Does Cleaning Your Carpets Ruin Them? What You Need to Know

A common concern that carpet owners have is about the impact that cleaning has on them. Carpets are made of thousands of fabric threads carefully woven together, and many wonder whether cleaning them loosens the threads, causing your carpet to get damaged. 

Does cleaning your carpets ruin them? No, cleaning your carpets doesn’t ruin them. The opposite is true: not cleaning your carpet will result in a build-up of dirt, mold, soil, and toxins. If left unchecked, these contaminants will ruin your carpet, causing wear and tear, discoloration, and making your carpet smell bad. 

However, that doesn’t mean you should blindly rush into cleaning your carpet every day! There are several ways to clean your carpet, and some are better than others. You should also ensure that you are cleaning your carpets correctly. If you don’t follow the proper steps while cleaning them, you may end up inadvertently damaging them.  

So, cleaning your carpet is not only beneficial but necessary for both you and your carpet’s health. This guide explores everything you need to know about cleaning your carpet correctly.

Which Carpet Cleaning Methods Are More Likely to Ruin Your Carpet? 

Some carpet cleaning methods are more likely to ruin your carpet than others. Sweeping and bonnet cleaning, in particular, can both harm your carpet, causing wear and tear. 

Sweeping 

Sweeping is a great way to lift large pieces of dirt and debris off floors. Some people also use their brooms to clean their carpets regularly. 

Can sweeping ruin your carpet?

No professional carpet cleaner will use a broom to clean carpets – even if they are doing a surface-level clean. This is because the bristles on the broom can be quite rough on the carpet’s fabric. Sweeping is especially bad for carpets with long fibers as it tugs at the fibers. Vacuuming is much better as it sucks up dirt vertically, without disturbing the fibers. 

How to protect your carpet if you choose to sweep it: 

If you don’t have a vacuum cleaner, however, sweeping your carpet is better than not cleaning it at all. Here’s how you can reduce the impact a broom has on the carpet: 

  • Use a rubber brush. A broom with rubber bristles will be much gentler on your carpet than a broom with wooden or steel bristles. 
  • Sweep in the direction of your carpet’s fibers. Doing this will allow your carpet to retain its natural shape and minimize friction between the broom and the carpet. This is especially important if your carpet has long fibers or if it’s made of natural materials. 
  • Be gentle. Don’t move your broom roughly – be gentle but firm as you dislodge dirt. 

Bonnet Cleaning 

Bonnet cleaning is another surface-level carpet cleaning method. A cleaning pad that has been dipped in carpet cleaning shampoo or solution is attached to a carpet shampooing machine. 

The machine is then run over the carpet, doing so dislodges surface level dirt and grime. The pad captures this dirt. 

Can bonnet cleaning ruin your carpet? 

Bonnet cleaning used to be a prevalent method of surface cleaning carpets. 

However, in recent years it’s received a lot of flak; many carpet cleaners argue that bonnet cleaning does ruin carpets. Here’s how: 

  • It pushes dirt into the carpet. Because of the way the machine pad moves over the carpet, dirt which isn’t picked up may get lodged deeper into your carpet, making it harder to remove. 
  • It leaves behind a residue. As the bonnet cleaning pad is drenched with a carpet cleaning solution, it may leave a residue of the solution behind. This solution will attract dirt, causing your carpet to become dirtier more quickly. 
  • It wears fibers. Bonnet cleaning machines are fairly powerful and can be rough on carpets, causing fibers to loosen and break down. In fact, bonnet cleaning machines have such a drastic impact on carpets that using them may make your carpet warranty void. So be sure to check the carpet manual! 
  • It may melt your carpet! Bonnet cleaning machines operate at high speed, which creates a lot of heat. This can melt down fibers in delicate carpets. 

Considering all these factors, you’ve probably understood that regularly bonnet cleaning your carpet may ruin it. However, bonnet cleaning is less expensive and time-consuming than other methods of carpet cleaning. 

If you absolutely must bonnet clean your carpet, do it only once every month or so. 

Which Are Better Carpet Cleaning Alternatives? 

If possible, swap out sweeping and bonnet cleaning for vacuuming, carpet shampooing, encapsulation, and steam cleaning. Here’s what you need to know about each cleaning method: 

Vacuuming 

Vacuuming is the most common and popular way to clean carpet.

Running a vacuum cleaner over your carpet will pick up most of the surface level dirt and soil, including mud, sand, fur, skin cells, and hair.

Regularly vacuuming your carpet is important as it removes dirt that would otherwise sink into the carpet and develop into bacteria, which would lead to your carpet deteriorating. 

