Keeping your carpet clean is a never-ending battle. Dirt gets ground in when you walk across it, your pets have accidents, and the kids spill juice and drop messy food on it. And, with your hectic life, you don't have time to vacuum or spot clean it as often as you should. Carpet should have a lifespan of about 12 years, but in less than half that time, it can end up a stained and smelly eyesore. Before it's a lost cause, there are steps you can take to keep your carpet looking good.
Vacuuming: The First Line of Defense
Getting dirt and debris off your carpet before it gets down deep into the fibers is essential to keep it looking its best. Ideally, you should vacuum every day, but who has the time? Instead, aim for a thorough vacuuming twice a week using the following tips:
- Invest in a powerful machine.
- Alternate directions while you're cleaning -- you'll get more dirt up that way.
- Always edge clean--this is especially important if anyone in the family has allergies.
- Replace your vacuum bag or empty the dirt canister when it's two-thirds full, so you have maximum suction.
- Twice a year, move your furniture out and give the carpet underneath a good vacuuming.
Even when it's done regularly, vacuuming only removes 75 percent of the dirt that ends up on your carpet. If you're tempted to use a home carpet shampooer--don't. The circular motion of these machines destroys carpet fibers, and the soap residue they leave behind actually attracts dirt, so your carpet will look bad again in a hurry.
More Carpet Cleaning Tips
Carpet manufacturers recommend steam cleaning, or hot water extraction, as the safest and most effective cleaning method that also leaves the least residue. Steam cleaning regularly can help extend your carpet's life. When it comes to taking care of this necessary chore you can:
-- Visit your local big box home center kiosk, rent a steam cleaner and do the job yourself. Extracting hot water from a carpet using a small machine isn't always effective, though, so you may have to rent a wet-vac, and go over it a second time to get out as much water as possible. But, after all the expense and effort you put in to this time-consuming task, your carpet might not end up as clean as you expected.
-- Hire a carpet cleaning service like First Coast Home Pros that uses a truck-mounted machine with a powerful motor and on-board water heater. Stronger suction and hotter water are more effective at pulling out grime from even the dirtiest carpets.
When you decide it's time to call for professional help, make sure you discuss any spots, stains or areas of concern before getting a quote. When you hire a reliable company like First Coast Home Pros, you can expect the following:
- Skilled and experienced IICRC-certified technicians who are actual employees, not sub-contractors.
- High-quality, technologically advanced equipment that can get the job done right the first time.
- Professional pre-vacuuming, and a follow-up neutralizing rinse to remove any residue.
- References available that you can verify.
- A detailed, written estimate.
Handling Spills and Carpet Stains Between Cleanings
Life is messy, and the worst thing you can do is use a commercial stain remover--these can set the stain permanently, or damage your carpet. Instead, try these methods:
- Plain water will get many stains out, if you can treat them right away. Put a super-absorbent cloth on the spot to soak up the liquid. Remove the cloth, and spray the spot with a little water. Don't rub -- blot the spot with a dry cloth. Spray, blot, and repeat until the stain is gone.
- Tea, mustard, beer, coffee, urine, vomit, or feces. Clean up as much as you can with paper towels, then spray the spot with a mixture of 2/3 cup water, 1 tablespoon mild detergent, and 1/3 cup vinegar. Blot, then leave a cloth on the spot to absorb any liquid, replacing it when necessary.
- Milk, blood, egg, salad dressing, and chocolate. Use the process mentioned above, but with a solution of 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon of mild detergent, and 2 tablespoons of ammonia.
- Tar, grease, gum, ink, oil, butter, or rubber cement. Blot up all you can, and then apply a non-flammable dry cleaning solvent. Always pretest an inconspicuous area to make sure the solvent won't take the color out of your carpet.
If you're still left with a stain after trying the above recommendations, give your professional carpet cleaners a call. The team at First Coast Home Pros can provide expert, targeted advice on how to get your carpet looking good again.