How to Clean Area Rug with a Pressure Washer

How to clean an area rug with a pressure washer

Area rugs can add a great look to your rooms. But when they get dirty and dingy, they can have precisely the opposite effect!

If your rugs are looking dingy and you want to brighten them up, a pressure washer can do the trick. A pressure washer uses high-pressure water spray to remove loose dirt and grime, and it can get your area rugs looking great.

If you want to clean your area rugs with a pressure washer, here are some tips for getting them looking their best.

Can you use a pressure washer to clean an area rug?

In most cases, the answer to the question is yes, as long as the material is synthetic like polyester. However, certain types of rugs will not hold up well to a pressure washer because they are quite delicate.

Here are some rugs you may not want to clean with a pressure washer.

  • Oriental Rugs: Oriental rugs have delicate fibers that may be destroyed under a pressure washer. While you may be able to vacuum them to remove surface dirt and debris, if you need a thorough cleaning, call an expert.
  • Natural Fiber Rugs: These fibers are sensitive to excessive water. Not something you’d want to pressure wash at it will damage the threads.
  • Wool Rugs: Wool rugs are also delicate. For cleaning instructions, please refer to the tag or owner’s manual. Steam cleaning is usually a safe option, and this can be done at home or by a professional.

The best candidate for pressure washing is a polyester rug. Since polyester is basically plastic, it should be able to hold up well under a pressure washer.

If you are not sure if the rug will not stand up to a pressure cleaner, don’t risk it. Call a professional instead.

Do’s and Don’ts of Pressure Washing a Rug

When pressure washing a rug, here are some basic guidelines you will want to follow.


  • Use a mild cleaning detergent that will not damage the fabric makeup of the rug. Dawn dishwashing liquid is sufficient for most cleaning tasks. For tough stains, use the correct pre-treat solution for the stain.
  • Another option is to use a powdered detergent that should tackle any stain.
  • Use the right equipment. When it comes to the pressure washer, be sure to use one that is in proper working order and manufactured by a brand you trust.
  • Make sure your rug is pressure washable. If it’s not, it may become destroyed in the process. This information should be available on the cleaning tag or in an owner’s guide. If you are not sure whether your rug will hold up to a pressure washer, ask an expert.


  • Don’t use hot water. Hot water will increase the pressure and can damage the fibers.
  • Don’t bring the nozzle too close as it will damage the rug. Keep the nozzle about 12 inches away is recommended.


Here are the things you will need to get your area rug clean.

  1. Water
  2. Cleaning solution
  3. A thick bristled brush or scrubber
  4. Cotton cloth
  5. Dryer and pressure washer with a garden hose


Here are the steps you will have to take in cleaning your area rug.

Step 1: Find a location.

Realize that there will be a lot of water splashing around when using a pressure washer. So you must do this task outdoors where there is plenty of room.

You’ll have two options. First, is to lay the rug on a flat surface. Clear the area of any loose debris, so the underside of the carpet doesn’t catch any loose dirt.

If the area is dirty, clean the area with a pressure washer to remove any contaminants.

Another option is to use a solid metal rail to hang the rug if it has enough weight. It’s a more sanitary option if you can’t find an open flat surface.

Using a pressure washer on rugs on a porch rail

Either of the two options would work. Choosing between these methods will depend on the space available in your home and if you have a sturdy rail.

The second method will work best on larger area rugs.

Step 2: Pre-soak the Rug

The next step is to pre-soak the rug with soapy water. You could use a pre-soak solution, but a liquid dishwashing soap like Dawn should be sufficient for the task.

Another alternative is using a spray bottle to mist, but for large area rugs, doing this wouldn’t be practical. Check your washer if it has a detergent tank, you could use it to fill the soapy water solution and pre-soak the rug.

A more practical option is to fill a bucket with soapy water solution then pour it on the rug.

Leave the solution on the rug for a few minutes before proceeding to the next step.

Step 3: Use a brush to agitate the rug

Suppose you have a large brush with stiff bristles to agitate the rug. I would recommend doing this if the carpet is stained with a lot of muck and pet hair.

Opt for a brush with rubber bristles that has enough play and avoid the steel ones as it can damage carpet fibers.

Brush the carpet forward and backward, and side to side. Make sure to cover all the areas.

A stiff brush with an extended handle will save you a lot of time and backache, but if that isn’t available, a handheld will suffice, but it’ll take much longer.

Step 4: Prepare the Pressure Washer

Prep the pressure washer for the final rinse.

Ensure that it is primed, which simply means that there’s water inside the pressure washer’s inner components going to the hose.

Step 5: Final Rinse

Now it’s time to do the final rinse. Check your pressure washer’s nozzles and use the lightest one. Adjust the water pressure accordingly. Try to pressure wash on a small area first carpet first to ensure that it doesn’t damage it.

To clean your rug, pass the nozzle across it, slowly making sure you get all the soapy water residue and dirt out. Don’t put the nozzle too close, or it will damage the fibers.

Also, mind the spray pattern, use an angle between 25 and 40 degrees at least 12 inches away from the rug.

Go in all directions to remove any soapy traces on the rug. As you pass the nozzle over it, you’ll see dirt and grime coming off, which is a satisfying sight for neat freaks.

Step 6: Drying the Rug

The final step is to dry the rug. This is an essential step since the carpet is completely drenched in water. Hang it on sturdy chairs or a rail to dry outdoors.

Don’t bring it indoors if it is still damp or mold and mildew will form as well as bad odor.

Dry it under the sun to get the best results as the UV rays will speed up the process and remove any lingering stench.

Can you power wash an outdoor rug?

Most outdoor rugs use sturdier materials like Polypropylene, which is a type of plastic, so it should be able to withstand the high velocity of a pressure washer.

Make sure to check the care tag of the rug for the proper washing procedure, or test a tiny area to check if the pressure washer causes any damage to it.

How do you deep clean an area rug?

A pressure washer is useful for lifting grime and gunk on rugs. The high water pressure forces these contaminants out of the carpet strands, thus making it an ideal instrument to use.

However, avoid using a pressure washer on expensive rugs with delicate fibers as these may not be able to handle the excess water and pressure.

It’s a good practice to read care tags to check.

Additional Tips

Please check these tips to keep your area rugs in great shape.

  • Vacuum rugs regularly to remove dust and debris.
  • Rotate your rugs every six months to keep them from flattening due to uneven wear.
  • Get rugs cleaned by a professional once a year.
  • Check care labels before cleaning your rug. The rug you have maybe an imposter. If so, you may be wasting a lot of time and money getting special cleaning treatments that you don’t need.

Please check these resources for more information about power washing a rug.

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About the author: Garrick, the visionary behind Cordless Vacuum Guide, brings over a decade of hands-on expertise in cordless vacuum testing to his insightful reviews showcased on this platform. Beyond his passion for empowering consumers with informed choices, he cherishes precious moments with his family, exploring global cuisines and exploring different horizons with his beloved wife and son. Follow him on Youtube, Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram.