How To Clean Carpets – A Comprehensive Guide To Cleaning Your Carpets

There is a trick to everything, including how to clean carpets. However, probably the most important trick to getting rid of anything is not having said thing in the first place, if that makes any sense.

So, following that, it would mean that, in some roundabout way, the principal key to cleaning your carpet is to get the kind of carpet that is easy to clean.

In this article though, in addition to helping you with tips on how to clean various kinds of carpets, we’ll be pointing out what kind of carpet is easier to clean; be sure to not miss that.

How To Clean Carpet
Close up of modern vacuum cleaner on beige carpet on floor in living room, copy space. Housework, household, spring-cleaning and chores concept. House cleaning

Reasons Why You Probably Have Carpets In Your Home

Seeing as this is a ‘how to clean carpet’ article, you probably already have carpets in your home for some reason or the other. However, allow us point some of them out for the few who might need a bit of convincing.

First off, there are a plethora of carpets with different designs and colors which are usually beautiful. So, carpets help make your otherwise boring floors pop. And you can pick carpets that tie in with other décor in your room, adding to the overall aesthetics of said room.

Furthermore, carpets are usually noise muffling making them a good idea if you have wooden floors or live in an old house where everything shakes. Carpets could also be a good thing if you live on a top floor. It could reduce the amount of disturbance you’ll cause for your neighbor below.

If you’ve ever tried different floor coverings, you’ll agree with us that carpets are some of the most affordable. There is also the fact that a good number of carpets have insulating properties and so could be a good idea for your feet when the weather is cold (source).

Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s look try to (or help you) figure out what kind of carpet you have in your home.

Different Types Of Home Carpets

There are two basic carpet classifications we’ll be using in this review. Let’s get right into the first:

According To Carpet Material

Polyester

How To Clean Carpet
Red Yellow Carpet Texture or Carpet Background. Red Yellow Carpet Texture or Carpet Background for design

Whatever product it is used for, polyester is generally known for its luxuriousness. And it must be very heavenly to have that kind of luxury under your feet.

However, you do not want to cover an entire room floor with polyester because it is not the easiest kind of carpet to clean.

If you love the luxuriousness of polyester and must have it, consider putting it in small areas around your home. Especially those places where people do not step on very often.

In our opinion, polyester carpets are more aesthetic than functional (doesn’t mean they aren’t functional, though).

However, one very important upside to polyester is that it is eco-friendly which is not very common seeing as synthetic fibers are usually not eco-friendly. And in addition to being made through an eco-friendly process, polyester is recyclable (source).

Wool

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Texture of wool carpet close-up. Light-brown fabric.

Wool is usually favored for carpets because it is beautiful and gloriously soft. This kind of carpet is really sturdy and generally has a long life expectancy.

However, one downside to wool is that it isn’t stain resistant. And the reason for this is how absorbent it is. It soaks up a lot of stuff but doesn’t let go of them very easily. So, of all the types of materials, wool is the one you want to very quickly clean up spills from.

That said, wool is pretty OK with soiling (basically oil based stains). And this is thanks to the fact that it is a natural fiber.

Another cool thing about wool is that it is flame resistant. Basically, wool does not burn, however, it will blacken. This makes it a good idea if you have smokers in the house or if you need to put a carpet near the fireplace.

One thing though, wool carpet is pretty high maintenance. First off, it is the most expensive kind of carpet. Also, you’ll have to put in a lot of effort to taking care of the thing. And then it will shed. However, the shedding will definitely reduce over time (source).

Olefin

How To Clean Carpet
Gray Rolled carpet. Close up Gray Rolled carpet. Close up

Olefin carpets kind of look like wool. In fact, some may consider it the synthetic version of wool. However, there are slight differences.

For one, olefin carpets score really high in the moisture and stain resistance category. This means that if wine or juice comes in contact with this kind of carpet, it will be fine. And this is possible because olefin can’t absorb liquid.

