Taking Care of Carpets

All about clean carpets

The importance of vacuuming, deep cleaning, and stain removal to help your carpets look better and last longer cannot be overemphasized. Carpet is, of course, a wonderful flooring material, but spills can leave stains, and daily traffic takes its toll. Carpets warm a home by adding color,, pattern, and texture. Regular vacuuming provides the first line of defense against dirt and grit that damages carpet fibers. But carpets also need regular cleaning to keep them looking their best. Plan to thoroughly clean your carpets every 12 to 18 months, more often in high-traffic areas. If you have light-color carpet and/or kids or pets, clean your carpets two or three times a year. Always follow the carpet manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines.

Use caution in cleaning carpets

When cleaning carpets, remember to always protect your furniture, carpet padding, and subfloor. Grab a partner to help you remove furniture from the room where the carpet is being cleaned. Vacuum the carpet thoroughly. Use a rental cleaner — if recommended by the carpet manufacturer — or have it professionally cleaned. If you choose a wet extraction method (see below), make sure the carpet dries completely within 24 hours to prevent mold or mildew growth in the carpet or padding and to stop moisture from damaging the floor underneath.

Testing for colorfastness

It is important to have colorfast carpet that will not bleed, fade, or change during cleaning or removing stains. Whether or not it is colorfast may change the cleaning method or products you choose. Here’s how to pretest your carpet to find out if it is colorfast. First find a carpet scrap or an inconspicuous spot, such as carpet inside a closet. Vacuum the carpet. Dampen a cloth with the cleaner or stain remover you want to use.Lay the cloth on the carpet for an hour, and then blot the damp area with a dry white cloth. If the cloth is stained with carpet dyes, test another cleaning product until you find one that does not make the carpet sample bleed.

Water extraction or steam cleaning

The most common carpet cleaning systems are water extraction units that are also known as steam cleaners. They work by injecting a solution into the carpet pile, then pulling the dirty solution back into the machine. To avoid the hassle of dragging a hose around the house, opt for a model that does not require a clean-water hookup. Also, choose the most powerful machine you can afford to ease the burden of water extraction. When using a steam cleaner, do not get the carpets overly wet because that can damage the carpet backing and underlayment, causing shrinkage, discoloration, and odor.

Dry extraction is another method

Dry extraction cleaning methods are also used on carpets. First you spread a dry absorbent compound over the carpet being cleaned, then you vacuum it with the cleaning machine. Although they usually work better than steam cleaners, dry machines and chemicals are more expensive than steamers and wet extraction solutions.

Cleaning pro always an option

If you hire professionals, you’ll get to choose between steam cleaning and dry extraction cleaning. Each method — if handled by a qualified pro — will do wonders for dirty carpets. Not only do professionals have far more powerful equipment than you’re likely to buy or rent, they have far more experience removing stains. Prices may vary widely for essentially the same service, so shop carefully.

Deep cleaning may become necessary

There comes a time when vacuuming can no longer restore the clean appearance of your carpet. There are four major indicators of the need for a deep-cleaning job: the carpet is matted and feels sticky; the carpet is no longer the same color as the remnant you saved when the carpet was new; the carpet has grimy circles around the chairs; or the carpet releases a dust storm when you run across the room. If any of these descriptions fit your carpet, then it is time to deep-clean it. Unless you have the time and strength to do a thorough cleaning job, it’s time to call in the professionals.

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