How to Clean a Sisal Rug
As a natural fiber, sisal is super low-maintenance. Since a sisal rug’s main attraction is a raw, earthy look and feel, it requires little effort to restore it back to a beautiful beachy texture. Read on for daily maintenance tips and emergency stain removal procedures for sisal rugs.
How to Maintain a Sisal Rug
1. Hand-Vacuum to Remove Dirt
Dirt sinks down into a sisal rug’s open weave, so it’s important to vacuum your rug semi-regularly. Since natural fibers have a tendency to unravel, go easy on them by using a hand vacuum or the hose attachment on a traditional vacuum. Make sure to vacuum the rug on all sides to get all of the buildup.
Avoid using a vacuum with beaters, as it will wear out your rug fibers. If you’re hesitant about vacuuming your sisal rug, shake it out regularly or beat it with a tennis racket to remove debris.
2. Keep it Dry
Always keep a sisal rug as dry as possible. Natural fibers can shrivel up or turn brown when exposed to water. Heavy humidity can alter your rug’s color as well, so consider a dehumidifier if your region is high in humidity. If your rug gets wet, try laying it in the sun to fade the stain and restore the natural color. Keep in mind that extensive sun exposure will bleach a sisal rug, so avoid placing it in direct sunlight while in your home.
How to Remove Stains from a Sisal Rug
The most important thing to keep in mind when cleaning a sisal rug is that moisture will weaken and discolor the fibers. Always check your rug’s instructions to see if there are specific steps meant to be taken. You should also know whether your rug is made of pure sisal, or whether it’s blended with wool or nylon. This will affect how you tackle stains.
The following stain removal tips are intended for 100-percent sisal rugs.
What you need: paper towels, two white cloths, white vinegar, mild dishwashing detergent, baking soda, hair dryer
1. Blot the Stain With Paper Towels
Gather an abundance of paper towels. You’ll want enough that they don’t soak through when they’re applied to the stain. Keep dabbing the affected rug area until there’s no residue transfer — no coloring should show up on the paper towels before you move on. For non-liquid stains, scoop up the solids before starting to blot.
2. Try Club Soda First
For light stains, club soda is often enough to lift the stain from the material. Dab a cloth into club soda and then onto the stain, working your way in so you don’t push the stain out or down. Dry the area immediately with a fan or a hair dryer on a low setting.
3. Apply Cleansing Solution to Stubborn Stains
Stain still there? Add a cup of white vinegar to a cup of room temperature water. You can even add in a teaspoon of mild dishwashing detergent for a bit more strength. Sisal will quickly shrink and/or brown when wet, so soak a cloth in your cleansing solution and wring it out thoroughly before dabbing the stain.
Desaturating the cloth is important to keep from soaking the absorbent rug fibers. You can also apply the solution using a spray bottle, so that you gently mist the area and avoid risking too much moisture.
4. Use Lukewarm Water on the Remaining Stain
Get a separate cloth or sponge and, once again using lukewarm water, get it slightly damp. Blot any remaining discoloration out of the area and make sure you remove all of the cleaning solution. You’ll be able to tell when the rug is free of residue when nothing bubbles up.
5. Add Baking Soda to Odorous Stains
If the stain has left an odor in your sisal rug, then sprinkle baking soda onto the area and let sit until the odor is fully drawn out. Vacuum up the baking soda and reapply fresh, absorbent baking soda as needed.
Natural fiber rugs are a gorgeous addition to any home if you’re willing to put in the effort to keep it maintained. Learn about other rug materials and maintenance in our Guide to the Best Rug Materials.