However, olefin is still not the best idea for areas in your home where people go to a lot. Why? It wears down really quickly.

We must point out, though, that olefin is not soil resistant. So, it doesn’t do well with oils and generally anything that allows dirt cling to it.

So, if you are considering an olefin carpet because of its moisture and stain resistance, you might not want to cover your entire floor with it (source).

Nylon

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Close up of white carpet texture Texture of white fleecy carpet Beautiful texture nylon fabric

While they might not be the most aesthetically pleasing, nylon carpets are the most durable carpets. And if they have stain protection (nylon carpets can be treated to make them stain resistant) they could last seemingly forever.

If there are a lot of kids and pets in your home or there are just a lot of humans and animals in your home generally, consider getting a nylon carpet. You can cover your entire floors with nylon carpets because they are built to handle that much stress.

If, however, you are considering using any of the other carpet types, consider using nylon in those places where feet tread a lot.

One of the reasons nylon carpets are so durable is that they are composed of hydrogen molecules. What this does is that even if the carpet looks down and trodden due to being frequently stepped on, it easily bounces back when it is cleaned, especially if steaming is involved.

Considering all these factors, it isn’t difficult to see why nylon carpets are pretty common (source).

With the way technology keeps getting better, there might be carpets made of other materials. However, these four are the most common materials that carpets are made of.

That said, of the four materials, nylon is probably the easiest to clean, especially if it is stain resistant.

Olefin and polyester are also not difficult to clean. Wool, on the other hand, could very easily harbor dirt in its hairs and might need the most intensive kind of cleaning.

According To Texture

There are basically three kinds of textures for carpet: cut pile, loop pile and cut-loop.

Cut Pile

This is kind of self-explanatory in that the yarns of this kind of carpet are cut at the edges. This gives such carpets a comfortable feel making them ideal for those rooms where comfort is important like your bedroom and your living room.

There are different types of cut pile and the basic difference is in how twisted the yarns are. Basically, the more the twists, the longer said carpet will last.

Loop Pile

With loop pile carpets, the yarns are uncut and, as the name implies, looped. As a result, they are pretty luxurious and durable. Also, loop pile carpets usually have soil hiding capability.

A combination of all these makes the loop pile a good idea if there a lot of people in a small space. There are also different kinds of loop pile carpets and they vary according how many loops were used; basically multi-loop and level-loop.

Cut-Loop

The cut-loop is basically a combination of the above mentioned textures. And while cut-loop carpets could have the soil hiding capability of loop carpets, that combination of cut yarns (which are higher up) and loop yarns (which are lower down) could make them a bit less durable.

Having said all these, you’ve probably already begun to classify your carpet into any of the above classifications and have realized what kind needs a bit more attention than the other.

However, whatever the kind of carpet your floors are spotting, there are certain rules of thumb that apply to every kind of carpet as to how to clean and how often to clean. And this is what we’ll be getting into in this next section (source).

How Often Should Carpets Be Cleaned?

Immediately

Now, irrespective of what kind of carpet your floors are covered with (including the ones that are stain and moisture resistant), it is very important that you clean up stains immediately they happen.

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A glass of red wine spilt on a pure wool carpet.

It is always better to clean up the spills instead of finding ways to get the stains out. That said, there are a few things to note when you are cleaning up a mess:

If there anything solid is part of the mess, be careful to pick up as much of the solid stuff as possible. Do not scrub into the carpet until you’ve gotten everything (or at least almost everything) out.

Next, if you’re doing the cleanup immediately, you want to dab and not press into the carpet, especially if you are dealing with wool.

Be sure that you are using a clean rag so that you are not creating another problem by trying to take care of one. A dirty rag will transfer the dirt it contains to the carpet.

If the stain is really intense, you might want to consider using some stain removing chemicals. However, you’ want to be really careful with those so that they do not damage your carpet.

