Carpet Cleaning Tips

How to Clean a Carpet: Super Easy Carpet Cleaning Tips and Tricks

If you have carpets in your house, then they’re probably constantly bombarded with all kinds of stains and dirt. So, to maintain a clean domestic environment, it’s always a good idea to learn how to clean carpets without a machine. Keeping in mind that there isn’t a single best way to clean a carpet, we have gathered the best carpet cleaning tips and tricks to help you in your day to day battle with dirt.

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Want to learn how to clean your carpet properly;
  • Are interested in getting rid of specific stains;
  • Want to know how to clean a specific type of carpet;
  • Are looking for carpet maintenance tips,

Then read on! This article is here to help.

How to clean carpets at home

Let’s start by going over the various ways to clean a carpet and when you should use each one:

  • Vacuuming
    Cleaning your carpet with a hoover is a good way to get rid of build-up dust and dirt. It’s the perfect cleaning method for when you just want to refresh your carpet. You won’t be able to clean up any stains with a vacuum, though.
  • Stain removal
    If you’re dealing with a stain, be it a food spill or a pet accident, then you’d want to know how to spot clean a carpet. You can use different cleaning methods, depending on the nature of the stain and how old it is.
  • Deep cleaning
    If you haven’t cleaned your carpet in a while, or if you need to disinfect it, then deep cleaning is the way to go. Rather than treating a single spot or just sucking up the dirt, deep cleaning a carpet will disinfect every fibre, making your carpet look, feel, and smell fresh. Professional cleaners use specialised machines to do this, but we’ll show you how to deep clean a carpet by hand.

We’ll also give you some general tips on how to dry a carpet after cleaning, as well as how to keep a carpet clean and maintain its good looks.

Ready? Good! Let’s dive deeper into each of these carpet cleaning methods, starting with…

Vacuuming carpets the right way

To achieve the best results in your weekly cleaning ritual, it’s always good to have some order in the way you take care of your carpets. To make sure you’re vacuuming carpets properly, follow the steps below and enjoy a clean home.

Dust surfaces first

The best way to start is to dust all the furniture, blinds, window frames, baseboards, and any other places where dust usually builds up. All the fallen residue will be vacuumed up after.

Prepare the room in advance

Go around the rooms and pick up any objects which might get in the way of the vacuum cleaner. This includes mainly the toys of kids and pets, shoes, and small decorative items. Don’t forget to look under the sofa, or any other piece of furniture to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Use the proper vacuum hose attachments

When vacuuming carpets, you will need different vacuum attachments, depending on the area you’re working on. For example, the edges of the carpets and baseboards are the ones collecting the most dust, and they are the places you should start from. You can use a nozzle attachment for them and a cranny extension if there is any furniture you need to reach under to remove accumulated dirt.

Certain attachments can damage some carpet styles, so do your research well before vacuuming. For example, Berber and natural fibre carpets (like wool) should never be vacuumed with a beater bar, as the rotating brush can ruin their appearance.

If you have carpeted stairs, keep in mind that they are not suitable for an upright vacuum, due to their size. Even if you choose to go with a larger head, it would just be too difficult. The way to go is to use a stair hose attachment, or just the hose itself, without extensions. The smaller the add-on is, the easier it would be for you to reach all those hard corners, or between the railing posts, if you have any.

Vacuum carpets at the right height

To provide the best airflow and suction, you will have to adjust the height of your vacuum head according to your carpets. If you’re using a beater bar, you’ll want the bristles to just be touching the tips of the fibres, no lower. To be sure which height is the right one for your carpet, check with the vacuum manufacturer, or look up the exact type of carpet and its requirements.

Take your time and do slow turns

When you start vacuuming carpets, it is essential to ignore all basic human instincts to try and do everything as quickly as possible. Good cleaning takes time. Let your machine suck up all the dirt that has piled up. Always do a second round and slightly overlap the different sections whilst cleaning, just to be sure that you have covered the area properly.

Vacuum your carpet frequently

Different households require different frequency in cleaning. If you live alone, surely you wouldn’t need as much maintenance as someone who has a family with kids or pets. But there is a minimum. Once a week is the least you can do to make sure you have a clean home and a fresh carpet.

