Your carpet is one of the first things people see when they walk into your home, which means they can see all the stains and dirt on that carpet especially if it’s a lighter color. Keeping your floors clean is a matter of diligence and prompt effort.
The older a stain is, the more time it’s had to be ground into the carpet. Also, dirt attracts more dirt. When it’s time to clean the carpet, you can do it with homemade cleaning solutions, or you can call for professional help if you’re desperate.
Either way, we have a few carpet cleaning tips you should find helpful.
Even if it’s a simple matter of moistening the stain and blotting some of it up with a towel, it’s a decent first step.
Don’t Scrub Stains
As tempting as it might be to scrub carpet stains, don’t let that be the first thing you do. Instead, you’re going to blot the stain up. Most of the time, they’re liquid-based. If you scrub a liquid stain all you’re doing is pushing it further into the carpet fibers and closer to the backing where it can do more damage.
A better idea is to place paper towels around the perimeter to absorb the stain, then gently blot it out to absorb as much liquid as possible before proceeding further.
Know Your Carpet
The kind of carpet fibers you have determine how you should act when you’re cleaning it. You should be a little cautious and use cool or luke-warm water rather than hot water. Wool does not respond well to heat. Synthetics are a little more hardy. Silk, cotton, and other organic materials need to be handled with special care, of left to the professionals who have special cleaning equipment. More here about the major carpet brands.
You’ll probably want to avoid steam cleaning rugs unless necessary because it could cause serious damage to the fibers.
Take Stock of Your Cabinets
Odds are you have some good cleaning agents in your pantry or fridge. Although commercial carpet cleaners have their place and work well in most cases, using simpler materials does less harm to the environment and often is just as effective at cleaning. Try to keep at least one of the following substances on hand:
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Lemon juice
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Isopropyl alcohol
One or more of these agents can be used for most stains. Baking soda and vinegar, for example, are both excellent at absorbing foul smells like pet urine or vomit. Hydrogen peroxide makes an excellent bleaching agent, and rubbing alcohol has much the same effect.
First, you need to know whether your carpet is colorfast. In other words, will colors be pulled or washed out of the fiber when you try to clean it? You can find this out either by asking the manufacturer or by experimenting first-hand. Dab a little of your chosen cleaning agent on the carpet and allow it time to soak in. If you see no change in color, you’re good to go.
Clean From the Outside
When it does come time to use scrub brushes, work from the outside in using small, slow strokes. By pushing the stain toward it center point, you’re less likely to cause it to spread out.
Use a Carpet Cleaner for a Deep Clean and Long Carpet Life
For a carpet to keep a long life, smell good, and to remove trapped dust and grime the carpet needs to be deep cleaned. The good news is that carpet cleaners are now quite cheap, and for a small carpet you can get a small carpet shampooer for around 100 bucks.
If you need to clean up after pets, you need to get a dedicated carpet shampooer for pets. They come with specialized equipment that can pick up the pet hair, eliminate the pet stains, and remove smells. They tend to be a little more pricey.
If you have a larger area of carpet to clean, consider the larger home carpet cleaners, like the Bissell Big Green deep cleaning machine. A bit pricier, but it deep cleans extremely efficient, and for many it is the best choice.
See our full carpet cleaning guide here for more advice.
These are just a few things to keep in mind when you decide it’s time to clean your carpet or whether you want to get rid of surface stains yourself. Many types of stains have the same basic procedure for cleaning them up, but we’ve provided you with a simple overall strategy to apply in your war against dirt.
Another important tip for cleaning carpet is this: consider investing in a home carpet cleaner to be able to keep your carpets in good shape longer. You will save a lot of money vs renting in the long run, as the carpet shampooers have come down a lot in price.