Learn how to extend the life and the look of your carpets with these carpet cleaning tools and tips.
Nothing beats carpet for its wealth of colors, textures, patterns, and comfort. Whether you plan to live in your home for several decades or you intend to sell it, it's important to keep carpets in good condition. The most important thing you can do to prolong the life and look of carpet is to take proper care of it with routine cleaning.
Although many of today's carpets are manufactured with a stain guard, carpet should be cleaned every 12-18 months to remove dirt and residue. If you have light-color carpet and/or kids and pets, plan to clean carpets two to three times a year. A deep cleaning is also in order if carpet is matted, gummy, heavily soiled, or discolored.
Selecting the right carpet cleaning service or equipment is important because some cleaning products can leave a residue that attracts soil. Regular vacuuming and immediate attention to spills will keep your carpet looking its best between cleanings. Before cleaning your carpets or hiring a professional to do them for you, be sure to check with the manufacturer for warranty and care specifics.
Deep cleaning is designed to thoroughly remove residues, allergens, and trapped soils. Here are two of the most popular carpet cleaning methods explained:
Hot-Water Extraction: Most carpet manufacturers recommend doing a deep cleaning using a hot-water extraction system, most commonly known as steam cleaning. This method works by injecting a solution into the carpet pile, then pulling the dirty solution back into the machine.
Dry Extraction Method: Some home cleaning systems use the dry extraction method. These machines spread a dry absorbent compound over carpet before vacuuming with the cleaning machine. Although they usually work better than home steamers, dry machines and chemicals are more costly than steamers and wet extraction solutions.
Home cleaners can save you money in the long run when compared with hiring a pro several times a year, but keep in mind that the do-it-yourself approach may not have the high cleaning power of professional cleaning tools. You can also rent a carpet cleaning system from a local home improvement center or grocery store to deodorize and sanitize your carpets. Most rental centers will allow both half-day and full-day rentals. You will also be responsible for purchasing cleaning supplies. At about $20 for a rental, plus the cost of cleaning solutions (pre-spray, shampoo, defoamer, odor removers, etc.), rental machines can quickly become pricey.
To clean carpets at home, you will need:
Before you start, read all manufacturer and machine instructions and thoroughly vacuum carpets. Spot-test the carpet cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area, such as inside a closet. If you use a hot water-extraction method, open the windows or turn on a fan to expedite the carpet-drying process. Make sure carpet dries within 24 hours of cleaning to prevent mold and mildew growth.
If you're tackling a stain, choose a treatment method that works best on the stain and for your type of carpet.