Carpet cleaning is an essential but forgettable task. With all of the other chores and responsibilities filling our lives, it’s easy to neglect the tedious, time-consuming task of a thorough carpet cleaning.
There is a possible solution, though: professional carpet cleaning.
Is professional carpet cleaning really worth it? Yes, professional carpet cleaning is really worth it – if you can afford it. While carpet cleaners aren’t cheap, hiring one has several tangible benefits:
- They will clean your carpet more thoroughly and deeply than you can.
- They will help your carpet last longer, thereby saving money on carpet replacement.
- They will make your carpet look better and smell cleaner.
If you’re still on the fence about hiring a professional carpet cleaner, the rest of this article will help you come to a decision.
Why Does My Carpet Need Cleaning?
Here’s the harsh truth: if you don’t clean your carpet, you risk damaging it permanently.
Keeping your carpet clean is just as important as cleaning any other furniture, fixtures, and fittings in your house.
Without regular cleaning, your carpet will show visible signs of dirt and grime. The smell of these unwanted substances will be noticeable, too.
It can also become an ideal breeding ground for dust mites, bacteria, and other nasty creatures. These organisms can present a real health risk to young children and babies that play your carpet. They can also compromise the air quality in your home and cause problems for people who have asthma.
And to top it off, a carpet that isn’t cleaned regularly will break down faster than a carpet that is.
Some people only get around to cleaning the carpet when they finally move into a new house. When they see the difference after a professional clean, they will often kick themselves and question why they didn’t clean the carpet earlier.
There’s no doubt about it: although necessary, cleaning your carpet is no fun.
However, there is some good news: cleaning a carpet regularly makes each subsequent clean easier. As long as you stay on top of things and give your carpet a professional cleaning every once in a while, the damage and bacterial/dust buildup should be quite manageable.
When Does My Carpet Need Cleaning?
Most carpet manufacturers recommend their carpets are vacuum cleaned twice a week, and professional cleaning every 6-18 months, depending on the amount of traffic.
However, carpets in houses with young children and pets may require a more regular deep clean due to the increased amount of dirt and hair that gets into them.
Here are some of the major factors affecting how often you should clean your carpet:
- Whether people smoke in the room
- Carpets located in bathrooms can experience problems with dampness
- Carpets located in kitchens are susceptible to the buildup of grease, oil, and food deposits.
- Carpets located in entrance halls or by exterior doors receive more dirt than carpets in other areas.
Some carpets also come with warranties that require a particular cleaning regimen to remain valid. These are similar to the required car service regimen needed to keep a car warranty valid.
What If I Don’t Clean My Carpet?
Failing to clean your carpet can have several severe consequences. When you fail to clean your carpet, all of the dirt, bacteria, and grime will slowly erode the fibers of the carpet. This can lead to the following undesirable problems:
The deterioration of fibers will make them weaker and more prone to shedding and damage. The cost of replacing your carpet will always be significantly more than preventative maintenance, so do your best to keep it clean.
The dirt and bacteria that have become ingrained in the carpet give harmful bacteria and allergens a great place to breed. These organisms can be particularly nasty if your dog or cat has accidentally added the occasional bodily fluids to the mix.
Also, every time you walk across a dirty carpet, you will kick up dust and dirt that you will ultimately breathe in. Family members with allergies or breathing problems such as asthma will suffer from this.
A dirty carpet never looks nice. Just imagine what you would think if you visited a friend’s house whose carpet looked like your carpet does. They would be thinking the same when they visit you!
A buildup of bacteria in your carpet can lead to unpleasant smells and odors. Your own sense of smell may slowly become accustomed to these odors, but any visitors to your home will surely wonder where the smell is coming from.
Invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty
Many manufacturers provide warranties on their carpets. However, this warranty is only valid if you can prove you have properly maintained the carpet in line with their instructions.
How Can I Help Protect My Carpet?
Some people put extra precautions in place to help keep their shiny new carpet in tip-top condition. Some of the most common methods of protecting a carpet are:
Removing outdoor shoes before entering
Shoe removal is a common technique that many homeowners employ to keep their carpets clean. It’s particularly useful for light-colored carpets that show dirt easily.