If the traffic is high (and especially when pets are present), vacuuming carpets should be done around two to three times a week. It’s crucial to get rid of the many allergens, such as dust and pet hair, and to prevent the build-up of dirt, making the carpet easier to clean.

Now that you know all about vacuuming, let’s learn more about cleaning stains off a carpet.

How to clean different types of carpet

Not all cleaning methods suit every type of carpet out there. To ensure your rugs don’t get irreversibly damaged, you need to know which solutions are acceptable and which ones to avoid when cleaning your carpet.

Synthetic

If you’re wondering how to clean a synthetic rug, the good news is it’s a breeze! Still, there are a few different types of synthetic carpet and knowing which methods to use is important.

Nylon

Nylon carpets are a popular choice because they are super easy to clean, durable, and stain-resistant.

We recommend that you get your nylon carpets professionally cleaned at least once every two years. Luckily, they can handle most professional cleaning methods, so there’s no need to worry!

When it comes to cleaning a nylon carpet at home, you have a wide variety of solutions available. You can use dish soap, white vinegar, baking soda, lemon, club soda, hydrogen peroxide, and even ammonia. Your cup runneth over with possibilities!

The one thing you really should avoid is cleaners with high alkaline content, as that can make the carpet lose its stain resistance.

Polypropylene

These colour-fast and water-repellent carpets are also extremely easy to clean and maintain. However, they are oleophilic, meaning that oily stains can be harder to remove.

So, cleaning a polypropylene carpet – how is it done?

Professional cleaning-wise, any wet technique can be used – steam cleaning, hot water extraction, etc. It’s recommended that you have this done at least once a year.

Want to clean your carpet yourself? You can use dishwashing liquid or, for more stubborn stains, diluted bleach. Yes – polypropylene carpets are bleach-cleanable! Just make sure you dilute it properly. Oily stains should be treated with a product made specifically for the purpose, however, it’s not impossible to do it with eco-friendly methods. Check this post on how to get oil out of a carpet to learn how.

Polyester

Polyester carpets are stain and fade-resistant, easy to clean, and – best of all – inexpensive. However, they are prone to attracting dust and dirt rather quickly.

Cleaning a polyester carpet can be done with ingredients such as baking soda, dish soap, and white vinegar.

Natural

Natural carpet fibres can be a bit more challenging to clean than synthetic ones, as they are more delicate and prone to damage. So, read on to find out how to clean natural fibre carpets.

Wool

Wool carpets are among the most popular natural fibre types, as they are fade-resistant, fairly durable, and can even be fire-retardant. However, they can be easily stained.

Cleaning wool carpets can be tackled with a wool cleaning detergent, dishwashing liquid, baking soda and white vinegar.

Avoid bleach, bleach-based products, steam cleaning and dry cleaning at all costs.

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Seagrass, jute, and sisal

These carpet types are a great way to bring a natural look to any home. However, cleaning them can be a challenging task.

To clean these types of rugs, you can use a dry cleaning agent. Seagrass carpets can be cleaned with club soda or mild dishwashing liquid, too. Clean jute rugs with baking soda, diluted dish soap, and salt. For sisal, use baking soda or vinegar.

By no means use any wet cleaning method to clean these types of rugs! If using dish soap, club soda or vinegar, never pour liquid directly over the rug, always blot up the excess moisture and dry the carpet immediately after.

Cowhide

Cowhide rugs can bring a luxurious feeling to every home. While they’re not everyone’s first choice, it helps to know how to clean a cowhide rug.

You can use dishwashing liquid or vinegar to treat stains. Dry cleaning chemicals should be avoided.

Sheepskin

When wondering how to clean a sheepskin rug, remember that it’s not just about the products – you need to make sure the hairs are properly brushed and detangled to avoid matting.

Sheepskin rugs can be cleaned with a mild dishwashing detergent or dry cleaned. We don’t recommend washing dyed rugs – dry clean them instead.

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Silk

These delicate carpets should be treated gently. The best course of action here is prevention. However, accidents happen. If possible, leave cleaning silk carpets to the professionals.

