19 Carpet Cleaning Tips You Must Know That Will Save You Thousands of Dollars and Extend Your Life!
Why Choose Carpet?
With proper care and maintenance, you can extend the life of your expensive carpet and provide a healthier living environment for your family.
You probably haven’t thought about all of the pollutants that enter your home every day. As they enter, your carpet acts as a filter and traps them.
But what happens when the trap gets full?
The people you care about start to breathe in the dust mites (along with their faeces!), pollens, bacteria, fungi, mould, mycotoxins – the list goes on…
Over time, these pollutants also mix with dirt and grit, wearing away at your carpet fibres causing irreversible damage.
Imagine your life if your didn’t have carpet – all of these particles would be floating around in the air and being inhaled by you and your family!
By using the simple tips in this article, you can breathe easier and preserve the life of your carpets.
1. Quality Counts – Buy a Good Vacuum!
Investing in a good quality vacuum cleaner and learning how to use and maintain it, is the first step in protecting your health and carpet. But there are so many vacuums on the market these days, how do you know which is the right one?
- Wattage -You will need one that is powerful enough to pull the dirt from deep in the pile – not just clean the surface. The higher the wattage is, the more powerful the motor will be
- HEPA Filter – Make sure it features a HEPA filter. This will retain 99.9% of what you pick up and stops it from being recirculated back into the air and into the carpet, or worse – into your lungs!
- Barrel or Upright? – Barrel vacuum cleaners will only provide suction and therefore only take off the surface dirt. An upright vacuum will have a revolving head or “beater” that will lift and separate the carpet fibres, this vibrating action allows dirt to be removed from deeper down in the pile
- Disposable bags – disposable bags are ultimately better than cloth bags, as cloth bags will quickly become clogged, reducing airflow and giving a poor quality clean
- Dual Motors – An upright vacuum with dual motors is an ideal choice because it utilises one motor for the vacuum and one to operate the revolving head, resulting in no loss of power
2. Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum…
Vacuuming is the easiest and cheapest thing you can do to extend the life of your carpet and keep the air inside your home safe for your family to breathe. Regular vacuuming with a good quality cleaner will remove up to 80% of the contaminates that are living in your carpet.
Weekly vacuuming, at a minimum, is important to keep the levels of dust mites and allergens down as well as removing the grit that constantly rubs against your carpet fibres like sandpaper. If left for too long, this grit will scratch the protective coating that is on your carpet, giving it dull appearance and eventually wearing away the fibres, causing breakages in the pile.
Remember to always vacuum against the natural direction of your carpets pile, as this will remove more pollutants, giving a better result.
3. Maintenance Matters!
You’ve invested in a good vacuum cleaner, so to get the most out of it, a few maintenance tasks need to be performed regularly.
- Clean all of the filters after each use. Follow the instruction manual to find all of them – some are very well hidden!
- Replace the collection bag often. When the bag is only half full, the efficiency of your vacuum is reduced by 60 – 80%. This means that you may be wasting your valuable time and getting a poor result
- Keep the rotating brush head clean and free of hair and other materials that may stop it from turning, putting strain on the motor
- Make sure you adjust the brush head to the correct height for your carpet to maximise airflow and allow the brush to roll and gently agitate the carpet fibers.
4. Shoes Off, Please!
Shoes are your carpets number one enemy. Most outdoor pollutants that enter your home are walked in on shoes. Even though the soles may appear to be clean, they carry fine particles and oily substances that are transferred onto your carpets.
Simply ask your family and guests to remove their shoes before coming inside. Just remind them that in many countries it is considered bad manners to wear shoes inside!
High heels are a definite no no on carpet, as the sharp heels can catch on the carpet fibres, causing pulls and runs in the pile.
Most people are unaware that bare feet can also leave your carpet looking dull and dirty. Even if your feet look and feel clean, they still have an oily film on them that leaves a residue on your carpet that will actually attract dirt. Slippers, socks or “house only” shoes are a great option.
5. Mats and Runners Really Help
By using doormats at each entry point of your house, you will be able to control some of the soiling and keep larger particles outside where they belong.
To keep high traffic areas like hallways looking good, a mat or runner is ideal. These can reduce the wear on your carpet, can be changed easily and add a personal touch to your decor.
If you have a really messy family, you could try placing mats in areas where traffic leaves the hard floors and enters onto the carpet.
6. Change is Good
An easy way to keep your carpet looking good for longer, that costs you nothing more than a little time, is to rearrange your furniture.
When your furniture stays in the one place for a long period of time, you’ll find your family using the same pathways around your home. By rearranging your furniture every few months, you’ll open up new walking spaces that will help to evenly distribute the wear and tear on your carpet.
When moving your furniture, always get help to lift heavier pieces. By not dragging the pieces to their new positions, you will prevent snagging and pulling of the carpet fibres.
7. Learn First Aid For Carpet
Learning how to correctly clean up a spill is vital in the care of your expensive carpets. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and know what type of carpet you have installed.
