Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spring Cleaning: What Lurks in Those Area Rugs?

The weather is warming up and spring is almost upon us. I have started my spring cleaning to brighten up the house and one item on my must-do-spring cleaning list is to clean out my area rugs.

Almost 30 years ago,we replaced our wall-to-wall carpet to wood parquet, to alleviate the allergy symptoms we were experiencing. I remember the buckets and buckets of dirt being  swept from the concrete-floor base after the carpet was removed. As a compromise, I had a few area rugs to accent the wooden floor and to protect the heavy-traffic areas. 

While visiting Turkey, I saw area rugs hanging on the balconies or fences and being beaten with a baseball bat-looking implement. I could see some dusty dirt flying out from each beating. Instead of doing that, I accidentally found a way to get more rug dirt out.
Customarily, the rugs are vacuumed on the right-side surface. 
One day, I must have been in my obsessive-compulsive mode, I turned the rug over to vacuum the floor and the rug's underside. After changing the setting to "floor level" I proceeded to vacuum the rug,  vacuuming in small sections, about a foot and a half, going up and down in tight runs.
When I folded the rug over, to my surprise, this is what I found on the floor, under the rug. 
I vacuumed the dirt that settled on the floor. I again spread out the rug over the clean area to repeat the vacuuming step on the bottom side of the rug.
After repeating the steps 6 times, this is how the underside portion looked like - the background color looked lighter.
As the last step to cleaning this rug, the right side of the rug was given a vacuum run and it also looked cleaner and brighter.
The dirt tank filled up to about half, after working on this area rug which is approximately 3'X14'.

What exactly do I get out from vacuuming on the underside of my area rugs? It's the deep dirt that does not seem to get sucked out by regular vacuuming on the rug's surface. I am beginning to think that when we vacuum, much of the the dirt is pushed in deeper. Vacuuming on the rug's underside pushes the dirt deeper, out onto the floor. I don't know what feature of the vacuum cleaner this is, or if it was intended to work this way, but I am just glad that more dirt is removed by turning the rug over to vacuum on.

I checked  some carpet-care sites, and there is nothing about vacuuming the underside of a rug. Their recommendation to keep the rug/carpet clean is to be barefoot when walking at home on your carpeted areas and to vacuum daily. Now, I know that this is not enough to keep our rugs clean. 

Do your own vacuuming experimentation with your area rugs at home and let me know how my vacuuming procedure worked out. 


  1. That's a nice rug. It will help you define your room in an artistic way.

  2. Thanks. It's in my hall way to brighten up the space and also protect the wooden floor that gets so much traffic.

  3. Yeah, lots and lots of dirt can gather in rugs and carpets. That's more or less inevitable since dust will gather on the floor and stuff, plus often-times you're walking all over it. Shoes or no shoes, the rug will get a bit dirty eventually. Clean it regularly, or find a cleaning service to do it.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Lyda. After this discovery, I decided that I would only have area rugs and no more carpet. It's more manageable to keep the area rugs cleaner.



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