If you decide to tackle the stains yourself, you can use club soda, white vinegar, baking soda, or mild dish soap. Under no circumstances use enzymatic cleaners, bleach, or hot water and steam.

Don’t risk damaging your carpet – leave the hard work to the experts!

How to remove stains from a carpet properly

Keeping your carpet stain-free needs to be a priority if you want to prolong its life. And here are the most important rules you need to follow if you want to enjoy your rug for years to come.

Treat stains immediately after they occur

The number one rule in cleaning carpet stains, no matter the origin, is to take immediate action when a spill occurs (unless it is a mud stain, which you should tackle once the mud has dried). Don’t let a stain dry on your carpet because it will be a lot harder to remove afterwards. When a liquid is spilt, blot it carefully – don’t rub it on the carpet.

The following technique works for the most common spills. Here is how to get rid of carpet stains:

  1. Absorb
    Absorb the spill with a clean cloth or dry paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda
    After you have absorbed as much as possible, spread baking soda over the spot.
  3. Let it sit
    Let the baking soda stay on for around 15 minutes.
  4. Vacuum
    Vacuum the baking soda off the spot.

If the spilt liquid is wine or another colourful one, add a bit of club soda before pouring the baking soda and follow the steps above.

Test your cleaning solution

Whenever you’re cleaning your carpet, you want to make sure that you won’t damage the fibres or the dye in the process. That’s why, regardless if you are using a homemade cleaning solution or a chemical stain remover, you should always test it out on a small, inconspicuous area.

Does your carpet hold on to its colour even when exposed to heat, moisture, light, and stronger cleaning products? If the answer is yes, then your carpet has been dyed with a colourfast dye.

Performing this test will help you determine what you can use to remove stains from the carpet safely. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Apply the solution
    Go to the area you have chosen for this experiment and apply a small amount of the solution you intend on using.
  2. Wait
    Let the solution sit for a few seconds.
  3. Press with a cloth
    While the spill is still fresh, take a clean cloth or a white towel and press it to the spot for a bit.
  4. Check the results
    If the carpet dye has transferred to the cloth, then this solution is not the right one for your rug. But if the towel is clean, then the professional or homemade detergent is safe to use on any other part of your carpet.
If it’s your first time using a particular solution, always do a test first and don’t trust the experience of other people.

Blot instead of rubbing the spill

We are often tempted to rub the stain as hard as possible in the hope that this is the fastest way to remove it. Unfortunately, rubbing a stain into the carpet will not only prolong the time you will spend removing it but will also make the task a lot harder than it should have been.

The smart way to remove carpet stains is to blot the affected area, barely touching the carpet, rinsing with clean water, and blotting again. Don’t scrub the spot if you don’t want to damage the carpet fibres or permanently soak the stain into the fabric.

For very fresh stains, only seconds old, the best thing you can do is to blot them with a cold, slightly damp cloth, until they are gone. Again, no rubbing or using hot water.

How to remove carpet stains naturally

If you want to know how to clean a carpet naturally, worry not, because the solutions to most stains are hidden right in your kitchen cupboards.

You have probably heard many times that tonic and soda water are good at removing coffee stains, or that salt is perfect against dirt and for soaking up fresh stains. Baking soda, on the other hand, is the number one helper in absorbing unpleasant smells, stuck in the fibres of your carpet.

All of the above is true, but these are not the only natural remedies with secret superpowers.

  • For sticky stains like gum or wax, you need to harden the spot by using an ice cube, or a plastic bag filled with ice, before scrubbing the stain off.
  • For smelly stains, make a solution of vinegar and lukewarm water, apply it to the stained area and leave it for a couple of seconds. After that, rinse with clean water.
  • For bloodstains, the best course of action is to work with either cold water or hydrogen peroxide. Using warm liquids will only set the stain. If the blood spot is already dry, gently blot it with a cloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide and continue with an enzyme-based detergent.
  • For pet urine stains, similar to blood, it’s best to use an enzyme-based cleaner. Try not to experiment with other solutions, as they might not be as effective. Still, if you don’t have a choice and the stain is still fresh, try blotting it with an ammonia solution. After that, follow up with a simple carpet detergent and warm water. If the stain is already set in the carpet, try to lift it with a 1:3 solution of water and vinegar. Finish up with a detergent and water.

