Carpets Fresh as the Driven Snow

Small Home Gazette, Winter 2011

Carpets Fresh as the Driven Snow

Clean Your Carpets the Way Northerners Were Intended to—Outside in the Snow

My husband made a remark about cabin fever, but didn’t stop me as I hauled our polonaise and serapi carpets out of doors this past December.  Two months into a cold, dry winter, my sanity had not slipped.  Another heavy snowfall was piling onto the two-foot base—it was a perfect time to clean carpets, according to a Turkish carpet dealer I’d spoken with years ago.

This obscure knowledge was passed on to me when I was first looking to dress the hardwood floors of my bungalow with oriental rugs.  When I asked how to maintain the rugs, the Turk talked of vacuuming, spot cleaning and rug laundries.  Then he added, “In this climate, the best thing you can do is use snow.”  He was serious.

Now, after years of vacuuming, my carpets needed freshening.  Dust, pet hair and lint had made them lackluster.  I recalled the Turk’s wisdom and looked up snow cleaning online.  Sure enough, snow cleaning is a chemical-free, no cost method for cleaning rugs.  I hauled the two oriental rugs outside, testing both of the methods I found.

1. Let rug adjust to the outdoor temperature—on the porch or in another protected area.  You don’t want a warm rug melting the snow, which refreezes into the pile.

One of Deb’s rugs luxuriates in a snow bath.

One of Deb’s rugs luxuriates in a snow bath.

2. Place rug on the snow.

  • Option A: Face up.  Shovel on snow or let snow accumulate on top (caution: rugs quickly disappear in a blizzard).  Brush off all of the snow from the top and bottom of the rug as you re-roll it.
  • ŸOption B: Face down.  Beat the rug gently (another use for that snow shovel), stopping when no more debris accumulates on the snow.  This method seemed like more work to me.  Let the snow do the hard work, skip the beating.

3. Return rugs to the porch to allow any remaining snow to sublimate (evaporate).

The result was two clean rugs that smelled fresh, like laundry that had been hung out to dry.

After the next good snowfall on a cold, dry wintry day, when the air is pure and the world glistens, set aside your shovel.  Haul out your rugs for a good snow washing and bring that fresh feeling indoors.  The only caution is your neighbors may think you’ve gone stir crazy or taken the concept of a garden room too far.

Here are two links corroborating the snow cleaning method: