The answer to “Can you pressure wash a rug?” is debatable. Some feel you can while others feel you shouldn’t. Ultimately the decision is up to you.
At Lakeland Pressure Washing we took on the challenge to find the best way to clean a rug with a pressure washer. Here’s what you need to know about pressure washing a rug. We even reveal our top-secret carpet cleaning solution!
Why Pressure Wash A Rug?
You might be thinking, “Why pressure wash a rug?” But there’s a lot of good reasons why cleaning rugs with a power washer makes sense.
Reasons to clean carpets with a pressure cleaner:
- The rug needs to be cleaned.
- Restore the rug’s original color.
- Clean a stain or spill.
- Remove gum or other sticky substances.
- Deodorize a rug.
- Clean off loose dirt and other loose debris from the cleaning area to do a more thorough cleaning.
- Because you don’t have a vacuum cleaner or a scrub brush and the thought of putting in a little elbow grease (more like a lot!) doesn’t sound like a good idea.
- To get out tough stains to extend the life of the rug.
- Suffering from allergies and you want to get rid of dust, pollen, and other allergens hidden below the rug’s surface.
- You want to clean your area rug to extend the life of the carpet without additional cost.
- Don’t have the money to replace your carpet.
- The rug may have stains on it that are not coming out with soap and water.
Rug Cleaning Basics
Spot cleaning carpets is usually done using a good carpet cleaning solution and a few washing tools. If your carpet or area rug becomes too dirty or has stubborn stains that spot treating can’t clean, then, depending on your carpet blend, you may find it advantageous to use a pressure washer combined with the right cleaning solution along with the correct pressure.
But, before attempting to pressure wash your rug, it’s smart to understand a little about rugs. Then you’ll know whether or not pressure washers are a good fit for your rug cleaning process.
Types of Rugs
A rug is typically made either of nylon, polyester, propylene, cotton, viscose, wool, or a combination thereof, and can be hand-made or machine-made. Handmade rugs can be quite expensive because of the work and artistry that goes into making them. They can last a lifetime if taken care of.
Machinemade rugs are manufactured quickly but have a much shorter lifespan. They’re also less expensive!
Best Carpet Blends
Different carpet blends hold up differently. Durable blends hold up better with a pressure washer. Cleaning less expensive area rugs are better left to a pressure washer because the cost to clean them is significantly less.
- Wool is the strongest, most durable, and natural of blends. It hides dirt well.
- Cotton is soft and less expensive but collects more dirt and stains more than wool.
- Nylon is the most durable synthetic blend, holds up well, and is easier to clean than cotton.
- Wool/polyester – Polyester is typically used to increase durability.
- Wool/polyester/viscose – Viscose is typically used to increase the look of the carpet.
- Wool/nylon – Nylon can be used to increase durability, even better than polyester.
PRO TIP: Let a professional carpet cleaner dry-clean expensive handmade rugs and carpets because it is too risky to take a chance with a pressure washer.
Durable machine-made synthetic blends are more pressure washer-friendly. They are far less expensive and easier to clean with a pressure washer and good pressure washer brush.
How to Clean a Rug With a Pressure Washer: Step by Step Guide
Deciding to wash your rug with a pressure washer is the hard part. You don’t want to take a chance of destroying a precious family heirloom, such as a priceless Persian rug. (N.B., Oriental rugs are not pressure washable!)
Taking a chance on an inexpensive synthetic machine-made area rug isn’t going to destroy your wealth if you accidentally destroy it.
How to pressure wash carpets:
- Place your area rug on a clean flat surface such as a concrete slab, wood deck, or driveway.
- Pretreat your rug with a good carpet cleaning solution and cold water.
- Connect your outdoor garden hose to a water spigot.
- Affix the hose to a pressure washer.
- Add a soap tank to your pressure washer and include a water cleaning solution.
- Turn on the washer and set it to a low-pressure setting.
- Using a stiff bristle broom, stiff brush, or a pressure washer brush gently work the stain treatment solution into the fibers (like you would deep clean furniture or a piece of clothing).
- Start spraying the rug from the top and work your way down to remove any dirt or debris that may be embedded into the fibers. The correct distance is 1 foot or 30 centimeters. The right distance will ensure it doesn’t become frayed on the cleaning area while you clean your area rug.
- Find the right pressure washer setting on your low psi pressure unit by slowly adjusting the pressure to power wash so it thoroughly cleans your area rug without damaging it. Never use high pressure when rug cleaning.
- Do a deep clean by repeating this process until the area rug is new again. Make sure all the soap is completely removed.
- Hang your area rug up outside to air dry completely.
- Place the clean rug back inside where it belongs.
PRO TIP: Start your cleaning session during the early morning hours on a hot dry day so you can see what you’re doing and so the area rug has plenty of time to dry after the final rinse. And make sure to follow these cleaning instructions while washing your rug.
Best Rug Cleaning Solution When Pressure Washing
We promised to share our top-secret rug cleaning solution with you. Now we discovered this soft formula solution when a client hired us to clean a flooded ground-floor apartment.
Note: We added this solution about 20-minutes before we pressure washed the area rug. It cleaned the carpet perfectly while at the same time neutralizing the harsh sour stink smell that had pervaded the entire rug.
- A clean spray bottle
- 1 small funnel
- 1 cup Dawn dish soap
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup baking soda (or as needed)
- Remove the sprayer from the spray bottle.
- Add 1 cup of Dawn dish soap to the spray bottle using a small funnel.
- Add 1 cup white vinegar to the spray bottle using a small funnel.
