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How To Clean An Area Rug On A Hardwood Floor? A Step-By-Step Guide

Cleaning the area rugs regularly is as important as cleaning the carpets in your home. Just like carpets, area rugs also absorb dirt, debris, and grime. With the passage of time, this debris and pet hair get buried deep into the pile of the rug if not cleaned regularly. While cleaning area rugs is easy if you can roll them up and take them outside. In this case, you can clean them without using any cleaning machine. The problem arises when you cannot take the area rugs outside and the area rugs are placed over the hardwood floors. 

You cannot clean an area rug on a hardwood floor with carpet cleaners or steam cleaners or apply any cleaning solution directly to it without taking any precautionary measures.

Key Takeaways

Regular cleaning of the area rugs is as important as cleaning any other surface in your house. Cleaning the area rug is easy if you can pick it up and take it outside. But cleaning an area rug is not that simple when it is placed on a hardwood floor and you cannot take it outside. 

Cleaning an area rug on a hardwood floor requires protecting the hardwood floor before steam cleaning or deep cleaning your area rugs on it. Water or the chemicals used in the cleaning solutions can damage the surface of the hardwood floor. 

For this purpose, a plastic tarp is spread between the area rug and the hardwood floor. This tarp makes sure that the water or the cleaning solution doesn’t reach the hardwood surface. 

How To Clean An Area Rug On A Hardwood Floor?

Area rugs come in different sizes and are made of different materials. While plush area rugs with high and thick pile are comfortable to walk on and give a lavish look to your house interior, they are not suitable to be placed in high foot traffic areas like hallways or entryways. A high pile and plush area rug traps more dirt, grime, and other debris and it gets more difficult to clean. 

You cannot apply deep cleaning methods on an area rug without taking any preventive measures if there is hardwood flooring underneath it. Not only the water and moisture will harm the surface of the hardwood floor but the cleaning solutions and the chemicals used in them will also damage and put scratches on the surface of the hardwood floor. So, how to clean an area rug on a hardwood floor?

Area rugs with high pile and fibers mostly require steam cleaning or deep cleaning. This removes the dirt and stains and also refreshes and fluffs up the rug pile

Whether a plush area rug or a low pile one, if an area rug is placed on a hardwood floor, you will have to take extra precautionary measures before cleaning it. 

Following is a step-by-step guide on how to clean an area rug on a hardwood floor.

Prepare The Area For Cleaning

Before cleaning the area rug on your hardwood floor, you must prepare the area first. 

  • Remove any piece of furniture placed on the area rug and declutter it by picking up any item dropped on it like socks, cloth or toys, etc. 
  • Ensure proper ventilation while cleaning indoors. 
  • Keep children and pets away from the cleaning zone. 
  • Preferably pick a day when there is enough sunshine outside so that the area rug dries up quickly due to warm weather.

Deodorize The Area Rug

Once the debris is buried deep into the rug, it will release a foul smell all around. To get rid of this smell, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on your rug. Baking soda will deodorize the rug and will freshen up the fibers as well. Baking soda also helps loosen up dirt and debris. 

Let it sit for at least half an hour and then vacuum it.

Vacuum The Area Rug

Once the area rug is properly decluttered, it is time to get rid of the loose dirt and debris. Take a vacuum cleaner or a carpet sweeper, preferably with a bristle brush cleaning head, and vacuum the rug thoroughly. The bristle brush will dig deep into the pile and will remove most of the dirt, debris, and pet hair from within the bottom of the area rug. 

If possible, flip the area rug over and vacuum it from the underside as well. You will have to remove it anyways to place a protective cover underneath it to shield the hardwood floor before the deep cleaning. 

If you want to automate the vacuuming process, you can choose a robot vacuum cleaner for your area rug that will autonomously do the vacuuming job. Robot vacuum cleaners come in different specifications and features. Some are best suited for thick carpets and rugs.

Protect The Hardwood Floor Before Deep Cealning The Area Rug

Once the area rug is vacuumed properly, now it’s time to place a protective cover underneath the area rug. This will let you clean your area rug without damaging your hardwood floor. 

  • Roll the area rug and place it on a side. 
  • Take a plastic tarp and place it over the hardwood floor where you will deep clean the area rug. 
  • The plastic tarp should be at least two feet larger than the area rug from all four sides. 
  • This will ensure that the water and the cleaning solution don’t run over the edge of the area rug. 
  • Make sure that the tarp doesn’t have any holes in it or else the water and cleaning solution will seep through those holes and will damage the hardwood floor beneath. 
  • Fix the plastic tarp on the hardwood floor by sticking duct tape on all four sides. 
  • Now place the area rug on the tarp for a deep cleaning session.

Deep Clean The Area Rug On Hardwood Floor

Vacuuming an area rug will get rid of most of the dry debris, dust, and pet hair but it won’t have any effect on liquid spills and other stains. To get rid of stains from an area rug, you will have to deep clean it either manually or by using a carpet cleaning machine. 