Many people set a simple “no shoes in the house” rule to prevent a rapid buildup of dirt. Unfortunately, this can be a little harder to enforce in office or shared environments.
Get a doormat
A doormat will help to capture any dirt and water from the bottom of people’s shoes before they have a chance to make the carpet dirty.
Buy furniture shoes
Carpets are also susceptible to damage from heavy objects such as tables, chairs, and sofas. The installation of furniture shoes helps to spread the load and prevent dents and flattening of the carpet fibers.
Many people install a rug on top of their carpet for the highest traffic areas. This mainly helps with preventing wear and tear.
Sunlight is one of the biggest threats to darker-colored carpets, as direct sunlight can cause bleaching to occur. And when furniture is installed on top of the carpet, outlines of the shadow of the furniture can form.
In rooms with large windows, try to rearrange your furniture every few months to ensure an even change in color over the years.
Vacuuming twice a week
A twice-weekly vacuuming regimen will help remove any dirt that has started to build up. It is particularly effective at removing dust and dry dirt but will have less of an effect on moisture-related stains and bacterial growth.
Some people choose to apply chemicals after cleaning to help protect their carpet. Products such as Scotchgard will help to protect high traffic areas from damage.
Before using these products, check with the carpet manufacturer to see if there are any chemical restrictions for your carpet.
Carpet Age and Cost
It costs, on average, $50 per room for a professional carpet cleaning.
Compared to the cost of a brand new carpet, this is a relatively small price to pay to keep your carpet in tip-top condition.
However, when a carpet is approaching the end of its life, $50 may seem like a lot of money to spend on cleaning something you plan to replace soon.
Therefore, when considering hiring a professional cleaner, you should always consider the value of the carpet you plan to clean and whether you have plans to replace it soon.
If you intend to replace a carpet within the next one to two years, it may make sense to save your money and put it toward the new carpet.
With new carpets, make sure you carefully follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning regimen. Invalidating your warranty could prove to be a costly mistake.
Methods of Cleaning
Proper carpet maintenance requires a combination of techniques to achieve proper results.
Some of these tasks can be performed by yourself, while others require a professional to perform properly.
First of all, everyone should attempt to vacuum clean their carpet at least twice a week. This will prevent the buildup of dust and remove any loose dirt and food fragments. Unless you own a mansion, you should be capable of performing this task yourself.
Every 6-18 months, you should consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner to give your carpet a proper deep clean. Professional cleaners use five standard techniques to clean your carpet:
Hot water extraction cleaning
Also known as steam cleaning, this is the most common method of cleaning a carpet.
This method uses an extraction machine that emits high-pressure hot water to dissolve any dirt and particles. The cleaning agent will be rubbed into the carpet using a brush and left to soak for a short while before the machine removes it. Following rinsing, the carpet is then left to dry out naturally.
Carpet shampooing isn’t so common these days. Still, it’s sometimes useful for particularly dirty areas, as carpet shampooing is similar to shampooing your hair.
Of course, it has the same problem as washing your hair – it can be hard to rinse out properly, and foam can dry out to form a sticky residue.
Encapsulation is a bit like shampooing in terms of its application. However, it uses special chemicals that are designed to dry out, leaving power residue behind instead of a sticky mess.
The dry powder that encapsulates the dirt and dust can then easily be brushed or vacuum-cleaned away, leaving a pleasantly fresh carpet behind.
This method is often used in high traffic public areas such as hotels. Bonnet cleaning is performed using a special machine that uses a high-speed spinning pad combined with chemicals to clean the surface only.
Deeply ingrained dirt will not be picked up using this technique. However, for maintaining appearances, this technique is commonly employed.
This technique combines a special machine with cleaning compounds and a motorized brush to quickly give the carpet a thorough cleaning. Unlike a steam cleaner, dry cleaning results in a dry carpet immediately. You do not have to wait for a wet carpet to dry.
Renting a DIY carpet cleaning machine
Many home improvement shops and supermarkets rent carpet cleaning machines direct to the public. If you have the time and patience, renting one of these is a very effective way to save some money and clean your carpet yourself.
Note: Whichever method you choose, make sure it complies with the carpet manufacturer’s warranty.
