How to Properly Store a Rug

Jon Fesmire |

Do you plan on swapping out some rugs in your home, or are you getting ready for a move, and need to store some rugs as well as everything else? Rugs can be tricky to store if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this article, we’ll cover the basic process of cleaning a rug, rolling it, and putting it in the right kind of storage unit.

Potential Problems

Rugs are meant to be walked on, which means they’re bound to collect dirt, dust, and food particles. Sometimes, this will get ground in. Over time in storage, your rug can begin to stink, and it can also attract pests. If you store it wrong, it can also lose its shape. Plus, rugs can take up a lot of space, even rolled up. You may not be able to avoid that last issue, but you can avoid the others.

Cleaning Rugs

The first step with any rug is to vacuum it. This will get up a lot of the dirt and dust and allow you to move on to the next steps.

There are many types of rugs, and how to clean them can vary quite a bit. If your rug came with cleaning instructions, follow them.

If you don’t have access to that information, these instructions should help.

  • Small Rugs

Small, spot rugs should be the easiest to deal with. Put your rug in a mesh laundry bag and run it through the washer on the gentle cycle. Tumble dry it in the dryer on low heat.

  • Large Braided Rugs

Once vacuumed, take it outside and hang it over a railing. Beat it with a broom to loosen particles. Lay it on the concrete or on a vinyl floor and scrub stains with a mixture of half water, half white vinegar. You’ll want a scrub brush for this. Don’t use soap, as this can get trapped in the grooves. Hang it outside again and spray it with a high-pressure hose. Let it dry thoroughly.

  • Antique Rugs

Talk to a seller for advice on how to clean yours properly if you don’t have instructions. These can vary greatly.

  • Oriental Rugs

These need to be cleaned about once per year, but for now, we’re talking about cleaning it before storing it. Like a braided rug, bring it outside and hang it up. Then beat it with a wooden spoon to beat the dust out of it. We encourage you to wear a protective mask. Since COVID came into our lives, we all should have at least one of those! Next, put the rug on the concrete. Put a bit of dish soap in a bucket of warm water so that you get good suds, then use a scrub brush to scrub the entire rug. Spray it off with your garden hose until the water runs clear. Hang the rug back up to dry and use a squeegee to speed up the drying process. Run it down the rug to help get the water out.

  • Natural Fiber Rugs

For grass and similar rugs made of natural fibers, scrub the stains out with soapy water and a soft brush, and blot dry the rug. You can even use a dryer or a fan to help dry it faster.

Now that your rug is thoroughly cleaned and dried, you can spray on a fabric-safe insect and moth repellent. Even with all that cleaning, there’s a chance that eggs remain in the fibers, so this is a good idea, and it will protect your rug better in storage.

Rolling Your Rug

Whatever you do, don’t fold your rug. This can cause creases, cracks, and tears. You want to roll it into a cylinder.

The delicate part, which is usually the part that you walk on, should face inward. When you prepare to roll it, that means to orient the rug upward.

Start from one end and keep the roll as straight as possible. One great tool for this is the carpet rod, though a curtain rod can help if you’re unable to acquire one. A partner with a good eye can also help.

Next, roll a clean cotton sheet around it one and a half times or more. You want to ensure that the carpet can breathe. Finally, secure the cylinder of carpet with cotton twill tape around it in several spots.

Where to Store Your Rug

Ideally, you’ll want to store your rug in a climate-controlled storage unit. This will keep the temperature and humidity in safe ranges for your sensitive belongings, like your rug. The temperature is generally kept between 50 and 80 degrees, and sometimes in an even tighter range, and the humidity between 30% and 50%. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that rarely gets too hot or cold, where the humidity is usually comfortable, you may not need climate control.

When storing a rug for a long period of time, check it every few months when you can to make sure it hasn’t degraded. If you followed these steps and are renting a unit with climate control, these steps should keep your rug in great shape for a long time.

If you don’t yet have a self storage unit, check out listings. There are bound to be many facilities near you with the size and amenities you need.