This Simple Vacuuming Tip Keeps Area Rugs Much Cleaner

cleaning area rugs

Ever since we installed hardwood floors in our home I have become somewhat obsessed with area rugs. It started with a few strategically placed rugs in our living areas to warm up all the wood and tile, but now I’m layering rugs of different sizes and even adding rugs to carpeted rooms.

Suffice it to say that I now have a fair number of area rugs to care for. Lucky for me, I recently discovered a brilliant cleaning tip for area rugs that I’ve found incredibly effective for keeping them clean and dirt-free.

This method does require you move any furniture off the rug, but I promise it’s worth it! Your rugs (and floors, for that matter) will stay so much cleaner, and they’ll last longer too!

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cleaning area rugs

The Best Way To Clean Your Area Rugs? Flip ‘Em!

Step 1 – Vacuum The Top

Grab your vacuum and give your rug a good once-over using long, slow passes. If your rug happens to have fringe or tassels, vacuum the rug without the rotating brush by switching to the hard floor setting (if your vacuum has one.)

cleaning area rugs

Step 2 – Vacuum The Bottom

Next, flip the rug upside-down and vacuum it again. When you are done, lift up the rug by one corner and brace yourself to see how much dirt didn’t come out on the first pass.

It might surprise you how much dirt and dust actually gathers underneath your rug! That dust can end up scratching your beautiful wood floors, not to mention wreaking havoc on family members who suffer from allergies. (Good thing we’re taking care of it!) :-)

Step 3 – Vacuum The Top (Again)

The final step is to flip the rug back over again (so that it’s facing right-side up) and vacuum it a third time. But before you do that, you may want to fold the rug over halfway and vacuum the floor itself, then repeat on the other side to prevent any dirt from transferring from the floor back onto your rug.

Once you’ve vacuumed the rug for the third time, it should be a lot cleaner! If you lift the rug and find more dirt on the floor, feel free to keep flipping and vacuuming until it stops coming out. (This will all depend on how dirty your rugs were to begin with!)

cleaning area rugs

Frequent Vacuuming = Fewer Flips = Cleaner Rugs

I personally haven’t had to do more than two flips per area rug, but I suspect it’s because I vacuum them fairly regularly. I vacuum all my area rugs in the normal way once a week, and I use this deeper cleaning method about once a month.

I realize this is a bit of extra work compared to a quick pass with your vacuum, but it’s one of the only ways I’ve found to remove the dirt that hides in the deepest layers of an area rug. And just think, this is still a whole lot easier than dragging them outside to beat them with a broom like grandma used to do! ;-)

How do you keep your area rugs clean?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • I don’t have a vacuum. I sweep my low pile rugs sometimes daily, sometimes not. I have two dogs and only screens for windows. It’s amazing and satisfying. When I have help I love taking them outside for a good beating like my grandma did.

  • My husband and I carry the area rug outside to rest on 2 patio chairs and the railing. We then use our leaf blower to blow from the under side to the top. It is visible when the dirt goes flying. we also blow the top off for added effort in removing dirt particles.

  • Jillee , I have been doing this for 40 yrs. My mother is the one who taught me this technique. I remember thinking at age 10 “this is crazy”, but our rugs almost always looked new. Thank you for sharing!

  • You need to get rug pads so your floors don’t get scratched with the dirt. The rug pad holds the dirt so you could just vacuum that and be done.

    • 40 years ago, I remember that I had horsehair pads under my antique karastan oriental rugs. They were both sent out to be cleaned yearly by a professional and the wood floors stayed lovely. Nowadays I have a sort of foam pad under newer rugs and they are not easy to vacuum. And my wood floors? Not so great. How do you clean the pads?

      • I’d like to learn more about this too. I have sort of horsehair-foam combo pads under my area rugs, so they still stick to the wood floors but not as badly as 100% foam. Meanwhile, re Jillee’s tip — if you use pads, should you still flip your rugs? Should we be flipping the pads? Both?

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