As a floor covering, carpeting is subject to quite a beating day in and day out. If special attention isn’t paid, many carpets have to be replaced prematurely. Without proper carpet care, a floor begins to look dirty and faded and the fibers start to lose their fullness. Regular and thorough maintenance is one of the best ways to prevent these issues and will keep your flooring looking its best for as long as possible.
Basic Carpet Care and Maintenance
Vacuuming carpets frequently and thoroughly is probably the most important factor in carpet care. Dirt works its way down into the fibers where it acts like sandpaper, grinding away at each tuft, leaving it limp and dull. Dirt also combines with oil residues carried through the air and eventually glues itself to the carpet. Regular vacuuming prevents both problems. Most experts agree that carpets should be thoroughly vacuumed about once a week, with heavy traffic areas being vacuumed more often.
Whenever spills occur, time is of the essence. The sooner the spill is cleaned up, the easier it will be to do so. Don’t be fooled by spills that are clear or are the same color as the carpet: these can change color over time and become visible stains. The first step in spot cleaning is to blot up the liquid using white paper towels or tissues. Do not add any liquids at this point, as they will only make the spot larger and help it sink deeper into the carpet. Make sure to take your time and absorb as much liquid as possible.
Using Cleaning Solutions Properly
If a special cleaning solution is involved, test it on an inconspicuous part of the carpet first. Place a few drops of the cleaning solution on the stain and then place a white paper towel on top. Wait 10 to 15 seconds and check whether any of the carpet dyes have seeped through to your towel. If this happens, it’s best to call a professional.
Assuming nothing went wrong with your test, keep in mind these additional stain-removing tips:
- Use the least amount of solution possible.
- Work from the outside of the stain toward the center to avoid spreading the stain.
- Don’t rub the carpet too hard or you may damage fibers.
- Make sure the carpet can dry quickly, using a fan if necessary.
If your efforts are unsuccessful, call a pro right away. Failure to act quickly will increase the odds of a permanent stain.
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When Carpet Care Is Not Enough
Keep in mind that not all stains can be removed. Bleached areas, whether caused by sunlight or liquid bleach, cannot really be addressed. Urine, if allowed to dry, also leaves a permanent stain. In theory, a professional can re-dye those sections, but don’t count on a perfect color match.
Stains from foods that have a lot of food coloring, such as Kool-Aid, mustard, or grape soda are often impossible to remove. The only chance you have of avoiding a permanent stain with these colored food items is to act very quickly when the spill occurs.
Many stains containing sugar attract dirt so effectively that if the attracted dirt is similar in color to the carpet, the underlying stain is completely hidden until cleaning. Then, with all the camouflaging dirt removed, the underlying stain becomes obvious and appears to be “new.”
Professional Carpet Cleaning
Remember, even the best carpet care tips are only going to take you so far. Most homeowners simply don’t have the kind of equipment on hand to truly deep clean their carpets (and though this equipment is often available for rent, getting professional results takes more time and hassle than most homeowners will want to deal with). No matter how much you vacuum and spot clean, you will eventually need to have your carpets professionally cleaned. In most cases, hiring a carpet cleaning specialist once every 12 to 18 months will keep your floors looking great, and prolong their life, as well!
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