In just about every room in any home, the carpet plays a huge role in overall look and feel of the décor, so it's understandable most people want to keep these floor coverings looking their best. Not only do grubby carpets look pretty awful, but they can be smelly, unhygienic and unhealthy, exacerbating conditions like dust allergies. Equally, thorough, regular cleaning prolongs the life of a carpet considerably and prevents dirt from building up. What's more, carpets aren't generally cheap to buy, so it pays to look after them.
That means frequent vacuuming, ideally up to three times a week, and the quality of the machine will make a real difference. Ensure that the motor is powerful enough to be effective to take up all the dirt and other ground-in debris. Any beater bar brushes should be free of lint, threads and fuzz. Check the hose and suction port often for anything blocking them, and, of course, change the bag frequently.
While regular vacuuming is, of course, important, sometimes a little more TLC is needed.
Many householders may be put off by the effort of having to move furniture around and wait for the carpet to thoroughly dry out before it can be put back in place. But the good news is that carpet cleaning doesn't have to be a chore, and with the right methods and products it can be really straightforward. However, in this case, soap and water simply won't be up to the job, particularly when it comes to deep-seated smells or very stubborn stains or built-up grime.
Powder or Shampoo?
This is the key choice most people face when cleaning their carpets at home.
Carpet cleaning powder can be a great way to spruce up a mat, rug or carpet, and baking soda can be used as well as carpet cleaning powder. Test the powder on a discreet, small area first. When you know it's safe for your carpet, sprinkle generously over the floor covering, then leave for at least half an hour, but ideally overnight, so that it can really work into any stains and absorb all unpleasant odours. Then it's just a case of vacuuming up afterwards.
These kinds of cleaners have the benefit of being quick and easy to use, no drying time is needed and if baking soda is used instead of a commercial powder, it's an effective deodoriser.
With many carpet shampoos available on the market, following the manufacturer's instructions closely is vital. Try a small amount in a hidden trial area of the carpet first. Often, the product needs to be diluted, but use just enough to cover the area to be cleaned. Don't get the rug or carpet too wet, since it will then take longer to dry out. Particularly stubborn areas can be scrubbed with a hard-bristled brush. Once shampooed, the carpet does have to be left to dry out, then just needs to be vacuumed. It's also possible to buy or hire a professional shampooing or steam cleaning machine.
Most carpet cleaning machines one hires or buys suck a solution of detergent and hot water from a reservoir, spray it on the carpet and extract it using a powerful vacuum.
Know what the carpet is made of first in order to choose the best cleaning solution, then test on an out-of-sight area first. As ever, follow instructions for the machine and detergent with care. Finally, using a powerful fan or opening the window will dry a carpet out more quickly.
Spot Stain Removal
Many modern carpets are made with factory-applied stain guard, so a little water with a drop of vinegar or soda water should be enough to lift a nasty stain. Use a clean, dry, white cloth and don't make the common mistake of scrubbing (which damages the fibres) too hard - blot instead. Equally, be careful not to use too much water, which can get below the fibres and into the pad, causing mildew and an unpleasant smell. With many options for carpet cleaning on offer, keeping floor coverings in tip-top condition really shouldn't be a problem.