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Carpet Care
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Carpet Care

Regular care is essential for maintaining the appearance and wear life of your carpet. The amount of cleaning required depends on how much traffic the area receives, where the carpet is located, and environmental conditions. Routine vacuuming, responding quickly to spills and stains, shampooing and professional cleaning periodically are necessary for maintaining your carpet. Even a poorly constructed carpet will last longer if it is properly maintained.

Do-It-Yourself Methods

The choice between home cleaning or professional cleaning depends upon the requirements of the particular situation, and the amount of money, time, skills and equipment available.

When you do-it-yourself, it is important to be aware that not all cleaning agents can be used safely on all fibers and dyes. This does not mean the product or the item to be cleaned is bad or defective; it just means that they are not compatible. The face yarns of a carpet can be dyed by using many different processes and a wide range of dyes to produce multiple colors. A cleaner can be safe on one color and not on another.

Always read the label carefully. Mix the solution according to directions, and test it in an inconspicuous area, such as in a corner, behind a chair, or in the back of drapery.

You can use several approaches, depending on whether you want to use a wet method or a dry method.

Wet Methods

An aerosol spray foam is convenient, dries quickly and is suitable for quick spot cleaning for light soil. It is more expensive than liquid shampoo and may leave a residue. To clean carpeting, spray on a thin layer of foam and then work it in with a wet sponge mop. Let the carpet dry completely. Then vacuum to remove loosened dirt.

The shampoo method involves applying a water-detergent solution to a freshly-vacuumed rug with an electrical rug shampooer, a manual applicator, a sponge mop or a hand brush. An electrical shampooer agitates the carpet fibers and works the shampoo into the pile, removing soil. It should not be used on shag carpeting because the long pile can become tangled in the brushes.

You do not have to remove the furniture from the room. To prevent rust or furniture stains, place a thick plastic film or aluminum foil under and around the legs and bases of furniture until the carpet is completely dry.

After cleaning each section of the carpet, brush the wet pile in one direction with the applicator. When the foam has dried thoroughly, vacuum the rug or carpet to remove dry shampoo and loose dirt.

Steam cleaning, or hot water extraction, is the newest method for home cleaning. Equipment can be rented or purchased for do-it-yourself carpet cleaning. A mixture of hot tap water and special non-foaming detergent is forced into the carpet pile under pressure. The ground-in dirt is loosened or dissolved by the detergent, and the moisture and soil are extracted. Residues from other cleaning methods are also removed. A pre-spotter is available to penetrate stubborn stains, and a defoaming agent can be added to the receiving tank to hold down any foaming action from previous cleaning residues. This method is ideal for shags, as well as other carpets.

Caution: Do not soak the carpet since the backing can become wet and cause brown spots. Shrinkage can occur if the carpet gets too wet. Also, do not go over an area too many times with the shampooing equipment since the agitation can damage the carpet.

Dry Powder Method

This method uses absorbent granules containing a dry-cleaning fluid and other cleaning agents. Sprinkle the powder over the carpet surface and work it into the pile with a brush. The powder absorbs oils and some dirt, but is less effective on non-greasy stains. Vacuum up when dry. It may be difficult to completely vacuum up the powder, especially on dark carpeting. This method is safe for non-colorfast carpeting.