How to Clean Indoor-Outdoor Carpet

Indoor-outdoor carpets can be a great option for high-traffic areas like patios, porches, and pool decks. However, as the name suggests, these rugs are meant to be used both inside and outside, so they require a bit more care and cleaning than regular indoor carpeting. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to properly clean indoor-outdoor carpets.

Supplies Needed

  • Garden hose with nozzle or pressure washer
  • Broom or stiff brush
  • Carpet cleaning solution (recommended for outdoor rugs)
  • Clean towels or rags
  • Optional: Wet/dry vacuum

Regular Maintenance

  • Sweep the rug regularly with a broom or brush to remove surface dirt and debris. This prevents particles from getting ground into the fibers.
  • Blot spills and stains immediately with a clean towel to prevent setting. Avoid rubbing, which can spread the stain.
  • Hose down the rug every couple of weeks with plain water to remove buildup of dirt, pollen, grass clippings etc. Allow to air dry completely before using again.
  • Check the underside of the rug for mold growth if used in damp areas. Mold can cling and spread to the rug backing if not removed promptly.

Deep Cleaning

For a more thorough cleaning every few months, an intensive wash is required to refresh the rug and extend its life.

Step 1 – Pre-treat Stains

Inspect the rug closely and spot-treat any stubborn stains beforehand with a targeted stain remover or non-diluted carpet cleaning solution. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. This pre-treatment helps loosen stains so they release easier during washing.

Step 2 – Clear the Area

Sweep the rug to remove loose debris. Then, if possible, move the rug to an open outdoor area like the driveway or lawn for easier cleaning access. Ensure it is laid flat on a hard surface, not soil or grass.

Step 3 – Mix Cleaning Solution

Fill a bucket with warm water and add an enzyme-based outdoor carpet cleaning solution, following the product instructions. Many specific cleaners are safe for outdoor rugs. The solution will cut through dirt, oil, and other contaminants.

Step 4 – Apply Cleaning Solution

Use a stiff brush or broom to generously scrub the cleaning solution into the rug fibers. Work in sections until the entire surface is covered with foam. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes.

Step 5 – Rinse

Thoroughly rinse away all soap residue using a garden hose on a high pressure setting or a pressure washer. Avoid directly spraying the rug backing. Rinse each section until water runs clear.

Step 6 – Dry

After deep cleaning, indoor-outdoor rugs take 1-2 days to fully air dry. Lay the rug flat and allow it to dry completely before placing it back in its location. Use a wet/dry vacuum to speed up drying time if needed. Avoid direct sunlight to prevent fading.

Step 7 – Fluff and Groom

Once totally dry, fluff and brush rug fibers to restore their texture and thickness. This “grooming” brings the pile upright again.

Helpful Tips

  • Always check rug manufacturer instructions before cleaning. Some materials like wool blends require gentler methods.
  • Turn the rug over periodically to evenly distribute wear and flatten fibers.
  • Consider professional steam cleaning for periodic deep cleaning if rug is heavily soiled.
  • During rainy seasons, take rugs under cover to avoid constant dampness and potential mold growth.
  • Use rug pads under indoor-outdoor carpets to prevent slipping and allow air circulation.

Common Questions

How often should I clean an indoor-outdoor rug?

  • Light cleaning: Every 2-3 weeks
  • Deep cleaning: Every 3-6 months

Can I pressure wash an indoor-outdoor rug?

Yes, you can pressure wash an indoor-outdoor rug using a fan tip and keeping the pressure below 1,000 PSI. Stay at least 12 inches back to avoid damage. Make sure to rinse away all soap residue.

What is the best way to get stains out of an outdoor rug?

Spot treat stains immediately with an outdoor carpet cleaner or non-diluted enzymatic cleaner. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. For dried or stubborn stains, apply a concentrated stain remover before washing the entire rug.

How do I get mold and mildew out of an outdoor rug?

Mix one part bleach and 10 parts water. Spray onto moldy areas of the rug and let sit 10-15 minutes before rinsing. Repeat as needed. Allow the rug to dry fully in direct sunlight.

Should I use different cleaning solutions for indoor vs. outdoor rugs?

Yes, use a cleaner made specifically for outdoor rugs. Indoor carpet cleaners often contain chemicals and additives that can damage outdoor rug fibers. Always check if a cleaner is safe for your rug material.


Indoor-outdoor rugs require regular maintenance and deeper periodic cleaning to look their best for years. By following these steps on how to clean an indoor-outdoor carpet properly, you can keep your rug looking fresh and extend its longevity. Be sure to promptly treat stains, rinse away debris, and deep clean every few months. With the right care, your weather-resistant rug can stand up to the elementsindoors or out.