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How to clean a rug: what is the best rug cleaning process?




Full immersion rug cleaning vs dry compund cleaning vs on-site surface cleaning




The most popular rug cleaning methods are full immersion (or submersion), dry compound cleaning, and surface cleaning, all of which are often offered by most professional rug cleaning companies.


What is the difference? Let's take a look at each process and find out:


  •  In-situ dry cleaning 

​This process consists of applying a layer of dry compound to the surface of the rug, agitating with a counter-rotating brush, and vacuuming once the compound has dried, making it a cost-effective way to dry clean a rug.

Although it's called dry compound, the microsponges are wetted with a cleaning solution that breaks down the soils upon agitation.

The dirt and soils are absorbed into the microsponges as they dry and then vacuumed up.


Insitu rug dry cleaning, although a viable cleaning method, has some limitations:


  • being done at the customers premises means no thorough dusting can be done 
  • it only works on rugs with a pile
  • it is not efficient against spillages or pet stains which require thorough flushing


  •  In-situ wet cleaning 


It works for fitted carpets so it should also work for rugs, right? WRONG!

This is the quickest way to ruin a handmade rugand here is why:


  •  handmade rugs such as Persian and Oriental rugs can and will bleed colours. There is no way to control it in-situ 

  •  handmade rugs are made of natural fibres like cotton and wool. There is no way of drying them within an optimal time frame in-situ

  • handmade rugs can hold A LOT of dust and grit deep down the fibres. There is no way of dusting them properly outside a rug cleaning plant

  • handmade rugs can buckle and curl. This cannot be prevented in customers' house

So asking your carpet cleaner to go over any handmade rug is a big No-No. Instead, it's best to rely on a professional rug cleaning service for such delicate items.


  •  Full immersion rug cleaning


In-plant full immersion is the only recommended cleaning process for rugs. It is also the most thorough cleaning system as it involves removing all the dust from the back and deep down the pile and a thorough submersion clean and rinse, ensuring a deep clean.


Having your rug cleaned in a dedicated rug cleaning workshop or rug cleaning spa (also referred to as a rug cleaning plant) also addresses all the potential problems mentioned above:


  • dye bleeding


In a specialist rug cleaning workshop, this can be prevented in two ways:

  1. stabilizing the colours before the cleaning process, and / or

  2. flushing all the excess loose dyes before they get the chance to bond to the fibres. A bespoke wash floor or pit and a high water flow will help prevent any dye bleeding damage.


  • drying a rug within an optimal time-frame.


A specialist rug cleaner will have a dedicated drying room. After a thorough rinse on the wash floor, most of the water gets extracted from the rug with the help of professional rug cleaning equipment like a centrifuge or another appropriate tool like "the rug sucker".

The rugs then get hanged on drying poles in the drying room, a climate-controlled sealed room.  

Here, dry air gets blown around the rugs, drying even some of the larger ones in just a few hours.


  • dusting


Unlike in-situ cleaning where the only dust extraction method possible is vacuuming, in a rug cleaning plant, two more thorough methods are available:


  1. Rug beating - the rugs get put face down on dusting grids and the back of the rug is agitated with a dedicated rug duster like "The rug badger"

  2. Air dusting - Compressed air is gently blown through the rug's fibres to extract all dust


  • buckling and curling


Some rugs, like for example the Afghan ones, tend to curl or even shrink after wet cleaning. In a specialist rug cleaning unit, this can be prevented by blocking the rug. This method involves drying the rug flat under gentle tension; it can also be used to correct previous curling caused by floods or inappropriate cleaning.


In conclusion, full immersion rug cleaning is not only the most thorough, but in the right hands, also the safest rug cleaning process, especially when performed at a dedicated rug cleaning spa.



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