Carpets add a finishing touch to any household. They revive the interior by adding color, mood and texture and contribute to the ambience by adding warmth and comfort. However, they are also a pain to clean, making you procrastinate until the eleventh hour and then some, until the caked-on grime becomes embarrassingly obvious.
While carpeting has its definite pros compared to bare flooring, its major drawback is cleaning. Unlike carpets, bare flooring options like wood or tile can be swept, mopped or vacuumed in less time.
With time, your favorite carpet will pick up dirt and grime. How quickly and badly it becomes dirty depends on your family makeup and the general foot traffic. A couple or a small family with grown children is likely to make less mess than a family with exuberant kids and uncontrollable toddlers. The chances of food spills and mud tracked in on dirty shoes become more likely in the latter case. Pet owners have additional problems like pet hair, dander or occasional ‘accidents’ on their carpets.
Depending on the above factors, your carpet may need regular maintenance cleaning anywhere from 1 to 3 times a week. Similarly, deep cleaning can be undertaken once every 6 to 18 months depending on the need. Calling in professionals is usually very expensive. With some effort, you can achieve remarkable results without ruining your budget.
Cleaning carpets can be made a lot less hectic with a little planning beforehand. Clearing the clutter off the carpeting and dusting first are some basic measures. Depending on the cleaning method you use, you also need to determine how long the room will be off limits after cleaning and make contingency plans.
Here are three methods of basic carpet cleaning, any of which can be used depending on your need.
Method 1: Vacuuming
Vacuuming is an easy, fast and hassle-free method for cleaning a carpet. Depending on the general foot traffic, the area that you reside in, family members and pets, you may need to vacuum your carpets once to several times a week.
Carpeting in busier areas like the living room and hallways may need more frequent vacuuming. Comparatively, bedrooms of adults may be vacuumed once a week. If you use diatomaceous earth for bug control in your house, it’s best to use a vacuum cleaner HEPA filter.
- Start with the corners and work your way into the middle and toward the exit.
- Use the crevice tool for getting into the narrow places and use the bristle attachment to clean the open area of the carpet. The bristle attachment will loosen the dirt and debris, allowing the vacuum to pull it in.
- Depending on how dirty you believe your carpet to be, go over each portion multiple times, moving the vacuum cleaner in different directions.
- Empty the bag whenever it’s filled up to two-thirds or even halfway through. This will prevent the chances of any spills and keep the suction power at its maximum.
Method 2: Steam Cleaning
If regular vacuuming doesn’t seem to be making a dent in the state of your carpet, you may need to steam clean it. Contrary to what the term suggests, steam cleaners don’t use steam to clean the carpet.
The mechanism involves spraying hot detergent water on the carpet, which helps loosen the caked-on dirt and the dust and grime settled deep into the carpet. The dirty water is then sucked back up by the machine. The steam produced due to the hot water effectively disinfects the carpet as well.
While the bulk of the moisture is sucked back up by the machine, the carpet will still need time to dry completely. Steam cleaning should be done when the room can be left untouched for 6 to 12 hours after cleaning, as a damp carpet can get dirty in double time.
Purchasing a steam cleaning unit is not necessary. Many hardware or grocery stores rent them out. But if your house requires regular heavy-duty cleaning, purchasing a steam cleaner may benefit you in the long run.
- Prepare the carpeted area in advance, so that you don’t have to keep the steam cleaner rental for more time than you actually need it. Ventilate the area for easy drying afterwards.
- Prepare the hot water and detergent solution according to the instructions that come with the steam cleaner. You can use store-bought detergents that are formulated for this specific purpose, but plain old liquid dish soap works well, too.
- Start from the corners, working your way toward the exit, so that you don’t trap yourself into a corner or have to walk on any of the freshly cleaned carpet to leave the room when you’re done.
- Pushing the machine forward ejects hot detergent water and pulling it backwards sucks in the dirty water. Work your cleaning strategy around this, making sure to remove as much moisture as possible.
- After you’re done cleaning, leave the room undisturbed for several hours to let the carpet dry. Depending on the local temperature and humidity, it may take 6 to 12 hours to dry completely.
- Make use of fans, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and cotton carpet bonnets to quicken the drying process.
Method 3: Brushing with a Soap Solution
For especially dirty carpets, you can opt for a heavy cleanup. While there are specially formulated cleaners available in the market, using a homemade detergent solution for heavy-duty carpet cleaning is an easy and cost-efficient option.
Generic liquid dish soap can clean your carpet and easily take out most stains and odors without causing any harm. It will also cut through most of the grease and grime.
Things you’ll need:
- Liquid dish soap
- Water in a spray bottle
- A cleaning brush
- Water in a tub
Step 1. Make a soap solution
- Put equal amounts of liquid dish soap and water in a spray bottle. You can use a funnel to pour them into the bottle to avoid a spill.
- Close the bottle and give it a good shake to completely dilute the soap.
Step 2. Clean the carpet using the soap spray
- Start from one end and work your way over the entire carpet toward the exit.
- Spray the solution on the carpet and brush the area with a good cleaning brush.
- Always brush in a single direction at a time instead of going back and forth. Brush a few strokes in a forward direction, followed by backward and sideways brushstrokes. Keep spraying the solution in between the brushing as needed.
- Allow the soap spray to sit on areas with caked-on grime for a few minutes before brushing them.
Step 3. Remove the soap using a sponge and plain water
After you’re done brushing the carpet, you’ll need to lift the liquid dish soap out of the carpet.
- Soak a sponge in a tub of clean water and squeeze out the excess water.
- Run the damp sponge over the carpet to let it absorb the soap solution.
- Rinse out the sponge in water and repeat the above steps until the maximum amount of soap is removed from that area of the carpet.
- Cover the entire carpet in a similar manner, working from the corners toward the exit so you don’t have to walk on your clean carpet to leave the room.
Now you need to let the carpet dry. You can use a wet vacuum to remove excess moisture from the carpet and help it dry faster. Improve the ventilation of the area and make use of fans, air conditioners and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.
- Dust all the furniture and different fixtures in the room before cleaning your carpet. Not doing so can dirty your freshly cleaned carpet.
- If there is clutter like toys, pencils or coins on the carpet, clean it up. Such small objects, especially coins, can obstruct and harm your vacuum cleaner.
- When steam cleaning, spot clean any bodily fluids like blood or pet urine beforehand, as directly steam cleaning the carpet may set some odors like that of pet urine.
- Proper airing out after steam cleaning your carpet is important to prevent mold and mildew.
- While cleaning your carpet with a detergent solution, take care not to soak the carpet with either the cleaning solution or the water while sponging the carpet.
- The best way to keep your carpets clean is to prevent the big mess. Use doormats to keep dirt in check. Address food and liquid spills as soon as possible.