Carpets trap dirt particles in their twisted fibers, and vacuuming isn’t enough to keep them clean. Frequent cleaning and spot removal extend their life and make them look and feel better.
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Getting your carpets and area rugs cleaned regularly keeps them looking their best. It also helps eliminate dust mites and other allergens that can cause watery eyes, sneezing, and other unpleasant symptoms. Regular vacuuming reduces airborne soil, making your home’s carpet fibers look dull and dark over time.
A quick back-and-forth movement with the vacuum cleaner is enough to do the trick, but this is not the most effective way to clean your carpets. Instead, it would be best if you vacuumed in structured rows, beginning with one direction, wall-to-wall, and then moving over the same areas in a different direction.
This is how professionals vacuum, and it’s the best way to clean your carpets. It’s important to do this on all types of carpet, even those that don’t require regular cleaning. You can tell if you’re vacuuming correctly by checking the carpet fibers for dirt that should be in the back of the pile or a “nap” and then watching how the carpet looks as you pass over it.
The proper vacuuming method also includes using the right vacuum attachments for your carpeting. For example, you should use a crevice tool for hard-to-reach places and a motorized brush to remove deep dirt from carpet edges and corners. A vacuum that offers an adjustable vacuum head height setting is a good choice because the appropriate setting will depend on your carpet type. Some modern, low-pile carpeting types are thicker than others and may benefit from being vacuumed at a higher setup to keep the brushes from snagging on them.
If you have wood floors or another non-carpeted floor covering, use your vacuum cleaner’s bare floor setting to prevent the powered brush from scratching. If you have any area rugs placed over the carpet, vacuum them as well.
Before you start vacuuming, clear the area of any toys, coins, paper clips, or other items that could get caught in the vacuum’s beater bar and impair suction. Also, push light furniture out to get to the carpet underneath.
If the carpets in your home look dingy, no matter how often you vacuum or how quickly you clean up spills, they may be saturated with built-up dirt, oils, and grime. This residue will cling to the fibers and attract new dirt particles. It can also cause odors that permeate the whole house. Shampooing your carpets breaks up this build-up and removes those odors.
A professional carpet cleaner uses a special shampoo and a machine to rinse and extract the cleaning solution. This process is called hot water extraction or steam cleaning. It most effectively removes thick, dried dirt and stains and restores matted fibers. Steam also kills bacteria and eliminates mold and mildew that can develop in the carpet and underlying padding.
However, you can use an ordinary carpet shampooer to do a deep clean in the comfort of your own home. Choose a shampoo designed for your carpeting type, and follow the instructions on how to use it. For example, you may have to pre-treat any stains with a pre-treater before applying the shampoo. Some of these products can be applied with a cloth or sponge, while others should be poured on and left to sit for some time before rinsing thoroughly.
Several shampoos are available, but they vary in price and effectiveness. The best carpet shampoos will be made from biodegradable ingredients and be safe for your family, pets, and the environment. Look for green or organic products that contain no sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) or other harmful chemicals to humans and animals.
A carpet cleaner with a built-in hot water extraction system is more convenient and efficient than one that requires a separate pump. You can even buy or rent a portable carpet cleaner with a scrub brush and wet vac attachment for home use. Alternatively, using household cleaners, you can make your own dry or foaming carpet shampoo. For example, the Thriving Home blog suggests mixing equal parts salt and borax to create a paste that you can apply to a small carpet area.
No matter how often you vacuum and shampoo, a carpet is only clean once it’s fully rinsed. This step helps eliminate residue and prevents the return of staining; plus, it helps lift soil trapped at the carpet’s base. It’s also a good time to use a lint brush to remove any pet fur that may have settled there.
If you’re worried about the water required for rinsing, try making your homemade cleaning solution with white vinegar and a scrub brush. Mix the solution with enough water to be damp but not sopping wet, and apply it to the brush. Rub the brush into the carpet in a circular motion to remove dirt and grime from the fibers, then blot the area with a cloth.
You can also try a more natural carpet cleaner by mixing equal parts baking soda and salt and applying it to the rug with a scrub brush. This helps lift odors and freshen the fibers without harsh chemicals.
Once you’ve thoroughly rinsed the carpet, keeping people and pets off of it until it is dry is important. Walking on it flattens the fibers and can slow down the drying process. If you have to walk on it, wear socks or house slippers that don’t go outside, and take the shortest route possible.
If you spot any stains that don’t come out during the cleaning process, treat them as soon as possible. The longer a stain remains on a carpet, the harder it is to remove. Whether it’s coffee spills or muddy paw prints, always start by blotting the solid parts of the stain. Always remember to continue blotting rather than scrubbing, as this can push the dirt deeper into the carpet’s fibers.
Sprinkle the carpet with baking soda for odors that won’t go away. This is a natural odor absorbent that can help to deodorize your carpets, and it can also kill mildew, which can grow in hidden crevices on wet surfaces. Let the baking soda sit on the carpet for 15 minutes before vacuuming.
Even after a professional carpet cleaning service, it can take time for carpets to dry fully. Leaving a damp carpet can damage the floor and the subflooring underneath, leading to the growth of mold and mildew and leaving unsightly stains. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to speed up the drying process.
Start by clearing away any furniture or other items blocking the airflow. This will help create airflow through the carpet and speed up drying times. You can also move your furnace and air conditioner to a higher temperature to reduce humidity and increase airflow. Using fans to promote airflow is a great idea, too.
You may need to vacuum the area again to remove any remaining dust and dirt from the carpet. If you see any stains or marks, try spot-treating them with a good carpet cleaner. Many carpet stains, including pet stains and odors, can be removed with this method, but it will only work well on heavy stains or dyes.
If you are dealing with a stubborn stain, try making your homemade spot treatment. Combine equal white vinegar and water in a bowl or bucket to make this. Dip the bristles of a scrub brush into the mixture, then use it to massage the affected area. Rinse the area with water and allow it to dry completely before reusing the carpet.
You can use a homemade solution of baking soda and salt to eliminate lingering odors. Sprinkle the mixture over your carpet and work it in with a scrub brush. Once the area is dry, vacuum it to remove the mixture and the odors it has eliminated.
Even with today’s stain-resistant carpet, accidents still happen. If you have a spill or spot on your newly cleaned carpet, blot it as quickly as possible with a dry cloth or paper towel (preferably plain white, as printed materials can transfer color and ink onto the damp surface). Then, treat the stain as soon as possible. Blotting liquid stains will prevent them from soaking through to the subflooring and causing damage. Semisolid stains can usually be scooped up with a spoon. Solid stains can be vacuumed up or lightly brushed with a soft brush.