So, your months of hard work and saving have finally paid off, and you’ve invested in a shiny new carpet. While shooing the kids and pets away from it to avoid any nasty mess, you might be wondering how to keep it in pristine condition.
No worries. To learn all about how to care for a brand-new carpet, read on.
When and Why You Should Clean Your Carpet?
Carpets are like sponges. They will soak up all the dirt, grime, and liquids you happen to spill on them – which can lead to smelly, dirty floors all around the house.
You should treat your carpet like you would treat your clothes. Regular washing and cleaning is required to avoid deterioration and shabby appearances.
Every carpet will come with a cleaning regime recommended by the manufacturer. The most common requirements are:
- Vacuum – twice a week
- Deep clean – once a year
- Reactive cleaning (spills)– immediately
Keeping to this regimen will ensure your carpet remains in warranty and lasts for many years to come.
Vacuuming your carpet regularly is the most effective way to keep it clean. You should aim to vacuum your carpet at least twice a week.
While most homeowners will use traditional push vacuums, an increasing number are turning to robotic options like Roomba to clean their carpets.
While the vacuum mechanism is not particularly strong, robotic vacuum cleaners have the advantage of regularly cleaning the carpet and can be used every day if you desire. They also don’t rely on willpower or motivation to get the cleaning done – so if you’re prone to avoiding chores, investing in a robot vacuum might just save your carpet.
Lighter but more regular cleans – such as those performed by robotic vacuum cleaners – do help to prevent the build-up of dirt and dust. The main disadvantage of using a robotic vacuum is that they struggle to reach tight corners and in-between furniture.
They also have limited battery life, although this is nor a significant problem as they simply go back to base for an extra charge when low on juice.
Traditional vacuum cleaners are generally more powerful and are better at reaching hard to reach corners. Interchangeable heads make traditional vacuum cleaners suitable for all types of carpet.
Some modern carpets have loops rather than straight cut fur. Certain rotating vacuum cleaner heads, known as “beater bars,” are unsuitable and will cause jams and tangles. Check your carpet manufacturer’s instructions carefully before investing in the wrong type of vacuum cleaner.
The main floor cleaning head of a vacuum cleaner will often have an adjustable height feature. This allows you to set the best height in relation to the carpet thickness.
While vacuuming the carpet, do not rush it. Take your time and vacuum back and forth slowly. The longer the vacuum sits above a particular area of carpet, the more dust and dirt it will suck up.
For the best clean, vacuum the carpet in one direction, then switch to vacuuming at 90 degrees. This will help to give an even clean and dislodge dust and dirt that may have become trapped in one side of the fibers.
The main carpet attachment is often only one of the features of the cleaner available for use on carpet. After cleaning the main areas of a room with the main head, switch to a smaller head or brush. This can be used to clean in tighter areas and corners where the main head will not reach.
If your staircase is covered in carpet, it’s best to use one of the smaller attachments to reach into all the tricky corners. The larger carpet head is unlikely to be as effective because it can’t reach into every spot you need to get to.
A deep clean is typically required every year. Instead of taking it on themselves, many people choose to hire a professional carpet cleaner to deep clean their carpets.
While hiring a professional is convenient, it can be quite expensive, at around $200 for a typical 3-bedroom house.
As an alternative, you can rent a professional carpet cleaning machine. This will usually work out a bit cheaper but requires a significant amount of your own time to clean the carpet properly.
Here are some of the cleaning techniques a professional will use:
- Steam cleaning. Steam cleaning is the most popular method of cleaning carpets. A cleaning machine uses hot, high-pressure water to agitate and remove dirt that has been trodden deep into the carpet. After cleaning with a steam cleaner, the carpet will be damp and should be left to dry naturally.
- Shampoo. Shampooing carpets is a more traditional method of keeping carpets clean. The cleaning agents usually foam up in a similar way to hair shampoo. A lot of patience is required to rinse the shampoo away entirely.
- Encapsulation. The encapsulation method uses chemicals that react with the dirt and dust to leave behind a dry powder after evaporation. A vacuum cleaner can then simply clear up the debris.
