How to Clean Indoor-Outdoor Carpet

Outdoor furniture on deck with indoor-outdoor rug in grey and white

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Durable indoor-outdoor carpet brings a bit of the comfort and style of your home's interior to your sunroom, patio, porch, or deck. Available in a myriad of colors and designs, you can find both area rugs and rolls of carpeting for edge-to-edge installation. The main difference between the carpets you select for your bedrooms and indoor living spaces and outdoor carpets is the material used to manufacture the carpet.

Outdoor carpets are manufactured from synthetic materials like polypropylene, rubber, and acrylic. They are UV-resistant to reduce fading, moisture- and mildew-resistant, and are often made from recycled materials. While indoor carpeting should not be used in a space that is exposed to the elements, outdoor carpeting can be used indoors. Indoor-outdoor carpets are often found in commercial spaces and high-traffic areas of the home like rec rooms.

One additional benefit of an indoor-outdoor carpet is that is easy to clean.

How Often to Clean Indoor-Outdoor Carpet

As with any type of carpet, vacuuming at least once per week is a must—more frequently for outdoor spaces that receive heavy use during warm seasons. Spills and stains should be treated as quickly as possible. Do a deeper clean at least twice per year.

Tip

When you're ready to do a deep clean, pick a sunny, breezy day to help the carpet dry more quickly.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Broom
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bucket
  • Nylon-bristled scrub brush
  • Power washer
  • Steam carpet cleaner
  • Plastic tarp

Materials

  • Enzyme-based stain remover
  • Dishwashing liquid or all-purpose cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Distilled white vinegar

Instructions

How to Clean an Indoor-Outdoor Rug

  1. Treat Spills and Stains Promptly

    Treat spills and stains as quickly as possible. Blot away liquids with paper towels or a microfiber cloth.

    For solid stains like mud or dropped food, use the edge of a credit card or a dull knife to lift away the solids. Never rub a stain, as it will push the solids deeper into the fibers. After the initial clean-up, follow the recommendations on a stain removal chart to treat specific types of stains.

  2. Vacuum or Sweep Weekly

    Regular vacuuming or sweeping at least once a week will keep dust and dirt from embedding too deeply in an indoor-outdoor carpet. Excessive build-up of dirt causes odor and abrasive action on the fibers so they look worn more quickly.

    When you clean, set the vacuum to the lowest setting because indoor-outdoor carpets have a very low pile. Move furniture and other items from the rug and vacuum or sweep slowly in both vertical and horizontal directions.

  3. Do a Deep Clean

    When it's time for a deeper clean, vacuum the rug well on both sides. You can also hang the rug from a sturdy railing and beat both sides of the rug with a broom to loosen the soil.

    While the rug is suspended, use a garden hose with a spray nozzle or the low setting on a power washer to rinse away soil. If you don't have a spot to hang the rug, place it outdoors on a plastic tarp while you clean.

    After wetting the rug, fill a bucket with cool water and add about 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid or all-purpose cleaner. Apply the soapy solution to the rug using a scrub brush. Pay extra attention to heavily soiled areas.

    Use the garden hose or power washer to rinse away the soapy solution. Hang the rug to air-dry. This can take up to eight hours, turn it over at least once so that air circulates well on both sides. It is best to dry the rug completely before putting it back in place.

How to Clean Installed Indoor-Outdoor Carpet

  1. Treat Stains Quickly and Vacuum Regularly

    Whether the installed indoor-outdoor carpet is located inside or outside, it should be vacuumed at least weekly and stains treated as quickly as possible just as you would for an area rug.

  2. Deep Cleaning Indoor-Outdoor Carpeting With Vinegar

    Since installed indoor-outdoor carpet cannot be hosed down, it should be cleaned much like any indoor carpeting.

    • Vacuum thoroughly to remove loose soil.
    • Spot treat stains using an enzyme-based stain remover or carpet cleaner. Some stains like oil, tar, and pet accidents will require special treatment. Consult a stain removal chart for the proper cleaners to remove those stains.
    • Mix one part of distilled white vinegar and three parts of cold water in a spray bottle. Working in a small 3-feet x 3-feet area, spray the vinegar solution onto the carpet until it's very damp. Do not saturate. Follow a grid so you'll know where you have cleaned.
    • Allow the solution to remain on the carpet for five minutes to begin breaking down the soil. Use a microfiber cloth to blot away the solution and the soil. Have a bucket of clean water ready to rinse the microfiber cloth. Wring the cloth well and change the water frequently as it becomes soiled.
    • Allow the carpet to air-dry thoroughly before resuming normal use.

    Tip

    Indoor-outdoor carpeting can be cleaned with a home or commercial steam carpet cleaner. Follow the manufacturer's directions for use.

Tips to Keep Indoor-Outdoor Carpet Clean Longer

  • Use doormats at entrances to help trap soil.
  • If area rugs become wet, hang to dry to help prevent mildew from forming under the rug.
  • Vacuum or sweep rugs and carpet several times per week.
  • Treat stains immediately.
  • Clean area rugs before storing them for the winter.