Carpets are a great way to add warmth, comfort, and style to your home. But they also require regular cleaning to keep them looking fresh and healthy. Dirt, dust, allergens, and stains can accumulate in your carpet over time, making it dull, dirty, and even harmful to your indoor air quality. That’s why it’s important to know how to clean a dirty carpet properly and effectively.
In this article, we’ll show you the main steps and tools you need to clean a dirty carpet, whether it’s lightly soiled or heavily stained. We’ll also explain how often you should clean your carpet, depending on the type and usage of your carpet. And we’ll give you some tips on how to keep your carpet clean for longer, so you can enjoy its beauty and benefits for years to come.
How Often Do You Need To Clean A Dirty Carpet?
The frequency of carpet cleaning depends on several factors, such as the type, color, and usage of the carpet, the presence of children or pets, and the level of foot traffic. According to carpet manufacturers, you should vacuum your carpet at least once a week and deep clean it at least once every 12 to 18 months. However, this can vary depending on your specific situation.
Here are some general guidelines for different types of carpets:
- Light-colored carpets: These carpets tend to show dirt and stains more easily, so they need more frequent professional cleaning. Vacuum once a week, clean spills immediately and treat stains when they arise. And, to keep your light-colored carpet looking its best, get a professional clean every six to 12 months.
- Dark-colored carpets: These carpets can hide dirt and stains better, but they still need regular vacuuming and deep cleaning. Vacuum once a week and deep clean every 12 to 18 months or as needed.
- High-traffic carpets: These carpets are exposed to more wear and tear, so they need more attention. Vacuum two to three times a week and deep clean every six to 12 months or more often if you notice signs of soil or damage.
- Low-traffic carpets: These carpets are less prone to dirt and stains, but they still need occasional vacuuming and deep cleaning. Vacuum once a week or every other week and deep clean every 12 to 18 months or as needed.
- Carpets with children or pets: These carpets are more likely to have spills, stains, odors, and allergens, so they need more frequent vacuuming and deep cleaning. Vacuum two to three times a week and deep clean every three to six months or more often if you notice signs of soil or damage.
To determine the best schedule for your carpet, you can also check the manufacturer’s instructions or consult a professional carpet cleaner.
Routine carpet cleaning
Keeping your carpets clean and fresh can improve the appearance and lifespan of your flooring, as well as reduce allergens and odors. Here are some tips on how to choose the right vacuum cleaner and attachments, how often to vacuum and what areas to focus on, and how to spot clean minor stains and spills.
How to choose the right vacuum cleaner and attachments
The type of vacuum cleaner you need depends on the type of carpet you have, the size of your rooms, and your personal preferences. Some general factors to consider are:
- Barrel vs upright: Barrel vacuums are easier to use in awkward places, such as stairs and cars, while upright vacuums are good for large level areas of carpet due to their built-in power heads.
- Beater brush and bristle stiffness: Choose a vacuum with the most aggressive beater brush and bristle stiffness that your carpet can handle to best pull dirt up from the carpet base. For synthetic carpets in high traffic areas, a vacuum with a strong bristle beater brush is necessary. For wool or delicate carpets, a vacuum with a soft or adjustable beater brush is recommended.
- Suction power: The higher the suction power, the better the vacuum can remove dust and dirt from deep within the carpet fibers. Look for a vacuum with a high wattage or air watt rating, which indicates the power of the motor. However, suction power alone is not enough; you also need a good beater brush and airflow to effectively clean carpets.
- Filtration system: A good filtration system can prevent dust and allergens from escaping back into the air. Look for a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which can capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. This is especially important if you have asthma or allergies.
- Attachments: Different attachments can help you clean different areas of your carpet more effectively. Some common attachments are:
- Crevice tool: A narrow nozzle that can reach into tight spaces, such as corners, edges, and between furniture.
- Upholstery tool: A wide nozzle with a fabric strip that can lift dust and lint from sofas, chairs, curtains, and mattresses.
- Dusting brush: A round brush that can gently loosen dust from delicate surfaces, such as lampshades, blinds, and bookshelves.
- Turbo brush: A small rotating brush that can agitate dirt from stairs, car seats, pet beds, and other hard-to-reach areas.
|Barrel||Easier to use in awkward places||More cumbersome to store and move around|
|Upright||Good for large level areas of carpet||Heavier and harder to maneuver|
|Beater brush||Pulls dirt up from the carpet base||Can damage delicate carpets|
|Suction power||Removes dust and dirt from deep within the carpet fibers||Not enough without a good beater brush and airflow|
|Filtration system||Prevents dust and allergens from escaping back into the air||Needs regular cleaning or replacing|
|Attachments||Helps clean different areas of the carpet more effectively||May require switching between different tools|
How often to vacuum and what areas to focus on
The frequency of vacuuming depends on how much traffic your carpet receives, as well as other factors such as pets, children, spills, and outdoor environment. As a general rule of thumb:
- Vacuum high-traffic rooms with carpets (such as entryways, living areas, and kitchens) at least twice a week.
- Vacuum low-traffic rooms with carpets (such as guest rooms and formal dining rooms) once a week.
- Vacuum hard-surface floors (such as tile, hardwood, laminate, and vinyl) once a week.
- When vacuuming:
- Start from the farthest corner of the room and work your way towards the door.
- Vacuum in both directions (back and forth) to lift up more dirt.
- Use slow and overlapping strokes to cover the entire area evenly.
- Pay extra attention to areas where people sit or walk frequently, such as around furniture, rugs, doorways, and hallways.
