Is there any sound more satisfying than a vacuum sucking up little bits and pieces of who-knows-what from the fibers of a carpet? Carpet is definitely the softest flooring on the feet, but the tradeoff is that's it's also the hardest to clean. The woven synthetic fibers are perfect for all kinds of hidden dirt, dust, and crumbs to get trapped under.

Why Clean Your Carpet?

Carpets can be an expensive investment, and regular cleaning can really prolong the life of your fuzzy flooring. Think about it! The more stuff you have trapped in your carpet, the more you grind it into the fibers whenever you walk over it, which breaks down the material. Something you might not have considered is that unlike flat, solid flooring, carpet fibers actually trap airborne pollutants, so when you don't clean your carpet regularly enough, you're actually sacrificing the air quality in your home. Allowing toxins and allergens to make a home for themselves out of the flooring in your home is just a bad idea. Not to mention, many carpet warranties require a thorough, extraction-method cleaning every 12 to 18 months to maintain warranty eligibility, but be sure to check the fine print of your specific agreement.

How Often Should You Deep Clean Your Carpet?

It's recommended that you get your carpet professionally cleaned every six to twelve months, while maintaining your carpet with vacuuming every week or, ideally, twice a week.

man washing carpet with carpet cleaner

How To Clean Your Carpet

The best way to regularly clean your carpet is to vacuum very slowly, in repetitive strokes. Don't just do a quick once-over and call it a day! To vacuum a 300-square-foot room, it should take around 15-20 minutes, but it never hurts to take even more time. Always keep your vacuum's filter as clean as possible, and for best results, use a fresh filter as often as you can.

For a more deep clean, consider renting a carpet cleaner from your nearby grocery store or hardware store. These machines look like vacuums but are specifically designed to deep clean carpets using steam and special cleaning solutions. (Note: You'll likely have to buy the carpet cleaning solution to fill the carpet cleaner yourself.) The carpet cleaner will leave the carpet very damp, so it's important that when you start, you position yourself as far away from the room's door as possible, so you can work your way out of the room instead of getting cleaned into a corner. This method does require the carpet to dry for hours - potentially overnight - so it should only be done at a time when you can see yourself keeping out of that room. To speed up the drying process, open windows and doors to promote air circulation, maybe even setting up some fans or dehumidifiers if you have any available.

If your carpet is not visibly soiled, you might use a dry carpet cleaning powder instead. According to instructions, distribute the powder evenly throughout the carpet, sprinkling lightly and making sure not to oversaturate areas or use too much. Be sure to vacuum the carpet thoroughly; if you find white powder on your shoes or socks, the carpet simply requires another round of vacuuming.

spot treating coffee stain on carpet

Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Tips and Tricks

  • If spot cleaning is required, use a cloth, paper towel, or sponge to blot the stain rather than rub it further into the material. Applying friction to the stain will only cause the stain to be ground further into the carpeting. When blotting, make sure to move from the outside of the stain in, so the particles don't spread to more of the surrounding fibers.
  • Weirdly, shaving cream is a great carpet cleaner that removes most types of stains! Spray the stain and let it soak into the carpet for half an hour, then gently blot the stain away with a dry cloth. Rinse the area with a half vinegar, half water solution and blot the solution with a separate cloth.
  • Blot club soda on beer or wine stains with a cloth. If that doesn't remove the stain completely, mix half white vinegar, half water and use a spray bottle to spray the solution on the stain. Let the vinegar-water mix set in the stain for 15 minutes and then rinse the area with a clean sponge, repeating until the stain fades completely.
  • For tough grease stains, use the same dish detergent you'd normally apply to greasy dishes. Mix a few drops of tough-on-grease dish soap into a cup of water, spray the solution on the stain using a spray bottle, blot, and repeat until the stain disappears.
  • On oldie but a goodie, use ice cubes to freeze chewing gum until it freezes solid. When it's no longer sticky, take a spoon to lift the solid mass up and use scissors to cut the gum away. Try to snip off as little carpeting as possible, and you can put "the gum incident" behind you.

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