Tired old carpets can make a room look really drab, so get cleaning and see if you can make your carpet good as new. Even if your carpets don’t look stained, cleaning them regularly will brighten them up and prolong their life.
It may seem obvious, but vacuuming your carpets at least once a week will help to keep them clean. Good, deep vacuuming will also help to prevent the carpet becoming compacted and worn-looking in areas of high foot-traffic. Make sure you move all your furniture to vacuum underneath and behind it every so often, to prevent a build-up of dust that can become mouldy.
Make sure you vacuum your carpet really well before cleaning it, otherwise the cleaner won’t be as effective, and dry dirt can become wet and stain.
You can minimise damage by knowing the best way to treat a spill straight away. For liquid spills, grab a load of clean paper towels and gently blot the liquid, taking care not to push any liquid further into the carpet. For semi-solid spills, use a spoon to carefully scoop up any excess before treating any remaining stain. Once you have removed as much of the spilled substance as you can, rinse the area with water and blot dry, repeating if necessary. Whatever you do, don’t scrub at the stain – this will only damage the carpet and make it look worse. If water doesn’t remove the stain, try a spot cleaner.
If there are spots or stains anywhere on your carpet, even if they’re old stains, you can use a spot cleaner to remove or at least reduce them. There are a number of different chemical cleaners available, and some are better suited to different types of stain or carpet, so read the labels carefully before you decide which one to go for.
Always test chemical cleaners on a small, inconspicuous area first before applying to the stain. Put a small amount of cleaner on the carpet, then take a clean, white cotton cloth and press it to the area for fifteen seconds. Look at the cloth to see if any colour has transferred onto it from the carpet, and look at the carpet to see if you can detect any damage. If there is any colour on the cloth, try a different cleaner as you risk ending up with a faded patch.
Once you have a cleaning solution you are happy with, treat the stain by using another piece of clean, white cloth. Apply the cleaner to the cloth, then gently work it into the spot on the carpet, working from the outside in so you don’t risk spreading the stain. Leave the chemical to work for a few minutes, then blot. Keep repeating this with a clean piece of cloth each time, until the cloth comes away clean with no transfer of stain on it.
Once you have removed as much of the stain as possible, clean the stain-remover out of the carpet with cold water, blotting up as much liquid as you can to dry the carpet. If the first spot-cleaner doesn’t completely remove the stain, it’s worth trying again with another one as different chemicals will work better on different types of stain.
Sometimes called wet/dry vacuums, home carpet washers can be a good investment to keep your carpets clean and fresh. They work by expelling a mixture of water and cleaning solution, and brushing deep down into the fibres to remove all manner of dirt and grease, then sucking up the dirty water. It is greasy dirt which makes your carpet look really old and worn, so the removal of this will make a big difference to how the carpet looks. A carpet washer will also help to remove smells, pollens and germs.
Dry cleaning machines work by emitting a dry mix of chemicals into the carpet. This is left to work for a time before being vacuumed up, theoretically removing a lot of dirt with it. Dry cleaners will work better than a standard vacuum, but most carpet manufacturers recommend using a steam-cleaner to properly clean your carpet.
A steam-cleaner forces hot water mixed with chemicals into the carpet at high pressure, and sucks it up, taking the dirt with it. The advantage of these units is that the hot water will dislodge a lot of dirt and grease that wouldn’t normally budge, plus the heat also kills a lot of bacteria, dust mites and such.
A number of different carpet cleaning machines can be hired, but if you aren’t sure what type is suitable for your carpet (if you have very expensive wool carpets, don’t steam-clean them without getting advise first), there are plenty of professional carpet cleaning companies out there who can help you.
Prevention is always better than a cure, so do what you can to avoid dirt and stains getting onto your carpets in the first place. Asking people to remove their shoes indoors will make a big difference – if you walk on a carpet wearing shoes, the carpet is essentially cleaning the soles of your shoes, transferring all the dirt, grease and unpleasant things from outside deep into your carpet.
If it’s not practical for people to remove their shoes, then at least provide door mats so that they can wipe the worst of the dirt off before walking over your carpet.
If you are investing in a new carpet, it’s worth getting it treated with a stain-guard. This stops spills from being absorbed as easily, enabling you to blot them up before they can get into the pile and do a lot of damage.