No matter how careful we are, accidents can and do happen. From the slip of a hand at the dinner table, to unknowingly trailing mud across a room, spills and stains can strike at any time. Rugs have infamously been used to strategically cover these eyesores but what happens when the stain is on the rug itself?
To help you tackle this we spoke to rug care guru, Lisa Wagner (AKA Rug Chick), to ger her top tips on keeping your rug looking like new. With her help and a little preparation, you should be able to get even the toughest stains out.
Store Cupboard Essentials
Preparation is key when tackling stubborn stains, and having the right equipment in your store cupboard when spills strike gives you the highest chance of success. To deal with whatever life might throw at your rug, be sure to stock up on the following:
• Small Bowl & Sponge
• Soft brush
• Corn Starch
• White vinegar mixed with cool water (50/50)
• Cotton towel
• Grease Proof Paper
Rug Care Sins
There are many cleaning techniques which are used with the best intentions but will in fact do more harm than good. Before running to your cupboard and pouring on every cleaning product available, check that you’re not going to be committing one of the following rug care sins.
• Never steam clean natural fibre rugs (wool/silk/cotton.)
• Never wrap wool rugs in plastic. This will lead to mildew and a musty odour.
• Never use the baking soda or chlorine bleach on wool/silk/cotton rugs.
• Always check a cleaning product is compatible with your rug’s fibre and dye type.
Food and Drink Spills
Food and drink spillages are one of the most common threats to a clean rug. Whether it is wine spilt by an overexcited dinner guest or a stain from an overflowing stew, the steps below should help keep your rug looking fresh.
• Spoon up solids and vacuum up any dry pieces. Use a sponge to dampen the spill area with cool water. If the spill is oily, using sudsy water might work better.
• Blot the area with a cotton towel but DO NOT rub the area. Place a folded towel under and over the area to sandwich the spill and apply pressure. This will get out any excess water.
• Use a hairdryer on the cool setting to dry off the area. Leave the damp area propped up for several hours so that the fibres deep in the rug can dry.
If your rug isn’t colourfast, substitute vinegar and water for the cool water.
Getting candle wax on soft furnishings is not ideal as the nature of the wax makes it tough to target with traditional cleaning techniques. However, with a little help from heat and grease proof paper, you should be able to lift most of the wax out.
• Firstly, cut a section of grease proof paper larger than the wax spillage and place it over the area.
• Making sure that it is on a high setting, run your iron over the grease proof paper using short strokes.
• This will melt the wax and transfer it from your rug onto the paper. As the wax melts, rotate the paper to ensure that it continues to absorb the wax.
With pets around, especially very young or old animals, little accidents are bound happen. With proper treatment, your rug won’t be ruined but it is important to act fast. Pet urine is acidic and so completely penetrates rug fibres, essentially re-dying the fibres yellow. Stains should therefore be treated as soon as possible. If left for over a week the urine will change from acidic to alkaline. This can mean that the urine will “dissolve” the rug dyes and can lead to colour loss. Repeated urine stains can lead to mildew and dry rot which may result in holes appearing.
If a mishap should occur, give your rug the best chance of survival and use your store cupboard essentials to eradicate any stains or smells.
• Firstly, pick up any solids that have been left on the rug and dampen the area with a water and white vinegar solution.
• Blot and sandwich the damp area with cotton towels, applying pressure to get rid of excess water. After a few minutes remove the top towel and pack with corn starch. Leave this overnight until the corn starch is dry and hard to the touch. The corn starch will have absorbed any moisture left behind.
• Use a spoon to break up the powder. Use a soft brush to get brush up loose powder then vacuum it up. If an odour is left behind mist both sides of the rug with an enzyme spray or deodoriser. DO NOT pour straight onto the rug as this might cause damage.
Getting In the Professionals
If a stain seems like too much for you to handle on your own or you simply don’t have time to tend to rug care yourself, getting your rug professionally cleaned could be for the best.
Professional rug cleaner, Andi Hill, (better known as “Captain Rug Wash”) explains why you should always turn to a professional cleaner with expertise in rug care to avoid disappointment.
“There are so many things that can go wrong if rugs are cleaned by untrained carpet cleaners or if you have hired a machine. The problem with untrained carpet cleaners and hired machines is that they do not remove the soil that's deep down in the pile of the rug. With a hired machine the rug is also cleaned in the customer’s home, which is a no, no, as there is no way to thoroughly rinse out the cleaning solution from the rug. It’s vital that the cleaning solution is fully removed or else it will attract more soil and dirt to the rug quicker.”
He goes on to explain that untrained cleaners might not know how to deal with issues which might arise during the cleaning process.
“You need the skills to be able to test the dyes to make sure they will not bleed, and know what to do if a rug starts bleeding.”
Without the proper knowledge taking care of a stain could leave you in a worse situation than before. Scrubbing up on you rug care skills will make sure that any attempts by you or a professional to tackle a stain won’t result in a ruined rug.