My rugs are first and foremost designed to be used on the floor. In fact I have two at my front entrance which is the main traffic path into the house. We live in the country and don’t have a paved driveway so all the grit gets tracked into the house and onto the rugs. I vacuum often and shake them out periodically. I color planned these rugs in darker colors so that they don’t show stains as opposed to a light colored rug. For day to day cleaning, vacuuming is perfectly acceptable as long as you don’t use the beater head attachment. Make sure you don’t forget to do the back as well. For a more thorough cleaning, the following is only recommended if your rug is hooked on linen foundation cloth. NOT BURLAP!
If you have experience a spill, you will notice that the liquid will bead on top of the rug. The lanolin in wool naturally repels water so you have time to soak up the liquid with a paper towel before it soaks into the rug. If your rug gets soiled then spot cleaning with a damp cloth and a wool soap such as Eucalan is recommended. Eucalan is gentle and you don’t need to worry about soapy residue. It isn’t necessary to remove all the Eucalan as it does contain conditioning ingredients for your wool.
Really dirty rugs can be washed. I fill a tub or sink with warm water and add Eucalan. Small table runners, mats and trivets can easily fit into a laundry or kitchen sink. The bathtub is ideal for larger rugs. Immerse your rug and gently “squish” it to release dirt. Avoid agitating…treat it as you would a fine woolen sweater. You may need to soak it for an hour for the water to penetrate the wool fibers. Remove the stopper and let the dirty water drain out. Fill with clean water and repeat the process until the water is clear. Let as much water drain from the rug as possible, then roll the rug, squeezing out the excess water. Lay out a thick towel and place your rug on top. Roll up the rug with the towel to further absorb moisture. When your rug is as dry as you can get it, lay it flat to dry on a clean surface.
When NOT to wash your rug:
If your foundation is burlap
If your wool hasn’t been washed and dried before hooking
If your rug is an antique
If your wool isn’t colorfast. Some dyed wool is at risk of bleeding into other colors as opposed to commercially milled wools. Keep this in mind when planning your rugs. If you expect to wash your rug at some point, do not place ie. red dyed wool next to light colors. If you have ever put a red sock in with your whites, you already know what to expect. Color planning for the possibility of washing the rug in the future will considerably ease your mind when and if accidents happen.
This photo is of a mat that Debbie Pirtovsek hooked specifically for in front of the kitchen sink. As you can see she also has dogs who love to hang out on this mat. Debbie has told me that this rug needs to be washed regularly. Believe it or not, she washes it in her washing machine on a delicate cycle with regular laundry detergent then hangs it over her railing to dry! She says that ‘they come out like new’. I have not tried this method so I cannot personally recommend it. Perhaps one day when one of my rugs is beyond hope, I will test this out. Until then, I’ll stick to hand washing.
Feel free to share your experiences in regards to washing your rugs in the comments below.