If you own area rugs, you know how challenging it can be to keep them clean and in good condition. But what about when it’s time to store carpet away for the season or if you’re moving to a new place? Whether it’s a family heirloom, a treasured antique purchase, or a decorative piece that brings a room together, it’s essential to store your rug properly to prevent damage and extend its lifespan.
Stored rugs can lose their shape, attract pests, and accumulate unwanted odors if they’re not put away correctly. They can be quite large, so knowing how to store area rugs isn’t necessarily intuitive. It’s definitely not as straightforward as folding them up and popping them into a closet. But knowing how to store a rug correctly is critical to preserving its beauty and quality.
If cared for properly, an area rug can last as long as five to 10 years, per The Carpet Workroom—more the reason to get it ready for storage correctly. Luckily, learning how to store carpet correctly isn’t a long, arduous process.
Related: The Benefit of Climate Controlled Storage
Is It Better To Roll Or Fold A Rug?
Never fold a rug or carpet! Folding can lead to creases, cracks, and other damage to the fibers over time. Instead, proper carpet storage calls for rolling it into an even cylinder, which allows for easier transportation and storage since it’ll take up less space. For smaller rugs that need to be stored in a drawer or on a shelf, folding may be necessary, but avoiding sharp creases is still important.
Can I Store A Rug Standing Up?
Storing a carpet vertically is generally the best way to maintain its shape during long-term rug storage. Prop it in a corner to prevent the carpet from toppling over and away from heavy items that might accidentally fall onto it.
Can You Wrap A Rug In Plastic?
Do not use plastic to wrap your rug since it traps moisture and keeps it from breathing. When it comes to storing rugs, it’s important to allow air to circulate, since that prevents potential mold buildup. No one wants to unroll their rug from storage only to find that it’s covered in mildew.
How Long Can You Leave a Carpet Rolled Up?
To be safe, we suggest unrolling your rug once a month to make sure there is no evidence of moisture, mold, or—even worse!—a bug infestation. Also, vacuum the area and the rug to eliminate insect-attracting dust.
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Rug Storage: A Step-by-Step Guide
1. Thoroughly Clean The Rug
Before you do anything else, it’s critical to clean your rug throughly. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, one square foot of carpet can contain up to one pound of dirt, which is why it recommends cleaning carpets once every 12 to 18 months.
First, use a good-quality vacuum to lift as much dander, dust, and other microscopic particles as possible. For some valuable area rugs, you’ll need to be much more careful with the vacuum so you don’t ruin the delicate weaving.
Once you’re done vacuuming, clean the rug based on the manufacturer’s specifications. Different cleaning methods may apply depending on the material and make of the rug. First, check the label, and proceed with the following methods.
Woven or braided rugs
- If small braided rugs are washable, place them in a zippered mesh laundry bag, wash them on the gentle cycle, and tumble dry them on a low setting.
- For large braided rugs, place them on a concrete or vinyl floor. Sponge-clean the rug with carpet cleaning foam, rub it in according to the directions, and finish by rinsing or vacuuming.
Handmade, hand-knotted, antique and oriental rugs
Learn as much as you can about care directions from a seller when you purchase antique rugs. Alternatively, talk to a seller in your city and ask what they would recommend for your rug specifically.
- Protect your delicate vintage or antique rugs by placing a piece of nylon screen over the carpet, then vacuuming over the screen.
- Oriental rugs can be treated as you would wool rugs. These rugs should be cleaned yearly and rotated to ensure even wear and sun exposure.
Coir, sisal, rush and grass rugs
Some of these rugs are made in squares and are then sewn together. Buying a few extra squares allows you to hand-stitch new swatches into the carpet if a spot gets ruined.
- These natural fiber rugs allow a lot of dirt to sift through to the floor, so be sure to vacuum them regularly.
- To clean the rug, scrub stains with a soft brush and soapy water. Place a plastic cloth beneath it to protect the floor. Blot dry and use a fan or dryer to speed the drying process since water weakens the fibers.
Fur, sheepskin, and hair-on hides
- To clean these rugs, shake unscented talcum powder, then leave it alone for a few hours.
- Brush the powder through the hair and shake it out, repeating the process several times.
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2. Protect The Rug From Moths And Other Insects
If you need to store an area rug in a basement, attic or garage, make sure you take extra care to protect it from moths and insects. Apply an insect and moth repellent that’s specially designed for fabrics.
3. Tightly Roll The Rug For Storage
Remember, rolling a rug is the best way to prep it for storage. To determine which way to roll your rug, decide which is more fragile: the back of the carpet or the pile where the fibers are. Generally, the pile is more delicate, meaning you should roll your rug with the pile facing inward.
How to roll up a rug for storage:
- Start rolling your rug, keeping it as straight as possible.
- If you need help keeping it straight, use a rod. It can be intended explicitly for rugs or something you may have lying around, such as a wooden dowel or thick curtain rod.
4. Wrap The Rug In A Protective Fabric
Wrapping a rug is especially helpful if you need to transport or ship it. This extra layer of protection will help keep out bugs, dirt, and other elements that can damage the delicate fibers.
How to wrap a rug in a breathable fabric:
- Finish rolling your rug by wrapping a cotton sheet or muslin around the carpet at least one and a half times around to keep it protected. Secure the sheet with cotton or polyester twill tape.
- If you want expert-level protection, consider wrapping your rug in a special polyurethane rug storage bag. These rug wraps are designed to provide a superior barrier against dampness and insects and will be more effective than muslin.
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5. Store The Rug Off The Ground In A Cool, Dry Environment
When storing your rug, it’s important to keep it in a location off the ground, safe from any harmful elements.
You’ll also want to ensure nothing else is on top of it. Boxes and other supplies can cause cracks and destroy the rug’s shape. Storing your rug in a cool, dry environment without exposure to natural night is vitally important.
Keep these rug storage tips in mind:
- Use a fan or dehumidifier to avoid mildew problems.
- Block light from windows with shades or blinds.
- Consistently implement a housekeeping plan (vacuuming, dusting, etc.)
- Store your rug on an elevated surface since carpet beetles like to reside between the floor and the back of your rug.
Related: How to Store Furniture in a Garage or Storage Unit the Right Way
Using Storage Units to Store Rugs
If your home lacks the appropriate space to keep your rug, or if you plan to keep it stored for a long time, look into self-storage as an option. Life Storage has a variety of climate-controlled storage units that manage temperature and humidity to protect your most valuable rugs from the elements, pesky insects, and thieves. Visit our website to learn about storage rates and specials.
Do you have any rug storage tips? Let us know on social media at @lifestorage.
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage Blog on 2/26/19 and was revised on 5/9/23 to provide new information.