How to Clean a Jute Rug

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Jute rugs are popular these days, because they add an affordable natural element to any room. The rugs showcase the shiny soft fibers woven in different patterns. They work in many decors. Unfortunately, keeping them clean is a big problem.

One of the worse things you can do to a jute rug is to try cleaning it with any type of rug cleanser. Even blotting a bit on will cause the fibers to lose their color. 

This leaves a faded spot in the middle, with a dark ring on the edge. Anything beneath will get stained a dark brown. It will ruin the rug.

Let’s look at how to clean a jute rug the right way, so you don’t have this problem.

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What Is Jute Anyway?

The best way to learn how to clean jute is to understand what it is first.

Jute is actually the long soft fibers extracted from the jute mallow or white jute plants. The fibers can range from an off-white to shades of brown. Its fibers are often used to make a rough fabric, often called burlap or hessian. 

These days, interior decorators love jute’s natural, shiny texture. It’s become a fiber of choice for area rugs. It can stand alone as a carpet material, or combine with other fibers like wool. These rugs come in many weave patterns, making it quite versatile in any decor. 

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After harvesting, the fibers dry out before being used to make rugs and other textiles. If the dried fibers get wet, they lose a lot of their strength and durability. Also, if the fibers remain wet, mold and mildew can take hold. 

Normal Weekly Cleaning

Regular cleaning is important to keep the rug clean and to prevent damage to its fibers. 

Take the time to vacuum the rug each week. Use the lowest setting possible and run the vacuum in the direction the fibers are woven. The vacuum will pull out any dirt in the fibers and keep the run clean. 

Never use a steam cleaner on a rug. The water will get into the fibers, and destroy them from the inside out. 

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Removing Odors

Jute rugs can easily pick up odors. If you notice an odor coming from the rug, you can use baking soda to neutralize the smell.

 

  • Sprinkle one cup of baking soda all over the rug’s top surface.
  • Let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes, though overnight is better. The baking soda absorbs and neutralizes most odors. The longer it sits, the more odors it can absorb.
  • Vacuum the carpet after the baking soda does its job.

You should find the odor is gone or reduced. If the odor returns, or doesn’t go away, you need to examine the rug closer. You may have mold or mildew problems.

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Snip Loose Fibers

Jute fibers will work their way loose over time. If you notice some loose strands, you should snip them off. 

To prevent the strands from unraveling anymore, use a pair of scissors to snip them. Do it close to the place where it’s sticking up. Take care to not snip any other fibers. 

What Should You Do Something Gets on the Rug?

Accidents happen. Even taking the greatest care will not prevent something from happening to your jute rug. Don’t panic. There are simple steps you can take to deal with it. 

Some caution notes first:

 

  • Do not wipe from side to side. This will cause the stain to grind into the fibers.
  • Do not use water on the rug.

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Solid Spills

If something solid spills on the rug, use this method for removal.

 

  • Use a dull knife to scrape the solids up. Do this before you blot any moisture, since blotting can drive the solids into the rug fibers.
  • Blot the area with a clean cloth to remove any moisture. Work from the outside edge to the middle. This helps prevent the liquid from moving outward into a clean area.
  • For stains like tomato sauce, red wine, or balsamic dressing, dampen a cloth with club soda and dab the stain. This may help neutralize it and prevent permanent staining. This is not guaranteed though, as these can stain jute easily.
  • Let the area dry. Many stains will disappear once it dries.

The Blot and Heat Method

For a liquid spill, the blot and heat method is an option. 

 

  • Use a soft absorbent cloth to blot the spill. Gently press the cloth up and down to absorb any liquid. This will pull up most stains.
  • Once you get most of the liquid out, use a hair dryer to heat up the jute fibers. It can take up to 10 minutes to dry the area. You should see the moisture lifting up out of the fibers, taking any remaining stain with it.
  • Check the back of the rug to see if the spill passed through the fibers. If needed, repeat the blotting and heating to get rid of any staining on that side.
  • Hang the rug up to dry. You want to get all the moisture out of the fibers before laying it back down.

If the stain remains after you blot and heat it, the next step you can try is white vinegar. Spray a light mist of vinegar over the stain, then blot it. This can remove or bleach out the stain. In some cases, it won’t work, but it is worth a try.

The Dry Cleaning Method

Another option for spot cleaning your rug is to use dry carpet cleanser. You can find it online or at a professional cleaning supply place. Find one with a formula that works on jute fibers. 

 

  • Test the cleanser on an inconspicuous corner to see if it causes any staining or damage.
  • Shake a generous amount of the dry carpet cleanser over the spot.
  • Using a soft-bristle brush, work the cleanser into the jute fibers, going in the direction of the weave.
  • Add another generous layer of dry carpet cleanser on top of the stain.
  • Let it sit overnight. Make sure the carpet is thoroughly dry before doing the next step.
  • Vacuum the rug before using it again to remove the dry cleanser. Give it a firm shake outside for good measure.

Giving the Rug a Thorough Cleaning

Jute rugs, like other floor coverings, will get dirty with regular use. A good way to clean the entire jute rug is with the same dry carpet cleanser you use for spot cleaning. 

It’s always best to follow the directions supplied with the dry cleanser. However, here are directions that work for many of these cleaners. 

 

  • Vacuum the rug to remove any loose dirt. It will make the cleaning process easier and more thorough.
  • Put on rubber gloves and wear clothing to cover your arms, legs, and feet. The powder can cause skin problems, if it comes in contact.
  • Sprinkle the dry cleanser over the entire surface of the rug. Make sure to get along the edges and corners.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to work the cleanser into the jute fibers. Always scrub in the direction of the fiber weave.
  • Leave the dry cleanser on the rug for at least 30 minutes. Check the cleanser instructions to see if you should leave it a different amount of time. Thirty minutes is usually enough for light dirt and staining.
  • Don’t walk on the rug while the cleanser does its work.
  • After the prescribed time, vacuum the rug to remove the dry cleanser. Use a low power setting and work the vacuum in the direction of the fiber weave. Cover the entire surface and vacuum until all the powder is gone. If any powder remains, take the rug outdoors and give it a few shakes.

What If the Rug Combines Jute with Other Fibers?

Jute is a very affordable fiber, so it’s popular as a foundation material for other fibers like wool. If you have a rug with a jute fiber foundation, you need to take special care when dealing with stains and cleaning. 

Jute fibers release oils when they get wet. The oils can absorb back into the jute as it dries. However, if the jute is next to wool or even synthetic fibers, the oils will bleed into those fibers as well. It can turn a white rug into a brown one. 

If you own a rug that combines jute with other fibers, always start with dry carpet cleaning options. It’s your best chance to avoid the release of the oils that stain. 

If the dry cleaning methods don’t work, contact a professional rug cleaner. Find one with experience cleaning jute rugs. They may have special equipment or cleaners for the rug, that won’t ruin the jute backing. 

That’s how to clean a jute rug safely. Adding a jute rug to your home can transform your decor and give it a fresh modern look. It’s important, however, to keep the rug in a dry space and to address spills immediately. Keep dry cleanser and blotting cloths close by. It will allow you to enjoy your decor without worry.

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