Area rugs can take a beating and, after years of use, it will start to show with dirt and stains. Luckily, most smaller rugs can be machine-washed and come out as good as new. Does the idea of throwing your rug in the washer make you hesitate? Our step-by-step guide details how to wash a rug in the washing machine from pre-treating to proper drying techniques.

How to Wash a Rug in the
Washing Machine in 6 Easy Steps

With the right methods, it’s not only safe but beneficial, to wash a rug in the washing machine. While frequent washings may cause wear and tear, machine-washing small throw rugs 1-2 times per year can keep them fresh and clean. These simple steps make it safe and easy to clean a rug in the washer.

Step 1: Read the Care Label

How to wash a rug properly begins with a little reading. If your rug has a label, make sure it states that the rug is machine-washable. Rugs that are dry-clean only have colors that may run or fibers that can be easily damaged in the washer. Similarly, if the rug is very expensive or has significant personal value, we suggest professional cleaning.

Step 2: Shake the Rug Outside

Before you wash a rug in the washing machine, take it outside and shake out as much dirt and dust as possible. To shake with ease, hold one end of the rug and bang it against the side of a fence or shed. This will dislodge hair, pet fur, and excessive dirt that can clog the washer. 

Step 3: Pre-treat Stains and Spots

The best way to wash a rug with heavy staining is to pre-treat any spots before washing. Pour a small amount of detergent directly on the stain and rub it in gently with a toothbrush. Allow the detergent to sit for 15 minutes to begin penetrating the stain.

Step 4: Put the Rug in the Washer

When you wash a rug in the washer it can take up significant space and be heavy enough to cause balancing issues. If you have a front load washer, wash two small rugs together or add 1 or 2 bath towels to the load to keep it balanced.  For top-load washers, make sure the rug is positioned evenly around the agitator, adding towels as needed to balance the load.

wash a rug in the washing machine

Step 5: Wash the Rug

Now that the rug has been properly prepped, wash it on a gentle cycle with cold water and your regular detergent.

Can you wash a rug with rubber backing? As long as you don’t wash it with chlorine bleach, the answer is yes. Chlorine bleach can break down the rubber during a wash cycle, making a big mess that requires you to clean your washer. An oxygen-based bleach is the safest choice to brighten colors and avoid damage to your rug or machine.

Step 6: Hang the Rug to Dry

After you wash a rug in the washing machine, the right drying methods are essential to preserving its appearance. We recommend air drying on a drying rack or outside, out of direct sunlight, to avoid fading or damage. To remove any lingering dampness or smooth out wrinkles, you can use the tumble dry low setting on your dryer and remove the rug promptly.

Your Tampa washer experts have the 411 on all your washer questions or concerns. Call us for fast and reliable service!