Rug & Carpet Cleaning

Yearly cleaning was all that was prescribed for carpets, while rugs would have been cleaned as needed. Generally, “rug” refers to a floor covering which is smaller than the size of the room and is more easily removed for cleaning. A “carpet” would be cut to the size of the room and tacked to the floor at the edges. It was suggested that carpets be removed when the family was away, or cleaned in a rotating manner so that the rest of the family is not discomfited while cleaning is taking place. Under-carpet mats should be cleaned every two years. An ammonia-and-water mixture was the preferred way of cleaning rugs and carpets, following a good sweeping or beating. 

Carpets should be carefully folded in portions and swept under before being carried outside for cleaning. When outside, lay the carpet right-side down on the grass. With rattan switches beat the underside of the carpet steadily for an hour. Sweep with a damp broom and wipe with a clean cloth dipped in ammonia water. Carefully turning the carpet over, use a whisk broom to brush the right side. Tie a double handful of wheat bran or sawdust into a double square of cheesecloth. Dip this into clean ammonia water and rub the carpet face until swab is dirty. Rinse cheesecloth in clean water and repeat with ammonia water until entire surface is clean. To revive faded colors boiled ox gall, tablespoon to gallon of water can be used in place of ammonia. Leave lying in sun to dry.

Rugs should be brushed and whipped on both sides twice, ending with a final brushing on the right side. Then hang the rug over a line or on trestles or upon the grass and sprinkle with water, being sure to wipe away the water before it soaks in. Very dirty rugs can be covered with sawdust then swept 6 hours later with a very stiff, clean broom. A white or light rug can be cleaned with cornstarch mixed with prepared chalk (one measure cornstarch to 1/6 measure chalk). Leave the mixture to sit for several hours then whisk-broom away. Hang in the sun and beat well.

A worn carpet should be repaired by cutting out the worn part, re-stitching the carpet back together and putting the worn part toward the wall where it would be less noticeable. A small rug could also hide wear or stains on a carpet if necessary.

If one needed a new rug, one could be made using the Ross Novelty Rug Machine. This machine was available by mail order for only $1 and was advertised as so simple to operate a child could do it. In addition to the rug machine the housewife would need a frame to hold the rug as the rags were stitched together, following a pattern or not, as desired. In addition to rugs, the machine could be used to make lap-robes, winter caps, slippers and mittens.


Below are specific methods for removing stains and dirt, and preventing bug infestation!

“Put something between carpet and bare wood floors to allow carpet to wear longer. Straw held in place by twine patchwork will suffice, but newspapers are better. Carpet-wadding (cotton between coarse, but soft brown paper) is best. Carpets should be taken up every one to two years with weekly sweeping in between.”

“Sprinkle carpet with wheat flour and salt then brush away to lift dirt. Brush, then wipe with salt water solution when heavier cleaning is needed."

"Steep bran for ½ hour, squeeze out water, pour on carpet and brush. Damp grass applied this way also works to remove spots and dust and revive colors."

"Remove soot with salt. Remove grease spots with calcined magnesia and benzene."

"Essence of turpentine mixed with equal part water then rubbed into carpets will keep away bugs when house is closed for a season.”

“It is said that moths can be destroyed in the carpet by wetting this thoroughly with a sponge dipped in clear water, along the seams and close to the walls, and then passing a hot iron over the moistened spots.”