We’ve dedicated several posts on dealing with different carpet stains. See how you can remove them here:

How to clean a smelly carpet

As we mentioned earlier, baking soda is one of the best ways to take care of nasty carpet odours. It works by neutralising them.

  1. Prepare baking soda
    To treat those smelly stains, you need to create a thin layer of baking soda over each spot, so if you have more places waiting for treatment, prepare a lot of soda.
  2. Spread evenly
    Spread the baking soda evenly on the area with your hand, or a spatula if necessary.
  3. Let it sit
    The baking soda coat needs to stay overnight, so make sure that no one steps on the spot by accident.
  4. Vacuum
    The day after, just vacuum it up.

A foul smell does not only come from spills and dirt. Sometimes, it can appear even after a deep carpet clean or if the rug is newly purchased. If the latter is your case, take a look at our special post on how to reduce the smell of a new carpet.

So, you’ve got all the knowledge you need to tackle stains on different rug types. But what about deep cleaning a carpet?

How to deep clean a carpet by hand

Good cleaning does not always include a steam cleaner or any other carpet machine. So, learning how to deep clean a carpet yourself is not an impossible task and will give satisfying results.

The following method can be performed with either baking soda or dish soap. The steps are the same; you only change the main product. If you wish, you can also use a product made for steam cleaners.

You will need: an old toothbrush, a clean cloth or a towel, warm water

So, here is how to clean a carpet with baking soda:

  1. Vacuum
    Vacuum the chosen area thoroughly by following the instructions at the beginning of this article.
  2. Apply the cleaning product
    If you have decided to use baking soda, pour a generous amount of it over your carpet. If you have chosen to go with dish soap, the amount you apply depends on the size of the area you wish to clean. A single tablespoon is good for around 6-8 inches.
  3. Scrub
    Dip a soft brush or toothbrush in warm, soapy water and carefully scrub until the stain is gone, or you’ve gone over your whole carpet.
  4. Be careful not to wet the rug too much
    Make sure that during the cleaning, your carpet is not soaking wet, just slightly damp in the treated area.
  5. Dry
    Open as many windows as possible or turn on a fan/air conditioning to help the carpet dry out faster.
  6. Vacuum
    When it’s no longer damp, vacuum the residue.

To learn more about the different carpet cleaning methods, including professional and DIY, read our post on the best cleaning method for your carpet.

How to disinfect a carpet naturally

Disinfecting a carpet is just as important as keeping it clean, especially if you have kids and/or pets who use it as a playing ground, a bed and a table all at once. It’s a fast way to get rid of outside bacteria and allergens while giving your carpet a fresh look and smell. Doing it does not require much time and it’s a good alternative if you do not have the time for an actual deep clean.

So, here is how to disinfect a carpet:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution
    Take a spray bottle and fill it with a mixture of vinegar and water – equal parts.
  2. Spray
    Spray this solution on your carpet, and you are ready to go.

It’s also recommended to use this method after a good clean as it will help keep your carpet clean for a longer time.

The frequency of usage depends on how much traffic you have in the specific carpet area, but once a week or fortnightly is usually more than enough.

Remember that if there are any stains or piled up dirt, spraying with this mixture won’t get rid of them. This is simply used to freshen up and disinfect your carpet.

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How to dry your carpet after cleaning

Making sure that the carpet is completely dry is just as important as the cleaning. A damp rug can very often be the new home of many kinds of fungi, bacteria, and mould. So, leave all the windows and doors open to ensure strong air circulation.

The drying time shouldn’t be more than 24 hours. However, if you are washing a sheepskin rug, know that it will take a bit longer.

If leaving the windows open is not possible, then leave the door open and set your air conditioner to moderate. Basically, anything along the lines of fans, blowers, dehumidifiers, air movers, and carpet dryers can help you speed up the drying process of your carpet.

How long do carpets take to dry after cleaning?

It usually takes from 6 to 12 hours, depending on what you are using as a tool. Whatever it is, no walking on the carpet or moving the furniture is allowed whatsoever.

