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How to Easily Clean Area Rugs with a Pressure Washer

Sometimes you accidentally spill a few crumbs while making some of your favorite home-cooked meal recipes. Other times it’s a a run-in with your furry friends. But most of the time it’s just the wear and tear of everyday life that can get your rugs looking a little beat.

how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer

Chances are, your favorite affordable area rug isn’t looking quite as clean as it once did. That’s not a problem though, because we’re going over to clean an area rug with a pressure washer the quick and easy way. You won’t believe the difference it can make in the look, and feel of your rug after a cleaning. Trust me, it’s amazing!

Maintaining a constant state of cleanliness is an essential part of having a healthy, happy home. Unfortunately, cleaning the rugs is something that often gets put off until the cleaning process poses quite a problem. This can make it hard to get motivated, let alone start the cleaning process. So, when your rug gets dirty it can be very tempting to simply get them professionally cleaned by a carpet cleaner. I have done that too, but boy is it expensive. If you want to save a bit of money and don’t mind putting in a little effort, you can easily give your rug a deep cleaning with a power washer time and time again for great results.

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In the past, I often resorted to having the rugs professionally cleaned, or simply replacing the rugs altogether. It simply seemed like too much work for my busy schedule. Again, what a waste. Thankfully, through trial, and error, and a bit of internet research, I learned that all you need is a garden hose, a pressure washer, and a large flat surface—preferably one outdoors—to get your rugs looking brand-new again. 

Intrigued? Just follow the steps below and dingy rugs will look brand-new in no time. Here’s how to do it.

How to Clean an Area Rug with a Pressure Washer Step by Step

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The first step is just part of the regular cleaning process but an important one: vacuum your rug. Don’t skip this, because you’ll have a much easier time learning how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer if you’re not working with an especially dirty rug and spraying added dirt everywhere. No need. I like this vacuum for a great job and affordable price. Just look at those ratings!

Here’s the thing. Your rug’s surface often contains lots of loose dirt, dust, hair, and other debris that gets caught in the rug fibers. Simply taking a vacuum to your rug before attempting to power wash it will make things a lot easier. These things tend to come out easier while they’re still dry.

To streamline the process, I suggest vacuuming the rug, shaking it off outside, then vacuuming it again to remove as much debris as possible. 

Pro tip: Consider scrubbing the rug with a dry scrub brush to help loosen the dirt if your vacuum seems like it’s struggling!

Spot Clean as Needed – a Necessary Step in Understanding How to lean an Area Rug with a Pressure Washer

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After your rug is good and vacuumed, we’re going to be soaking the entire rug before we use the pressure washer, but before that, you’ll want to take a good look at your rug to see if there are any tough stains to deal with. Think like a wine spill, pet accident, or dinner disaster.

Usually, the worst stains will be from spilled liquids like your iced coffee with cold foam, or wine, and these can be quite a pain to get out. That’s why—before doing anything else—I always suggest spot cleaning these tough stains. 

Water-based stains can usually be addressed with warm water, soap,  and a towel. However, acidic spills may require a dash of white vinegar to get rid of the spills (and smell) completely. Need something bit stronger? Try this spot cleaner for a real kick. It’s my go-to spot cleaner that works. Once you’ve finished spot-cleaning, you can move on to pre-soaking your rug.

How to Clean an Area Rug with a Pressure Washer The Pre-soak Step

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The next step of how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer involves making a cleaning solution to pre-soak your rug in. Fortunately, this part is very easy. Simply grab a bucket and some cleaning solution, such as Palmolive Oxy or carpet laundry detergent. Mix it up until you’re left with a bucket of soapy water.

Pour the solution on your rug, making sure to get the entire surface soaked. From here, leave it for ten minutes or so. Feel free to scrub the rug while you wait for time to pass if there are any stains you couldn’t completely remove with spot cleaning alone. This is going to loosen all the dirt and grim for the fun part.

Once ten minutes or so have passed, it’s time to whip out the power washer.