What Chemicals Are Used to Clean Carpets?
A number of chemicals are commonly used for carpet cleaning. The most popular options are:
- Synthetic rinses. These are designed for use on synthetic and woolen carpets. The rinse will typically be slightly acidic and will aid in neutralizing any alkaline-based chemicals.
- Enzymes. Enzyme cleaning solutions are particularly useful for cleaning carpets that have been soiled by human or animal waste products. The enzymes will react with the bacteria and help neutralize any foul smells and odors.
- Teflon. Some people like to apply a Teflon coating following a professional cleaning to help prevent future damage from dirt and grime. Several products exist on the market for this, including the Scotchgard product mentioned above.
- Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide helps to oxidize odors and stains. After application and drying, it will become a powder that can be vacuumed away.
- Citrafresh. – This is a common agent designed for cleaning very greasy and heavily soiled carpets. It has an orange smell that will make your carpet smell clean and fresh.
- Grease release spotter. These are used for smaller areas or stains. After application and a short wait, it can be washed away using water, hopefully bringing the stain with it.
As with any cleaning agents, make sure you keep them away from young children and pets. Check the instruction labels for special application or storage requirements.
How to Clean My Carpet Without a Professional?
Many people prefer to clean their own homes, and as a matter of principle, will not hire external professionals to help them. Fortunately, maintaining and cleaning your carpet yourself is entirely achievable.
Vacuuming is a common task that you should be performing anyway.
Deeper cleaning, however, can be a little more complicated.
The easiest way to clean your carpet yourself is to rent a carpet cleaning machine from your nearest supermarket or home improvement store. The package will include all the chemicals you require to clean your carpet.
Make sure that you buy enough chemicals for the number of carpets you plan to clean. And before beginning, read all instructions thoroughly, so you know how long to leave chemicals for the best effect.
Cost of Professional Cleaning
In 2019, the average cost of professional carpet cleaning in the USA was $0.25 per square foot. This equates to between $25 and $75 for a standard room. An average 3-bedroom home may cost in the region of $200.
To avoid having to pay these costs often, make sure you clean your carpet with a vacuum cleaner at least twice a week. Try to avoid letting pets and young children play on your best carpets. If necessary, place a rug over the carpet to protect it.
Where to Find a Professional Cleaner?
In the past, you would have searched for a carpet cleaner in the phonebook or yellow pages.
Times have changed, though. As with any other service these days, the most common way of finding a professional carpet cleaner is using Google.
Do not just base your choice of carpet cleaner on price but pay particular attention to the reviews. And before you hire someone, make sure they are using modern green cleaning agents that will not harm the environment.
How to Deal With Common Stains
Carpets are susceptible to many different types of stains. Food stains, pet-related stains, and other spills will affect your carpet in different ways. Therefore, you’ll need different cleaning agents to clean the various stain types.
Here are some of the most common stains you’ll deal with:
Tea and coffee stains
Drinks are some of the most common liquids to be spilled on a carpet. If you have to deal with a tea, coffee, or cola stain, regular dishwashing liquid is a perfectly good chemical to use.
Here’s the process:
- Mix one drop of dishwashing liquid with a cup of water.
- Apply to the relevant area and dab with a towel.
- Re-apply until the stain is starting to disappear.
- If the stain is particularly stubborn, try applying a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water.
- Once you’ve finished, rinse the area with clean water and allow it to dry.
The number 1 rule for blood stains is that you shouldn’t apply hot liquids – use cold water only.
Blood can often be cleaned using a simple cleaning dishwashing liquid + water mix. If the blood has already dried, gently scrape as much away as possible before starting with the liquid.
If soap and water are not enough, then mix half a cup of water with a tablespoon of ammonia and gently dab the spot until the blood has been absorbed.
Pet toilet accidents
Many pet shops sell special sprays to use when your pet has had an accident on the carpet. Keep a bottle handy for when the inevitable happens.
After cleaning the spot, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to finish the job. You can also apply a pet odor neutralizer to remove any lingering smell.
Chocolate can be one of the messiest stains to deal with. Here’s a quick and easy guide to removing it:
- If the chocolate has dried, scrape as much away as possible and vacuum up the debris.