If you have some sort of protectors on the feet of your heavier furniture, you can remove them only after the carpet has thoroughly dried.

Carpet maintenance tips

Getting rid of singular stains or having a deep clean every once in a while is not enough to keep your carpet clean and looking new. The little things you do every day are just as important, and now we will tell you exactly what they are.

Keep your carpet away from potential stain-makers

If you want to avoid the long process of stain and dirt removal, the easiest thing you can do is to be careful and thoughtful. Don’t keep rugs or carpets in places where spills occur, like the kitchen, and try to keep eating and drinking in carpeted areas to a minimum. You will make regular carpet cleaning a lot easier, and it will save you a lot of problems in the future.

Remove your shoes before walking on your carpet

Maybe it will take a bit more effort, but consider having a special place to take your shoes off before you enter the main parts of your home. The best one will be just after the door. We’re sure that you don’t want to bring all the outside dirt and bacteria into your lovely home.

Install a doormat to keep dirt out

You can place doormats either inside or outside of the main entrance. By being able to wipe your feet before entering, you will reduce the amount of outside dirt and bacteria and prevent them from spreading around the house. The bigger the doormat is, the better.

Fit furniture protectors to prevent dents

If you tend to move your furniture a lot, you have to be aware that it may affect your carpet fibres. You can avoid the damage by fitting castor protectors or felt pads to the feet of your furniture.

If you have furniture marks on your textile floor covering, check out our post on how to get dents out of carpets to see how you can fluff your rug back up.

If your carpet reaches areas with a lot of traffic, such as the corridor to the front door or the kitchen, consider protecting those areas by placing plastic carpet protector mats or throw rugs. This extra layer will not only protect the actual carpet but will also make cleaning a lot easier when you can pick up the mat and throw all the dirt outside.

In addition, plastic carpet mats are also see-through, so by using them, you are just protecting your carpet, not adding another piece of carpeting that may interrupt the design of your room.

Potty-train your pets to avoid “accidents”

If you have a pet, you have to do your best in training them not to use your carpet as a toilet. If they use a litter box, place it in a non-carpeted place like the bathroom, or anywhere else as long as it’s easy to clean, like tile or laminate. Sometimes you might not have a choice other than putting it in a carpeted area, so if this is the case, place a rubber mat below.

Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it

The rule of thumb is to vacuum twice a week, and have your carpets deep cleaned once per year. However, different households have different needs. So, make your own carpet cleaning schedule, depending on your circumstances, and make sure to stick to it; otherwise, it’s all for nothing, right?

I don’t have that much time. Are there any other cleaning options?

It’s okay if you don’t have the time to clean the carpet by yourself. Alternatively, you can buy or rent a carpet cleaning machine, but by doing so, there is still the issue with time – you will have to invest some of yours.

The most time-efficient way to clean your carpets is to have them professionally cleaned. Fantastic Services offers two carpet cleaning solutions – hot water extraction and dry cleaning.

Hot water extraction, also falsely called steam cleaning, is suitable for synthetic and woollen materials, while dry cleaning is suggested for more delicate items made of seagrass, jute, and sisal.

Most carpet manufacturers recommend to deep clean your carpet at least once per year and more frequently if you have children or pets at home.

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Takeaways

  • Cleaning your carpets yourself can help you remove surface dirt and dust.
  • Using rented cleaning machines often leaves the carpet damp, which can lead to mildew issues.
  • The most effective solution is to have your carpet professionally cleaned.
  • When vacuuming, make sure to take your time, use the right attachments and vacuum at the correct height.
  • For easier removal, treat stains as soon as they occur.
  • Always test your chosen cleaning method on an inconspicuous area first.
  • Maintaining your carpet regularly can help make it easier to clean.

***

We hope you found our article on how to clean a carpet helpful and please, do share your experience with similar situations in the comment section below.

No matter the cleaning method, remember to always do a small spot test on a hidden part of your carpet. Depending on the size, nature, and age of the stain, some of them might be impossible to remove. We cannot take responsibility if any of the above-mentioned methods do not work on your carpets. Read our disclaimer here.

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