With the amount of dirt, mud, and snow that can get tracked into your home in the winter, now is the perfect time to brush up on cleaning techniques for your natural fiber rugs. Knowing how to clean your natural fiber rugs will also come in handy when you go to rectify those food and wine stains that might make it onto the rug over the holidays.

But not every cleaning technique will leave your rug in the best condition. Certain chemicals and tools can leave your rug scratched or stained beyond the point of repair. To help you successfully clean your natural fiber rugs, here are five cleaning techniques you should never use.

1. A Vacuum with a Beater Bar

Beater bars are helpful when cleaning carpet, mats, and other long fiber floor coverings. The bar digs deep into the fibers to turn up any dirt that might be lingering underneath. And while this all sounds well and good for your natural fiber rugs, it can actually be very harmful.

Your natural fiber rugs are made with 100% green and sustainable materials and beater bars can potentially scratch and pull apart their thick weaves. Instead of running over your sisal, jute, seagrass, or other natural rug detach the beater bar from your vacuum cleaner. Then, use one of your vacuum’s special attachments to carefully vacuum dirt from the rug’s weaves. This will leave your rug clean and scratch-free.

2. Steam Cleaners

More often than not, our cleaning intuition tells us to get something wet in order to clean it. It probably stems from the fact that we shower or bathe to get ourselves clean. But this isn’t necessarily the best cleaning method for your natural fiber rugs as it can cause discoloration or even shrinking of your rug.

Because water saturation can ruin your natural fiber rug, never use steam cleaners. Instead, it is important to control the moisture you apply to the dirty area. First, firmly press onto the stain with a paper towel. If the stain remains, blot it with a soda-dampened white cloth. This allows you to limit the amount of moisture the rug absorbs and leaves the rug plenty of time to dry.

3. Wet Shampoo

Similar to the advice above, wet shampoos can also cause harm to your natural fiber rug. Because shampoos require rinse cycles to absorb and remove messes, your rug will become way too wet in the process. And as we’ve established before, this can jeopardize the integrity of your natural fiber rug.

Instead of using a wet shampoo, try a host dry cleaning kit. As the title suggests, this spot remover is completely dry, leaving your rug’s integrity intact. Simply shake the powder, place it on the spill, brush, and vacuum. 

4. Soapy Cleaning Agents

Cleaning agents often spray water, soap, and other chemicals onto your rug’s heavy spills. But if it leaves your rug damp, it could do more harm than good. Plus, a soapy residue can easily stain your carpet once it goes to dry.

Before going to clean your natural fiber rug with a cleaning agent or stain remover, make sure that the agent won’t leave your rug wet or leave a soapy residue behind. This ensures that you won’t be permanently staining your rug when you go to spot clean. Cleaning agents like Sisal Life Cleaner are easy to apply onto troublesome spots, but won’t leave your rug wet.

5. Hard-Bristle Brushes

Brushes are pretty handy when the time comes to scrub out a stain or muddy footprint. With a little arm muscle, brushes help loosen dirt and other spills so you can remove them from the rug. But hard-bristle brushes can create new snags and scratches on your rug in the process.

Use a brush with soft bristles to make sure your rug doesn’t deteriorate while cleaning. A soft-bristle brush works well with dry cleaning kits as well as spot removers as it allows you to freely scrub away at stains.

Is it Time to Clean Your Natural Fiber Rugs?

Cleaning isn’t always a crystal-clear science. For more information on how to clean your sisal or natural fiber rug and best practices, visit our rug care and cleaning guide.