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How to Clean Outdoor Rugs the Naturally Effective Way


I'm a clean freak, but with a husband who works on heavy equipment, a Great Dane, and two children, plenty of dirt gets tracked into my home (plus sand, snow, gravel, and grease).

This is why I use outdoor rugs to catch dirt before it comes into my house. That's the idea, anyhow! I ask my family to wipe their feet and take off their shoes before entering the house. Most of the time, they listen.

The outdoor rugs that line my garage and mud room, in turn, get filthy and need a good cleaning every now and again-a cleaning that usually goes beyond just vacuuming. Whether or not you need to hire a professional carpet cleaner depends on what your outdoor rug is made of; some are wool, cotton or natural fibers that can easily be discolored or damaged. Always check to see what your rug is made of and spot test a small area.

I clean my outdoor rugs (after sweeping and vacuuming) with a combination of eco-friendly dish soap, white vinegar and baking soda. I spot clean stains with the dish soap and then sprinkle with baking soda, spray some vinegar and then scrub with an outdoor broom.

Some stains require more scrubbing than others! When the weather is nice, I hose off my outdoor rugs, after spot cleaning, and let them dry in the sunlight. Often times, the sunlight will bleach out any stains. This is how I've always cleaned my outdoor rug, as well as those we use for car camping in the summer.

I've had great luck, but I was curious what a professional carpet cleaner would advise, so I reached out to Jeff Voorhies of Voorhies Cleaning and Restoration. Jeff's a go-to guy for all carpet cleaning and stains and he had some excellent advice for naturally cleaning outdoor rugs. He reminded me that most outdoor rugs are made of synthetic fibers, like olefin or polypropylene. And like your indoor rugs, they can be professionally cleaned or cleaned using a carpet cleaner, but if you want to go the natural route, Jeff suggests a couple of recipes and procedures:

Stain Treatment

For stains on carpet or rugs, sprinkle dry baking soda followed by vinegar and let bubble. Then, agitate this stain solution lightly with a brush. After this stain treatment has been given 15 minutes to work, it can be vacuumed out (use a Shop-Vac) or wiped away with rags.

General Carpet Cleaning

Mix 1/8 cup of baking soda per gallon of hot water. Stir well to dilute baking soda. Add this solution to a carpet cleaning machine and follow directions for cleaning and drying. This solution will act as a natural cleaner and deodorizer for your carpet.

So there you have it-an easy solution for cleaning your outdoor carpets. If you're like me and you have dirty outdoor rugs, the first days of spring are a great time to give them a good cleaning. You'll be amazed at the dirt they've collected!

Sommer Poquette, the Green and Clean Mom, writes all sorts of cleaning tips for The Home Depot. Sommer's advice for outdoor rug cleaning will come in handy as the warmer days of spring begin to settle in. View outdoor rugs available from Home Depot's Home Decorators collection.

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