It is important to remove the spillage quickly before it penetrates the pile and it is always best to call the experts, but there are a few basic things you can do until your carpet cleaning technician arrives:
- Work from the outer edge of the spill to the centre, scooping up any excess
- Use only plain white absorbent materials otherwise you may find that colours are transferred to your carpet making the problem worse
- Add a small amount of water to help soak up the spill
- Keep blotting until no colour is transferring to the absorbent material – it is important not to rub as rubbing will make the carpet look “fuzzy” and distorted and spread the stain further
***Be aware of supermarket bought chemicals –
they may do more harm than good to your expensive carpet!***
They may leave a residue, set the stain or even worse, bleach your carpet.
8. Keep the Sunshine Outside
Having the sun pour into your home is lovely – especially in winter. Lying on the couch with the sun streaming through the windows on a lazy afternoon…the cat basking in the sun’s rays knows how good it feels…
And although the sunshine will kill bacteria and germs, it will also damage your carpet.
The UV rays filtering through your windows can distort colours and bleach patches of carpet that are continuously exposed. Pale colours are equally as affected as darker tones, and it usually doesn’t become evident until you next rearrange the furniture.
Reduce the impact of sun damage by installing and using blinds, curtains or awnings.
9. Squeaky Clean Kitchen Floors
Kitchen floors, no matter what they’re made of, can be the dirtiest flooring in the house. Crumbs dropped from the kids making afternoon tea, last night’s spaghetti sauce dripped from stove to sink, grease, oil, even sticky soft drink and cordial….
As your family move about your home, spills and wastes that are on the tiled or vinyl areas will no doubt be walked onto your carpeted areas. Grease and oil will leave a residue on the surface of your carpet that will attract dirt and the food scraps will contain high levels of bacteria, just adding to the cocktail of dangerous substances taking up residence in your carpet.
Keeping the kitchen floors clean with a quick sweep and mop each day will keep your carpet looking, feeling and smelling fresh for longer.
10. No Cheap Shortcuts
When the time does come along where you need to replace your carpet, it is tempting to save a few dollars and leave the old underlay in place.
This really is not an option. Apart from the possibility of voiding your new carpet warranty, different types of carpet require different types of underlay. Your carpet installer is the expert and can advise you of the best choice.
By installing new underlay with your new carpet, you will reduce stretching, footprints, dips and sagging – ultimately extending the life of your new carpet.
11. Periodic Professional Cleaning is a Must!
Next to vacuuming, periodic professional carpet cleaning is the most important maintenance you can do to extend the life of your carpet and for the health of your family.
Your carpets and rugs should be professionally cleaned at least once a year. If your home is a busy one, it may be a good idea to have a touch up clean of the traffic areas every 6 months and then a full clean every 12 months.
The deep cleaning that only quality machinery can provide, will revitalise your carpet and remove the pollutants that have settled beyond the reach of your vacuum cleaner.
12. Don’t Void Your Warranty!
The world’s number one carpet manufacturer – Shaw Industries – advises that:
“Routine maintenance is essential to maintaining your new carpet warranty. Over time, normal foot traffic and soiling will cause a change in any carpets appearance. Professional extraction is required to maintain your warranty. This service must be performed by a trained professional occasionally to refresh the texture and rejuvenate the fibres in your carpet. Please retain your carpet cleaning receipts for proof of maintenance should any warranty claim arise.”
To ensure that you don’t void you new carpet warranty, choose an internationally recognised IICRC accredited carpet cleaning technician and remember to keep the receipts he provides you with just in case you need them for future claims.
13. Steam, Dry or DIY?
Choosing the right carpet cleaning method for your carpet type is very important. Some methods are ineffective, others leave a residue that will attract more dirt and others may damage the fibres.
Machines that you can hire from the supermarket are very ineffective and are a waste of time and money. They have very little power and will struggle to even remove the surface dirt.
Dry cleaning uses a rotating brush adapted with a cleaning pad that has been soaked in cleaning solution. Because there is no rinse stage, dry cleaning will leave much of the chemicals still in the carpet, attracting more dirt. The world’s largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw Industries, recommends that this form of carpet cleaning should not be used as it “causes fuzzing and has very limited soil removal capabilities”.
Steam cleaning, or hot water extraction is the method recommended by almost all carpet manufacturers. This system consists of spraying the cleaning solution onto the carpet, treating spots and stains and then rinsing with hot water that is immediately sucked up by a powerful vacuum system into a holding tank. It is capable of removing pollutants from deep within the pile and the cleaning solutions are thoroughly rinsed away.
14. Too Many to Choose From…
Choosing the right carpet cleaning company can be very daunting. When you open your phone book, there are so many companies offering different services.
Always ring around and ask questions about the companies and technicians you may be contracting so you can make an informed decision.
Other than just asking about their prices, questions to include could be:
- Do your technicians have any industry training or current certifications?
- Is your company a member of any industry related organisations?
- Do you have any references or testimonies I could see?
