Rug and Carpet Flooring Maintenance, Care & Cleaning

cleaning-maintenance-care-guideRugs and carpets that are well-maintained will look better and last longer than those that are neglected. Dirt that is ground into the carpet takes the vibrancy out of the carpet and also destroys the nap. Dust, pet dander, hair and other debris dull the look as well. Carpet that is not cared for will often develop an odor as well. The good news is that the carpet cleaning tools and techniques are widely available to keep your flooring looking great for a longer period of time. It’s the best way to protect your investment.

In this guide to Carpet flooring we’re going to take on a task everyone hates, carpet cleaning. You’ll learn about different tools and methods for cleaning your home carpet, as well as some of the common questions from customers like yourself. We encourage you to also read our consumer buying guide, carpet and rug installation guide, and of course our page on carpet prices.

Cleaning Equipment and Supplies

The key tool in carpet maintenance and care is a very good vacuum cleaner. For most materials, it should have a rotating, bristled bar often called a “beater bar.” This will pull up the nap so that debris deep within it can be vacuumed away. It will also collect hair and other debris. It is important to clean the beater bar on your vacuum often so that it continues to be effective.

Steam cleaning is the most effective way to keep your carpeting looking and performing its best. It should be done every 6-18 months depending on how heavy the traffic is on your carpeting. This method is technically called hot water extraction.

The inexpensive cold-water extraction carpet cleaning machines you can buy at home stores are okay, but most home flooring experts recommend hiring the pros to do the job. A good steam cleaning can get carpets as clean as possible and even sanitize them.

If you have rugs made from natural materials such as wool, stick very close to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. If you don’t, it’s not hard to shrink a rug or cause other damage. Another alternative is to have them professionally cleaned.

Most rugs and carpeting come with some type of treatment to resist stains. Scotchgard is a common product. You can buy these products at home improvement stores. Professional carpet cleaners can apply them too.

Finally, you may be able to launder your area rugs in the clothes washer or have them dry cleaned. Check the manufacturer’s tag before doing either of these things.

Taking Care of Problems

Get to spills and pet accidents immediately. Soak up liquids with paper toweling or a cotton towel. Step on it to soak up as much liquid as possible.

Then, use a bristle brush and carpet detergent mixed with water to gently scrub out any remaining liquid. Extract the cleaning water with a vacuum that is made for liquids.

NOTE: Never extract liquids with a vacuum cleaner that is not specifically made to handle liquids. Electric shock leading to injury or death can result.

For old stains, consult your carpet dealer for stain remover products. Some of them work very well. Test the one you choose on a piece of carpet that is out of sight to make sure the cleaner itself doesn’t stain.

Replacing Your Rugs and Carpeting

Keeping rugs and carpet clean is essential to their durability. How they look is the key to knowing when to replace them. It is easy to get used to dull carpet with a nap that is slightly worn. Bring home some new carpet samples to lay on the floor so that you can compare the old with the new. This will help you see your carpeting as others see it when they enter your home.

Carpeting Maintenance and Care FAQs

Q: Does stain guard need to be reapplied each time you clean your carpet?
A: No. Ask the home flooring pros that you hire for their recommendations.

Q: How can you make your carpeting last the longest?
A: Place mats for foot-wiping at each entrance. Encourage household members to take off their shoes in the house. Shoes with rubber soles are especially hard on carpeting. Then, vacuum it and have it cleaned as recommended in this guide.

Q: What if your carpet looks dull and dirty shortly after it is cleaned?
A: The most common reason is that a residue is being left on the carpet that becomes a magnet for dirt. If you’re doing the cleaning yourself, change the detergent you’re using or upgrade to a better machine. If the professionals are doing it, call them as soon as you see the dirt and have them take a look. They’re probably using the wrong soap for your carpet.

Q: How can you reduce allergens in your carpet?
A: Don’t install carpet in moist areas such as basements unless it is made for such locations. Then, vacuum it at least weekly and have it cleaned at least yearly. It will also help to use a quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

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