Can vacuuming ruin my carpet? 

As vacuuming using intense suction to suck up dirt, you may worry that the suction is also tugging at your carpet’s fibers, causing wear and tear. 

However, carpet cleaning experts agree that this is not an issue – as long as you are not vacuuming your carpet 24/7! 

If you are still wary, there are several things you can do to protect your carpet while vacuuming:

  • Use an adjustable vacuum cleaner. When buying a vacuum cleaner, make sure that it has an adjustable height. The higher a vacuum cleaner, the less suction it uses – this will be handy when you are cleaning more delicate carpets made from natural fibers. You should also look for a vacuum with different speed settings so you can use a lower speed on more delicate carpets. 
  • Get a vacuum cleaner with multiple brushes. Many vacuum cleaners have beater bars, which use a lot of force to lift dirt that’s hiding deep within your carpet. These are great to use on pile carpets, but if your carpet is made with natural fibers, like wool, switch the brush to a gentler one to protect it. Using a beater bar on a natural fiber carpet can cause its fibers to unravel, ruining it. 
  • Use a carpet cleaning powder. Before vacuuming, sprinkle carpet cleaning powder over your carpet and allow it to rest for ten minutes. The powder will attract the dirt, making it easier to vacuum up dirt using less suction.  

Steps to vacuuming correctly 

It’s important to vacuum your carpet correctly to protect it. Here’s a step by step guide: 

  1. Dust the furniture and ornaments in the room before vacuuming the carpet. 
  2. Remove any large objects on the carpet, such as toys, stones, leaves, and sticks. 
  3. Sprinkle on a carpet cleaning powder. Allow it to rest for ten minutes. 
  4. Check your vacuum cleaner’s settings, making sure you’ve selected the right brush and height. You should also check that your vacuum cleaner bag is empty.
  5. Run your vacuum cleaner over the carpet, moving in one direction across the room. 
  6. Vacuum the carpet again, moving in the opposite direction across the room. 
  7. Empty the vacuum bag and put your vacuum cleaner for charging. 

Spot or Stain Treating 

When you spill a drink or see your pet urinate on a particular spot on your carpet, what should you do? 

Most people wouldn’t bother deep cleaning their whole carpet. Instead, they would use a stain remover or spot cleaner to treat the particular area which has been stained. This requires much less effort and allows you to concentrate on lifting the stain quickly and efficiently and sanitizing the area. 

Can spot treating ruin your carpet? 

As stain treating focuses on a particular area, it doesn’t have a large impact on the rest of your carpet. 

If done correctly, stain treating can protect your carpet as it prevents spills from sinking into your carpet and becoming a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. 

However, there are some things to keep in mind when spot cleaning so you don’t inadvertently make the stain sink in or otherwise ruin your carpet: 

Rubbing and scrubbing

In the face of stains, you may be tempted to scrub and rub to lift them. After all, it works with most clothes, right? However, scrubbing at stains on your carpet can loosen the fiber and may even push the liquid that caused the stain deeper into your carpet. 

Using the wrong stain remover

There are hundreds of stain removers available on the market, and it’s essential to do your research to select the right one. Look for stain removers that are made with natural materials and enzyme-based solutions. 

Enzyme-based solutions are organic and work well on all organic messes, including blood, urine, drool, and even food spills. They are also kinder to your carpet.

Meanwhile, spot cleaners that are made with purely synthetic chemicals may cause carpet discoloration or – even worse – fill your carpet with toxic chemicals. Some safe stain removers you can consider are: 

Diluting the stain remover with hot water

Some stain removers need to be diluted with water before they are used. It may be tempting to dilute them with hot water – hot water helps sanitize, after all! 

However, directly spraying hot solutions onto your carpet can damage your carpet. It can weaken the carpet’s fibers and even cause the stain to set permanently. 

Steps to spot treating correctly

To ensure you are spot treating your carpet correctly, follow these steps: 

  1. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel. 
  2. Read the instructions that come with the spot cleaner to check whether you need to dilute it with water and how long you need to allow the cleaner to sit for. 
  3. Dilute the spot cleaner with lukewarm water if necessary. 
  4. Spray the spot cleaner onto the stain and the area around it. 
  5. Allow the cleaner to rest on the stain, as directed by the instructions. 
  6. Blot the stain with a damp, clean cloth or towel. 
  7. Allow the area to dry and repeat the steps if necessary. 

Spot cleaning is a great way to tackle specific stains. But, even if you spot clean often, remember that your carpet also needs regular deep cleaning!

