We are often asked, “is it safe to vacuum my rug?” Our answer hinges on your vacuum and the type of rug you have. There is no one best vacuum for use on every rug. However vacuuming your rug is the best thing you can do to protect your longevity of your favourite rugs. It helps keeps your living space and air clean. Today we are going to talk about how to vacuum a wool rug, how to clean it, and what causes wear and fibre damage.
How to Vacuum a Wool Rug
First, it is important to work out what rug you have. Rugs fall into three main categories: woven rugs, shag pile rugs, and tufted rugs. There is no one vacuum that is best for all rugs but there are options you can use to clean different kinds of rugs in different ways.
Vacuuming a Woven Wool Rug
Woven rugs are those where you can see the design or knots on the back side of the rug. The pattern on the back should mirror the front design. First determine the direct of the rug pile, you can do this by “petting” the rug, like you would an animal. This lets you feel which way the knotted pile is pointing. All woven rugs will have a direction to their pile. You should ensure any brushing or vacuuming actions run with the pile as much as possible, otherwise you risk breaking shorter, softer wool fibres.
A hand tool attachment to your rug is best to use. Begin at the top end of the rug and, with short downward strokes, following the pile direction, vacuum the rug. It is also important to vacuum the back of the rug every few months, to prevent moths and other bugs from settling in and damaging your rug.
Sturdy Woven Rugs
For sturdier pile pieces (like woven wall rugs) can take the power of the regular vacuum pieces. Again, run with the pile and be careful not to tangle the fringe.
Thin Woven Rugs
Thinner, flat woven rugs with no pile may frizz up if the suction from the vacuum is too strong and the wool is too soft. To prevent damaging the texture, you can use a very soft brush and carefully brush across the width of the rug to loosen up dust, dirt and other contaminants.
You should vacuum the top side of your rug at least once a month and the back of the rug at least every quarter. Your rug should be professionally washed at least once a year or more if your home contains pets or smokers. Rugs can hold kilos of dirt in them before they appear dirty and, while regular vacuuming can help keep the dirt level low only professional washing will work.
Vacuuming Tufted a Wool Rug
Tufted rugs present a different challenge than woven rugs. Tufted rugs are constructed via wool tufts looped into a mesh foundations. Latex is then poured onto the back side to hold the tufts in place. Material is then placed over the back to cover up the glue. Cheaper rugs are made using lower quality wool and which results in rugs that shed easily. Which makes it difficult to clean them.
Obsessively vacuuming a new rug will not make it stop shedding. Instead, the fibres break off during vacuuming, which causes more shedding. In the worst case scenario, you could rip the tufts right out of the mesh, especially with a powerful vacuum. A gentle brush head vacuum or a power brush head attached to a canister is the best option. Run the head side to side instead of against the pile. You can also use the upholstery attachment and run with the pile like you would with thinner woven rugs.
With a looser pile density, more soil can work its way into the rug than a woven pile rug. So they require more frequent cleaning than woven rugs. Unfortunately, the more you clean the rug, the sooner it will require a backing replacement – which is an expensive repair. Regular, gentle vacuuming and a yearly professional cleaning should keep your rug in good shape and hold off the need for repair as long as possible.
Vacuuming a Shag Pile Wool Rug
Many people are daunted at the thought of cleaning shag pile rugs. They’re big and heavy and pose a lot of issues. Shag pile rugs can be heavy and the long fibres hold EVERYTHING (seriously, we had one client who found ten dollars in change hidden in the shag of his rug!). You need to gather the family – or some friends – to help you shake the rug out. Take the rug out into your garden and hold it face down. Have someone on each corner and shake it up and down for a few minutes. This shaking will help release anything caught up in the fibres as well as fluff the rug up.
Unfortunately you can’t clean the back of shag rugs as they have a construction style that makes it easy to pull the strands our from the backing. You can also use a wide toothed dog brush to help brush and fluff up the rug.
A more thorough cleaning needs to be done by a professional!
Need help getting your rug back into pristine condition? Contact the team at Woods Rug Laundry today to find out more about our professional cleaning service and how to vacuum a wool rug!