Preparing the Pressure Washer

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Pretty much any pressure washer will work for this, so long as the machine is in good working order. That said, it’s important to remember that you’re pressure washing a rug, not concrete. As such, you’ll likely want the lowest amount of pressure possible to avoid damaging your rug. If you apply an extreme setting you risk damaging your rug. So start low and work your way up.

Using a pressure washer with a PSI of 1600 to 1800, combined with a wide spray tip, should work wonders. Also, stick to using cold water or warm water. Avoid hot water, as this can also damage your rug, especially when it’s paired with high-pressure water. The trick here is to have enough pressure to remove grim without harming the pile of dyes.

Using the Pressure Washer

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Now that you have the right water temperature and sufficiently high pressure power washing setup, it’s time to start washing. Whether you’re cleaning small, medium, or large area rugs, the general process is the same.

When learning how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer, it’s important to avoid putting the washer tip too close to the rug. Generally, a distance of about 18 inches from the surface of the rug should be sufficient. Also, remember to pick a direction and stick with it.

The pressure washer will push debris in the direction it’s pointed. As such, you need to stay consistent with the direction you’re aiming for the best results. Avoid spraying the backside of the rug, and be careful around the edges, as these parts are easily damaged. For complete peace of mind, you can always just clean the edges by hand.

Continue spraying your rug until all the suds are gone.

Your Rug is Clean, Now What?

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Mastering the drying process is a bit easier than learning how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer, but it’s definitely the most time-consuming part of the whole routine.

If your rug is soaking wet then you can hang it up for a bit and point a fan at it to remove the excess water. However, the majority of the drying process can’t be sped up. It all comes down to having patience and finding a suitable place to dry your rug.

Although it may be tempting to simply shove your rug in the dryer and be done with it, I would avoid doing this unless your rug is specifically labeled as “dryer-safe”. Don’t rush this part. The air and sun will dry things out and freshen your rug. You want to allow your rug to dry fully. Depending on the material it could be in 24 hours or even a few days. Just be patient.

The Best Places to Dry Your Rug. A Critical Step in Knowing How to Clean an Area Rug with a Pressure Washer

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You have a few different options for drying your rug. The best one is placing the rug on a flat surface in an outdoor space, such as on your driveway. Provided you have enough space to spread the entire rug flat, this is the best option. Laying your rug down flat is important, as it will prevent creases from forming as the rug dries.

The heat from the sun can help eliminate bacteria, remove any lingering smells, and speed up the drying process. Still, this method relies entirely on the weather, so make sure that you check the forecast ahead of time.

If the driveway isn’t an option, you can also hang the rug on a railing, a portable sawhorse, or something else that’s thick and sturdy. I’d avoid using a clothesline though. Even if you do have one that’s strong enough to support the weight, hanging the rug on something so thin is sure to leave a noticeable crease once it dries.

How Long Your Rug Will Take to Dry

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Your rug will be completely soaked once you’re done power washing it. Unfortunately, there really isn’t any way to speed up the drying process. You simply have to wait!

This won’t be much of an issue if you’re working from home and can move the rug at a moment’s notice, but not everyone has this luxury. That’s why it’s a good idea to place the rug somewhere it can stay for a while.

At a minimum, you’re looking at a drying time of 24 hours or so, but most rugs will take between two to four days. Make sure the rug is completely dry before bringing it inside though. Otherwise, you might run into complications like mold, mildew, and unwanted odors. Again, don’t rush this, and just plan to power wash your rug when you know you have a few days to do it properly.

When—and When Not—to Use a Pressure Washer

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Alright, so now you know how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer. Still, knowing when you can use a pressure washer on your rug is just as, if not more, important than knowing how to do it. After all, pressure washing the wrong type of rug could completely ruin your favorite floor decor!

Here’s a quick overview of the rugs you can wash with a pressure washer (and the ones you should avoid).

Pressure-washable Rugs

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If you want to play things extremely safe then you can stick to only pressure washing your outdoor rug. However, in general, any polyester rug with shorter fibers can be washed this way with minimal risk of damaging the rug.

