Find out when it's time to bring in a professional.
colorful patterned rugs
Credit: Getty / rudisill

Rugs can keep your feet warm and cushioned when placed over tile, hardwood, or subflooring. But like almost everything else in your home, your rugs (and carpets, too, for that matter) need to be cleaned—and, from time to time, they need to be deep cleaned. Here, we asked two experts to share when and how often this intensive treatment needs to happen.

Monitor Your Allergies

Are your allergies beginning to spike? Leanne Stapf, the chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority, says that this is a key indicator that your rug is in need of a deep clean. Odors, discoloration, or other obvious stains are also indicators that your rug needs your attention. "If you always remember to take your shoes off at the door, bravo! However, many homeowners often forget and track the bacteria and dirt from their shoes across the carpet," she says. Not only does that cause a buildup of grime that can break down your carpet fibers, but it can also harbor pollutants that can make you sick. "Because of this, it is essential to vacuum at least twice a week to remove any germs sitting on the surface," she adds. "To really penetrate the carpet, try to get a thorough steam cleaning done every six months or, at the minimum, once a year."

Get on a Schedule

Brandi Winch, the owner of Homemaid Cleaning Service, LLC in Kalamazoo, Michigan, says that you should try to get your carpets professionally cleaned routinely. Establishing a schedule makes this easy. She recommends between one to three times a year, depending on how many people you have living in your house and how sensitive you are to dirt. "For example, a retired couple living in a 2,800-square-foot home with no pets won't need deep cleaning as often as a young family of five living in a 1,500-square-foot home with two dogs and a kid with allergies," she explains.

Know What Clean Looks Like

For the most part, you'll know when your rug needs a deep clean because it is no longer looking its best—which is why you need to know what "best" looks like. To do so, take a picture of your carpet or rug directly after you install it and use it as a baseline reference. "You'll also want to pay attention to the look, smell, and feel of your carpet, especially in high traffic areas, which will be ready for a deep clean the quickest," Winch says. "If there is any sort of foul smell in the home that cannot be identified, I typically recommend carpet cleaning first to eliminate the smell," she says. "More often than not, those smells are coming from rugs and carpets, especially if there are pets in the home." Additionally, if your carpet stays matted down—or doesn't pop up—while you are vacuuming, a clean is necessary; this means the fibers are over-burdened with dirt, she says.

Pay a Pro

Though you can rent a rug cleaner from a local store, hiring a professional is going to be easier on your back and give you peace of mind. "This service will typically run you between $100 and $250, is easy to book, and they will be in and out of your home quickly (remember to plan for dry times, which are usually overnight and can be sped up by optimizing the air conditions with heat and humidity controls)," Winch says.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
December 17, 2020
I love that you included paying a pro! Sometimes that's the best option especially when you have rugs made out of unique materials. We use Chem-Dry for all of our carpet cleaning and area rug cleaning needs and we have never been disappointed! We highly recommend them. Thank you for your awesome post about how to care for area rugs!