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We’ve compiled a three-step rug storage process to keep it safe and protected from unwanted elements.

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How to Clean and Store a Rug

Why would you ever need to store a rug? Maybe you’ve…

  • Inherited your great aunt’s antique oriental rug and don’t have the right place for it in your home (sorry, Aunt Gertrude);
  • Done some remodeling to your living room and just don’t need your area rug anymore;
  • Moved to a new home or apartment and don’t have the space for an oversized rug;
  • Found a great rug at a vintage shop or estate sale and aren’t sure how to use it yet.

Whatever the case may be, you have a rug and you need to stash it somewhere. This is no easy task: an area rug, even when rolled for storage, can be quite large. To further complicate matters, improper rug storage can lead to water damage, foul odors, theft or the ultimate nightmare: bug infestation.

To keep your rug safe and protected, we’ve compiled a three-step process to prepare it for storage.

Steps to Become an Expert at Rug Storage


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Step 1: Clean Your Rug

To start the rug storage process, you’ll have to give your rug a good wash. Here are a few cleaning tips from the professionals at Better Homes and Gardens:

  • Woven or braided rugs: If small braided rugs are washable (check the label), place them in a zippered mesh laundry bag and wash them on gentle cycle, tumble drying on a low setting. For large braided rugs, place them on a concrete or vinyl floor. Sponge clean the rug with carpet cleaning foam, rubbing it in according to the directions, and finishing by rinsing or vacuuming.
  • Handmade, hand-knotted, antique and oriental rugs: Protect your delicate vintage or antique rugs by placing a piece of nylon screen over the rug, vacuuming over the screen. Oriental rugs can be treated as you would wool rugs. These rugs should be cleaned once a year and rotated to ensure even wear and sun exposure. Expert tip: Learn as much as you can about care directions from a seller when you purchase antique rugs, or talk to a seller in your city.
  • Coir, sisal, rush and grass rugs: These natural fiber rugs allow a lot of dirt to sift through to the floor, so make sure to vacuum them regularly. To clean the rug, scrub the stains with a soft brush and soapy water, placing a plastic cloth beneath it to protect the floor. Blot dry, and use a fan or dryer to speed up the drying process, since water weakens the fibers. Expert tip: Some of these rugs are made in squares and are then sewn together. By buying a few extra squares, you can hand-stitch new swatches into the rug if a spot gets ruined.
  • Fur, sheepskin and hair-on hides: To clean these rugs, shake unscented talcum powder on them and then leaving it alone for a few hours. Then, brush the powder through the hair and shake it out, repeating the process several times.

Step 2: Roll It Up

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Never fold your rug! Folding can lead to creases, cracks and other damage. Instead, roll your rug. To determine which way to roll your rug, decide which is more fragile: the foundation (back of the rug) or the pile (the front, where the fibers are). In general, the pile is more delicate, meaning you should roll your rug with the pile facing inward.

  • Start rolling your rug, keeping it as straight as possible. If you need help keeping it straight, use a rod (it can be one specifically intended for rugs, or something you have lying around such as a wooden dowel or thick curtain rod).
  • To assist in this rolling, use a piece of washed cotton sheeting or muslin that is the width of the rug and long enough to completely go around the tube once plus 2 feet.“Roll the fabric onto the roller and lay the rug (face or pile up and with the pile direction moving away from you) on the 2 foot extension,”  the specialists at the George Washington Textile Museum note. “As you roll, the excess fabric will catch the rug and allow you to roll the rug smoothly.”
  • Finish rolling your rug by wrapping the cotton sheet or muslin around the rug at least one and a half times to keep it protected. Secure the sheet with cotton or polyester twill tape (available at craft stores). If you want expert-level protection, consider wrapping your rug in polyurethane. Polyurethane will provide a superior barrier against dampness and insects over muslin. Note: Do not use plastic to wrap your rug, since it will keep it from breathing.

Step 3: Rug Storage

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When storing your rug, it’s important to keep it in a location off the ground, safe from any harmful elements. Also, make sure nothing else lays on top of it. Boxes and other supplies can cause cracks and destroy the rug’s shape.

The experts at the George Washington Textile Museum emphasize the importance of storing your rug in a cool, dry environment without exposure to natural night. Some tricks they reccommend:

  • 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.

To be safe, they also suggest unrolling your rug once a month to make sure there is no evidence of bug infestation. In addition, vacuum the area and the rug itself to eliminate any insect-attracting dust.

Protect Your Rug With Self Storage

If your home lacks the appropriate space to keep your rug, or if you plan to keep it stored for a long time, it’s best to consult the professionals about self storage.

Life Storage has a variety of climate control storage options that manage temperature and humidity to protect your most valuables 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 in the comment section below.

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