Cleaning Vintage Rugs with a Rental Carpet Cleaner

Cleaning Vintage Rugs with a Rental Carpet Cleaner

Using a rental carpet cleaner is almost certainly the easiest way to care for your vintage rugs and other carpets in your home. Lindsay Jackman of The White Buffalo Styling Co. is accustomed to using floor care rental equipment in her home.

Here, Lindsay shows us how easy it is to use a rental carpet cleaner to care for her beautiful vintage rug.

Nearly every room I design has one as its focal point and some would say they’re a defining characteristic of my style. I get the most questions about how to clean them since vintage rugs are obviously used, most of them for many years.

The great part about living with colorful vintage rugs is that they really hide all wear your kids and pets can throw at them. That’s also the downside because you can’t see the wear, stains, and dirt that are likely lurking there from their previous lives. They definitely need to be cleaned prior to living with them.

Cleaning Vintage Rugs with a Rental Carpet Cleaner

By using a rental carpet cleaner from the Tool Rental Center at your local Home Depot store, you can give your vintage rug new life in just an hour.

How to Clean a Rug with a Carpet Cleaner


Step 1: Pick up the Rug Cleaner

Rental Carpet Cleaner: Rug Doctor Pro at The Home Depot

Rent the rug cleaner and purchase the rug cleaning solution from the Tool Rental Center at your local Home Depot store.

Rug Doctor Oxy-Steam Carpet Cleaner

You’ll need one bottle of solution for 750 – 1500 sq. ft, so one bottle should work for even the largest of area rugs.

If you don’t already have a large tarp, make sure to grab one while you’re there. You want the tarp to be larger than your rug.

Step 2: Prep the Rug for Cleaning

Vintage Rug Laid Out for Cleaning

Lay out your tarp outside. If you have wood floors, you do not want to clean the area rug inside. The steam cleaner will damage the floor’s finish. If you are not using a new tarp, make sure that it’s clean before laying the rug down. (Of course, if you’re cleaning installed carpeting, you can’t take the carpet outside. But it’s not necessary in that case.)

Lay the rug centered in the tarp. Make sure you have an extension cord or are close enough to an outlet so that you can plug in the carpet cleaner.

Step 3: Fill the Rug Cleaner with Water and Solution

Measuring Cup with Carpet Cleaning Liquid

The rug cleaner holds two gallons of water. You need ½ cup of rug cleaning solution for two gallons.

Pouring Carpet Cleaning Liquid into Two Gallon Pot

Pour two gallons of hot water into a pot or bowl. Measure out ½ cup of the solution and mix it into the water.

Pouring Carpet Cleaning Liquid into Rental Carpet Cleaner

Once the solution and water are mixed, remove the white tank that’s on top of the carpet cleaner and pour the mixture into the blue tank underneath.

Step 4: Clean Your Rug

Cleaning a Vintage Rug with a Rental Carpet Cleaner

Once the tank is filled, you are ready to clean!

Start on one corner of the rug and turn on the switch. Very slowly walk the rug cleaner in a straight line to the other end of the rug. Make sure that your shoes are clean before this process so you don’t track dirt on newly cleaned areas of the rug.

Cleaning a Vintage Rug with a Rental Carpet Cleaner

Once you reach the end of the rug, take it back to the side you started on and run it right up against the line you just finished. You’ll be able to see where the rug is wet from the previous line, so it’s easy to make sure the entire rug gets cleaned.

Continue doing this until you have gone over the entire rug. For a large rug, you will likely run out of water and cleaner before you have finished cleaning the entire rug. Our rug is an 8 x 10, and we ran out about halfway through.

Watch the clear dome on top of the white tank as you’re cleaning. You will see water being sucked and cycled through. When you stop seeing new water coming in, you need to replenish the tank.

Water Tank of a Rental Carpet Cleaner

Remove the white tank and dump the dirty water into the toilet and flush (rather than dumping the chemicals in the yard).

Once you refill the tank, start cleaning again. After you’ve gone over the entire rug, turn the rug cleaner and run it in the other direction to ensure you haven’t missed any spots.

Once you have finished cleaning, ensure that the blue tank is empty. Then, run the cleaner over the rug again. This will suck out a lot of the water and cleaning solution that is in the rug.

Dirty Water in Tank of Rental Carpet Cleaner

Depending on the color of your rug, it may be hard to tell a difference after it’s cleaned. With our vibrant colored rug, it doesn’t look very different after cleaning, but the cleaning solution told another story.

After seeing this dirty water, I was so thankful we took the time to clean it!

Step 5: Allow Rug to Dry Outside

Cleaning Vintage Rugs with a Rental Carpet Cleaner

The rug might take several days to dry, especially if it is a thick wool rug like this one. You don’t want to bring it back in the house until it’s dry or it could damage your floors. We laid ours out in a basement to protect it from exposure. Within 48 hours, ours was dry to the touch and we brought it back inside to enjoy! Most installed carpet should be dry enough to walk on within the day or overnight.

That’s pretty much all there is to using a rental carpet cleaner. It’s definitely worth the effort, and it’s actually kind of gratifying. Now I can breathe easy every time our baby crawls across this rug. I know she has a clean and beautiful surface to play on!

Lindsay Jackman is a design blogger and a home-renovation survivor. She says she’s has been looking for opportunities to decorate since she was a little girl. Now she shares style tips and how-to’s on her blog The White Buffalo Styling Co. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband Chris, baby Rosie and their pooch Gracie.

By the way, the fireplace you see in Lindsay’s living room isn’t actually a “real” fireplace. Read about how she built the faux fireplace here on The Home Depot Blog.

The Home Depot has a full line of floor care rental equipment, including the Rug Doctor Carpet Cleaner, floor polishers, carpet stretchers and more. See our Truck and Tool Rental Department online, or visit your nearest Home Depot Store.

Browse our vaccuum cleaners and carpet cleaners for sale, too!