How to clean a wool rug – 7 steps to restore your rug to its former glory, according to experts

Extend its lifespan and maintain its beauty

White living room with blue sofa, rattan storage wardrobe, and grey rug
(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

Knowing how to clean a wool rug is essential to maintaining the longevity and lifespan of your rug, ensuring it stays in pristine condition for many more years to come.

Although you may already know a few ways to clean a rug, there are a few considerations to be made when cleaning a wool rug specifically – namely using a gentler hand to avoid damaging the natural fibres.

Although it's tempting to just invest in one of the best carpet cleaners to restore a wool rug to its former glory, we've asked experts for their tried and tested methods for cleaning a wool rug to keep yours looking beautiful for longer.

Navy painted wall and cabinet storage area with green sofa, red patterned rug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Caroline Mardon)

How to clean a wool rug

Luckily, contrary to popular belief, wool rugs are actually a lot easier to clean and maintain than you may think.

'Due to the nature of the wool fibre, it will generally hide soiling better than synthetic products and also is easy to clean,' explains Lisa Conway, marketing manager at Brintons. 'Wool's natural oils and scaled structure trap dust and dirt at the top layers of the fibre, so it couldn't be easier to keep clean with a quick vacuum around.'

However, should you accidentally stain your wool rug, refrain from acting hastily and immediately scrubbing away. Instead, follow these tips to effectively clean a wool rug.

What you'll need

1. Treat stains as soon as possible

Lisa explains that the scales on wool make it so that liquids will simply bead up and stay on the surface, helping to keep wool stain-free and giving you time to blot up any spills. But, it's still important to tend to them as soon as you can.

'Treat any stains or spills promptly to prevent them from setting, and blot the affected area with a clean, white cloth or paper towel to absorb as much of the spill as possible,' advises Polya Petrova, cleaning professional at Fantastic Services.

2. Use mild detergent or specialised cleaner

A living room armchair upholstered in grey with a fluffy cushion and throw, and a black and white patterned rug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Wool is a sensitive material, so it's recommended that you steer clear of any harsh chemicals when cleaning a wool rug.

Polya suggests using a mild detergent or a specialised wool rug cleaner to tackle the job. 'Dilute the cleaner according to the manufacturer's instructions,' she advises.

Alternatively, you can also clean using white vinegar to remove stains from carpet if you'd rather opt for a natural cleaning method.

3. Test the solution in an inconspicuous area

Living room with grey walls, wooden floor with grey rug and bay window with white blinds

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

Similar to cleaning a carpet without a machine, it's best practice to do a patch test of any cleaning solution.

Mara Rypacek Miller, managing director and founder of Industville recommends 'testing on a discreet area first to ensure there's no colour run or damage to the fibres'.

4. Gently apply the solution

Organge L-shaped sofa in living room with cushions and rug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Caroline Mardon)

Once you're certain the solution will cause no damage to the wool rug, gently apply it to the stained area using a soft-bristled brush or sponge.

'Work in a circular motion, starting from the outer edges and moving toward the centre of the stain,' advises Polya. Remember, whatever you do, do not scrub.

'It's important that you do not rub as this will cause the pile to burst, making it appear slightly fluffy and lighter in appearance,' warns Lisa.

5. Rinse the area

Green panelled wall with bed, bedside table, table lamp, and cream rug

(Image credit: Industville)

After tending to the stain, rinse your rug with lukewarm water but don't over-wet it.

Cassandra Leisz, creative director at Ruggable cautions that excessive moisture can cause mould growth and your rug to produce a musty smell.

After rinsing it with water, try to absorb as much of the remaining water as possible by blotting it with a clean cloth.

6. Hang the rug to dry

White living room with blue sofa, rattan storage wardrobe, and grey rug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Now, you can hang it to dry. Once fully cleaned, wool can take a little longer to dry than other materials, so it's essential to dry the rug correctly,' explains Natasha Brook, a Dr. Beckmann spokesperson.

'Air drying the rug is recommended, hang it vertically and keep away from direct sunlight or any heat source as this may cause shrinking or distortion of the fibres.'

7. Fluff up the rug

White living room with light coloured sofa, wooden coffee table, and colourful rug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

After the rug has fully dried, Polya recommends using a soft-bristled brush to gently fluff up the fibres and restore the rug's texture.

To keep your wool rug looking its best between deep cleans, it's important to vacuum often and rotate it periodically.

'If your rug is positioned in a high-traffic area of the home, rotating this every few months will ensure even wear and tear, preventing areas from becoming more worn down than others,' explains Natasha. 'This will also extend the rug's lifespan, saving you money on replacements long-term.'


What's the best way to clean a wool rug?

To maintain a wool rug, Mara Rypacek Miller from Industville recommends vacuuming regularly with a brushless suction head to prevent fibres from becoming frayed or pulled.

'For spills, immediately blot with a clean, white cloth to prevent stains from setting in. For more stubborn dirt, using a mild detergent solution and lukewarm water for spot cleaning can be effective,' says Mara.

While it's important to regularly clean a wool rug at home, either through regular upkeep of vacuuming and spot cleaning where necessary, wool rugs can benefit greatly from professional cleaning every 12 to 18 months to extend their lifespan and maintain their appearance.

'Professional cleaners use techniques and products specifically designed for wool, helping to remove deeply embedded dirt and revitalise the rug's natural fibres without causing harm,' concludes Mara. 'Considering professional cleaning as part of your rug's maintenance can be a worthwhile investment, preserving its beauty and functionality over time.'

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.