Wool rugs can be tough to keep clean. The same properties that make it useful – fluffiness, moisture absorbing, able to retain heat – also allow dirt, grime, and stain to penetrate deep in to the fabric, especially a rug.
Try Other Cleaning Methods First
Rugs made from wool are not typically pressure washed because the high water pressure can damage the delicate fibers and dyes used to color them. Instead, it is recommended that you use a dry shampoo that’s safe fore wool and vacuum to clean the rug.
For a more natural alternative, sprinkle baking soda on a stain, let it sit over-night, and vacuum it up the next day.
If the dry shampoo doesn’t work, try spot cleaning the rug as needed with carpet cleaner or baking soda & vinegar.
How to Use a Pressure Washer to Clean a Wool Rug
Now, if you’ve tried the two methods above and aren’t getting results and you’re at the point of making a decision whether it’s even worth keeping the rug, it may be time to take a pressure washer to it.
It is, after all, possible to clean your wool rug with a pressure washer. It’s just a little risky due to the delicacy of the fabric.
Here’s a step by step guide that should help, but this may take some experimentation as far as technique and cleaning solutions. Every pressure washer is different and every rug is different and may require different processes to achieve the best results.
Step 1: Move your rug outside to your patio or deck. Any surface you don’t mind getting wet. Shake your rug out as best as possible, removing any loose dirt & debris.
Step 2: Focus on the dirtiest two square foot part of the rug. Sprinkle a little carpet cleaner on the area that is safe to use on wool. Consult the cleaner’s instructions on how long to let it sit. You can also use baking soda here instead. Just sprinkle a little and use an old fork to move the baking soda around allowing it to penetrate deep into the rug. Let it sit for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Step 3: Set the PSI on your pressure washer to the lowest setting. Hold the nozzle at least 18 inches away from the rug to start.
Step 4: Dry the area with a clean towel.
Step 5: Examine the part of your rug you pressure washed, not only for damage to the wool fibers, but also to any dyes used to color that part of the rug.
How did it do? Do you notice that the area you pressure washed is cleaner than the rest of the rug? Is the fabric damaged? Are any dyes bleeding out of the fabric?
Step 5: If the rug isn’t damaged and your pressure washing cleaned to your satisfaction, repeat the process for the rest of the rug. If you didn’t notice any damage but the area still isn’t clean, try moving the pressure washer gun a little closer to the rug and turn up the PSI a bit.
You might also try different cleaning solutions if you have them. Instead of baking soda, try using white vinegar instead out of a spray bottle.
Step 6: Once your wool rug is clean, leave it out to dry for at least 24 hours. Make sure it’s completely dry before bringing it back inside
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Using Baking Soda & Vinegar to Pressure Wash a Wool Rug
Baking Soda & Vinegar can be a great 1, 2 punch for cleaning various fabric, including wool rugs. But it’s important to dive a little bit into chemistry to understand why and how these two chemicals can be used in conjunction with a pressure washer to clean your wool rug.
How Baking Soda Cleans
Baking soda is alkaline, having a ph of 8. This means that when it comes into contact with anything acidic, it neutralizes it. Most stains tend to be acidic in nature (food & drink), why is why baking soda is able to act on them chemically, loosing the stains, making them easier to clean.
It also removes smells for the same reason. Smells usually come from something rotting and is acidic in nature. Applying baking soda neutralizes the acid and smell.
Baking soda is also slightly abrasive. Meaning the small particles themselves can loosen dirt and debris as they come in contact with it.
How Vinegar Cleans
Vinegar, on the other hand, has a ph of anywhere from 2-5, making it acidic in nature. What it does is help to dissolve grimy material such as dirt and grease. Once broken down the grime is much easier to remove and clean.
As vinegar breaks down material it can also be a powerful deodorizer. Many household cleaning products use vinegar as an active ingredient.
Mixing Baking Soda and Vinegar to Clean A Wool Rug
If you’ve done any poking around online about mixing the two, you’ve probably found conflicting advice. Some say by mixing the two, you create a neutral mixture which is chemically the same as water.
Others claim that mixing the two created a chemical reaction that bubbles and fizzes which help to loosen stains and lift the grime up making easier to clean.
The truth is that both pieces of advice are probably correct. It’s probably true that if you mix baking soda and vinegar in a container, it will likely leave you with an impotent cleaning solution.
However, sprinkling baking soda on a wool rug, then applying vinegar to the rug will allow that chemical reaction to take place on the rug itself. The fizzing that occurs can help to break up stains and lift debris to to surface that you can easily clean.
Here’s a little more info on how to use baking soda & vinegar in a pressure washer.
Experiment and Discover
The takeaway here is that you should try some different methods to find out what works. Maybe baking soda alone will do the trick. Perhaps a mixture of the two is what works best for your wool rug.
The one thing you don’t want to do it blast a wool carpet you just bought with a high powered pressure washer from three inches away. Take your time and start with a technique you know won’t permanently damage your rug and go from there.