How to Clean Your Carpets

Vacuuming the carpet

Carpets can take a lot of abuse over the years. Between pets, spills, shoes, kids, and daily use, carpets can certainly take a beating. Maintaining the cleanliness of your carpets is not just good for overall aesthetics, but it can also prevent the accumulation or growth of dirt, bacteria, and mold. While deep cleaning your carpets doesn’t have to happen too often, it’s good to maintain a regular upkeep routine to keep your carpets in tip-top shape. Whether you have ornamental rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting, upkeep and the occasional deep clean are key to the longevity of your carpets. While properly cleaning your carpets can be a bit of a hassle, it’s totally worth it because they keep your home looking and feeling comfortable and cozy. With a little prep, cleaning your carpets can be a breeze.

Regular Upkeep: How Often to Clean Your Carpets

Spot cleaning a spot in pink carpet with a teal microfiber cloth

Whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs, regular upkeep is essential. So plan to vacuum your carpets at least once a week. If you have pets or kids, though, you may want to vacuum more than that. Vacuuming is important to the day-to-day upkeep of your carpets to ensure that they stay clean and comfortable. Too much accumulated dirt can be harder to remove, so it’s best to maintain a regular vacuuming schedule instead. Spills and stains should be treated as soon as possible after an accident. The longer a stain sits, the more it sets. We’ll cover the details on that in one of the following sections. Deep cleaning for carpets thankfully doesn’t need to happen nearly as often. It can be a bit of a hassle but is actually quite easy to do and only necessary about once or twice a year. While some people choose to hire a professional carpet cleaner to do the job for them, it’s easy enough to do on your own.

Basic Carpet Cleaning

Person cleaning their beige carpet with a vacuum cleaner

Basic carpet cleaning is just that: super basic. You’ll need a vacuum cleaner, but that’s about it. Allowing dust and dirt particles to remain in carpet fibers can cause them to dull and retain odors more easily. The dust and dirt can also eventually wear down the carpet backing and fibers, causing carpets to deteriorate more quickly over time. Using a good vacuum with strong suction is one of the better ways to keep a carpet clean and preserve its longevity. If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, you can do it the old-fashioned way: with a broom or carpet sweeper. For ornamental or area rugs, you can occasionally take them outdoors, hang them, and beat them with a broom to get all the dust and dirt out. When using a vacuum cleaner, adjust the height of the suction to ensure you’re getting the most taken up from the carpet. Vacuum slowly over high-traffic areas to be sure you get everything up. To brighten rugs and remove any odors, sprinkle a good amount of baking soda over the carpets once a month to absorb oily stains and odors. Let the baking soda sit for an hour or so, and then vacuum up.

Removing Spills and Stains

White mug laying on tan carpet with coffee spilt on the floor

Spills and stains can happen now and then to your carpets, and you want to be sure that you’re ready when they do. The key to stain removal is to treat stains as quickly as possible. For liquid spills, immediately grab some high-absorbency paper towels and begin to blot the moisture out of the carpet before the stain settles in. For mud, dropped food, or more solid stains, use something with an edge to lift away solids. A butter knife or the edge of a card will work fine. Avoid rubbing the solids into the carpet, as that will only push the stain deeper into the carpet fibers and make the stain worse. Some good stain removing tools to keep on hand are baking soda, a firm bristle brush for scrubbing out stains, an oxygen-based cleaner, carpet cleaner, and distilled white vinegar. These products can usually remove stains such as wine, coffee, ink, mud, pet accidents, and blood.

Deep Cleaning Your Carpet

Steam cleaning the carpet, close-up

There will come a time when you'll want (read need!) to deep clean your carpets. This should happen once or twice a year to preserve the lifespan and luster of your carpets. Deep cleaning the carpet will remove heavy soils, restore fibers, and brighten the color.

The Machine Way

A professional cleaner vacuuming the carpet in a living room next to a couch

The best way to deep clean your carpets is with a carpet-cleaning machine. These are what professionals use and can also be rented. This is a good option if your house is filled with wall-to-wall carpeting. Rent a heavy-duty steam cleaner to use with the recommended carpet-cleaning shampoo. Renting can be more costly, but it’s definitely the most effective way to deep clean your carpets.

The DIY Way

Woman spot cleaning her carpet with a spray bottle and microfiber cloth while wearing yellow rubber gloves

You can also deep clean your carpets with a DIY solution. Using one part distilled white vinegar mixed with three parts water, mix in a spray bottle and generously spray the carpets until they’re damp but not saturated. Let sit for five minutes and then work through the carpet with a microfiber cloth dipped into clean water to scrub away all the dirt. Instead of vinegar, you can also spray a salt, baking soda, and water mixture onto the carpet. Use a scrub brush to work the baking soda deep into the carpet fibers. Use a wet cloth to wipe away loosened dirt. Let the carpet air dry and the vacuum to pick up the rest of the dirt.

Cleaning your carpets will not only keep your home looking fresher and feeling more comfortable, but it will also ensure that your carpets last longer. Even the most well-managed carpets need a shine up every so often.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.


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