- Bonnet cleaning. This is a popular method of cleaning used in hotels and other busy public buildings. A special machine concentrates on cleaning the top surface of the carpet, though deep dirt and grime will remain and require a deep clean to get rid of.
- Dry cleaning. This method makes use of a special machine and chemicals that avoid a damp carpet at the end of cleaning.
Carpet cleaning machines use several common chemicals to achieve a good clean. Here are the most popular cleaning chemicals available:
- Hydrogen peroxide. A staple in carpet cleaning chemicals, hydrogen peroxide is great at neutralizing odors and stains. When hydrogen peroxide dries, a powder is left behind that is easily brushed, or vacuum cleaned away.
- Enzymes. Enzyme-based cleaning agents work best at removing bacteria and smells from a dirty carpet. They are particularly useful when a pet or young child accidentally pees on the carpet.
- Synthetic rinses. These chemicals are optimized to work on synthetic and woolen carpets.
- Citrafresh. This is a common chemical that attacks grease and grime in particular. The orange scent will make your carpet smell great.
- Washing up liquid and white vinegar. These common household chemicals are often used for stain removal and localized cleaning.
- Spot cleaners. These are chemicals that are applied to a small spot and often used to help remove stains.
One common dilemma carpet owners face is whether to clean their carpet themselves or to hire a professional. DIY carpet cleaning sounds attractive, but you should be prepared for a slow and complicated process.
Professional cleaners do this every day of their lives. They will be able to perform the job more quickly and thoroughly.
Dealing With Common Stains
In the life of any carpet, there will inevitably be the occasional spill and stain. Dealing with the problem quickly and choosing the correct cleaning agent are both essential if you wish to avoid permanent discoloration or worse.
Bleach has traditionally been associated with cleaning soft furnishings and carpets. Many carpets, however, cannot be treated with bleach. The only carpets that can be safely treated with bleach are polypropylene carpets.
If you use bleach on wool or nylon carpets, you risk lifting the color. This cleaning agent can, in fact, end up causing a stain itself!
Blood stains is one of the hardest stains to remove from a light-colored carpet. Here’s a guide on removing them safely and correctly:
Whatever you do, do not apply hot water. This will lead to permanently fixing the stain in place. Cold water should always be used.
- Start by mixing a cup of water with a few drops of washing up liquid.
- If the blood has already dried, try scraping it away first before applying any fluids.
- Failing this, apply a mix of 1 cup water and a few drops of ammonia.
- Gently dab until the stain has gone.
Crayon stains are a common issue in households with children. Here’s how you can get rid of them:
- To remove, apply white spirit to a clean cloth and place over the stain.
- Leave to soak for two minutes, then blot.
- Keep blotting until no more stain can be removed.
- Apply a spot remover and blot again.
- Repeat until no more stain transfers to the cloth.
Chocolate can be dealt with in a similar way to crayon stains.
- Apply an iron on its lowest heat setting to a clean cloth or paper to soak up the chocolate.
- Keep repeating until all the chocolate has gone.
Grease is often removed by soaking it up by blotting using a cloth. The cleaning agent Afta can be used to speed up the process.
Mud is one of the most common stains. People will often step indoors quickly to get out of the rain, bringing in a trail of mud behind them.
- The first step to remove mud is to let it dry.
- Remove any large lumps by hand, then scrape any attached mud using a blunt knife.
- Vacuum the debris.
- If there is still a stain, apply carpet shampoo to a cloth and slowly dab.
- Repeat until all of the stain has transferred to the cloth.
- Follow up with a spot remover, then rinse the carpet clean.
Pet accidents are a common cause of stains on carpets in family homes.
Enzyme agents are great for dealing with pet-related stains, as the enzymes will fight bacteria head-on. After applying the enzymes and waiting for the necessary period, regular cleaning fluids can be used to wash away the residue.
In the unfortunate event of some split wine, you need to move fast.
- Use a white cloth to blot the spill and soak up as much of the wine as possible.
- Once the majority has been soaked up, pour cold water on the stain and keep blotting.
- After your further efforts become futile, apply a mix of 3 parts water to 1 part baking soda mixed as a paste.
- When the area is dry, vacuum the debris.
Tea stains can be removed using a similar blotting method to wine.