Carpet Shampooing 

When you shampoo your carpet, you mix carpet shampoo with water and use a carpet shampooing machine to immerse the shampoo on your carpet. Using the machine, you then suck out the water along with the dirt that was nestled deep in your carpet. 

Carpet shampooing is one of the most popular methods of deep cleaning carpet as it both lifts dirt and sanitizes carpet. It’s also quick – once you get the hang of it, you can shampoo your carpet in less than 20 minutes!

Can shampooing my carpet ruin it? 

Giving your carpet a shampooing once every six months will not damage it – on the contrary, it will help increase the lifespan of your carpet. 

But, if incorrectly done, there are some ways that shampooing can potentially ruin your carpet. Here’s what you need to keep in mind: 

  • Use the right shampooing machine. When you shampoo a carpet, you need to buy or rent a special carpet shampooing machine. There are two main types: machines with fixed brushes and machines with rotating brushes. 
  • Rotating brushes are more intensive and scrub at your carpet harder, but can also be rough on fragile carpets. 
  • Fixed brushes are gentler, but not as effective. However, they’re a better choice if you have a natural carpet. 
  • Use the right shampoo. Like spot cleaners, there are hundreds of carpet shampoos on the market. Try to find a shampoo that is made primarily with natural and non-toxic materials. Remember, heavy chemicals can not only impact your carpet’s health but the health of your whole household!
  • Rinse out the shampoo properly. After shampooing your carpet, it’s important to make sure your machine has picked up all the residue. If a residue is left behind in your carpet, it will attract dirt, making your carpet get dirtier faster. Toxic residue can also break down the fibers in your carpet. 
  • Make sure your carpet is completely dry. When you shampoo your carpet, you immerse it with a significant amount of water. If the water is not completely removed before you start to use your carpet again, your carpet may begin to grow mold. If unchecked, the mold could ruin your carpet!

Steps to shampoo your carpet correctly: 

To make sure that you’re not putting your carpet at risk, follow these steps when shampooing your carpet: 

  1. Choose the right shampooing machine. Ensure that you have selected a fixed brush if you have a fragile carpet and a rotating brush if you have a more sturdy carpet. See your carpet’s care instructions if you’re unsure. 
  2. Vacuum your carpet. This will lift any surface-level dust, allowing the shampoo to penetrate deeper into the carpet. 
  3. Mix the carpet shampoo with water and pour it into the machine. 
  4. Switch on the machine and work in straight lines across your carpet. 
  5. Once you have covered the whole carpet, discard the dirty water. It is best to discard the water in the toilet, as it may clog drains and sinks. 
  6. Fill the shampooing machine with cold water and run it across your carpet again. This will ensure that you are picking up all shampoo residue. 
  7. Allow your carpet to dry for at least 24 hours. Leave the room with the carpet in it unused and switch on the fans and a dehumidifier if possible. Allowing your carpet time to dry will prevent it from remaining damp and growing mold. 

Dry cleaning

An alternative to shampooing your carpet is dry cleaning. There are two ways you can dry clean your carpet: 

  • Dry foam. Foam is sprayed across the carpet and then gently brushed into it using a rotary machine. The foam lifts dirt particles, which are then removed by the brush. 
  • Dry powder. The powder is sprinkled over the carpet and then pushed into the carpet using a rotary brush. The powder dissolves grease, oil, and other forms of dirt and then absorbs them. After allowing the powder to rest for some time, you would them vacuum up the powder, taking the dirt with it. 

Many people prefer the dry cleaning method to shampooing as you don’t have to wait for the carpet to dry before using it. 

Can dry cleaning ruin your carpet? 

While dry cleaning your carpet removes the risk of mold growth, because no water is used, it can be potentially harmful to your carpet. 

With this method, the chief concern is to ensure that there are no particles left on the carpet. 

If there is a residue left, it can become sticky and attract dirt and grime, making your carpet even dirtier than it was before you cleaned it. The residue can also be toxic, which can cause your carpet’s fibers to deteriorate. 

Here’s what you can do to protect your carpet if you are dry cleaning it: 

  • Remove all traces of residue. Make sure you are vacuuming your carpet thoroughly after dry cleaning it. Vacuuming will pick up much of the residue. 
  • Use a non-toxic foam or powder. Carefully check the ingredients of the dry cleaner you are using to ensure that it is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. This way, if there is any residue left, it will not adversely impact your carpet. 

