Rugs see a lot of action -- foot traffic, errant crumbs, spilled drinks; the list goes on. Once a year, arrange for a technician authorized by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification to do a down-to-the-roots deep-cleaning.
Steamcleaning (aka hot-water extraction) is standard practice. Tackle synthetic carpeting with a rental machine if you wish, but leave wool carpeting to the experts (too much water can harm the backing).
2. Thick-Pile Wool
The long loops on tufted- or knotted-wool rugs trap dirt. Drop them off for a wet wash, but if bleeding colors are an issue, the cleaner may opt to use a waterless method.
Good news for busy people: Most of these nylon and polyester rugs are manufactured to be easy to clean with built-in stain protection, says Paul Iskyan, owner of Rug Renovating, in East Orange, New Jersey. Hot-water extraction using detergents is usually the most effective solution.
4. Flat Weave
Low-pile rugs, such as dhurries and kilims, have fewer nooks and crannies where dirt can hide. Just as with thickpile rugs, inquire about a dry method if color bleed is a concern. Otherwise, a wet wash with soft brushes is typical. Don’t play favorites -- make sure both sides get equal attention, as many handwoven varieties are reversible.
Plant materials such as sisal absorb liquid easily, so these rugs are prone to stains. Mark Violand, vice president of the maintenance division at D&R Carpet Service, in Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, uses a dry absorbent compound to lift up the dirt.
6. Silk and Rayon
Much like delicate blouses, silk and rayon rugs need gentle cleaning. A dry treatment suffices for mild stains, but filthy rugs may require a wet wash. As it dries, the pile will require special grooming