How to Clean Dirty Outdoor Rug

Dirty rugs usually smell bad and become unpleasant to look at. Outdoor rugs attract a lot of dust, pollen, mud, food stains and other dirt. Occasional cleaning makes them to look new, fresh and inviting season after season.

While cleaning recommendations vary by the rug manufacturer, synthetic polypropylene rugs are the easiest to clean, dries faster and resist mildew and mold as compared to natural fiber rugs. Chemical cleaners may damage the rug fibers or discolor it thus important to clean with all natural options.

To clean your outdoor rug effectively, you will need a hose, scrub brush, and diluted dish soap. For stains, mildew, mold and algae removal, white vinegar solution is the best option. Use baking soda to deodorize a smelling rug. To tackle loose dirt debris, you may sweep with a soft broom or vacuum.

How to Clean Outdoor Rug

Here are steps for cleaning your outdoor rug

1. Debris removal

Clear furniture and other objects off the rugs. Shake off loose dirt and visible debris from your rug and vacuum to remove pet fur, dust and allergens. Flip the rug over and check under it, vacuum or use a nylon broom to sweep any debris found to a dust pan.

Flipping the rug over will also help you check presence of mold, mildew and other stains under the rug. If you have a rug pad, ensure you also clean it while cleaning your rugs. Daily sweeping of your rug can also help in preventing dust and dirt from building up thus making it easy to clean.

2. Stain Removal

For stain removal, mix mild detergent with water and spot clean the stains using a sponge. Tough stains may be difficult to remove with a mild detergent. You may need a commercial cleaner with degreasing, deodorizing and stain removal properties.

Club soda can also be used for getting rid of wine and food stains from the rugs. The best thing to do is act quickly before the stain stays longer. Blot up the wine or soup as much as possible using a white cloth and flush the stain with club soda.

3. Deep cleaning

If there is need for deep cleaning, vacuum to remove dust then apply ideal rug shampoo as directed by the manufacturer and rinse with a garden hose. Dry the rug outside in the sun. Avoid use of strong detergents for cleaning, they can dull the colors or weaken the rug fibers.

Bleach or hydrogen peroxide may be used on a rug if only recommended by the rug manufacturer. Be sure to check on the label before use of any product on your rugs.

4. Mold and Mildew

To remove mold or mildew on an outdoor rug, get a cup of white vinegar and pour it in full-strength onto the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Mix another cup of white vinegar with a bucket of water and use the solution clean the rug as you scrub it with a soft brush.

Rinse your rug with a garden hose hang it on a railing or slanting surface and let it dry completely in the sun. While drying, flip it often so that both sides can get dried. Do not let the rug dry in the shade or in the pool of water you washed with.

5. Odor Removal

Removing bad smells out of your rug can be tricky. While outdoor rugs are strong and resistant to weather elements, most of them cannot handle strong chemicals for tackling odors. Baking soda is a gentle, cheap and all-natural option for odors, mold and mildew stains.

Sprinkle your rug with a generous amount of baking soda. Use a broom to ensure the baking soda is penetrating into the fibers and let it sit several hours or overnight to absorb the odors. Vacuum up to remove all the baking soda. If the odor persist, you may repeat the process or consider deep cleaning your rug using vinegar solution.

6. Storing

Area rugs can take several days to completely dry. The best time to do a deep cleaning is during sunny days preferably in summer. For your outdoor patio rug to remain in good shape, consider storing it indoor or cover it in plastic when not in use especially during cold months. Do not fold it but rather roll it up before storing.


Outdoor rugs should be cleaned at the start and end of the season or a party. Avoid using chemical cleaners unless advised by the rug manufacturers. Allow the rug to completely dry in the sun to avoid growth of mold and mildew. Frequent cleaning and taking good care of your outdoor rugs makes them to last long and stay beautiful every season.

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