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Eco-Friendly Area Rug Cleaning – For Free!

If you live in Northern Virginia, today you can get your area rugs naturally “dry-cleaned” for free today thanks to the snow! Any time it dry-snows (meaning the snow is sugar-like in appearance and cannot form into a snowball) and the temperature is below 25° F you can take advantage of nature’s special natural cleaning power and use the snow to clean area rugs. Honestly, in NoVa I don’t think these conditions converge very often. I have been interested trying snow cleaning for several years and it just has never worked out for one reason or another. But, today is the day!

I learned about snow-cleaning from one of my favorite books, Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Non-Toxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money, and, Perhaps, Your Sanity by Ellen Sandbeck. (What a great title!) Snow-cleaning has long been used for very fine wool and silk rugs, but it should work for any rug. I decided to try it out with my beloved Turkish rug, which hasn’t been cleaned, as far as I know, (besides vacuuming) since we bought it in Turkey circa 1987. Yowza!

Here’s what to do:

First, you need to cool off the rug so it doesn’t melt the snow when you lay it down. Roll up the rug and put it in a cool (preferably unheated) area of your house for a few hours. Once sufficiently cooled, take it outside and lay it pretty side down (this is actually called pile-side) on the snow. I put mine on the snow-covered back porch. Beat the underside of the rug (which is facing up) with a broom. You can also stomp on it, but as a child I was fascinated by the Turkish ladies beating rugs hanging from their balconies, so beating was the obvious choice for me even though this rug was on the ground. Beat, beat, beat or stomp, stomp, stop. Then pick up the rug, put it in the fresh snow of a different spot and repeat. For me, the initial beating spot wasn’t black or anything so dramatic, but there were lots of hairs and a sufficient amount dirt, etc. Repeat beating/stomping and moving the rug until the snow underneath remains clean enough to your liking.

Then the tricky part—cleaning the snow off the rug before bringing it in. Ellen makes it sound so easy, “6. Sweep the snow off the rug 7. Roll the carpet up and bring it inside” (252). It was not quite so succinct for me.

I flipped the rug over (pile/pretty-side now up) and swept the snow off the rug. That part was fun and easy, but the snow kept falling on it. If you have a covered area (with clean ground), I recommend moving there. I swept off the snow in one part as best as I could, then rolled up the rug a smidge, then swept the newly exposed part of the back-side, then swept a little more of the pile-side, then rolled a little more, etc. until the whole rug was rolled up. I am not particularly coordinated so this part was rather awkward for me. Having a second person to help with this step might make it as easy as Ellen suggests it is. Alas, hubby is out today—so I de-snowed the rug alone. I got off as much snow as I could and then brought the rug inside for one final sweep-off in the basement. Unfortunately, even in our mostly-unheated basement it was warm enough to melt the small amount of remaining snow. So, my rug ended up ever-so-slightly damp. Since the aim is to keep the rug as dry as possible, really, really try to get off as much snow as possible outside.

Right now I have the rug hanging over the shower curtain rod in the bathroom to let it air out (it isn’t dripping or anything). It looks great—the colors really pop again— and I can’t wait to put it back in place later today.

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About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As a progressive Evangelical female pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

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