Here’s the best practice way to dry clean your carpet: 

  1. Choose the best powder or foam for your needs. 
  2. Vacuum your carpet to lift surface-level dust. 
  3. Spray the foam or sprinkle the powder over the carpet. 
  4. Gently buff it into the carpet with the carpet cleaning machine. Ensure that you are running the machine in straight lines across the carpet.
  5. Once complete, vacuum your carpet to lift away any excess residue. 

Steam cleaning 

When steam cleaning, you use a special machine to infuse your carpet with steam. The steam pulls up dirt and also sanitizes the carpet. Steam cleaning is a popular method for cleaning carpet but only works on the surface to mid-level dirt.

Can steam cleaning ruin my carpet ruin it? 

When done correctly, steam cleaning can be an effective way to clean carpet. As you aren’t using a brush or suction, steam cleaning can be gentler on your carpet than dry cleaning or shampooing it.  

But, you should also consider that steam cleaning involves the use of hot water. The heat may cause fibers in some carpets to shrink. And, if the carpet is not thoroughly dried, the remaining water may cause mold to grow. 

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when steam cleaning: 

  • Check the chemicals you’re using. When you use a steam cleaner, you would typically mix the hot water with a cleaning solution. Ensure that the cleaning solution you are mixing in is non-toxic. Steam cleaners can leave behind residue, so you shouldn’t be using toxic chemicals that can break down or contaminate your carpet. 
  • If you’re worried about using a chemical solution, you can substitute it with a mixture of equal parts of vinegar and water. 
  • You can also choose not to dilute a cleaning solution in the water. However, this may impact the effectiveness of the cleaning. 
  • Make sure the carpet is completely dry before using it: like carpet shampooing, steam cleaning uses a lot of water. Once you’re done with the cleaning process, you need to allow your carpet plenty of time to dry. If you begin using your carpet when it’s wet, it may begin to grow mold or develop an odor. 

Steps to steam cleaning your carpet correctly 

Here are the steps to steam cleaning your carpet: 

  1. Vacuum your carpet to lift any surface-level dirt. 
  2. Fill the steam cleaner with hot water and a cleaning solution, if you’re using one. 
  3. Start the steam cleaner machine and slowly run it in lines across your carpet. 
  4. Once you have finished, allow your carpet plenty of time to dry. Use a dehumidifier and switch on fans in the room.
  5.  Only use your carpet once you are sure it’s completely dry. 

What Else Can You Do to Protect Your Carpet? 

As well as taking the right steps to clean your carpet, there are a variety of other things you can do to ensure you’re protecting your carpet. These include: 

  • Read the instructions manual. When you get your carpet, make sure you have read the manual which comes with it. The manual will explore how to care for your carpet, and suggest the best cleaning method for it.
  • Use a carpet protector. A carpet protector can be sprayed onto carpets to make them more stain and dirt resistant. Most new carpets already have protectors on them, but spray on a carpet protector every few months. 
  • Use walk-off carpets. Walk-off carpets are placed at the entrance to rooms that have carpets in them. They pick up dirt off people’s shoes and reduce the amount of dirt that is transferred onto the main carpets. 

Should You Call in the Professionals? 

Even if you’ve taken all the precautions to protect your carpet and have done all the research about cleaning correctly, you may still be wary. 

If you’re hesitant about trying to clean your carpet alone, then consider calling in professional carpet cleaners. 

Professional carpet cleaners will assess your carpet’s type and condition and decide the best way to clean it. They will also be able to give you advice and instructions about how to clean and care for your carpet in the future. 

However, as long as you do your research, use the right cleaning solutions, and clean your carpet correctly, you shouldn’t need to call in professional cleaners. 

Remember that cleaning your carpets do not ruin them, but can instead significantly improve their lifespan and appearance.

Summary

Don’t let the fear of ruining your carpet stop you from cleaning it regularly. Cleaning your carpet is important because: 

  • It increases the lifespan of your carpet. Getting all the dirt out of your carpet reduces the risk of the fibers breaking down, preventing wear and tear. 
  • It improves the carpet’s appearance. It can help remove stains and correct discoloration. 
  • It is hygienic. Carpets that are not cleaned regularly can become hotbeds for bacteria, germs, and toxins. Being in such an environment is extremely unhealthy, especially for toddlers and pets who spend a lot of time on the carpet. 
  • It reduces allergens. Carpets trap fur and dust, both of which can aggravate allergies. Regularly cleaning your carpet will significantly cut down on allergens in your environment. 

As long as you clean your carpet using the proper methods, there is no risk of ruining your carpet. And if you are concerned about damaging your carpet’s fibers, you can always call a professional cleaner. 

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