MAINTENANCE | Rug care
Some rug stains are best left to the pros
By KATHLEEN LEIGHTON
Special to The Star
PHOTOS BY John Mutrux | The Kansas City Star
Rugs that are too dirty to be cleaned by vacuum may require professional cleaning. At Crown Rug Cleaners in Kansas City, Kan., the fringe is cleaned by hand (below left) before the rug is fed into a huge washing machine dating from the 1930s (above). Crown stocks various colors of thread for repairs (below right).
VIDEO: See how the pros clean a rug
Ruth Siress enjoys having her grandkids visit her Overland Park home, even when an open-faced peanut butter and jelly sandwich lands, delicious side down, on the Oriental rug in her kitchen.
“I try to remove all that stickiness as soon as possible,” she said. “I blot and blot, and then I blot some more.”
Siress has the technique down pat because she has several Oriental rugs throughout her home.
“Oriental rugs are so richly beautiful, and each one has an individual personality because they’re not mass-produced,” she said. “They add such a warmth and energy and definition to any home. I love them.”
Rugs require some tender loving care to keep them looking their best. They should be vacuumed weekly, said Carol Mundy, owner of Mundy & Yazdi Oriental Rugs in Merriam.
“Always vacuum with a beater brush, which is standard in upright vacuums,” Mundy said. “With canister types, the beater brush is detachable. It’s just like brushing your hair; the brush easily separates the fibers, then the suction sucks the dirt and grit and gravel out. It’s the best way to clean a good quality rug.”
Just don’t vacuum the rug’s fringe, because that will twist it up and probably rip it off. It’s best to set the vacuum on the rug and pull it slowly toward you, in the same direction as the fringe. As you reach the fringe, lift the vacuum up and over it.
“The fringe is crazy,” agreed Pam Stewart, carpet tech for Mini Maids in Lenexa. “I never actually vacuum it. It’s best to use a broom to sweep any dirt away, then comb it with a regular hair pick to straighten out the fringe. That keeps it looking nice.”
If you spill something, never try to rub out the stain, because that will tear the fibers apart and it will be obvious a stain is there. Blot the spill with a plain, dry, white cloth several times, then blot with a cloth moistened with water (or use a sponge).
“Most times the spill is sitting there, pooled among the fibers, and if you blot enough, you will get the liquid out,” Mundy said. “When you use a moistened cloth, you are diluting the spill so that it can be soaked up into the cloth.”
Avoid using chemicals, because they could lift the dye off the rug’s fibers and your rug will never look the same.
For stains that won’t come up with blotting, dilute a couple of drops of mild detergent with water and gently blot some more. But be sure to get all the soap out; it can leave a stain. The most difficult stains to remove? Set-in chocolate milk, red wine and pasta sauce, Stewart said.
“You can try the blot method over and over, but the fibers may already be stained,” she said. “If that’s the case, there’s nothing you can do but try a professional spot cleaner.”
If you must use a chemical, don’t spray it directly on the spill. Spray the product on a cloth and then blot the stain carefully. Work from the outside in, pushing the stain to the center. Start with a little pressure, increasing as you go.
With animal stains, it’s important to remove the smell.
“Pet urine, if it has a chance to dry, will almost always leave a stain,” Mundy said. She advises blotting with a little water immediately and repeatedly until the smell comes out.
Once the urine is removed from the rug, dry the rug as thoroughly as possible, and very lightly spray window cleaner to take the odor away. Use sparingly so the dye is not affected.
Silk rugs are much trickier to keep clean, and Mundy doesn’t recommend putting them on the floor. Rather, try hanging them on a wall or displaying them on a table top. Mundy recommends professional cleaning for stains on silk rugs.
Cotton rugs can be washed with soap and water and dried in the sun. But cleaning a wool or silk rug at home is risky, so Mundy suggests taking the rug to a professional who can scrub it with soap and water and rinse it enough times to get all the soap out. Additionally, professional cleaners have large drying racks, fans and sometimes heated chambers for better drying. Machine-made Oriental rugs should not be professionally soaked, however, because the backing could dissolve.
To test whether your rug needs professional cleaning, turn it upside down on the floor and vacuum the back with a beater brush. Peel the rug back and see how much dirt is on the floor. Do this two or three times. If all the dirt comes out, you don’t have to take your rug in. Just vacuum the front of the rug and place it back on the floor. If it still looks dingy, it might need professional help.
With weekly vacuuming and enough cloths around the house to blot, blot, blot, your rugs will look beautiful for years.
3101 W. Geospace Drive
Charges $30 to clean a 5-by-7-foot rug, $50 for 8-by-10. If the rug must be dry-cleaned, there is an additional $15 charge; pickup and delivery included in price. In-home cleaning costs 28 cents per square foot.
•Crown Rug Cleaners
1120 N. 13th St.
Kansas City, Kan.
Prices for cleaning range from $50 to $170, depending on the size and quality of the rug. A 5-by-7 synthetic rug is 60 cents per square foot, wool $1 per square foot and Oriental $1.75 per square foot. Does not pick up or deliver. Does not clean rugs in homes.
1711 E. 123rd Terrace
Charges $4 per square foot for cleaning, which includes stain protection and deodorizer; pickup and delivery included in price. Cleans rugs in home, charging 25 cents per square foot for synthetic rugs. Strongly encourages on-site rather than in-home cleaning for wool rugs.