Sunday, February 28, 2010

DIY Fail: Cleaning Wool Rugs with Snow

A few weeks ago I spotted this Apartment Therapy post on cleaning a wool rug with snow. Brilliant!, I thought, I have a rug in desperate need of cleaning and now can finally put all the god-awful snow we've received to good use. I excitedly sent the link to the boyfriend. Go for it, he said.

But first I had to wait for fresh powdery snow. Mother nature obliged and on Saturday morning I hauled the rug shown above outside to clean. The boy and two of our three cats crowded into the kitchen window to watch the show, and what a show it was. I beat the stinkin' rug until my arms hurt (which took about 180 seconds) and then kept beating it. I flipped it over, dismayed not to see oodles of dirt in the snow, and flipped it again. Then I ground some snow in to the front for good measure to try and get more stains and dirt out. Didn't work.

Eventually I gave up and hauled the rug back up to the deck, hung it over the railing and beat it some more to try and get the excess snow off. My still-stained rug was now wet to boot, so with the boy's help I dragged it inside, into the basement and we hung it on the basement clothesline and I proceeded to consider the entire ordeal a giant bust.

The boyfriend jumped on his white stud of a computer (okay it's really black, but that didn't fit the analogy, now did it?) and called the rug cleaners and found a place where we could drop off the rug that day for cleaning for only $17. And that's where we stand until Monday, when I see if anything can save that darn rug.

To be fair, I did screw up on a few accounts:
  • It wasn't cold enough. The directions state to clean the rug on a day where it's well below freezing, which is wasn't, but patience has never been one of my virtues.

  • Grinding snow into the rug didn't help get out any stains and only contributed to the wetness issue.
Lessons learned: Don't use oxy-anything to clean a wool rug and when it needs a good cleaning, save yourself some agony and just take it to a rug cleaner already.


  1. I'm sorry to hear that snow cleaning didn't go so well for your rug. Hopefully the wetness didn't ruin it and the cleaner's was able to get it stain-free! Mine (from the AT example) wasn't stained, per se, but was smelly and very dusty. I cleaned it in 8-degree temps (brrr!), as I think traditionally this was done (and still is) in the deep freeze of nordic winters. Thanks for trying the method and sharing it here - I just wish it had been more of a success!

  2. Hi, nice blog. Funny story about the rug. Sounds like something I would get excited about and try, just to have it end the way it did for you.

  3. I know that this si an old post, but just in case somebody else comes upon it, you must let the rug sit outside and acclimate to the cold before laying it in the snow. If you lay a warm, from being indoors, rug, on cold snow, it will melt the snow and then get wet. The rug needs to be cold before it is laid in the snow for this reason.

    1. Good tip and definitely something I didn't do, thanks Renee!


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