Tips & Tricks/05.12.23

Yes - You Can Clean Area Rugs!

Bet you have noticed this increasing trend: more commercial and residential new flooring installations are shifting from traditional wall-to-wall carpet to various hard surface flooring. These materials include porcelain, ceramic tile, natural stone products, luxury vinyl tiles, traditional hard wood flooring and highly sustainable products like bamboo flooring.

While this may seem like bad news for the professional carpet cleaner, the trend toward hard surface installations provides the open-minded entrepreneur with an opportunity to separate themselves from the competition by expanding service offerings to include hard surface cleaning, and more importantly, area rug cleaning.

Research supports the fact that there’s still plenty of carpet – it’s rare to find a home or office that has 100% hard surface flooring. Despite consumers’ fascination with new hard flooring material options, they still want the look and warm feel of carpet in the home or office – area rug sales are at an all-time high. Whether it is a brightly colored modern design rug or the trendy ‘vintage” look, facility planners and consumers are spending big on accent area rugs. That makes area rug cleaning truly a growth opportunity.

Like hard surface flooring, area rugs need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and because the cleaning process requires special attention and processes, you can charge more for these services.

Here are the required steps, tools, solutions and processes to help you safely and effectively clean most area rugs on location.

First and foremost: Follow this pre-inspection checklist:

  • What are the customer's expectations?
  • What is the fiber? Natural vs. synthetic
  • Burn test to verify fiber content
  • What is the construction of the rug? Woven vs tufted
  • Dye bleed concerns?
  • What type of flooring are you cleaning on?
  • What is the soil load?
  • Stains? Pets?
  • Know when to say NO!

You can use either a portable or truckmount extraction unit to clean area rugs, ie, to rinse and extract the soils that have been suspended by the prespray and agitation steps. When cleaning loose area rugs, especially wool, you need to control the pressure, flow and temperature of the cleaning solutions being used.

Set up your cleaning area. Use a large waterproof tarp to protect the subfloors around the edges of the rug. IMPORTANT: If you perform this cleaning correctly, you will not be using enough water to soak through the backing and do any damage to the subfloor under the rug. If the rug can be moved outside, all the better.

Area rug cleaning uses the same basic principles as carpet cleaning:

  1. Dry soil removal: Pre-vacuum the rug front and back. Use an upright vacuum with a beater bar, if possible, while the rug is face down to help knock dry soils loose.
  2. Soil suspension (prespray): Apply a diluted prespray solution (Prochem Upholstery Prespray for synthetic rugs; Prochem Fine Fabric Prespray for wool or natural fiber rugs) to the entire rug and agitate the solution into the pile using a soft bristle brush, either electrical or mechanical.
  3. Soil extraction (rinse and extract): Rinse and extract using Prochem All Fiber Rinse. (Remember to use extra dry strokes with your wand to remove as much water as possible in its liquid form. It’s significantly more efficient to extract liquid than to evaporate it! This is especially important when dealing with cotton fringes. To reduce the chances of browning, try to not over-wet any fringes. When cleaning fringes spend extra time dry vacuuming with your upholstery tool.
  4. Grooming: Area rugs with cut pile need to be groomed with a pile brush to remove wand marks. This is especially important when cleaning a natural fiber such as wool.
  5. Drying: Install high velocity air movers like the Dri-Eaz Velo or Stealth.

Cleaning expensive handmade or imported wool rugs is complicated, as you have to consider everything from the dyes to the foundation yarns and the knot styles being used for a particular rug. We recommend that you know when to say to yourself, as well as your client, that cleaning their very expensive hand-knotted area rug might be beyond your level of expertise. Your customer will appreciate your recommendation for a specialist in your area who has the expertise and equipment to safely clean these types of rugs.

If you understand how to clean wall-to-wall carpet without getting the pad or underlayment wet, you already have the equipment and just need to add a few chemicals and ancillary items (like a tarp, etc.) to your cleaning weapons arsenal to be able to safely and effectively clean most area rugs.

See our other cleaning Tips & Tricks.


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