Sisal is a natural fiber derived from the leaves of the Agave sisalana, a plant native to Central America. The plants are cultivated for their crowns of durable sword shaped leaves, which are harvested and stripped for the durable fibers inside. Sisal is strong, flexible, and versatile. For this reason, it is used to make a number of products, including rugs. You should clean a sisal rug with care, to prevent it from shrinking and so that the surface will stay evenly colored and stain free.
Moisture and humidity can be very hard on sisal. For this reason, a sisal rug should be laid down in a dry place that is unlikely to be subject to spills. It is also important to keep this in mind when cleaning the rug. If you use a large amount of liquid, the rug may shrink or otherwise distort. In addition, the penetrating liquid may bring dirt to the surface of the rug, resulting in a large stain. If you want the look of sisal in a wet, high traffic area, you may want to consider a synthetic. Many synthetic products are very close replicas, and cleaning synthetic fiber is much easier.
If any liquid is spilled onto a natural fiber rug, it needs to be cleaned immediately. Blot it with a dry cloth, making sure not to rub the liquid into the fiber. You may find it helpful to lift the rug up and blot from the underside as well, if this is possible. If a staining liquid such as juice is spilled, clean the rug with a mild soap and water solution or a half vinegar, half water solution. Dip a cloth in the solution, blot the rug, and blot dry. You may need to repeat this, but remember to use a small amount of water so that the rug does not absorb additional liquid.
Dry materials can be scraped off with a blunt edge, such as a wooden knife. You can also use a dry rug cleaning powder designed specifically for sisal. These products are available at many carpet supply stores, and they have varying directions for use, depending on the manufacturer. You should also vacuum a sisal rug regularly to take up accumulated dirt. If you clean a sisal rug with a vacuum on a frequent basis, you will also prolong its life, since embedded dirt tends to damage the fibers of the rug.
Directions for cleaning synthetic sisal vary, depending on the material, but in general, synthetic is much more durable than natural fibers. Some synthetic sisal can even be cleaned with a mop, making it a much better choice for areas where spillage is likely. When examining your options, make sure to ask about care directions for the individual synthetic rugs that you look at, as each manufacturer has different construction techniques and instructions.