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How To Take Care of Natural Fiber Floor Coverings

Cleaning Natural Fiber Rugs and Carpets

Even though natural fiber rugs and carpets are “natural,” they are made from different materials. While they do have some similarities, they need to be cleaned differently. In this article, you will learn some tips on how to take care of your natural fiber floor coverings.

There are several things you can do to all natural fiber rugs to help keep them clean:
  • Vacuum regularly. This keeps dirt from getting ground into the carpet.
  • Treat spills and stains at once. This helps to keep the stain from setting. Never rub or scrub spills. Blot only.
  • Try not to use store-bought stain removers. They may leave a film on your rug that can make it appear dull.
Before treating any spills or stains…

Always test any substance in an inconspicuous area first. If you see any problem, contact us and do not proceed.

Determine if the rug is colorfast, meaning that the dye will not run or fade when wet. If the carpet is wall to wall, find an inconspicuous spot like a closet and put a few drops of the cleaning solution on the carpet. Wait 5-10 seconds and then blot with a clean, white cloth, using a bit of pressure. If the cloth is clean, then the carpet is colorfast. If the cloth turns the color of the carpet, then the carpet is not colorfast, and you will need to call a professional. If you have an area rug, test a small spot on the edge the same way.

NOTE: Baking soda is a mildly abrasive alkaline substance. Baking soda’s abrasive properties can result in fiber damage and breakage with foot traffic if it is not completely removed from carpet, so, if you choose to use baking soda, be sure to thoroughly vacuum once the area is dry.

Wool Carpeting

Wool tends to be stain resistant, so it is fairly easy to keep clean. Vacuum weekly, and get it professionally cleaned yearly.

Treating stains and spills:
  • Identify the stain.
  • Spray the stain with warm water, but do not saturate.
  • Blot with a clean, white rag.
  • Start from the outside and work your way in.
  • If needed, use a soft bristle brush in a circular motion.
  • For a pet stain, use a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water.
  • For a makeup stain, use a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and water.
  • For wine spills, make a paste the consistency of peanut butter with baking soda and water, spread it on the stain, and vacuum thoroughly when dry.
  • For a crayon stain, you will need to call a professional.

Silk Rugs

To keep silk rugs looking good, vacuum weekly, and have them professionally cleaned every 6 months.

Treating stains and spills:
  • If possible, use a silk rug shampoo to treat stains or…
  • Make a white vinegar and baking soda paste the consistency of peanut butter, and let it sit on the stain for 30 minutes, then remove with a clean white cloth.
  • Let the rug air dry and then vacuum.

Cotton Rugs

Cotton rugs need to be vacuumed weekly, but occasionally, the rug needs to be turned over and vacuumed on the underside. Plus, the floor needs to be swept underneath.

Treating stains and spills:

If the rug is not colorfast, you can take it to be dry cleaned.

If the rug is colorfast:

  • Blot the stain with a clean, white cloth.
  • Dip another clean, white cloth in a mixture of mild soap and cool water, wringing out the excess.
  • Place the cloth on the stain for 10 minutes.
  • Blot with a clean, dry white cloth, and let the rug air dry.
  • If the stain is still visible, try again, but use a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water.
  • If the stain is large, you can put the rug in the washing machine. If the rug is too big, you can take it to the laundromat and use a commercial washer.
  • Do not put a cotton rug in the dryer. Always let the rug air dry.

Jute, Sisal, Seagrass and Coir Rugs

These rugs need to be vacuumed weekly. An extra step, if possible, is to shake the rug outside first to loosen dirt, so the rug can be more easily vacuumed up.

Treating stains and spills:
  • Blot the stain with a clean, white rag.
  • Use a clean white microfiber cloth to sparingly apply a cleaner specifically made for natural carpet fibers or use a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water.
  • Blow dry with a hair dryer to prevent mold or mildew.
To clean the whole rug:
  • Shake the rug outside, and then vacuum.
  • Sprinkle dry carpet shampoo or baking soda on the whole rug.
  • Let sit for 2 – 3 hours, then vacuum.
  • Turn the rug over and repeat the process.
  • DO NOT steam clean or wet shampoo. This can cause mold and mildew, plus it can damage the fibers.

Carpets and area rugs can add style and warmth to any home. But, just like anything else, they need proper care to look their best and to keep your home warm and inviting. Download our free Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide under the Resources tab of this site for more information. Contact us if you have any specific questions about these tips on how to take care of your natural fiber floor coverings.

By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.