- Add 1 cup of water to the spray bottle using a small funnel.
- Reattach the sprayer to the spray bottle.
- Shake the spray bottle so all ingredients are mixed.
- Spray the carpet slightly damp with the solution.
- Wait for 20-minutes. The carpet should be only slightly damp (if not, wait until it is).
- Sprinkle baking soda onto the slightly damp carpet completely.
- Wait an hour for the baking soda to neutralize and absorb the odor.
- Using a pressure washer continue washing your rug outside on a concrete driveway.
- After power washing your rug, it should be good as new again. Rugs cleaned using this solution come out looking like professional cleaners have cleaned them.
PRO TIP: If you don’t have a pressure washer, then a rented carpet cleaning machine (like a Rug Doctor) will work as well. Just be sure not to add the solution into the machine itself, but rather spray it directly on the area rugs or carpeting you wish to clean.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Refrain from using bleaching agents on your carpets (even hydrogen peroxide) as these can damage the carpet and dilute the coloring, ruining the area rugs.
Washing Your Rug With a Pressure Washer: Do’s and Don’ts
With the basics out of the way, it’s probably best to put forward some best practices to ensure your success is more or less guaranteed.
Here are the dos and don’t of pressure washing a rug:
- Do take the rug outside
- Don’t use harsh soaps or detergents
- Do use warm water
- Don’t use hot water
- Do wear protective eyewear
- Don’t point the pressure washer upwards
- Do clean an area rug with low pressure (below 1,500 PSI)
- Don’t clean area rugs using a high-pressure unit (nothing above 1,500 PSI)
Important Note: First clean an area rug upside down to avoid loose dirt ricocheting towards you. Avoid this technique with wool rugs as the backing is often jute and the fibers can break when pressure washed.
Now you know everything that we know about pressure washing rugs. You should not have any problem deciding if a rug is okay to pressure wash or not. And you shouldn’t have any problems pressure washing your rugs using a pressure washer.
All you need are the right tools and these step-by-step instructions and you can make it a practice to do a regular cleaning so your rugs stay clean, sanitary, and fresh.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is it important to do regular cleanings?
It is important to regularly clean your carpets because it helps to remove dirt and grime from the fibers, which can harm the quality of your carpet. Without regular cleaning, your carpets can attract dirt and grime, which will cause you to spend more time and money on maintenance.
There are several reasons to do regular cleanings on your carpets and area rugs.
Top reasons to do regular carpet cleanings:
- Preserve the life of your carpet
- Keep the carpet’s color vibrant
- Reduce allergens and mold
- Keep your home smelling fresh
Can you pressure wash carpets?
Yes, you can pressure wash carpets. But you will need a place outside your home to pressure wash them. It is best to use a carpet cleaner for carpet that is tacked down inside your home.
Can I shampoo an area rug?
Yes, but we recommend you use rug shampoo and use a small amount, so you don’t damage the rug fibers. Rug shampoo can be purchased at locations where you rent carpet cleaners.
What if I don’t own a pressure washer?
If you don’t own a pressure washer another option is to use a self-service car wash. You can put your rugs down on the concert and use the pressure washer to effectively clean your area rugs and accent rugs. Remember to bring a pickup truck to transport the wet rugs back home for air drying.
How do you wash a rug at the carwash?
You can wash rugs at a carwash the same way you would at your home with a pressure washer. The difference is you’ll need a way to transport the rugs home after washing them. They’ll be too wet to place into a car or other enclosed vehicle.
Can I pressure wash my rugs on a wooden deck?
Yes, you can clean your rug with a pressure washer on a wooden deck so long as it’s clean and you have visibility to see what you’re doing. What’s more, you can leave your wet rugs on the deck to dry out or hang them over the ledge of the deck for faster drying. You can even use pressure washers to clean a wooden deck.
What should I do if my rug is stained?
The first thing you should do is to carefully inspect the stain. If it’s just a regular spill, try to blot up as much of the liquid as possible with paper towels. Then, mix together equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and give the rug a good spritzing. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before blotting up or vacuuming up any excess liquid.
If the stain is more stubborn, try two tablespoons of baking soda mixed with an equal amount of water. Let it sit on the rug for 15-20 minutes before vacuuming up any excess residue.
If all else fails, make sure your rug is dry and then use fabric cleaner or carpet cleaner to remove the stain from the rug.
How do I get rid of pet hair from a rug?
You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove the pet hair from the rug. Vacuum in one direction, then switch directions to pick up more hair. You can also use a lint roller to remove the pet hair from the rug.
What are the pros and cons of pressure washing a rug?
The first advantage of using a pressure washer for a rug is that it is a cheaper option than hiring a professional cleaning service. This is because most people have access to the necessary equipment required to clean their own rugs with a pressure washer, so they don’t need to hire outside help.
However, there are some disadvantages associated with this method as well. For example, if you do not have experience using these machines or cleaning rugs in general, it may be difficult to get the job done efficiently and thoroughly — leading to an incomplete clean or an expensive carpet shampooing treatment.
What other options are available to clean a rug?
Using a vacuum cleaner is the most common method. It can remove loose dirt and dust particles without having to physically touch them. However, it may not be the best option when trying to remove larger dirt and grime that can’t be removed by just sucking it up with a vacuum cleaner.
Another option is using a carpet shampooer. It’s more time-consuming than just vacuuming but will clean better because it uses water that turns into soap which then attaches to the dirt particles for easy removal.
A third option is hiring a professional cleaning service. This is more expensive but there are likely no tricks they haven’t seen so they will have more success in making your rug look great again!