In today’s post, I reveal to you my four best ways to clean carpet flooring.
Pet stains, food spills, muddy feet, and water damage can all make the carpet look dingy.
Think of the last time you ate in front of the TV and spilled pasta sauce on the unsuspecting floor – did you first run to get a paper towel to soak it up? Did you immediately go for the stain cleaner that may or may not stain your carpet even further? Did you run around trying to throw together a DIY home cleaning solution? Maybe even a combination of all of the above?
Search no more – I am going to tell you exactly what you need to know in our one-stop-shop for cleaning your carpets once a mess has already been made.
Method 1: Vacuuming Your Carpet
Sand, dirt, food crumbs, pet dander – these are only a few of the microparticles that are threatening the youth of your carpet.
Your first line of defense against spills of the crumby kind is the vacuum cleaner.
Solid food particles may seem harmless at first.
But once they disappear into your carpet, they can start to mold, melt, or even attract unwanted pests like bugs.
What You’ll need
(*) preferably one that has spinning bristles to penetrate deep into the carpet threads
In this section, I’ll teach you how to spot clean your carpet – and classic pitfalls to avoid.
What You’ll need
You’ll need a carpet spot cleaner, to start. These come in many different forms, but most come in a spray bottle for easy dispersal.
Unable to locate your bottled carpet cleaning solution in a pinch? For spots in the carpet that cover a square foot or less of space, you’ll need the following for a DIY carpet cleaner:
1.Pat, DON’T RUB
If there is one thing to learn – NEVER use a rubbing motion to rid the carpet of its stain. Always blot!
Instead, take a fresh paper towel or clean dish towel, dampened with warm water, and gently pat the area.
This downward-upward motion will lift the stain out of the carpet threads, preventing the stain from spreading.
2.Pick the right carpet cleaner for your spill
There are many types of stains, and therefore many types of stain removers.
Stains caused by blood or bodily fluids (even pet stains) will need special care. First, blot with cold water. Do not use warm water with blood or bodily fluid stains, as it can further set the stain rather than lifting it. If the stain has already dried, use hydrogen peroxide first, then proceed with an enzyme-based cleaner.
For a DIY carpet cleaner in a pinch, you’ll need white vinegar, dish soap, paper towel, fresh clean white cloth, and baking soda. Start by washing the area with dish soap and blotting gently with a paper towel. Once most of the liquid is soaked up, get a fresh white clean cloth and dampen it with warm water. After this step, the soap should be gone. Next, take white vinegar and pour a small amount onto the stain. Following the vinegar, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on top of the stain. The vinegar will saturate and soften the stain while the baking soda takes the smell out while lifting the moisture out of the area. The solution bubbles, working together to bring the stain particles to the surface.
3.Time to put your carpet cleaner to work
After dabbing the stained area with a paper towel, spray bottle, or apply a small amount of product to a clean white cloth.
Gently pat the stain, blotting up as much liquid as possible. Remember, no scrubbing!
Most carpet cleaners recommend letting the solution sit on the stain for a certain amount of time. After this time has ended, the stain should have been successfully lifted from the carpet fibers.
At this stage, take a small amount of water and rinse the carpet thoroughly. Don’t completely soak the carpet, as the excess moisture can sink into the carpet pad beneath and leave mildew.
Then, use a clean white cloth to soak up any remaining cleaner.
Method 3: Shampooing Your Carpet
For larger stains, or dingy carpet that is old and grey, no need to get new carpet just yet! If you deep clean your carpet with shampooing, you can give it a new life.
What You’ll need
(*) You can either purchase or rent a carpet cleaning machine
1.Prepare to clean
First, prepare the room for the carpet cleaning machine and solution.
Either move all furniture out of the room or cover the bottom of immovable furniture with plastic. This will protect your furniture from water damage.
Aluminum foil and wax paperwork for this purpose as well.
Although carpet shampoo machines are often called steam cleaners, the actual machinery uses hot water and cleaning solution, not steam. You won’t have to worry about steam contacting the rest of your surfaces.
To prepare the carpet, start by vacuuming the area thoroughly. Then, the spot treats deeper stains on the carpet. All spots should be dealt with before shampooing.
2.Time to clean
Choose a shampooer that keeps the water hot on its own (rather than having to replenish with hot water).
Following the correct ratio of cleaning solution to water, put together the solution in the detached plastic canister, then reattach to the machine. Do not add too much soap, as it can damage the carpet.
Use the cleaner, following the instructions that come with it. Each should have a trigger that dispenses hot water and cleaning solution onto the carpet before sucking it up.
