How to clean a wool rug — refresh your rug in 4 easy steps

Learn how to clean a wool rug yourself to avoid splashing out on professional treatments

Cream colored area rug on hardwood floor
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing how to clean a wool rug is essential to maintaining its plush charm. It requires a delicate touch to preserve its natural fibers and colors.

Learn the step-by-step process to ensure your wool rug stays clean and cozy for years to come. From prepping your space to the final drying step, we've got you covered with tips and tricks to make your cleaning experience a breeze.

We'll focus on how to clean a rug by hand with expert-backed advice for preserving this cozy material.

How to clean a wool rug like a pro

For those super-tough messes, you find one of the best carpet cleaners useful, but with some elbow grease, you should be able to clean a wool rug without a machine.

As with cleaning jute rugs, how to clean a wool rug can be broken down into some straightforward steps that'll have your rug as fresh as a daisy in less than a day. 

So sit back and let our cleaning pros walk you through the process, recommending some handy, highly-rated products from trusted retailers along the way. 

1. Get Prepped to Clean Your Wool Rug

White wool rug in bedroom with light shining through window

(Image credit: whyframestudio/Getty Images)

Before diving into cleaning your wool rug, it's essential to get prepped and create the ideal environment for a thorough clean. Here's what you'll need:

The final stage of being prepared is to ensure your rug is free of stains. This is best achieved by promptly addressing any as they occur.

Amy adds, "For stains, spot-treat them as soon as possible. Absorb any liquid with a towel or cloth, but try not to scrub or press the stain further into the wool fibers.

"Then, dab gently with a solution of white vinegar and water before rinsing and drying. If needed, coat with baking soda before spraying on the vinegar solution to help lift the stain. Wipe, rinse, and dry."

With your rug stain-free and your cleaning arsenal assembled, you're now ready to tackle the task of refreshing your wool rug.

Profile photo of Hometalk editor Amy Poulton
Amy Poulton

Amy Poulton is a home-improvement expert at Hometalk — the world’s largest home DIY community with more than 21 million members. Its 150,000 tutorial videos on everything from cleaning to decor provide inspiration and guidance for anyone who loves their home.

2. Shake & Vac Your Wool Rug

Fluffy wool rug at foot of bed with light entering room through window

(Image credit: whyframestudio/Getty Images)

A shake and vac is the perfect way to kickstart your wool rug cleaning process, eliminating any loose dirt and debris.

Begin by taking the rug outside. FreshSpace Cleaning owner, Will Cotter, says, "Find a spot outside to give your wool rug a good shake. Your porch, patio, or a patch of grass will do the trick."

Shake your wool rug vigorously to dislodge loose dirt and debris trapped in the fibers. To avoid inhaling dirt or dust, wear a mask.

Will adds, "Before returning inside, give the rug a once-over for any stubborn bits, and use a soft brush, rug beater or even a tennis racket to get rid of any lingering dirt."

Once back inside,  sprinkle baking soda over your rug and leave for 15 minutes. Just like when it comes to cleaning carpet, baking soda can work a dream when it comes to lifting dirt and adding that extra layer of freshness.

Will recommends Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda from Target and Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda from Amazon. He says, "I swear by these products because they're high-quality and pure. Plus they're trusty brands that you can easily find at the grocery store or online."

Lastly, vacuum the wool rug thoroughly, using a soft brush attachment, working in all directions — north to south, and east to west. This should remove any remaining dirt or dust, and freshen up the wool in the process.

By giving your wool rug a good shake and vacuum, you'll lay the foundation for a deeper, more effective cleaning process.

Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans, standing in sunshine in front of San Francisco Bridge.
Will Cotter

Will Cotter is the owner of FreshSpace Cleaning — which serves homes in multiple locations across the south and beyond — as well as other cleaning companies in Indianapolis, Oklahoma, Milwaukee, and Louisville.

3. Shampoo & Rinse Your Wool Rug

Fish-shaped fluffy white wool rug in middle of wooden floor with light from window in the background

(Image credit: Luda311/Getty Images)

Now that you've tackled the surface dirt, it's time to give your wool rug a thorough shampoo to lift away any embedded stains and refresh the fibers. 

Firstly, ensure your solution, sponges, and towels are on hand. Spot-test your solution on an inconspicuous area to ensure compatibility and prevent color bleeding or damage. Then, it's time to apply.

Ramshad NikbakhtBOTHCORR, co-owner of Southwest Rug Cleaning, says, "Stir your mixture until it gets nice and foamy — the more foam the better! Grab a towel or sponge, scoop up as much foam as possible, and gently scrub the rug's surface in all directions — up, down, and side to side."

The key to an effective clean is a thorough but gentle scrub without applying too much water. This is why some cleaning experts recommend using a spray for your solution.

Ramshad adds: "Be careful not to soak your wool rug too much, as this can lead to bleeding and damage".

After shampooing the entire rug, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any residual cleaning solution. You may need to repeat this step several times until the water runs clear.

Profile photo of Southwest Rug Cleaning co-owner Ramshad Nikbakht
Ramshad Nikbakht

With over a decade of invaluable experience in the rug cleaning industry, Ramshad Nikbakht's vast knowledge and expertise make him a trusted authority in the field. Southwest Rug Cleaning's Phoenix-based facility proudly cleans more than 25,000 square feet of rugs every month.

4. Dry Your Wool Rug

Wool rug in bedroom with light from sunrise entering room

(Image credit: whyframestudio/Getty Images)

Once you've shampooed your wool rug to perfection, it's time to dry it thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Begin by using a clean, dry towel to blot excess moisture from the rug. Avoid rubbing, as this can damage the fibers and cause pilling.

Next, hang the rug in a well-ventilated area, allowing it to air dry completely before placing it back in its designated space.

Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning, says, "A sturdy clothesline or outdoor railing is ideal to ensure your wool rug air dries completely.

"Avoid direct sunlight and high heat, though, as they can cause the wool fibers to shrink or become brittle."

Once dry, fluff the rug with your hands or a soft-bristled brush to restore its natural texture and appearance. Your wool rug will emerge from the drying process looking fresh and fluffy. Your feet will thank you for it!

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina Toner is operations manager at Spekless Cleaning, which prides itself on exceptional cleaning, professionalism and client satisfaction. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, Karina specializes in providing expert, tailored advice for clients on natural cleaning methods that prioritize both effectiveness and sustainability.

Cleaning a wool rug doesn't have to be a daunting task. With the right tools and techniques, you can keep your rug looking fresh and fabulous for years to come. 

By following this step-by-step guide, you'll give your wool rug the TLC it deserves while preserving its natural beauty and integrity. 

Next, make the most of your wool rug by checking out these places to put your rug in a small kitchen

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.