- Use the appropriate attachments for different surfaces, such as crevice tools for edges and corners, upholstery tools for sofas and chairs, dusting brushes for delicate surfaces, and turbo brushes for stairs and car seats.
How To Spot Clean Minor Stains And Spills
Here’s a quick run through guide on dealing with minor spills and stains.
- The sooner you treat a stain or spill, the easier it will be to remove it. Always blot, never rub, the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible.
- Use a mild cleaning solution that is suitable for your carpet type and color. You can make your own solution by mixing one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with one cup of warm water, or one tablespoon of white vinegar with one cup of warm water. Test the solution on a small inconspicuous area of the carpet first to make sure it does not cause any damage or discoloration.
- Apply the solution to the stain with a clean cloth or sponge, working from the outside in to prevent spreading. Blot gently and repeat until the stain is gone or no more color transfers to the cloth.
- Rinse the area with clean water and blot dry. You can also use a fan or a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.
- If the stain persists, you may need to use a stronger cleaning product or hire a professional carpet cleaner. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings when using any commercial products.
Different Ways To Deep Clean Carpet
Deep cleaning your carpet can help to remove dirt, stains, odors, and allergens that regular vacuuming cannot. There are two main methods of deep cleaning carpet: steam cleaning and shampooing. Here are the differences, pros, and cons of each method.
|Steam cleaning||Effective at removing dirt, stains, odors, pet hair, and dander; No soap residue; Less water; Faster drying; Less mold and mildew||Expensive; Inconvenient; Can damage heat-sensitive or non-colorfast carpets; Can leave some moisture; Can cause shrinkage or warping|
|Shampooing||Good for heavily soiled or stained carpets; Cleans fibers below the surface; Removes deep-seated dirt||Soap residue; More water; Longer drying; More mold and mildew; Can damage chemical-sensitive or water-sensitive carpets|
Steam cleaning uses very little water and high-pressure steam to break down dirt and stains from carpets. The steam is applied with a wand or a nozzle attached to a machine that heats up water and generates steam. The steam loosens the dirt and stains, which are then extracted by a powerful vacuum.
- Steam cleaning is very effective at removing dirt and stains from carpets, as well as odors, pet hair, and dander.
- Steam cleaning does not leave any soap residue on the carpet, which can attract more dirt and require more frequent cleanings.
- Steam cleaning uses less water than shampooing, which means the carpet dries faster and reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth.
- Steam cleaning requires a professional service or a rental machine, which can be expensive and inconvenient.
- Steam cleaning can damage some carpets that are not heat-resistant or colorfast, such as wool or silk.
- Steam cleaning can leave some moisture in the carpet, which can cause shrinkage or warping if not dried properly.
Shampooing uses a lot of water and soap or detergent to clean carpets. The shampoo is applied with a rotating brush or a spray nozzle attached to a machine that agitates the carpet fibers. The shampoo dissolves the dirt and stains, which are then rinsed with water and extracted by a vacuum.
- Shampooing can get the carpet clean when it is heavily soiled or stained, especially if pre-treated with a stain remover.
- Shampooing can clean the fibers below the surface and remove deep-seated dirt from them.
- Shampooing can leave soap residue on the carpet, which can make the carpet look dull and sticky, and attract more dirt and require more frequent cleanings.
- Shampooing uses a lot of water than steam cleaning, which means the carpet takes longer to dry and increases the risk of mold and mildew growth.
- Shampooing can damage some carpets that are sensitive to chemicals or water, such as wool or silk.
Some Quick tips to help keep your carpet clean
Besides deep cleaning your carpet once or twice a year, there are some simple ways to keep your carpet clean and fresh in between:
- Use doormats outside and inside all entrance doors to trap soil and prevent dirt from getting on your carpet.
- Remove your shoes at the door or wear indoor slippers that are not worn outside.
- Vacuum your carpet regularly, at least once or twice a week, to remove dust, dirt, pet hair, and crumbs. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and a rotating brush for best results.
- Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet before vacuuming to absorb odors and freshen up the carpet.
- Treat stains as soon as possible with a suitable stain remover. Blot the stain gently with a clean cloth or paper towel, working from the outside in. Do not rub or scrub the stain, as this can damage the carpet fibers and spread the stain.
- Avoid using carpet powders, deodorizers, or shampoos that can leave residue on the carpet and attract more dirt.
- Change or clean your HVAC filters regularly to reduce the amount of dust and allergens in the air that can settle on your carpet.
- Protect your carpet from direct sunlight, which can fade the color and cause deterioration. Use curtains, blinds, or shades to block out the sun during peak hours.
Cleaning a dirty carpet is not only a matter of aesthetics but also of health and hygiene. A clean carpet can improve the appearance and comfort of your home, as well as the quality of your indoor air. Dirt, dust, allergens, and stains can accumulate in your carpet over time, making it dull, dirty, and even harmful to your indoor air quality.
The frequency of deep cleaning depends on the type and usage of your carpet, but generally, you should do it at least once every 12 to 18 months. However, this can vary depending on your specific situation. For example, light-colored carpets tend to show dirt and stains more easily, so they need more frequent professional cleaning. Dark-colored carpets can hide dirt and stains better, but they still need regular vacuuming and deep cleaning. High-traffic carpets are exposed to more wear and tear, so they need more attention. And carpets with children or pets need more care, as they are more prone to spills, stains, and accidents.
By following these steps, you can keep your carpet clean and extend its lifespan. A clean carpet can enhance the look and feel of your home, as well as the health and happiness of your family. So don’t neglect your carpet cleaning routine, and enjoy the benefits of a clean carpet for years to come.