How to Clean an Area Rug With a Pressure Washer

By London Fog

March 4, 2021


An area rug is essentially a small carpet that does not cover the entire floor space of a room. The most common sizes are 5’ x 8’ and 8’ x 11’. It is used to add a new dimension to the room in question and is primarily used to keep furniture still on a hardwood floor.

The main benefit of area rugs over carpets is the flexibility. If you decide to feng shui your room, an area rug can easily be picked up and moved around to fit your new aesthetic. This also comes in handy when it is time for your rug to be cleaned.

Before you start

We would never recommend power washing indoors. This means that your first step will be to remove the area rug from the room it lives in.

You should place it in a large, clear area. An ideal location is an external patio or porch. You should not place the rug directly onto grassy areas as you do not want it coming into contact with mud and dirt. In a pinch, you could attempt to drape your area rug over an outdoor table for cleaning.

You should shake out your rug thoroughly before lying it down to be cleaned. Sweep the surface with a carpet brush or stiff-bristled brush. Remove as much loose debris and hair as possible from the rug fibers before you proceed.

Spot cleaning

Your next step is to grab a gel designed to use for spot cleaning on carpets. These tend to be designed for small areas of application. They are often marketed as treatments for grease, oil, tar, and chewing gum.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you have chosen a suitable chemical and for application instructions. You should take care to not apply too much to your rug as this can cause discoloration of the rug fibers.

Apply the gel in targeted areas on the toughest stains you can see. Allow it to sit on the fibers for a couple of minutes and then gently scrub with a clean cloth or soft-bristled brush. If the stains have lifted you can rinse the gel off, if they have not then you should allow it to sit on the rug for a further minute or two.

Prepare the cleaning agents

Read the manufacturer’s instructions to work out the correct dilution of cleaning solution to water. Ensure that you are not going to be using a chemical that will cause damage to the fibers of your rug. If in doubt, give it a Google.

For a deep clean, you can do this in a large bath and allow the rug to do a preliminary soak. Submerge the rug entirely underneath the surface of the solution. Allow it to sit here for about 10 minutes for synthetic rugs. Delicate wool rugs should only be soaked for up to 5 minutes to avoid damaging the fibers.

Choose the right pressure washer tip

These tips dictate the pressure of the water that escapes from the pressure washer. You should try to use lower pressures where possible as high pressure will likely damage the structural integrity of your area rug.

Good tips to use are 25 and 40 degrees. These give you a good balance of power and protection for your clean. Begin with lower power tips with wider spray patterns. Gradually increase these if you do not feel as though the cleaning power is sufficient.

Temperature and pressure

If you use a water temperature that is too high, you can cause serious damage to the fibers of your rug. Use a cold to lukewarm water temperature. The pressure should be somewhere between 1,600 and 1,800 PSI to avoid damaging the rug.

Prepare the pressure washer

Ensure that all parts of your pressure washer are correctly attached and there is no obvious damage to the machine. It should be well-oiled and appear to function smoothly.

If your pressure washer has a soap tank you can fill this and the water chamber. If it does not, you should cover the surface of your rug with a layer of detergent.

How to clean an area rug with a pressure washer

Hold the nozzle of the pressure washer wand close to the surface of your rug, about 12 inches above. Do not allow them to touch. When you are happy with the distance, press firmly on the trigger to begin the pressure washing process.

Slowly and methodically move the nozzle of the pressure washer over the surface of the rug. You should cover every spot at least once and try to target the jets of water to remove stains and embedded dirt.

If you have a large area rug and cannot reach the whole surface without stepping on it, this is okay. As long as you remove your shoes, it is fine to stand on the rug as you are cleaning it. We would advise trying to only stand on areas that you have not yet cleaned.

Once you are happy with the clean of your area rug, remove the soap tank from your pressure washer. Run water through the nozzle until no soap suds appear and the stream is clear.

Run the pressure washer nozzle over the entire surface of the rug once more. You should wash off all traces of soap and leave your rug looking wet and shiny. Go over it a couple of times to ensure all of the soap has been rinsed off.

Dry it off

The best way to dry an area rug is to hang it on a clothesline in the sunshine. The sunlight will help to remove any lingering smells and it will be kept off of the ground. This minimizes the chances of dirt making its way back onto your lovely clean rug.

A clothesline will also keep your rug out of the reach of young children and pets. We all know how clean surfaces attract mess, and these are the worst perpetrators.