Rather than using baking powder, use a mix of 1 part water 1 part white vinegar for the later blotting.
If you are a regular candle burner, you will, at some point, end up with some wax on the carpet. Here’s how you can mitigate the damage from a wax spill:
- Act fast and apply a plastic bag containing ice. This will harden the wax.
- Use a knife to scrape away the wax slowly.
- Once the majority has gone, place a cloth or paper bag over the stain.
- Apply an iron on its lowest setting and allow the wax to be soaked up.
- Keep repeating until the stain is gone.
Other Types of Damage
Carpets are susceptible to many other forms of damage. Here are some of the most common non-stain-related sources of carpet damage:
Rips and tears
The last thing you want to happen to your new carpet is for it to become torn.
Tearing is more commonly associated with older carpets that have begun to fray or ripple. Shoes can get caught in small areas of damage then turn them into a rip.
How you deal with a rip or tear will depend on the size of it.
For small tears, you can simply “glue” the carpet back together. Here’s how:
- Find the split in the carpet and lift the torn edge.
- Once the tear is exposed, apply latex seam adhesive to the ripped surface.
- After applying the glue, put the carpet back down and apply pressure to hold it in its original position.
- You can tidy up the exterior appearance by individually supergluing some spare fibers into place.
Larger tears will require a stronger method of bonding the two halves:
- Fold back the carpet near the tear and sew stitches in place to hold the carpet back together.
- Apply latex adhesive to seal the carpet.
- If you have multiple tears, cut the carpet out and replace it with a new patch. And if a pattern exists on the carpet, make sure you match it up correctly.
The weight of furniture can compress your carpet and leave unsightly dents in the carpet. The best way to avoid these dents is to fit furniture shoes, which help spread the pressure caused by a heavy piece of furniture over a larger area. This results in less carpet damage.
Bulges and ripples
These can develop if the carpet was not fitted properly or stretched tight. The best way to solve them is to get a carpet fitter to visit and re-stretch the carpet.
Bulges and ripples can lead to rips and tears, so get them fixed before they become a serious problem.
Tufting can occur when one or more of the carpet fibers works loose and start to unravel.
Never pull an unraveling thread. Instead, cut it back to avoid further damage. Several things can cause tufting. One of the most common is animal scratching; another is the snagging of objects when pulled across the carpet.
Animals can cause significant damage to carpets if you are not careful.
Dogs and cats can both develop sharp claws that can start your carpet unraveling. Some pets have a burrowing nature and will scratch at the same area repeatedly. This, of course, can lead to heavily worn patches on the carpet.
If your dog or cat insists on a favorite spot, then consider placing a rug or pet bed in that location to provide some protection to the carpet beneath.
Burns can occur for several reasons.
The most common are smoking-related burns. Cigarette butts can be easily dropped, and in many cases with synthetic carpets will result in a small melted area.
Embers from traditional fires are another cause of carpet damage. If fitting a new carpet to a room with an open fire, make sure you include enough protection or matting to keep the carpet away from the heat of the fire.
A slightly rarer issue is the placement of an iron on a carpet after use. This can cause melting and a permanent iron shape in synthetic carpets.
Protecting Your Carpet and Preventing Damage Before It Happens
The best way to keep your carpet in tip-top condition is to look after it from day one. Give your carpet the care and attention it deserves.
Here are ten of the best ways to care for your carpet:
Use rugs in high-traffic areas
Rugs are usually low cost and easy to install – you simply put them where you want them. A rug will prevent heavy wear and tear caused by the most common pathways through a building. Fashionable rugs can even accent your carpet to enhance its look.
Keep food and drink away from your carpet
Stains and food debris only get into the carpet because someone let them. If you have a simple rule that keeps food in the kitchen or dining room, then there should be little to no chance of food and drink-related stains on your living room carpet.
Keep pets and small children away from your carpet
Train your pets not to play on the carpet. Give them a favorite rug or bed to snuggle up on instead.
Take shoes off at the front door
A simple rule of “no shoes in the house” can lead to many years of extra life in your carpets. The minor inconvenience will always be worth it in the long run.
Make sure to install doormat outside all exterior doors. If space permits, have a secondary doormat inside the house just in case feet brushing on the outer mat did not remove all mud/debris.
