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Machine Washable Rugs - Everything You Need to Know

You might have fallen in love with a beautiful rug but feel nervous about keeping it clean. In this post we'll look at the best washable rugs and discuss tips for keeping your favourite area rug looking good for the long haul...

How good are washable rugs?

If you have a busy family life or pets in your home its understandable that you will be concerned about how to care for and clean your rugs. All rugs can be washed in some fashion - either spot cleaned with a damp cloth, hand washed, machine washed or dry cleaned.

Sheepskin Rug

Whether your rug is machine washable doesn't bear any relation to the quality of the rug. Quality boils down to two things - the material your rug is made from and how well it has been made.

So while it's convenient if you can throw your rug in the washing machine every once in a while, don't be put off if you can't. There are other ways of dealing with spills and stains that can keep your rug looking great.

Can you wash a rug in the washing machine?

When you purchase an area rug, the manufacturer/retailer will provide you with care instructions. Exactly what those instructions are will depend on what your rug is made from. Some materials are conducive to machine washing, some aren't.

Sheepskin Rug

The size of your rug also comes into play. Most domestic machines will only be able to handle a small sized rug. Anything larger would have to go to an industrial sized machine or to a dry cleaner.

Are cotton rugs washable?

Cotton is a natural material that is fairly easy to care for. Most cotton area rugs, including rag rugs or eco cotton rugs, can be machine washed (assuming they are small enough to fit).

Just take note of whether your cotton rug has been dyed, as colours may run when wet. Always read the care guide before you take action.

Are fluffy rugs machine washable?

Fluffy rugs come in a variety of materials such as wool, flax or synthetics like polypropylene. Sometimes a combination. Fluffy rugs pose an extra cleaning challenge because dirt gets trapped in the long soft fibres of the rug.

Sheepskin Rug

So again, it really depends on what your fluffy shag rug is made from and how well that fibre holds up to the rigours of being machine washed. Cotton and wool for example, tend to fare better than silk or jute.

Is a shag rug machine washable?

Soft and tactile, shag rugs were very popular in the 60s and 70's. Keeping a shag rug clean requires a bit of extra shaking to remove trapped dirt or objects, and prompt spot cleaning of spills. Whether long and shaggy or a short low pile, wool is comparatively easy to keep clean thanks to its natural stain resistant properties.

Technically machine washable, you do need to take care with sheepskin - the wool itself will come out looking fabulous, however, the backing of your rug may not. Often made of suede, the backing of these types of rugs does not take kindly to being fully submerged in water. Spot cleaning is best.

How big of a rug can I put in the washing machine?

Domestic machines weren't really designed to take area rugs. They don't cope with the bulk and weight of a medium or large rug, especially when wet. A small rug (like a bathroom mat for example) could be washed at home, but anything larger you might need to go to a laundromat to use an industrial machine.

How do you wash 'throw rugs' in the washing machine?

Woollen throws provide comfort and warmth, especially in your living room, when cuddled up on the sofa at the end of a busy day. Sheepskin throws are fairly easy to clean - just give them a regular shake and promptly spot clean any marks.

If your throw is showing a little wear and tear you can actually wash it - but be aware that the backing of your sheepskin throw might not like being submerged in water (it can become misshapen as it dries). Some people are fine with that and happily embrace the natural changes.

How often should you wash bathroom rugs?

Being regularly exposed to damp and steamy conditions means bathrooms rugs need a bit of extra love. Regular shaking and airing outside can help keep your rug looking good and prevent mould and mildew from taking hold.

How do you wash a rug that is not machine washable?

A few simple steps can keep your area rug looking top notch without the need for washing. Most important is regular care - vacuum and shake your rug regularly and spot clean spills promptly.

Always check the manufacturer's care instructions as different materials require different treatments. When it comes to sheepskin for example, my care guide gives you tips for dealing with various spills and stains.

How do you dry a rug after washing it?

Never tumble dry your rug! Instead, hang it outside on a clear day - either on the line if you have one, draped over a chair or lying flat on the ground. Pick a shady spot, out of direct sunlight.

If the weather isn't playing ball, find an out of the way place inside your home and drape over the back of a chair. Avoid the temptation to use heaters! Natural air drying may take longer, but it is preserves the integrity of your rug.

Are washable rugs durable?

The durability of a rug depends largely on what it's made from. Well made cotton rag rug, for example, is a durable washable rug. A less sturdy cotton rug may end up fraying, however.

Wool is a robust, stain resistant and hard wearing fibre and a popular choice for rugs. Even in high traffic areas if you give your woollen rug a good vacuum once a week, shake it outside and promptly spot clean any spills, it should last you a lifetime.

There's no denying that machine washable rugs are super handy and convenient, especially if yours is a busy household with family and pets. But don't be put off if the rug of your dreams can't be thrown in the machine. Focus instead on what your rug is made from - wool is naturally stain resistant and durable and you can keep it looking fabulous with regular care and attention. Remember to always check the manufacturers care instructions before you wash!


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