Taking Care of Area Rugs with Spot Cleaning

It is important to take care of your area rugs by having fully cleaning them ever so often.  We recommend a professional deep cleaning at least once a year on your area rugs to keep them in the best shape.  It is always a good idea to run your vacuum over them while cleaning the rest of your home. 

But how do you spot clean an area rug? What happens when an accident happens.  How should you clean up a spill on your area rug? When you only need to clean a small portion of your area rug, you can do a quick spot clean with these tips on how to spot clean an area rug.

a picture of a dirty area rug from pet paw prints

The most important thing to remember when spot cleaning your area rug is to act fast! Try to get to the stain while it is still wet for your best results.  How you spot clean will depend on what type of area rug you are needing to clean.  However, follow these tips on how to spot clean an area rug to clean a spot on your rug quickly without having to clean the entire rug.

Always Act Fast 

Always clean the stain while it is still wet.  No matter what the stain came from, a wet and fresh stain is the easiest one to clean. As soon as you notice it, clean it while it is still wet. Doing so will give you a much better chance of fully removing the stain. Act fast by starting with water and blotting the spot. Do not rub it, only blot it. Rubbing the stain could cause it to spread and create a bigger mess. For proper blotting, start at the outside edges of the stain and work your way towards the middle of it.

a lady blotting a stain on an area rug

To avoid damaging your rug with chemicals, always try just water first.  If the water doesn’t work, test whatever cleaning solution you plan to use in an inconspicuous area of the rug first to make sure the solution doesn’t damage your area rug. 

Once the stain is gone, it is also just as important to dry the rug as quickly as possible.  Use as little moisture as possible to remove the stain, then dry the rug as quickly as you can.  Leaving area rugs damp can not only create mold or mildew problems, but it could damage your area rug even worse.

Spot Cleaning Water-based Stains

You should be able to remove most any water-based stains with just water and a towel using the blotting method. Water-based stains include the following: sodas, milk, dirt, washable inks, pet accidents, and some alcoholic beverages. 

While you will need some patience in cleaning these types of spots with just water, it is well worth it. It is worth it to avoid using harsh chemicals or other solutions that may damage your area rug. Water is the least invasive substance you could use to spot clean your area rug.

blotting an area rug dry.

To get a water-based spot out of your area rug using just water, use the blotting method by starting on the outside edges of the stain and work towards the center of the spot.  Just blot from the outside of the spot in using a wet, clean towel.  Then blot with a dry towel.  Go back and forth using the wet towel and dry towel over and over again until the spot is gone.  You may have to repeat this process several times. 

Spot Cleaning Sticky Stains

Sticky stains, like wax or gum, can be very tricky, especially on your wool area rugs.  But there are some things you can try to spot clean a sticky stain on your own. Don’t jump to conclusions that you are stuck with a sticky stain.  But do act fast! That is always an important step when spot cleaning your area rugs.

Gum stuck in an area rug

First, grab some ice cubes and put them in a baggie.  Hold this on the sticky spot.  This hardens the sticky substance.  Acting fast in a sticky situation helps to keep the stain on the surface of the area rug instead of working its way deep into the fibers.  Once the sticky stain is hardened, use a spoon or something similar to lightly scrape the substance off the rug. 

If there is any residue of the sticky stain remaining, try blotting it with some rubbing alcohol.  The alcohol should remove any sticky residue.  Just be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area of the rug first.  You want to make sure the rubbing alcohol does not react with your area rug.

Spot Cleaning Acidic Stains

Acidic stains include things like ketchup, mixed drinks, soy sauce, or cough syrup.  If you are spot cleaning a wool area rug, use only water to clean acidic spots.  For other rugs, you can use a mixture of ammonia.  Ammonia works great for removing acidic spots because as an alkali, ammonia neutralizes acidic stains.  But never use ammonia on a wool area rug.  This is because ammonia will damage the fibers of a wool area rug.

For area rugs that are not wool, mix one tablespoon of ammonia with half a cup of water and add to a spray bottle.  Start with the blot method with only water, scrape away any solids with a spoon, then spot clean the acidic spot by spraying the ammonia mixture on the affect area.  Blot it with a dry towel and then rinse. 

If you do use ammonia to clean, be sure to ventilate the room well.  Ammonia is toxic. And again, always test a small, inconspicuous area of the rug first. 

Spot Cleaning Alkaline Stain

Alkaline stains include things like cat urine or beer.  First, start with the blotting method described above using only water.  If this does not work, you can try using a soapy water.  However, if you use soapy water, be sure to rinse it out blotting with a wet towel over and over again.  Make sure all the soap is out of the area rug.  Any soapy residue left on the area rug can cause it to attract even more dirt.

If the alkaline stain persists, try using white vinegar.  White vinegar is a mild acid that can help to neutralize alkaline spills.  Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and use the blot method, working form the outer edge of the stain toward the center.  After using the vinegar mixture, blot with a dry towel and then rinse the spot.  Repeat this over and over until the alkaline spot is gone. 

Spot Cleaning Natural Fiber Area Rugs

You have to use a different spot cleaning technique for natural fiber rugs.  Natural fiber area rugs are made with materials like sisal or jute.  To spot clean a natural fiber rug, start with warm, soapy water.  Use a small brush with the warm soapy water to scrub at the stain.  Rinse the spot and use a dry towel to blot it dry. 

a lady blotting an area rug to dry it

Be careful when spot cleaning these, or any, area rug.  Water weakens the natural fibers on natural fiber area rugs.  So, only apply the warm, soapy water to the affected spot.  Try not to spread the water around as you rinse the spot out.  Be sure to get all the water out of the area rug and dry it quickly. 

Call Rug Cleaning of Tulsa

An occasional spot cleaning on your area rug is a good way to make sure stains don’t set in.  However, your best option is to always call the professionals at Rug Cleaning of Tulsa.  Your area rugs need a professional deep clean at least once a year, possibly more if you have pets or heavy traffic areas. 

And, many do it yourself options for cleaning, even spot cleaning, your area rugs could potentially leave your area rug more damaged than the initial stain itself.  Give us a call and we will give you a free quote on cleaning your area rugs.

If you have any carpet or tile and grout cleaning, call our partners at Master Clean Carpet and Tile Cleaning of Tulsa.  They are the best in the area!