How to clean jute rugs - the expert guide to this on-trend floor covering

Cleaning a jute rug doesn't have to be a bewildering task once you know these expert tips

A living room with open fireplace and light jute rug
(Image credit: Loaf)

Knowing how to clean jute rugs will allow you embrace this key living room trend. Jute rugs make the perfect base to any room decor thanks to their natural woven fibers and neutral coloring. However, compared to other floor types such as tiles, carpets and hardwood floors, they can be notoriously difficult to clean since the coarse material is difficult to wash. 

To understand how to clean a jute rug, you first need to know a bit about the material itself. Jute fibers are extracted from the bark of the jute vegetable plant. They're strong, shiny and extremely versatile, and can be used to make a host of products including baskets, bags and most commonly, rugs. 

'Jute rugs are ideal for indoor living and the neutral color palette looks great with almost any interior design,' says Samantha Gann, rug expert at Rugs.com. 'Durable and great for high-traffic areas, jute rugs can be used in practically every room of the house, from bedrooms to living rooms. But when they get a lot of wear, they do need to be cleaned on a regular basis.' 

Cleaning a jute rug is a task easier said than done. The natural fibers don't enjoy getting wet or exposure to harsh chemicals leaving many of us stumped when they need a good clean. Luckily, these experts have shared a few of their best tricks. 

What is the best way to clean a jute rug?

Beach House living room with large windows

(Image credit: Genevieve Garruppo (@garruppo))

Unlike carpets or other living room rugs, you can't use a carpet cleaner to wash a jute rug. However, the good news is that jute's extremely tough material and natural wiry fibers won't get as dirty as synthetic fibers. 

'Dirt has a hard time clinging to jute which means the best way to clean a jute rug is to vacuum it,' explains Samantha of Rugs.com (opens in new tab). 'Be sure to use a brush attachment to avoid damaging the fibers.' 

Another good old-fashion solution to cleaning a jute rug is to shake it outside or hang it on the line and beat it. Dirt and dust can easily embed itself in the woven material but once you agitate the fibers with some brute force, your rug will be good as new. Just make sure the wind is blowing away from you! 

If your jute rug is in a high traffic area such as an entryway or hallway floor, muddy footprints might mean spot-cleaning is necessary from time to time. In such cases, you'll need to look beyond the vacuum to allow for a deeper clean. Steven Hill, founder of DIY Gazette (opens in new tab), suggests using a natural cleaning solution to prevent damage to the fibers.

'Mix a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water then use a clean cloth to blot dirty marks. Afterward, spritz them with a very small amount of clean water,' he explains. 

Can you wash a jute rug with water?

As jute rug's are textured rugs and the woven material can collect lots of dirt and dust, you might feel tempted to soak it, but it's important to resist this temptation as water is likely to cause irreversible damage.

'Because jute rugs are made from natural materials, water and jute don’t mix,' explains Samantha. 'Jute easily absorbs moisture and often holds on to it for a long time.' According to Samantha, this can then lead to problems with damp and mould since the thick weave of the material takes a long time to dry.  

If a jute rug does get wet, the natural fibers can shrink or swell, causing your rug to lose its color or shape. 'It is why you will never find a rug retailer recommending customers to steam clean, wash or shampoo jute rugs,' explains Zara O’Hare from Land of Rugs (opens in new tab) . 'Small amounts of water (which are dried swiftly) are okay, but using lots of moisture could cause the rug to discolor or become even more damaged.'

A modern dining room with marble dining table and circular jute rug

(Image credit: Caffe Latte)

How do you remove a stain from a jute rug? 

Stains are inevitable, no matter how cautious we are with our floors. Since hot water and stain removers are usually our go-to solution to dealing with stains, removing them from jute rugs can prove especially challenging. 

The most important thing to do is act fast. 'Use a paper towel to soak up any excess liquid immediately,' Samantha says. 'Use a gentle touch and don’t rub so hard that you end up damaging the fibers of the rug. You can actually push the spill further into the fibers of the rug, making it more difficult to clean.' 

If lots of liquid has soaked deep into the fibers of your rug, Samantha suggests sprinkling some corn starch on the area to soak up the moisture and then vacuuming when it's dry. 'A blow dryer can also be used to help the drying process,' she says.

You might need to use a mild cleaning solution on your rug for serious stains. Before you do however, it's a good idea to read any care instructions on your rug. 'Even before you use a cleaner to spot clean, test it out on an area of the rug that can be hidden under the sofa or table just to be safe,' Samantha adds. 'If your stain won't disappear, consider flipping over your rug because most jute rugs are reversible.'  

A living room with natural jute rug on a hardwood floor

(Image credit: Loaf)

What products should you avoid using on a jute rug? 

Although there are plenty of rug cleaners on the market, most will be too harsh to use on a jute rug and they often require adding water to aid with cleaning. Likewise, carpet shampoo should be avoided, too. 

'Due to the chemicals used to make shampoo such an effective cleaning product, using it on a jute rug may cause the fibres to break away or discolour,' says Zara. 'In fact, when cleaning jute rugs, you should only ever use small amounts of water and white vinegar if absolutely required, but I would always recommend dry cleaning if possible.'  

Lilith Hudson
Junior writer

Lilith Hudson is the Junior Writer on Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news articles for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration that you need in your home. She discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. Lilith now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London (a degree where she could combine both) and has previously worked at the Saturday Times Magazine, ES Magazine, DJ Mag and The Simple Things Magazine.