Navajo rugs do not require a lot of upkeep. If cleaning is needed, do not use a lot of water to clean it. Navajo rugs are made from wool which will shrink if wet. Small spots may be blotted with water based cleaners, but you must take care not to use so much water as to have the colors run. Many yarns used in the making of the rugs are not color fast and will bleed if not careful. This is especially true in older hand spun and hand dyed rugs be it vegetal or commercially made dyes. Beating a rug on a clothes line, with say a broom, could break the warp.
Vacuum cleaners are great, just don’t let the ends get into the sweeper. The preferred method is to use a professional specializing in oriental rugs. We use Persian Rug Cleaning out of Los Angles, CA. They are very familiar with the cleaning and repair of Navajo Rugs. Our local dry cleaner (Howard’s Cleaners of Farmington, NM) is also very good with our rugs. Dry cleaning is the best way, just tell your cleaner not to use water, but a small amount of cleaning solution.
You want to DRY clean your Navajo rug. If your rugs corners begin to curl or it is no longer lying flat on the floor or on the wall, it may need to be blocked. Wool will absorb moisture from the air, and being wool it will over time, tend to shrink. Like a sweater, lightly dampen the rug with a mist of water. Gently pull the sides and corners back to their original shape.
Tack or staple(small staples) the sides and corners down when the desired shape is achieved. Let it stand there for about a day until perfectly dry and you are done. It is best, if the rug if hung on a wall, to tack the sides and corners to the wall so that it will not move if there is moisture in the air. This can be done with small staples but I like to use Velcro. Get the hook part of the Velcro and the one with the sticky backing. Cut it into small squares and apply it to the the wall or a strip of wood molding behind the rug. The hooks attach to the wool fibers and hold strongly, but it is easily removed. We use it every day to display our rugs.