Always be sure to start in the farthest corner of the room, making your way out the door of the room. This way the cleaned carpet is never stepped on while drying.
Be sure to pull back very slowly when using the machine so it can take up as much water as possible.
3.Let It Dry
Turn the fan on the carpet to allow it to fully dry. Ventilate the room properly.
The carpet needs to dry for 2 – 4 hours so as to prevent mildew and mold.
Do not walk on the carpet while it is drying. Once the carpet has dried completely, you can remove plastic or aluminum foil protectors from the feet of furniture.
To prevent messes, you can follow some simple steps to make sure your carpets stay as clean as possible.
What You’ll need
1.Deal with any messes immediately
For messes, make sure to pick them up with a clean cloth immediately and spot treat.
The stain that is left to sit will only become worse over time, and harder to pick up.
2.Leave your shoes out of it!
Have a place set out on hardwood or tile where guests and housemates can set their shoes before entering carpeted areas.
Shoes are one of the main culprits that track in dirt and mud.
Take the time to change the vacuum bag or dump out the container where previous dust and dirt is currently residing. A clear canister improves suction and will make sure the vacuum can most efficiently take in new dirt.
When spot cleaning, your first instinct may be to fiercely rub the stained area to try and free the carpet from the liquid or filth that is soaking in. But rubbing into a stain actually further pushes it into the carpet, and can even make it a permanent fixture of the floor. Not to mention, it could spread the stain to the outlying borders, making it an even bigger problem.
Again for spot cleaning, if the stain is large, or you used too much water, be sure to flip on the ceiling fan. Or you can use a plugin fan and blow water over the area to make it dry more quickly. There are also specialty carpet dryers that you can use for this exact scenario.
The amount of product used is important to pay attention to. Too much cleaning solution may exacerbate the issue and cause the stain to spread before getting better. Too little solution will not lift the stain enough. More is less with most carpet cleaners. At this stage, always make sure any soap previously used on the stain is removed, as soap can become sticky and inadvertently attract dirt.
When testing a brand new carpet cleaning solution, always spray a minimal amount on a small, hidden area before using it. Each carpet cleaner comes with instructions on the label – most of them will have you spray generously on the stain, then let it sit for a certain amount of time before blotting. Some are meant to be left for hours, others for just 30 minutes. Using the instructions on the label, test the cleaner on a hidden carpet spot, for example, in the closet or underneath furniture. The purpose of testing the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous part of your carpet is to see if your carpet is colorfast or not. If dye comes off of your carpet, or the cleaner leaves a stain itself, try a different kind. Consult your carpet company if you need more information on any specialized carpeting, or for rugs.
Although most are labeled as all-purpose carpet spot cleaners, it is important to always read the label to choose the right one for your particular stain and type of carpet.
Plan your carpet shampooing carefully – use the machine when no one will need to use that room for a full day, and when you can keep pets away from it. For pet stains and odors, always spot treat first with an enzyme cleaner. If any blood, urine, or fecal matter is in the carpet, steam cleaning will actually make the stain worse due to the heat. Never use too much liquid on your carpet! The liquid (even water) could soak through and cause mildew.
Do not use bristled brushes to clean or scrub the carpet – this could damage the fibers and make the stain worse.
Make sure to wear socks or plastic over your shoes so as not to expose the skin directly to the harsh chemicals in the cleaning solution.
Make sure to avoid larger objects that will pose a risk to the functionality of your vacuum cleaners, such as small toys, pebbles, and charging cords.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Often Do I Shampoo My Carpet?
For high traffic carpet areas, shampoo twice per year. Once per year works great for other areas.
How Do I Use Vinegar And Water To Clean My Carpets?
Spray a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water onto the stain, then use a soft cloth to blot the moisture. Repeat until you remove the stain.
How Can I Get Paint Off Of My Carpet?
Most acrylic paint will come up with simple dish soap and warm water solution. With paint, it is ok to scrub into the carpet as long as most of it has been lifted already. Use the rough side of a sponge to remove the stain.
Instead of using a vacuum cleaner, use a brush (a boar’s bristle brush works best) to remove and collect the hairs. After most of the hair has been removed, you can vacuum the area thoroughly to remove smaller hairs.
Now It’s Your Turn…
I hope you enjoyed my article on the best ways to clean carpet flooring.
Now I would like to know:
Have you already cleaned your carpet using my methods?
Or you have your own?
Either way, let me know below by leaving a message.
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.