When you’re done blotting out the stain, rinse it out with a clean rag soaked in water. You want to rinse it out to be sure that you’ve gotten out all that spilled.

Finally, place a paper towel over the wet spot and place something on the paper towel to hold it down and leave it there for some tome (preferably overtime).

The idea is to have the paper towel soak up all the moisture from the carpet.

Routinely

It makes a lot of sense to clean your floors every day. However, how frequently you clean your floors could be determined by the traffic in your home.

If there are a lot of people (mostly kids) and a lot of pets in your home, you might want to clean your floors every day. If not, you could probably get away with doing it a couple of times a week.

That said, using a vacuum cleaner to clean carpets is certainly not the same as cleaning hardwood floors There are techniques to the former which we’ll be pointing out to you soon enough:

The Right Vacuum Cleaner

How To Clean Carpet
Woman cleaning persian carpet by washing hoover

It is important that you choose a vacuum cleaner that has a wide selection of cleaning tools.

We say this because you’ll want something that will take care of those crevices around your staircase and something that can take care of the wide floor of your living room.

For small floor spaces or those places where you just have small fractions of carpet coverings, using a wide cleaner head could be overkill.

You’ll want a small cleaning tool which is another reason you want a vacuum cleaner that has a wide range of cleaning tools.

Consider getting a vacuum cleaner with a bendy wand or at least a really flexible wand; especially if you have a lot of furniture. This will go a long way in helping you reach certain difficult to reach places.

Of course, if you (or anybody in your home) have any kind of allergic reaction or a weakened immune system, a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filtration will do you good.

Preparing To Vacuum

First off, depending on the kind of vacuum cleaner that you are using, consider taking out the large debris; you know, those things that the vacuum cleaner will most likely not suck in.

Also, you do not want to shy around corners and crevices. So, move furniture around as you clean so that you’ll be able to get all the dirt beneath the sofa, underneath the bed and so on.

Very importantly, consider doing your dusting before doing your vacuuming. This way, you can get all the dirt at the same time.

Vacuuming

If yours is a wired vacuum cleaner, be careful to put the wire behind the cleaner as you move. This way, the wire doesn’t constitute a nuisance.

With wool carpets, you do not want to use your regular brush roll as that could prove too much for the material. Consider using one of the crevice tools instead.

You do not want to rush through your vacuuming as vacuuming slowly allows the cleaner the opportunity to properly dislodge dirt.

Furthermore, taking just one pass over your carpet is not a very effective way of cleaning it, irrespective of how good said cleaner is. So, take as many passes as necessary before you move to a different room.

Finally, do not just move your cleaner forward. When you take a forward pass, take a corresponding backward pass as this back and forth method will better dislodge the dirt and stuff in your carpet.

Periodically

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Dry cleaner’s employee removing dirt from carpet in flat

Periodic cleaning involves intense cleaning or what could be termed washing. Moisture and certain cleaning products are involved. So, we recommend that you invite a professional for your periodic cleaning.

Here’s the thing; if you do the intense cleaning by yourself and do not get out all the residue, your carpets might be clean in the short run. But in the long run, your carpet could be worse than when you first cleaned.

The reason is the cleaning agent residue becomes a sort of magnet for dust and dirt which makes the carpet worse off for the wear.

Professionals have the expertise and equipment to get all the residue. Now that all that is settled, there are about five (5) different cleaning methods that a professional could employ in cleaning your carpets. They are as follows:

Steaming

Steaming is sometimes referred to as hot water cleaning and this is because this method employs the use of hot water at high pressure to shake up the carpet fibers and dislodge the ground in dirt.

Professionals usually have a special kind of vacuum cleaner that has high powered brush rolls and can secret water at a high pressure.

Typically, they’ll apply some sort of cleaning agent to the carpets and leave it to set. It is actually the cleaning agent that sets the ground in dirt loose.

Then, they’ll use the high powered vacuum cleaner to sort of rinse out the cleaning agent in the carpet which has the dirt stuck to it.