- What system of cleaning do you use?
- What type of machinery do you use?
- Does your company have adequate and current insurances?
15. You Get What You Pay For…
With most things in life, you can usually expect the price you pay to reflect the service or quality you receive.
Carpet cleaning is no different. Companies offering cheaper prices may have to cut their costs by using cheap cleaning agents, untrained and uninsured technicians and unreliable inferior machinery.
Carpet cleaning machinery can cost anywhere from $1000 to over $100,000; with many truck mounted machines costing more than most new cars.
The tools a carpet cleaner chooses represents his vision of quality. If he chooses good equipment then chances are you will receive top quality workmanship.
Before you hire any carpet cleaner, do your homework and ask the right questions! Your carpets are an investment and should be treated as one. Make sure you get the best value and workmanship for your investment.
16. Always Use Protection!
Most new carpets that are installed these days have some sort of fibre protection placed on them during the manufacturing process.
Many people have the misconception that a protectant will keep their carpet clean for years without any maintenance and that spills will not penetrate the pile. This is untrue. Protectors will increase the life and appearance of your carpet, but over time they will wear off, especially in traffic areas. Your carpet cleaning technician will need to reapply new protection after each professional clean.
Regular vacuuming is also needed to stop the friction of dirt from wearing away at the protector on the carpet fibres.
Any spills will still need to be mopped up quickly, as they will eventually seep into the fibres.
These days there are many protectors on the market – some cheaper ones may just give you a few more minutes to grab a towel and mop up, other more expensive ones will let the spill penetrate into the carpet pile but allow easy and full removal with a professional cleaning system such as a truck mounted machine.
Ask your carpet cleaning technician which protector he recommends for your carpet type.
17. Truck Mount or Portable Machinery?
There is no doubt that alongside the knowledge of the technician who you have chosen to clean your carpets, the equipment he uses will directly affect the outcome you receive.
There are some good quality portable carpet cleaning machines, but most just don’t have enough power to get everything that is lurking below your feet. They require access to your electricity and water supply. Portable machines should only be used if you live in a high rise building or access to your premises is restricted.
Truck mounted machines have incredible power to suck right from the base of the pile, ensuring you get a thorough clean. Most technicians will carry many meters of hosing to enable them to park safely out of the way and not block any entry or exit points of your property. Truck mounted machines also have their own power source and will only require a garden hose connection.
The largest carpet manufacturer in the world – Shaw Industries, recommends “…using a powerful truck mounted machine, where only the hoses and wand enter the home”. This is so all contaminates are directly sucked through the hoses and into the machines holding tank, limiting recontamination and also to protect your furniture and belongings by not having heavy equipment dragged through your home.
18. Repair Damages Quickly
With proper care and maintenance, repairs shouldn’t be necessary, but accidents do happen and some things are just out of our control.
Fibres may become snagged and pull, leaving runs in the carpet pile. Something hot may be dropped on the carpet causing it to burn and have a discoloured and melted appearance.
You may even notice patches of carpet where the fibres seem to have just disappeared – carpet beetle larvae…
Avoid the temptation of trying to fix the problem yourself and call an expert straight away.
Your first call should be to the company who you bought the carpet from or the carpet installer. Explain the problem to them and they will be able to advise you on the best action to take.
A good carpet installer should have knowledge of carpet restoration and be able to replace damaged pieces or fix minor problems.
If you have a wool or wool-blend carpet and notice it disappearing, suspecting that carpet beetles may be the issue, you will need the services of a good carpet cleaner as well as a pest control technician.
Act fast to avoid extended damage!
19. Allergy Relief
If you are one of the millions who suffer from allergies, then maintaining your carpets is essential.
Research shows that 25% of all allergies are due to dust mites. Up to 200,000 dust mites can live in one square meter of your carpet and each mite has 3 claws and 2 pincers on each of its 8 legs! This makes it near impossible for you to remove them during normal vacuuming and so their numbers grow steadily, as they feed on the minute skin flakes that your family shed constantly.
The dust mites themselves are not allergens; it’s their faeces that are. Their faeces mix with other bacteria, spores from mould and fungi, animal dander and regular house dust. When this cocktail of allergens becomes airborne is when you will begin to suffer.
The best preventative action you can take is to ask your carpet cleaner to apply an allergy relief treatment to your carpet after it has been professionally cleaned. With proper application and maintenance, this treatment will neutralise many of the allergens that lodge in your carpet for up to 6 months, creating a safer environment for you and your family.
A Properly Maintained Carpet Makes Cents…
Your carpet has many uses in your home – for warmth and insulation, attractive decor, acoustic comfort….It is also a big investment and well worth looking after.
With proper care and maintenance, your carpet should last between 15 and 20 years before it needs to be replaced.
By following the advice in this booklet, you can be assured that your home will be a healthier environment for your family and will always look, feel and smell inviting.
Make the decision now to save thousands of dollars by properly caring for your carpet and extending the lives of the ones you love.