get the carpet too wet, no matter what. Wool carpets are built in such a way that they absorb water easily but expel it extremely slowly. This can lead to the growth of mold and mildew that we previously mentioned. We consider this step as the most essential step in how to clean a rug 101.

5. Allow it to Dry

Before you begin the process of drying the carpet, make sure all the soap has been taken out because if the wool fibers still have soap on them, they will become sticky and as a result, collect more dust particles. Once you are confident all the soap is out, you have to decide between two methods of drying.

The first method requires you to lay your carpet flat on the driveway under the sun. This is the traditional way to dry wool carpets and its quite fast. In the second method, you need to keep the carpet in a big room, such as a garage, under a high-powered ceiling fan. This is a slower method but still effective enough.

6. Vacuum Once Again

If you thought the cumbersome process of rug cleaning ends at drying, you’re not entirely wrong. Carpets made using other materials certainly don’t require the additional step of getting vacuumed again but wool requires more care than other carpet materials on the market.

Wool rugs need to be vacuumed again after drying because this allows its fibers to stand up rather than fall flat. And in case you were drying the carpet out in the open, it also helps in removing any of the dust particles that might have flown and landed on the carpet.

Leave it to the Professionals

Another step? Don’t worry, this one doesn’t require any further effort on your end. We understand that professional cleaning can be expensive to get but if you truly want to know how to take care of wool rugs, this is the best way to do it.

Besides that, there are certain stains that the cleaning agents present at your home just won’t be able to remove. Stains from wine, ink and even coffee require strong cleaning solutions that only professionals have. They also have the appropriate infrastructure to fully wet the carpet and dry it at an incredibly fast rate.

We highly recommend finding a healthy balance between learning how to clean wool rugs on your own and getting professional steam cleaning. There are few things as beautiful as a high-quality wool carpet. We strongly believe that each home should have at least one, provided the climate allows for it. And even though wool carpets might be delicate, by following the steps in this guide, you can enjoy their beauty without any worries.