How to Clean Handmade Vintage Rugs by Yourself

How to Clean Handmade Vintage Rugs by Yourself

Although expensive, handmade vintage wool rugs are an excellent addition to any home. Not only do they look fabulous and feel soft to the touch, but they are also quite durable and long-lasting. However, you have to care for them the right way. 

Of course, we always recommend leaving delicate jobs such as wool rug cleaning to professionals. However, we also understand that not everyone's budget can keep up with such expenditures. Therefore, if you want to clean your wool rug yourself, we don't blame you — make sure you abide by the following guidelines to avoid damaging it. What's more, aside from regular cleaning, there are other things you can do to ensure your rug stays as good as new, for as long as possible!

How to Properly Clean Your Handmade Wool Vintage Rugs at Home

In case of a stain, you should deal with it immediately to prevent it from permanently bonding with your rug. But more on that a bit later.

Besides dealing with stains, it would help if you give your carpet a thorough wash once every year or two. Here's how you do it:


First of all, you should gather all the necessary supplies and tools. These can vary based on the size and type of your rug, as well as the amount of dirt.

For wool rugs, using a mild soap and lots of water will do the trick rather nicely. First, scrub the carpet gently to make sure you get all the dirt out and rinse it thoroughly. Leave it to dry for a day, and it will be as good as new.

Other items you'll need for your DIY wool carpet cleaning:

  • vacuum cleaner
  • bucket to mix the solution and later for rinsing
  • eyedropper or spoon for smaller stains
  • plain white or colorless cotton cloth 
  • brush with soft bristles or sponge that doesn't shed
  • squeegee
  • Vacuuming and Dust Removal

Before washing, you'll need to vacuum both sides of your wool rug. We suggest flipping the rug and starting with the backside first, as the vibrations will help remove the dust and debris that got buried among the fibers.

We also recommend that you take the rug outside before vacuuming and shake it well, as you would wet clothes or towels. In addition, you can hang it up and beat it gently to lift those stubborn dust particles.

You must get rid of the dust before wetting your carpet. If you don't, the next step, which is cleaning, will be much more tedious, time-consuming, or outright impossible.

Washing the Carpet

As we have mentioned, washing a wool rug is relatively simple. You do not need any fancy cleaning solutions or dangerous chemicals. Instead, lots of soap and water is all it takes to make your rug shine again.

Lay your carpet out on a hard and flat surface. Usually, that is done in a backyard or on the driveway. But, essentially, you can do it anywhere that's convenient for you. The only important thing is that you make sure the area where you do it is also already clean.

Take as big of a bucket as you can find, and fill it with either laundry powder or soap, whatever you have. Then, add warm water, and mix it all together. Here is where the hard work starts: you need to take a scrubbing brush, pour your soap and water over your carpet, and get to cleaning. Make sure you get to every area and soak your carpet thoroughly.

Leave the soap to sit for about half an hour, and then start rinsing the carpet. The rinsing part is the most challenging one, as you need to make sure you do it thoroughly. You can do it with a hose or with a pressure cleaner.

Drying the Carpet

After cleaning, hang the carpet to dry outside your home (off your porch, for example). And in case you can't find a way to hang it, lay it flat on the floor or a table. However, to prevent pesky mold from developing, make sure to place items underneath the rug to lift it off the ground. In addition, you can flip it every once in a while to allow it to dry evenly.

Brushing the Carpet

Once your rug is completely dry, you will not need to brush it much. The fibers should not be stuck together or rumpled. However, if you still want to ensure the carpet looks pristine, you may brush it down softly anyway.

How to Remove Stains from Your Vintage Rug

As we said earlier, you should deal with stains as soon as possible to prevent them from bonding with the carpet permanently. Here's how you can get rid of the most common types of stains:

Wine, Coffee, and Tea Stains

If one of these liquids ends up on your wool rug, time is of the essence. Before it penetrates deeper into the fibers, use a dry, colorless cloth to dab the spillage and pick it up gently. Be careful not to put too much pressure on it, as that will only push the spillage further down and cause an even bigger mess. Then, turn the cloth over and dab the spillage again with a clean part, and repeat this action until all of it is absorbed.

If the stain is stubborn, as it tends to be with beverages like red wine and coffee, use a vinegar-water-wool detergent solution. However, don't pour it directly onto the rug. As we said, the goal is to use as little liquid as possible, so it might be more advisable to apply it to a cloth first.

Don't scrub the stain, but instead dab it gently, starting at the edge and moving toward the center. You could also use a brush with soft bristles. Whatever you do, dry the area thoroughly in the end.

Food and Grease Stains

As you'll see, the cleaning process will be similar for all types of stains. However, you should first ensure that no food particles remain on the carpet when it comes to food and oil stains. Then, scrape them off gently with a spoon to avoid smearing as much as possible.

Then, apply baking soda directly to the stain and let it absorb the oils. After that, remove the baking soda using a brush or vacuum and clean it with a cloth and vinegar.

Mud Stains

Unlike with spills and grease stains, you shouldn't act immediately when you stain your carpet with mud. Instead, wait a while until it dries. Then, vacuum over that area to remove the dried-up dirt and soil. To eliminate the leftover stain, use the dabbing method mentioned above, a bit of solution, and a clean cloth.


For bloodstains, we recommend using undiluted white vinegar as the cleaning solution. If the stain is recent, remove it as you would any liquid we already mentioned — dab it lightly with a cloth. Next, apply the vinegar and rinse it with cold water. If the stain is old and dried up, rub it gently with a soft brush first, vacuum the debris, and then clean it.

The baking soda method is also effective in this case. The process is pretty much the same as removing food stains.

Ink Stains

An ink stain may be one of the worst stains you could ever encounter, so it'll require a bit more effort and patience. First, tap it with a cloth as you would any other stain, but add some rubbing alcohol to the solution.

If this solution doesn't work, calling a professional for help might be the best idea. They will have the equipment and supplies necessary to remove the stain altogether.

Burns and Burn Stains

In this case, the best thing you can do is to call a professional cleaning company to get a quote. They will inspect the damage and come up with a cleaning plan that will preserve your carpet.

If the burn is minor and you think you can handle it on your own, however, you can try. For starters, don't scrub the burn stains on your carpet. Instead, take a pair of small scissors and cut out the burned fibers, trying to preserve as much of the carpet as possible. Then, vacuum that area to remove soot and debris. Finally, brush the area to fluff it up.

Urine and Vomit Stains

Having pets is one of the biggest joys in the world. However, it is also a lot of work, especially if they use your vintage rug as their bathroom area.

No worries, though. There are ways to remove these stains efficiently and make your handmade rug shine again.

Firstly, scrape off all solids before they dry out and blot the liquids to absorb them. Then, apply vinegar to disinfect the stained area and eliminate odors. If needed, follow up with wool-safe detergent, as you would with other types of stains, and let dry.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind When Cleaning Carpets

Here are some other tips to help you maintain your beloved vintage wool rugs and ensure they're always in pristine condition:

Vacuum your vintage rug regularly

If the rug in a busy area, at least once a week, otherwise twice a month. And if you have pets, we recommend vacuuming even more often than that.

Try to limit the use of outdoor footwear inside the house, especially on the carpet.

Rotate your vintage rug occasionally to prevent uneven aging and fading

If you come across loose yarns, don't pull on them under any circumstances. Instead, use scissors to cut them and even them out with the rest.

Add protective pads to the legs of your furniture to ensure it doesn't damage your expensive wool rugs.

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