How to Clean a Rug Runner

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A runner rug can help keep your floors a lot cleaner by capturing outside messes before they're tracked throughout the house. The downside: runners need cleaning, too. Vacuum the runner at least once a week, and if it is machine washable, wash it on an as-needed basis. Shaking the runner outdoors helps a good deal as well.

Vacuum Treatment

A runner placed in an entry or well-traveled hallway may get dirtier than area rugs or carpeting in other areas of your home. Vacuum the runner once a week, or even more often if pets or shoes track in dirt and debris from outdoors. Vacuuming is the ultimate option, whether the runner is stuck on the floor or completely removable; it helps prevent debris from getting embedded in the rug fibers, which may shorten the life of the runner. If the runner is not secured to the floor, shake it outdoors whenever you notice debris such as leaves, pebbles or outdoor matter on it.

Deodorizing the Runner

If pets share your home, a deodorizing treatment helps keep the runner smelling fresh. Sprinkle baking soda over the runner; then vacuum it up after 30 minutes or so. Baking soda neutralizes odors, while vacuuming picks up pet dander and fur that may cause odors.

Wet-Cleaning the Runner

Unless the runner is made of cotton and has no backing, it is probably not meant to be washed in a machine, if at all.

  • Natural-fiber runners other than cotton should be cleaned with dry methods and spot-treated only if necessary. Brush stains or spots with a stiff-bristled brush to remove as much of the foreign matter as possible.
  • Indoor/outdoor runners may be machine-washable; check for a care tag or label on the reverse side. Wash an indoor/outdoor runner outside with a small amount of a mild dish soap, hosing it off afterwards to remove all soapy residue. Hang the runner over a clothesline or porch railing until it dries completely.
  • If the runner is machine-washable, wash it in a commercial front-loading washer in cool water with a mild detergent. Line- or machine-dry the runner on a low-heat setting. For best results, read the care tag or label on the runner, as recommendations vary by brand and materials.
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Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.

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