- This can be followed by applying some kitchen towel to the area and using an iron on low heat to melt the chocolate onto the paper towel.
- Keep replacing the towel until the stain has gone.
Alternatively, you can use a specialized chocolate stain removal liquid to make cleanup a breeze.
If you get grease on the floor, try to blot it to remove the majority of the stain. Follow up by using a cleaning fluid like Afta with a sponge to slowly soak up the grease.
Red wine stains
Red wine is a nightmare for white or cream-colored carpet owners. Here’s how you can get rid of it:
- Start by blotting the wine with an absorbent cloth to soak up as much of the liquid as possible.
- Next, apply off the shelf wine remover to the stain.
- Let the remover soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Use a paper towel to blot the stain until it goes away.
If this doesn’t work, try mixing one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and 2 cups of warm water. Apply, then blot with a sponge until the stain has disappeared.
Other Causes of Carpet Damage
Here are some of the most common non-stain-related causes of carpet damage:
While smoking inside the house is less common these days, many people still do. And unfortunately, accidentally dropping a cigarette butt on your carpet will inevitably cause damage.
Luckily, modern carpets are designed and treated with special fire-retardant chemicals to avoid the spread of fire. But if you do suffer a small burn in your carpet, you will probably have little choice than to remove the area and replace it with a new patch.
Traditional wood and coal burning fires can also cause minor carpet damage when hot embers land upon the carpet. Therefore, it is always sensible to have a second rug nearby your fireplace to avoid any damage.
Heavy furniture often has small wheels or feet that rest upon the carpet. Given the weight of these items crushing and flattening can occur to the carpet underneath.
If you are particularly concerned about this type of damage, you can invest in furniture shoes that help spread the weight and protect the carpet.
Bulging and rippling
Carpets are designed to be stretched tight. Sometimes a poor fitting or old age can lead to the carpet working loose, though. This will lead to ripples and bulges in the carped, which can present serious trip hazards. If you notice your carpet starting to work loose, hire a professional to re-stretch it.
In addition to the small accidents that occasionally occur, some pets’ habits can be very destructive to carpets. Scratching and attempted burrowing will both wear out your carpet a lot quicker than intended. If you have a new carpet, try to give your pets an old rug they can play with without damaging the carpet.
Tufting occurs when some of the fibers work loose, get caught, and start to unravel. The best approach is to cut them back with a pair of scissors and try to avoid walking on that area.
When Should I Replace My Carpet?
Carpets are designed with an intended lifespan of around 5-15 years, depending on the environment they are installed in.
With light traffic and maintenance in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations, there is no reason your carpet should not survive for 15 years.
Many people decide to replace the carpet when one or more of the following problems occur:
- Matting. A matted carpet makes it “look old.” The feeling under bare feet will be unpleasant, and cleaning will become harder. This is the most obvious tell-tale sign that it is time to start shopping.
- Mold. Mold can develop when a carpet has been damp. It is particularly prevalent when bacterial matter has been left to fester. Unfortunately, a moldy carpet cannot be saved. You should replace the carpet as soon as you notice signs of mold.
- Stains. Some stains simply will not disappear. If a stain forms in a visible position, it can ruin the look of a room. If you have an unremovable stain, it may be time to get a new carpet if it can’t be covered up with a piece of furniture or rug.
- Padding. Carpets are designed to be soft and comfortable underfoot. If your carpet has worn so thin that it is uncomfortable to walk on, then it is probably time to buy a new carpet.
Carpet maintenance is not that complicated.
There are no particularly special skills required to perform the common types of maintenance. However, cleaning a carpet can be a time-consuming task – a proper cleaning can take several hours in some cases.
Therefore, you should hire a professional carpet cleaner at least once a year to give your carpet a thorough cleaning. In between these cleanings, you should vacuum your carpet a minimum of twice a week to avoid the build-up of dirt and grime.
Hiring a professional carpet cleaner may be a little expensive, as the typical rate will be around $50 per room.
However, the returns are definitely worth that investment. New carpets with warranties require proper maintenance in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines, and professional cleaning will almost certainly be on that warranty. So if you have a newer carpet, a yearly professional cleaning is definitely worth it.