My rug before a steam cleaning, notice all the spots and stains from the last 9 months or so.
Short answer: It’s not recommended. You’ll notice the tag on your rug says professional clean only.
And now for the long answer:
Although the manufacturer does not recommend you clean your rug yourself and while it can shorten the life of your rug (just like with clothes if the washer is too rough, they don’t last as long.) Although if you bought a cheap rug because you have kids, pets or messy people in your house on a regular basis; a good steam cleaning might be a better option than paying a professional or buying a new one. Will steam cleaning get the rug as clean as a professional will? Most likely not, but it will certainly be more affordable.
Some things to keep in mind before steam cleaning:
*wool, nylon, polyester, acrylic, viscose, chenille and most other fibers can bleed. This is exceptionally bad if you have dark colors next to light colors in your rug.
*Polypropylene or Olefin does not bleed (or fade / stain) but it tend to mat up if it gets too hot so be careful with high hear machines (these are better cleaned with luke warm water or colder.
*This sort of cleaning can shorten the life of your rug.
*If the rug does not dry out completely within about 12 hours or so, you can be running the risk of growing mildew or other things that like a moist environment.
*If you own a Karastan, please note that they do have a 15 year warranty and if you steam clean it, it will be void.
Here is the same spot (from a different angle) Notice how much cleaner it looks after being steam cleaned.
Now that I have properly warned you, I’ll get into the cleaning. Spot test first!!!! Make sure the water temp and the soap being used doesn’t cause your rug to bleed, fade, stain or otherwise not look as nice; Do this somewhere you won’t notice it on a regular basis if its discolored. Make sure to use the mildest detergent possible that doesn’t foam too much. Of course you can use the normal steam cleaning soloution they sell in stores but I always think the stuff smells terrible. I use my laundry detergent but very diluted and do a lot of rinsing with the steam cleaner. Never use bleach, this can fade or damage your rug. Feel free on a hot day to steam clean the back of your rug too to get it extra clean, I used this method when potty training rescued kittens that were living in my home last spring and summer.
That should cover whether or not you can and should steam clean your area rug. Just be careful and remember that is not recommended by the manufacturer but might an affordable alternative to buying a new rug or taking it to a professional.