Deep Cleaning The Area Rug Using A Carpet Cleaner

Once the area rug is vacuumed for loose debris and the hardwood floor is protected by placing a plastic tarp or sheet under the area rug, you can use a steam cleaner or a carpet cleaner to deep clean your area rug on a hardwood floor. 

Most carpet cleaners come with specific cleaning solutions and only recommended solutions or carpet shampoo should be used in a carpet cleaner for better results. 

Carpet cleaners come with two tank system. In one tank you fill in the cleaning solution or the carpet shampoo and the other tank collects the dirty water. A carpet cleaner takes the necessary cleaning solution, applies it to the stained area, and then vacuums back the dirty water into the tank. 

Although a carpet cleaning machine sucks all the water and cleaning solution from the rug, it is still recommended to let the rug fully air dry before allowing any foot traffic on it.

Manually Deep Cleaning The Area Rug On Hardwood Floor

If you don’t have access to a carpet cleaning machine, you can manually deep clean your area rug on a hardwood floor. For manual cleaning, you can either use carpet shampoo or you can also make your own homemade rug cleaning solution. 

To make a homemade rug cleaning solution, you will need the following items:

  • White vinegar
  • Distilled water
  • Liquid dish soap

Follow these steps for manual deep cleaning the area rug:

  • Mix one cup of distilled lukewarm water, one cup of white vinegar, and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap in a bowl or a spray bottle. 
  • Whenever you make a homemade cleaning solution for your carpets, rugs, or furniture upholstery, it is always recommended to first try that solution on an inconspicuous area. This will make you certain that the solution is not harmful to the surface in any way. 
  • Apply this homemade cleaning solution directly to the stained area on the rug.
  • Take a bristle brush and rub the stained area so that the solution reaches deep into the fibers of the area rug.
  • Leave the stained area and let the cleaning solution set in for at least 15 to 30 minutes. You might have to leave it overnight if the area rug has high pile or the stain has penetrated deep into the fibers. 
  • Once the stain looks dissolved, take a white microfiber cloth or a white towel, damp it with lukewarm water and rinse the stained area on the rug. 
  • Once the stain is gone, take a dry towel and blot the area until it is dried. You can also leave the rug in proper ventilation to let it dry as well. 
  • Let the area rug dry completely before allowing any foot traffic on it. 
  • Ensure proper ventilation during this process.

Let The Area Rug Dry Completely

Once the area rug is cleaned either manually or by using a carpet cleaner, you should let it dry completely before allowing any foot traffic on it. Otherwise, the footprints will make the cleaned area rug more messy and sludgy. Keep the place well ventilated for the area rug to dry quickly. 

Remove The Plastic Tarp

Once the area rug is completely dried, roll it up and move it to one side. Remove the plastic tarp that was placed on the hardwood floor for protection. If there is any water or cleaning solution on the plastic tarp, make sure that it doesn’t drop on the hardwood floor. 

Vacuum And Mop The Hardwood Floor

Once the area rug is cleaned and the plastic tarp is removed, it is essential to clean the hardwood floor as well before placing the area rug back in its final place. 

Vacuum the hardwood floor thoroughly and mop afterward for better cleaning. This will ensure that the cleaned area rug is placed on a well-cleaned hardwood surface. 

If, by chance, any water or cleaning solution has seeped through the plastic tarp and spilled onto the hardwood floor, mopping the floor will make sure that all the moisture is gone. 

Let the hardwood floor air dry before placing the area rug back on.

Place The Area Rug Back On The Hardwood Floor

Once the hardwood floor is cleaned, mopped, and dried completely, it is time to put the area rug back in its final position. 

How To Fluff Up The Area Rug?

High pile area rugs can become dead because of heavy foot traffic. The rug fibers and pile become lifeless with time. But you can fluff up your area rug and freshen up the fibers and pile. Spray some warm water on the area rug. Take a hair dryer and blow hot hair on the rug. Keep combing the fibers and the pile either with your fingers or a comb. This will fluff up your area rug and put life into the pile. 

Can You Steam Clean An Area Rug On A Hardwood Floor?

While steam cleaning is best suited to clean, disinfect, deodorize and freshen up your area rugs, care should be taken while steam cleaning your area rug on a hardwood floor. Steam can damage the hardwood floor, especially if the floor is not properly sealed. The steam will harm the protective layer of the hardwood floor. 

How Do You Dry An Area Rug After Cleaning?

A carpet cleaner dries the rug after cleaning. A carpet cleaner vacuums all the water and cleaning solution from the rug once it is cleaned. If the rug still looks damp, you can use a hair dryer if you have a smaller area rug. For a larger area rug, you can switch on a pedestal fan and face it towards the rug.

Choosing a nice sunny day will also shorten the drying time of the area rug. Keep the area well-ventilated to fasten the drying process.