Since polyester is essentially plastic, this type of synthetic rug should be able to easily stand up to the pressure of a power washer. That said, it’s important to remember that simply being made from synthetic materials doesn’t mean that a rug can be power washed. 

For example, while a low-pile polyester rug would be safe to clean this way, a white faux fur rug would likely be damaged or even destroyed if you used this method.

Rugs That Shouldn’t Be Pressure Washed

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Polyester rugs are suitable for pressure washing, but you’ll likely want to avoid using this method if you own a different type of rug. Don’t even think about it if you have a handmade rug! If you have an oriental, Persian, natural fiber, or wool rug, then I would suggest simply taking your rug to the cleaners.

If you own a nylon rug then you may be able to wash it with a pressure washer, but there’s no guarantee. Start by washing a small corner of the rug to make sure you’re good to go before washing every rug in your living room.

how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer Setting a Cleaning Schedule

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Part of owning a tip-top home is keeping your floor decor in tip-top condition! Once you’ve finished pressure washing and drying your rug, the next step is to set up a cleaning schedule so you can stay on top of things moving forward.

As you’ve probably guessed, using a pressure washer can be quite hard on your rug, so you should really limit these intense cleanings to once a year at most. Fortunately, you can keep your rug in good condition by vacuuming it once a week, deep cleaning it every one to three months, and spot-cleaning the surface as soon as something spills.

Closing Thoughts on how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer

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Having clean surfaces is important, no matter if you’re trying to perfect your miracle bedroom suite or simply freshen up your living room. While cleaning the rugs around your home might not be the easiest task, hopefully, it will be a little bit easier now that you know how to clean an area rug with a pressure washer!

So, did this short how-to guide help you remove the stubborn stains, dirt, and dust from the fibers of the rug in your home? If you haven’t tried this method yet, I highly recommend doing so. Your house just feels so much better when everything is in good condition.

Well, that’s all I have for y’all today, but I’ll be back next week with more helpful around-the-home tips. Until then, feel free to read through some of my other posts or check out what I’ve been up to over on my Instagram.


FAQs About How to Clean an Area Rug with a Pressure Washer

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How long does it take a rug to dry after pressure washing?

It varies from rug to rug. Generally, you’re looking at a bare minimum drying time of at least 24 hours. However, many rugs can take two or more days to completely dry. Various factors, such as sun exposure or relative humidity, can affect the drying time, so never assume it’s dry. Always check!

How do you dry an area rug after power washing?

Placing your rug outside is the ideal drying method. Make sure that your rug is in the sunlight, as the UV rays from the sun will help eliminate any bacteria while also speeding up the overall drying process!

What is the fastest way to dry a rug?

Placing your rug outside on a flat surface, directly in the sun, is the fastest way to dry your rug outdoors. However, for indoor drying, I’ve found that placing the rug in an area with a dehumidifier and a fan is the best way to speed up the drying process.

Why does my rug smell after power washing?

There are generally two main culprits: mold and mildew. These issues occur when the rug doesn’t completely dry, which is why you should err on the side of caution when drying your rug. The underlay of your rug—the part that’s not directly exposed—takes longer to dry, so you’ll need to ensure this is completely dry before putting your rug back in its place.

How do you deodorize an area rug?

Do your supposedly clean rugs still have a bit of a scent to them? Not to worry, as there are plenty of common items that can help remove these odors. My favorite method involves vodka and baking soda. Use a spray bottle to spritz the rug with vodka, then let it sit for 15 minutes. After that, sprinkle baking soda on the rug, and leave this there for thirty minutes. Finally, vacuum the rug.

Is heat or AC better to dry carpet?

Drying your rug outside is really the recipe for success, but if you have to dry it inside then you’ll want to take a look at the relative humidity. You don’t necessarily have to heat the room where the rug is, but having higher temperatures will definitely help your rug dry faster in low-humidity environments. If humidity is high then using an air conditioner can help remove humidity from the air, resulting in quicker drying times.

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