Use blinds and curtains
Carpets are often prone to sun bleaching. For rooms with large windows and bright sunshine, consider installing blinds or curtains to help protect your carpet from those nasty UV rays.
Don’t drag heavy objects across the carpet
Dragging heavy objects across the carpet or regularly using “wheelie chairs” can lead to serious wear and tear, rips, and bulges/ripples. Always carry heavy objects and place them down gently to avoid damage.
Use temporary coverings
If you are performing a task that will create dust, dirt, or spills, consider installing temporary coverings over your carpet. This will often be the case when redecorating or performing a DIY task. If hiring professional workers, make sure you advise them of any rules regards covering carpets.
Regularly change air conditioning filter
Replacing the filters on air conditioning units will help prevent dust build up in the room. This will ultimately reduce the amount of dust trapped by the carpet.
Use protective coating chemicals
There are several protective coating chemicals available on the market. These help to make your carpet last longer and are typically applied after carpet cleaning. Ask your favorite professional carpet cleaner for advice if you require more information.
Signs of Neglect
If you decide not to follow this advice, your carpet will wear out significantly sooner than if it had been properly cared for.
Some of the most obvious signs of a neglected carpet include:
This is most noticeable in hallways and entrances. Always try to install suitable mats and rugs to protect the hardest-hit areas.
If your carpet generally looks dirty and shabby, it is a good sign it has not been maintained properly. Stains and rips are both classic signs of neglect.
Smells and odors
Before noticing a carpet is neglected with your eyes, you will often smell a poorly maintained carpet. Stains and dampness caused by animal accidents are particularly nasty sources of foul smells.
Sickness and health issues
If you start to find yourself coughing more often when in the house, or having breathing troubles or asthma attacks, then these are all signs of a neglected carpet. As you walk on the carpet, you kick dust particles into the air. These are then breathed in and cause numerous respiratory problems.
Neglecting your carpet will also invalidate its warranty. This will mean if a real problem with the manufacturing of the carpet did occur, the manufacturer is within their rights not to resolve it. Just as you must follow a car’s service schedule, you must follow a carpet’s recommended cleaning regimen.
When Should I Get a New Carpet?
You will know it is time to consider a new carpet when the following issues become too much to deal with:
- Mold. Mold can destroy a carpet in a matter of weeks. It will grow quickly in warm damp environments. Do not allow your carpet to get into this state, as it is unlikely you will be able to recover it and will need to buy a new carpet.
- Matting and knotting. When a carpet starts to become matted and knotted, it is uncomfortable to walk on and hard to clean. It is, therefore, probably time to start looking for a replacement.
- Padding. Carpets are usually designed to be soft and have a layer of padding beneath the fibers. If your carpet is so worn that it feels like you are walking on concrete, it is probably time to replace it.
- Stains. Some stains are simply impossible to remove. A stained carpet never looks nice and can be unbearable for some people. If the stains are bad enough that you are annoyed every time you look at the carpet, it is time to let it go.
To summarize, here are the key points you should take away from this guide on caring for a brand new carpet:
- For the average person, a carpet is a significant investment. Prices can range from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Wherever your carpet fits on this scale, you will want to protect it.
- Following your manufacturer’s cleaning regimen will result in a long-lasting carpet. The carpet’s warranty will stay in effect but is unlikely to be claimed upon if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. A poorly maintained carpet is more prone to serious damage. Without the manufacturer’s warranty, the repair costs will be high.
- Weekly vacuuming is a must, and an annual deep clean is essential if you wish to keep your carpet looking fresh and clean.
- Being prepared to react quickly in the event of spills and stains will ensure those minor mishaps don’t turn into major disasters.
- Preventative maintenance and protective measures will ensure your carpet is not damaged by the more unusual factors affecting carpet life.
Whichever techniques you decide to choose, if you give your carpet the same attention and care you would give your car, then you are unlikely to go wrong.
Replacing your carpet should be about having a carpet you like the look and feel of. Don’t put up with a neglected carpet. Go out, research, and buy a new one. After that, follow these handy tips to ensure your next carpet lives until a ripe old age.