The cozy comfort of carpet makes it a favorite for many, especially in bedrooms and living areas. But when a carpet gets marred by spills and stains over time? Then it’s not so cozy. Fortunately, keeping your carpet soft and lush is easy with regular upkeep. Read on for our tips on cleaning your carpet and maintaining its beauty.
How and How Often to Clean Your Carpet
Like any flooring, carpet should be cleaned regularly for spills, maintenance and deep cleaning. We’ve broken down our suggestions based on the type of cleaning and when it should be done.
1. Immediately: Clean Spots & Spills
First, let’s mention that there’s a difference between a spot or spill and a stain. A spot is caused from a spill that just happened. A stain is a spot that wasn’t removed completely and became permanent.
We want to avoid permanent stains and the key to doing that is to treat any spots or spills right away.
Even spills on stain-resistant carpeting should be treated right away. This type of finish holds the spill on the carpet surface longer, giving you more time to remove it, but you’ll still need to treat it before it penetrates the fiber.
Tips for Spills of Food or Solid Materials:
- Gently lift as much as you can with a spoon, or a dull knife.
- Add water to a clean cloth and blot, using a cleaner sparingly if needed.
- Vacuum up the rest of the material, adding more water as you go, if needed, until completely clean.
Tips for Liquid Spills:
- Blot with a dry cloth or paper towels. Don’t scrub as this can distort the carpet pile and fiber.
- Use a small amount of spot cleaner on a white cloth and blot or work in gently from the edges of the spill to the center to prevent it from spreading.
- Keep blotting as long as it seems the spill is transferring to the cloth.
- Then use a little cold water and blot with a dry cloth until the spill and the cleaner solution has been removed.
- Lay a dry white towel or paper towels over the area and weigh down with a heavy object to soak up any remaining moisture. Change the towel as needed.
When Spot Cleaning, Keep in Mind:
- The best spot cleaners have the Carpet & Rug Institute Seal of Approval. Use one that’s approved for your carpet fiber (nylon, polyester, polypropylene, acrylic, or wool).
- It’s just as important to rinse or blot out cleaner residue. Any residue left behind will attract soil.
- When rinsing, don’t add a lot of water. If the carpet backing gets wet, it may shrink or delaminate, which is when carpet layers separate.
- For advice on a specific type of spill, use Shaw Floors’ spill-care guide or its Alexa Skill (“Alexa, enable Shaw Floors Care Center.”)
2. Weekly: Vacuum to Preserve Carpet Life
The best thing you can do to keep your carpet looking great for longer is to vacuum regularly. This keeps soil from embedding itself in the pile. Once soil is ground into the carpet, it’s harder to remove.
For this reason, vacuuming weekly is a must. If there’s heavy foot traffic in your home, light vacuuming daily might be necessary.
By the way, light vacuuming involves up to 3 passes of the vacuum in the same area. Vacuuming for heavy traffic involves 5 to 7 passes.
What Type of Vacuum Should You Use?
Think of the type of carpet you have when choosing a vacuum, as you’ll want to use a rotating brush, a beater bar, or suction only.
Vacuum height is also important. If it’s too high, it won’t clean well. If it’s too low, the vacuum can fuzz the fibers on the carpet’s surface, making it look worn and frayed.
For high pile and premium soft carpet: A vacuum with large wheels and adjustable height is best. Avoid concentrated or sealed suction and turn off beater bars.
For thick loop, frieze or long pile carpet: Use a vacuum with adjustable height and suction only. No beater bars as fibers can get caught or damaged.
All other carpet types: A vacuum with a rotating brush or beater bar is fine. Test the height setting in a discreet area to make sure the bar or brush lightly touches the carpet surface.
What About Robot Vacuums?
Robot vacuums are fine for cleaning the top layer of crumbs and dust on carpet, but they can’t get to deeper soil. Feel free to use them for daily upkeep, but don’t expect them to replace weekly cleaning with a regular vacuum.
If you’re vacuuming weekly, you’re doing a great job in maintaining the life of your carpet. But there’s one more step that should be taken every year.
3. Yearly: Deep Clean to Remove Accumulated Soil, Dust
We recommend professional steam cleaning or “hot water extraction” every 12 to 18 months. If your home has cigarette smokers, children, or pets, we recommend it every 6 to 8 months.
We recommend this for 2 reasons:
- It’s the best way to remove deeper dirt, dust and allergens that have accumulated over time.
- It will maintain your carpet’s warranty. Many carpet manufacturers require professional carpet cleaning every 12 to 24 months to maintain the warranty.
Maintain the Life and Beauty of Your Carpet
We hope our advice will help you better care for your carpet. It’s all about maintaining its beauty for as long as possible. How long can you expect? A good quality carpet can last up to 10 years or more, but that’s only if you give it proper care and cleaning.
If you need help with your carpet or are looking to replace it, let us know.