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How to Machine Wash a Rug: A Guide from Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

Washable area rugs are a wonderful convenience. This article discusses how to clean different types of washable rugs.

Washable Rugs: Easy Care for Your Busy Life

There’s nothing like a beautiful area rug to warm up your home. A well-chosen rug is a design accent that adds dimension, color, and style to any space from bedroom to living room to kitchen and beyond. But deep cleaning rugs has, traditionally, been a bit of a chore, requiring a trip to the dry cleaner; the in-home services of a carpet cleaning professional; of the homeowner steam cleaning with an unwieldy carpet cleaner that requires special carpet shampoo or cleaning solution.

Fortunately, there are now many stylish machine washable rug choices available for your home. Of course, washable bath mat and small bath rug styles have been around for a while, as have indoor/outdoor carpets. But some larger area rugs – including cotton, synthetics, and blends – can be also washed in your washing machine with laundry detergent.

Heritage Park Laundry Essentials is here with all you need to know about washable rug cleaning. We’ll help you simplify and streamline your carpet cleaning routine with an easy method for caring for everything from bathroom rugs to the latest Ruggable style right in your washer.

Woman preparing to wash a Ruggable rug in washing machine

What Are the Different Types of Machine Washable Rugs?

To begin, always read the care guidelines for any type of rug before attempting to clean it in any fashion. Similar to clothing and linen, whether or not a rug is machine washable comes down to the fiber used to make it. Bathroom rugs, for example, are usually washable because they are a cotton or cotton and synthetic blend. This includes some high-end, designer cotton and blend bath rugs like those made by luxury linen manufacturer Habidecor, whose specialty bath rug collection is washable.

Many other washable area rugs are woven from lighter weight cotton, synthetic fiber or blends. A lightweight cotton rug like this one from IKEA or a machine washable microfiber style are made for washing in your machine. Additionally, Ruggable rugs are designed to be washable; these feature a removable rug “cover” (usually a polyester blend) that can be taken off its rubber backing and put right in the machine. In general, washable rugs are also denser in pile and tighter in weave, as these will do better in a machine.

What rugs are NOT machine washable? 

Typically, natural fiber rugs are not machine washable, or even washable at all. This includes any type of wool rug, silk rug, or jute rug. The carpet fiber of these rugs will absorb and hold water, making the drying process quite difficult. Additionally, they are usually too heavy for any type of washing machine and should be professionally cleaned following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Some synthetic rug styles should also not be machine washed, including styles like a shag rug or even a synthetic sheepskin rug; these are just too heavy for a washing machine and will end up waterlogged.

How to Choose the Best Detergent for Washable Rugs

Choosing the best detergent for washing your rugs means finding a formula that cleans effectively without causing damage to the carpet fiber. Heritage Park’s All-Purpose Laundry Detergent is perfect for washing your rugs, as we are all about safe and effective cleaning. It is a concentrated liquid detergent made with natural, plant-based ingredients and a powerful blend of laundry enzymes to break down and remove different types of dirt and stains; you can learn more about how our proprietary blend of laundry enzymes works to clean here.

Along with being effective, Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent is safe for people, pets, and the planet. We realize that while your rugs get walked on, little people and four-legged family members are often laying on them (and creating the stains you need to clean up in the process). This is why we use only thoughtfully sourced, natural ingredients that are safe and gentle on skin (after all, we use our detergent to wash our families’ clothing, bedding, and towels!). Be sure to check out our stewardship guidelines. Our fragrance-free formula is hypoallergenic as well as pediatrician and dermatologist approved. We make our products in small batches for the ultimate in quality control, and are Leaping Bunny approved as cruelty free.

Steps for Washing and Drying Washable Rugs

  1. Read the care guidelines on your rug (guide to laundry symbols)
  2. Test for colorfastness if you’re concerned (mix detergent and water and dab on an inconspicuous spot with a cotton ball or swab)
  3. Spot treat stains before washing (see below)
  4. Do NOT overload the machine (Ruggable provides a helpful guide to minimum size washing machine requirements for different sizes of their rug covers. Our recommendation is to fill your machine no more than 2/3 with a washable rug. Additionally, if your machine has an agitator, you may wish to visit a laundromat and use a commercial front loader.)
  5. Add the appropriate amount of Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent
  6. NEVER use bleach or fabric softener
  7. Once your rug is clean, we recommend air drying to prevent damage and shrinkage. You can tumble your rug on a “no heat” setting, using wool dryer balls to speed dry time. Never put a rubber-backed rug in the dryer on any type of heat.
Machine washing instructions for a rug

Care Note for Indoor/Outdoor Rugs

Indoor/outdoor rugs have been a style staple for quite some time. We have several of these in our mudroom, kitchen, and hallway, all from Ballard Designs. These rugs have been versatile and have held up wonderfully over years of children, pets, parties, and family gatherings. While they cannot be machine washed, we follow these steps for washing our indoor/outdoor rugs:

  1. Take the rug outside and lay in the grass on a warm sunny day
  2. Make a solution of Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent
  3. Hose down the rug to wet it and/or spray away stains
  4. Make a mixture of Heritage Park detergent and water and use a long-handled scrub brush to apply and gently scrub
  5. Rinse from both sides
  6. Hang to dry over a line if possible

Spot Treating and Routine Care of Your Rugs

You can spot treat stains on any washable rug with an enzyme cleaner or a solution of equal parts water and Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent in a spray bottle. When stains happen, blot up as much as you can, and spray immediately. Try to blot, not rub, until the stain lifts. You should also pre-treat any difficult stains before washing them in your machine. (Note: you may also be able to use the 1:1 solution of Heritage Park Detergent and water to “spot treat” stains on wool or other non-washable rugs on a limited basis. Enzyme detergent is not good for these natural fibers but may be helpful in removing some stains. We always recommend testing first in an inconspicuous place).

How Often Should You Wash Your Rugs?

The answer to that is easy: when they need it! You may want to wash your bathroom rug more often because it gets more use and lives in a damp environment. A rag rug on a three-season will certainly need washing every few months. And, if your house is like ours, your kitchen rugs will find their way into the wash on a regular basis because something gets spilled. Washing rugs regularly and not letting stains pile up is all part of helping your floor coverings look and feel beautiful.

Of course, the Heritage Park Clean Team is always here to help answer your questions about washing rugs, clothing, bedding, or bath linen. Contact us for guidance or with any care questions.

Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions.

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