Washing Rugs Outdoors

In Finland, washing rugs outdoors is one of the most traditional ways of spending a summer day.

Almost all small and medium-sized cotton, jute and PET rugs will endure traditional hand washing outdoors if they are handled gently with love. For bigger cotton and jute rugs we recommend washing at the professional laundry. They are heavy when wet and thus hard to handle. Also waiting for them to dry may take too long.

But what are the do’s and don’ts of rug washing outdoors? Read forward to find out!

The Perfect Weather

Washing rugs outdoors is obviously most fun when the sun is shining on a cloudless sky. But unfortunately, that’s not the ideal weather. Many colors tend to fade in the sunshine, especially when the rug is wet. So go for the warm, bit windy and (partly) cloudly day. Your rug will dry in no time and you won’t get all sweaty while washing them.

If possible, try to find time for your rug washing rather in early or mid-summer, than late summer. On late summer the humidity of air may cause rugs drying too slowly. But with small rugs, there should be no problem.

Care For the Environment

Many Finnish people are used to wash rugs outdoors in docks that are specially dedicated to that. But according to nowadays knowledge, those are not the most environmentally friendly places. Soaps and dirt from the rugs can cause eutrophication and are harmful to the lakes and seas.

The best solution is to use washing places that are built on the ground and make sure your washing waters and soaps won’t get to the waters. You can use biodegradable and eco-friendly soaps that don’t contain phosphates and soak your washing waters in the ground instead if there’s no drain system is your washing place.

In Finland, the most used rug washing soap is traditional soft pine soap, Mäntysuopa. It’s fastly biodegradable but it shouldn’t be released to nature’s water system as it contains abietic acids that are harmful to fishes.

The Washing Fun

Now we know when and where we should do the rug washing.

  1. Firstly, remember to vacuum your rugs well before the washing. It helps you a lot and also prevents dirt and bacteria getting to nature.
  2. Soak your rug with water completely. Jute rugs repel water quite well so be thorough.
  3. Apply some soap evenly on the rug. Using a soap bar is recommended to prevent using an excessive amount of soap. Very soapy rugs are hard to get completely rinsed. Soap residues may leave brown stains in the rug when the rug is dried.
  4. Use a scrub brush to gently brush the dirt away from the rug.  Start from the reverse side and after finishing it, turn the rug around and start working on the right side. Always, remember to brush to the direction of the weft, and never brush from one color to another as it may cause colors bleeding. Don’t use too much force. If you are washing a printed cotton rug such as Aitta or Kievari, be very gentle when brushing the prints. Also note, the print may fade a bit.
  5. It’s time for rinsing! Make sure there’s no soap left in your rug after you’re done.
  6. Roll your rug and step on it barefoot to press most of the water out of the rug. Hang your rug out to dry so that the water doesn’t run from color or stripe to another. Hang your jute rugs so that they can dry as flat as possible. Drying them folded may harm the shape of the rugs.
  7. Last but not least: while your rugs are drip-drying nicely enjoy your coffee and your packed lunch.

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