Cleaning woollen rugs

While keeping a natural-fibre rug clean may seem rather a challenge, the actual cleaning of a woollen rug is less of a risky adventure than we might believe. Just learning a few dos and don’ts is enough to enjoy a rug that is durable, continues to look great for many years and, last but not least, stays fresh.


Does wool like water?


Rest assured – although it is as soft as cat’s fur, wool is not affected by water to any significant degree, or at least not as much as some erroneously think. Although the fibres of a sheep’s fleece are extremely resistant to dirt, heavy use of a woollen rug often means that wet cleaning is the only way to remove those persistent stains.


There are a number of things to consider. First, slight shedding of wool rug fibres is perfectly natural over time. Second, a woollen rug should not be washed in a bathtub full of water – it is far better to moisten the rug’s surface slightly.


Never use hot water and never, ever attempt to clean a woollen rug with hot steam. Although its bactericidal action is excellent, the woollen fibres might not survive all that hot steam. So how should a woollen rug be cleaned?


How should we wash a woollen rug?


A shampooer, or a wet vacuum cleaner, is a good tool for cleaning woollen rugs. Not only can they tackle dried-in stains, they also pick up any excess water to prevent the rug from getting too wet. We always need to consider the rug cleaning detergents we use, as not every chemical cleaner is good for wool and most commercially available formulas may discolour the fibres or destroy their structure. Never use bleach and remember that the detergent solution in water must have a low pH value.


Drying a woollen rug after cleaning is also important. Do not accelerate the drying, as the fibres must dry out on their own, which is best done in a room where the air can circulate freely. A rug should really be cleaned by professionals, but before handing over that treasured woollen rug to a professional for cleaning, make sure that they have a Woolsafe certificate to guarantee that your rug is in good hands.


Wool is synonymous with superior quality and durability, and for many of us a perfect complement to interior design. If we want to continue enjoying its soft, hypo-allergenic, heat-insulating and sound-deadening performance, we must never forget to clean it the right way, including regular vacuum cleaning and wet cleaning. Such maintenance restores the freshness and original appearance, as well as the natural beauty of a woollen rug.