How to Clean Carpets

How to Clean CarpetsThis is your guide on how to clean carpets to keep them looking spotless. Always read the care instructions that come with your carpet, as these will give you specific advice on products and cleaning methods. For routine carpet cleaning, carpet people say there are three things to consider: vacuum cleaner, vacuum cleaner, vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming removes about 85 percent of carpet dirt. To get down to the deep dirt, you need to periodically give your carpeting a more thorough cleaning than a vacuum cleaner can provide. How often depends on your lifestyle, but the recommended range is every 6 to 18 months.

Vacuuming your carpeting every day would be ideal. But we don’t live like people in 1950s TV commercials, where women seemed to spend most of their days doing housework - in high heels, no less. Let’s face it: daily vacuuming is unrealistic for most households today. But do make it a point to vacuum carpeting at least once a week, even if it doesn’t appear dirty. Heavily trafficked areas should be hit a little more often. And be sure to vacuum up promptly any obvious dirt before it gets ground in.

For vacuuming your carpet, the more powerful your machine, the better. You can use either an upright vacuum, which was created with carpets in mind or a canister vacuum with a power nozzle, which does almost as good a job as an upright. Both of these have a rotary brush, designed to loosen the dirt in carpets. Here are some tips on how to clean carpets with a vacuum cleaner:

  • Set your vacuum cleaner for the pile level of the carpet - unless your vacuum automatically adjusts to the pile level.
  • When you vacuum an area, use slow, even strokes and go back and forth several times, flipping the nap by going alternately against and with the grain. Finish with strokes that all go in the same direction.
  • Vacuum under furniture as best you can with extension attachments. About twice a year, move the furniture and vacuum the area under it thoroughly.
  • With a rug, it’s a good idea to occasionally turn it over and vacuum the underside.
  • If your vacuum cleaner won’t suck up cat hairs, threads or other fine items, use a lint roller or a piece of doubled—over tape to pick them up. Lint rollers are sold at supermarkets.
  • New carpeting produces a lot of extra fluff. It’s normal - nothing to worry about.

How to clean carpets professionally: Professional steam cleaning is the ideal way of removing deep-down dirt from your carpet. There are several types of professional methods for cleaning carpets, but the Cadillac of them all is hot water extraction, or steam cleaning, done using a truck-mounted unit.

If you call in the pros, make sure that’s really what you’re getting. There are plenty of glorified do-it-yourselfers pretending to be professionals. If you follow these suggestions on How to Choose a Pro you won’t get any surprises when they show up at the door. They’ll swoop in with a big truck, get the job done fast and be out of your way. The big truck’s purpose isn’t to impress you, but to hold powerful equipment. One piece is a heating unit that keeps the water very hot throughout the process of cleaning carpets. Another is a very powerful vacuum, which will suck up all the water that the cleaner puts down.

How to clean carpets by steam cleaning yourself: the results won’t be as good as a professional job. But let’s say you just don’t want to pay for the professional job. Maybe your carpet is old and you’re going to replace it in a couple of years, but in the meantime you want to perk it up with a do-it-yourself steam-cleaning job. In that case, the most economical solution is to hire the most powerful steam-cleaning machine you can find. At the same time, hire a heavy-duty vacuum that will suck up water as well as solids. Follow the directions on the cleaning machine and change the water often. At the end, go over the carpeting with the vacuum and draw out as much additional water as you can. Get as much air circulation as possible in the room and don’t walk on the carpet until it’s dry.

If using a hired unit persuades you that do-it-yourself method of cleaning carpets is the way to go and expense is no barrier, explore owning your own deep-cleaning unit. Home machines are about the size and shape of upright vacuum cleaners. While they aren’t as powerful as the professional or hired cleaners, some of the newest home machines do an adequate job.

Three cleaning methods to avoid at all costs when considering how to clean carpets are listed below. You may be tempted to save money by trying one of them - either doing it yourself or hiring a professional. But it you do, be prepared to be disappointed:

  • Shampooing uses a machine with a very aggressive brush and a cleaner mixed with water applied to the carpeting. The brush doesn’t pick up any dirt. It swirls everything around to create a foam. The idea is to let that dry and vacuum up the crystals. It is not an effective method for how to clean carpets.
  • Spin bonnet cleaning adapts floor-buffing techniques to carpets. A “bonnet,” or round absorbent pad, is dipped into the cleaning solution and wrung out, then attached to a machine that spins it around. The bonnet is supposed to be removed and cleaned or changed when it is visibly dirty. But it cleans only the top of the carpeting. It grinds in dirt, creates soil and detergent buildup, and can damage the fibres and pile. This type of cleaning should only be done on cut-pile carpets, never on loop carpets.
  • Dry cleaning is touted as an alternative method that won’t cause overwatering of carpets. It uses an absorbent granular material, which is laced with a solvent. It is distributed over the carpet and brushed in, left to absorb dirt and then vacuumed up. The trouble is, it isn’t very effective and the solvent evaporates in the air, polluting your home.

I hope this guide on how to clean carpets brings you cleaning success!

Return from How to Clean Carpets to How to Clean Things A-Z

Return to Home Page