How to Deep Clean Your Outdoor Rug
Use these six steps to remove dirt, stains and allergens from your outdoor rug.
While outdoor rugs are considered a cost-effective way to bring beauty and comfort to just about any outdoor living area, when neglected they can see grime and mildew accumulate over time. Homeowners remember to spray off or wipe down other outdoor accessories, like tables and chairs, but often forget about those bold and beautiful rugs. The problem? All the dirt and allergens that build up on the rugs can get tracked into the house.
If you have a hard time remembering the last time your outdoor rugs were cleaned, it’s a strong indication that they need it. Here are some basic steps to get you started.
• Stiff broom
• Liquid dish detergent
• Baking soda, vinegar, or club soda (optional)
• Brush with soft bristles
Step 1: Remove Big Dirt & Grime
A pair of gloves and a dust mask might be a good idea before shaking the dirt out of your outdoor rug or mat. Simply grab the rug and go to a spot outside where there’s adequate room and dust can fly. Shake it vigorously a few times to remove the loose dirt. If the rug is too big to hold or the fibers are bound really tight, consider draping it over a railing or fence. Either use your hand to loosen the debris on the surface, or a stiff brush or broom.
Step 2: Vacuum Dust
Once the big chunks of dirt are gone, a fine layer of dust will still remain. That’s where the vacuum comes in. Use it on both sides of the rug. While the convenience of a battery-powered vacuum is tempting, it’s important that you have strong suction to pull out or loosen stubborn dirt deposits and stains. You may want to try deep cleaning with a wet/dry vacuum, depending on the materials used in your rug. Stains and pet hair may require you to transport your indoor vacuum outside so that you can use the handheld rods and turbo brushes.
Step 3: Hose Down Rug
Always check the care label for direction, but if your rug is washable then rinsing it is a good idea. For example, rugs made from plastic materials are a snap to hose down. Try to position the rug on a sloped surface — like the yard or driveway — so the water can run off quickly.
Step 4: Soap Up & Scrub
Outdoor rugs can get a lot out of a gentle washing, just like your indoor rugs. As mentioned before though, always look at the care instructions first to avoid damaging the materials with cleansers. If the tag is missing, manufacturer recommendations can often be found online.
When it comes to cleansers, DIY solutions work well for most outdoor rugs. A solution of diluted baking soda, white vinegar and dish soap is a pretty useful combination. Even simpler, a few drops of liquid dish detergent in warm water takes care of most messes. Mold and mildew can be removed with white vinegar and baking soda — just be cautious not to use too much as it can affect the vibrancy of the rug’s color.
For removing stains? Club soda is a popular pick. But a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide is really useful as a spot treatment on greasy, sticky or stubborn stains. Specialty and store-bought cleansers are another option to consider.
Once you lather up the rug, take a soft-bristle brush and gently work the surface or specific spots as necessary.
Step 5: Rinse & Hang Dry
Next it’s time to rinse the rug clean of all the cleaning agents and dry it by laying it flat or hanging it on a clothesline. Do not lay the rug over railings or fences since it might mess up the shape or transfer color as it dries. When the top of the rug is dry to the touch, flip it over so that the back can dry as well. Both sides should be completely dry before you return it to its original spot outside or roll it up for storage.
Step 6: Store or Lay Out Rug
A lot of people enjoy swapping out their outdoor rug with the changing seasons. If that’s you, consider bringing your rug inside when expecting heavy rain or snow, as it will help give it a longer life. Use rope or stretchy cords to hold it in a roll. When storing your rug in an outdoor shed or deck, it’s a good idea to place it under a tarp or in plastic. If storing it indoors, be sure to put it in a spot you’ll remember so you can find it easily when you need it next.
If you simply want to put your fresh, clean rug back in its place, always wash down the area it occupied thoroughly first. This may mean hosing down the patio or pressure-washing the deck before laying down your newly cleaned rug.
Last thing: Put a reminder on your calendar to do this all again in a few months when the seasons change.