Skip navigation
Unskip navigation

Cleaning the Post-Holiday Mess Out of Your Rugs

You’ve finished the cheese balls and wine, run out of desserts, and burned down the candles. The guests have finally left. After counting the silverware, you take out the trash, fluff the pillows on the sofa, and return your dining room to its normal configuration. Time to relax, right?


If your holiday parties are anything like ours, you’ll find a half-full glass tucked behind a chair. You’ll notice the wine stains on your beautiful Oriental rug in the living room, discover an unsightly mixture of fruit and chocolate smeared on the tufted dining room rug, and to your great dismay, see that wax dripped down onto the new throw rugs you placed in the spare bedroom.  After the expense of the holidays, the last thing you want to do is to refurnish your floors. Luckily, you can take steps to clean your rugs so you can enjoy them into the next holiday season and beyond.

Cleaning Orientals

Let’s start with your fabulous Oriental rug. Hand-knotted rugs should be professionally cleaned. If you invested in a quality wool masterpiece, we recommend you take it to the experts. But you can do it yourself … if you’re very careful.  Start by vacuuming both sides, using suction from a hand tool to keep the beater bar from pulling up loose strands. Then use a mild soap — Dawn dishwashing soap is ideal — mixed in cool water. Avoid products that contain bleach, ammonia, or other strong chemicals. Test a corner of the rug to make sure the soap doesn’t alter the dye colors.

Scrub the rug gently with a long-bristled soft brush or sponge, rubbing in the direction of the nap. Thoroughly soak the rug. When done, squeeze out the water — a rubber squeegee does the most efficient job. Push the moisture out towards the end of the rug along the pile of the nap. If you have enough space, hang the rug to dry. Otherwise, lie it flat to dry. Once the nap is dry, turn it over to let the back dry.

Other Cleaning Solutions

Hand-tufted rugs are a different story. These rugs have a canvas backing glued on to hold the wool fibers in place. You can’t get these rugs wet. The best way to tackle stains is with a spot cleaner such as Capture (sold at all Rug & Home locations). Clean each spot separately, patting the excess moisture quickly so it doesn’t seep through to the glue. Pat the spot repeatedly with a damp sponge. Try it again if necessary and keep at it until you’re satisfied.

Getting candle wax out of a rug requires paper towels and a warm iron. Layer paper towels over the wax and rest the iron on the spot. Do not let the iron touch the wax directly. After a few seconds, lift the iron; the wax has melted into the paper towels. Repeat with clean paper towels until you’ve lifted out all the drippings. As a final step, treat with a spot cleaner.

Once you finish cleaning, rub the dry fibers on your rugs with a soft brush to loosen them up and release any leftover soap. Vacuum. Now you’re ready to send out invitations for a spring fling!


Leave a comment