How To Clean A Cotton Rug

If you have a cotton rug at home, you probably appreciate it for its durability and softness.

But do you know how to clean a cotton rug? The good news is that cotton rugs are far easier to clean than some of the other rugs that are made from natural fibers.

Unlike the process for cleaning jute rugs, cotton rugs can be exposed to moisture and water.

They are also more malleable and their fibers don’t tend to disintegrate as easily.

In this article, we will show you how to properly clean and care for your cotton rug.

What this article covers:

How To Clean A Cotton Rug

how to clean cotton carpet

Step 1: Remove Excess Dust and Debris

The first step in cleaning any natural fiber rug, such as when cleaning bamboo rugs, is to get rid of excess debris and dust.

This is especially relevant when cleaning furry rugs made of cotton, which are extra prone to getting debris caught in their fibers.

The most popular way to do this is by using a vacuum. 

For this purpose, professional carpet cleaning equipment, such as Rotovac carpet cleaners can make your life much easier.  

 how to clean a cotton area rug

But a normal household vacuum will also do. Be sure to vacuum the top and underside of your rug.

Another popular method is to take the rug outside and give it a good shake. 

This is especially useful for cleaning handmade rugs, which have sensitive fibers and are more prone to damage.

It may be hard to shake out larger rugs, in which case you can hang it over a wall or fence and give it a whack with a broomstick or other type of long rod.

Step 2: Prepare Cleaning Solution

The next step is to prepare for cleaning by mixing your cleaning solution. 

When it comes to carpet cleaning products, you want to ensure to use something that is safe for use on cotton.

We highly recommend a specialized cotton carpet shampoo such as Rob’s Secret Formula Cotton and Linen Shampoo.

how to spot clean cotton rug

To prepare your solution, simply dilute it according to the instructions on the pack. Alternatively, you can mix some dish detergent with warm water. 

Step 3: Clean

Test your cleaning solution on an inconspicuous part of the rug to ensure that it is safe for use. Also, check that it does not discolor the rug.

If the solution is safe, use a brush or a soft-bristled brush and gently work the cleaning solution into the entire rug. Use gentle circular motions and avoid being too abrasive here.

Leave the cleaning solution on the rug and let it sit. After some time has passed, gently go over the rug with the sponge or brush again.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

The next step is to rinse your rug. This is what sets cotton rugs apart from cleaning a leather rug or other rugs that can’t get wet. They can be exposed to moisture.

For this step, you can grab your garden hose and hose the rug down. You can also rinse the rug with buckets of cool water.

Whatever rinsing method you choose, ensure that all the soapy residue is removed from the rug.  After rinsing, you can dry out your carpet using a wet/dry vacuum

If you want to clean, rinse and dry your rug at the same time, you can consider investing in a water extraction vacuum.

how do you clean cotton rugs

But, if you have limited equipment, there are some alternative methods for drying your rug.

For example, you can use a squeegee tool like the kind used to clean windows or a mop with a similar design.

Alternatively, you can opt to use towels to remove excess moisture from the rug.

Hang the rug over a rail or fence and allow it to dry in a ventilated room or outside.

Ensure both sides of the rug are completely dry before returning it to the floor.

Step 5: Spot Clean Stains

If you find that there are some remaining stains on your rug, you may want to spot-clean them. Follow the steps below whenever a stain appears on your cotton rug.

It is best to deal with a stain as soon as it occurs. 

Deal With Stain ASAP

This is universal for all types of carpets, from cleaning olefin rugs to cleaning synthetic rugs because wet stains are much easier to deal with than dry stains.

When stains dry, they have had some time to set and discolor the carpet and are much harder to clean.

For liquid stains, try to absorb as much moisture as soon as the spill occurs.

Use a clean towel or cloth and gently blot up the liquid. Avoid any rubbing or scrubbing as this might cause the stain to spread or penetrate deeper into the fibers.

If you are dealing with a non-liquid stain, such as food or dirt, you want to scrape up as much as possible using a blunt object such as a spoon or a dull knife.

Apply Cleaning Solution

Then, apply a cleaning solution of your choosing. We recommend a targeted spot-cleaning solution such as Super Gel.

how to spot clean a cotton rug

But, you can also use Hydrogen Peroxide. Alternatively, you can opt for a mixture of dish detergent and water.

Use a toothbrush and gently apply the cleaning solution to the stain, working from the outside of the stain inwards. You can also use a clean cloth and dab the cleaning solution onto the stain.

Scrub and Rinse

Gently scrub the stain with the toothbrush or continue the blotting process with your cloth until you see the stain disappear.

This is a great solution for cleaning stains from a nylon carpet as well.

Rinse the stained area with cold water to remove any of the cleaning liquid’s residue and allow it to dry.

How To Clean A Cotton Rug In The Washing Machine

Step 1: Check If It’s Suitable

The beauty of cotton rugs is that they can easily be washed in a machine.

But, there are some factors to consider before washing your cotton rug in the washing machine. Firstly, it can’t be too big and you don’t want to overload your machine. 

So, use this method only if your cotton rug fits in the washing machine without making the load too heavy.

Secondly, the color should be fadeless. 

To check this, apply a mixture of dish detergent and water to one corner of the rug using a white cloth. 

Check if the color transfers to the cloth. If it does, you may want to avoid machine washing as it will cause the color to fade. 

Step 2: Wash & Dry

best way to clean cotton rugs

Cotton rugs can handle moisture and are durable enough to survive the spin cycle in the washing machine unlike cleaning rugs with natural, soft, or weaved fibers (such as cleaning alpaca rugs), which require a more gentle approach.

But, you still need to take it easy when machine washing these types of rugs. 

Use a gentle detergent and soft cycle and pop in your cotton rug. 

After the cycle has completed, hang it out flat to dry, preferably in the sun. 


If you are lucky enough to have a cotton rug, you are blessed with many options for easily cleaning it and removing stains.

There are some great products that can make your life a little easier, but you can also get the job done with a little dish detergent and willpower.

Whatever the case, if you follow these steps, your cotton rug will be looking good as new in no time.

Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking other guides:

Featured collection

View all
Groutmaster Tile and Grout Cleaner Prespray
Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars
654 Reviews
$ 63.00
Black Label Sweet Breeze™ Prespray
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
317 Reviews
Regular price $ 55.00 Sale pricefrom $ 53.00 Save $ 2.00
USOR UNCHAINED (Urine Stain & Odor Remover) With EcoCide
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
557 Reviews
Regular price $ 39.59 Sale pricefrom $ 36.50 Save $ 3.09
Ultimate All Fiber Rinse
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
91 Reviews
Regular price $ 38.97 Sale price$ 34.00 Save $ 4.97