I have an old 10' x 10' colourful area rug that was in storage for a few years. When I unpacked it I found several mice nests tucked away inside and lots of mouse droppings. I put it outside in the sun and brushed off the larger pieces of nesting/waste. How do I clean it? The issues that I'm facing are as follows:

  • I should apply a bleach solution to the rug because of the potential for hanta virus, but I'm not supposed to bleach colourful rugs with chlorine bleach.
  • I could use an oxygen based bleach but it's unclear whether that will kill the virus.
  • I should vacuum up all the droppings before washing to prevent them from getting embedded in the carpet fibers, but I'm not supposed to use a vacuum or broom on the rug since doing so can make hantavirus particles airborne.

My current plan is to leave it outside, hose it down and go over the surface with a scrub brush and a solution of warm water and dish soap. Leave it to soak for a few minutes then hose it off and leave it to dry in the sun for a day or two before vacuuming it. Does this seem reasonable? Any addiotnal/alternative tips? I don't particulalry want to take it to a dry cleaner since I feel the cost would be prohibitive.

3 Answers 3


I would do the following:

  1. Take it to a car wash (or a carpet wash, if there is one in the area) and have it properly washed. Besides micro-organisms, I expect that there is a lot of dust and other debris still stuck in your carpet.
  2. If you care about colors, oxygen-based disinfectants (e.g. hydrogen peroxide) are equally bad - compared to chlorine.
  3. A very good disinfection you can get using a UV-C lamp. You should find one relatively cheap at some specialty shop - just do a search on the internet. It might still do some damage - but since you will only expose the carpet to the UV-C radiation for a limited amount of time, there should be no issue.

Note: if the said mice created holes (or the premises for holes) in the carpet, then maybe it is not worth to go through the disinfection process - just replace the carpet (and lose the sentimental value in the process, along with the money). You can take a better decision only after a proper wash.


If you are going to drench it and brush it with a scrubber you might save it but I wouldn't let it dry naturally. (or leave it wet for too long). You can extract most of the moisture using a powerful wet dry shopvac (just don't forget to remove the filter). sounds like a lot of work. I'd probably toss it and watch the free stuff section in craigslist and offerup. People give away amazing wool area rugs in larger sizes because they are so heavy to lift when they are moving.

  • While "chuck it" isn't really in the spirit of Lifehacks, sometimes you do have to do exactly that. Especially if the alternative is to pay a lot for specialist cleaners that may not be successful.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 31, 2021 at 16:02

Do not use bleach! The color will completely fade and change from the bleach and ruin the rug. To clean it, I would recommend an enzymatic cleaner which I found to work quite well. Vinegar and dish soap should work also.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.