They have to be careful to clean up all the ground in dirt. Because, if any is left in, you’ll create an even worse problem than you are trying to get rid of.

This cleaning method usually takes a bit of time because after the actual cleaning is done, the carpet will have to be left to dry. And this implies that traffic will be restricted in that area.

This is why a good number of cleaning agencies would prefer to do this kind of cleaning in the evening so that the carpet can dry all night.

We must point out that some people actually do this cleaning themselves and just rent the equipment from a hardware store. However, we advise that you leave it to the professionals because of all the intricacies involved (source).

Shampooing

Apparently, this is the method of deep cleaning that was employed before steaming came along and people still use this method.

Shampooing is kinda like steaming in that a cleaning agent is applied to dislodge the ground in dirt.

The difference here is that the carpet is not rinsed out with clean water. Instead, the vacuum cleaner is run over the carpet to suck up the carpet cleaning agent with the loose dirt that should have stuck to it.

The problem with this is that there is a huge possibility that soap suds will be left behind in the carpets. It’s science; imagine washing your cloth and wringing it out properly without rinsing it.

Irrespective of how much you wring said cloth, it is going to be stiff with soap and be a magnet for dirt. And this is what could become of a carpet that is only shampooed.

However, some people have modified this method and now rinse with cold water, instead of hot like with the steaming method. Cold water is not as effective as hot water in getting rid of the soap suds but it is definitely better than not rinsing at all.

How To Clean Carpet
young cleaning company workers cleaning carpet with vacuum cleaner and detergent spray

Encapsulation

This one does not use as much water as the aforementioned cleaning styles. As a result, it doesn’t take so much time for you to have your floor space back which is why some people prefer this method.

What, then, is this method? With the encapsulation method, a sort of synthetic detergent is applied on the carpet. This synthetic detergent will then crystalize to form powder.

The crystalized powder binds the loosened dirt in the carpet to itself which is then vacuumed off or brushed away.

In addition to not using so much water, people like this one because there isn’t so much left over chemical residue. And the reason for this can still be traced back to the fact that not much water is used.

So, because not much water is used, it is actually easier to get all the crystalized soap off the carpet by vacuuming.

However, the one problem with this is that it is not exactly deep cleaning. This method does not reach deep enough into the carpet to dislodge all the ground in dirt (source).

Bonnet Cleaning

This is another cleaning method that is not water intensive. The bonnet carpet cleaning rests heavily on the kind of vacuum cleaner used.

In this kind of cleaning, a vacuum cleaner that is pretty heavy duty and has a spinning pad is used. Typically, the spinning pad is dipped in a cleaning solution and then passed through the carpet surface; emphasis on carpet surface.

The downside to this cleaning method is that the vacuum cleaner is not designed to dip into the carpet fibers. So, it doesn’t exactly dip clean or wash.

However, with the way the cleaner pad spins, it could push in the cleaning solution into the carpet with no way to get it out. And we already know that leaving soap suds in the carpet makes said carpet a magnet for dust and dirt (source).

Dry Cleaning

Finally, we look at dry cleaning. Apparently, this is the most recent cleaning method of the five (5) listed and is the only method that doesn’t make use of water.

With the dry cleaning method, a special kind of machine with a rotating brush is used to push in the special kind of cleaning agent (different manufacturers come up with their own tools and cleaning agents) deep into the carpet.

The idea is for said cleaning agent to soak up all the dirt that is deep inside the carpet and then cleaned up. Because water is not employed, you could go about your daily activities as the cleaning is done. However, try not to get in the way of your professional cleaner’s way (source).

So, those are basically the different ways that carpets can be deep cleaned (or sort of deep cleaned). 

That said, if you intend to keep your carpet for a long time, it is recommended that you get your carpets professionally deep cleaned as frequently as once every year or once every two years. In fact, it is apparently advised by carpet manufacturers.

Now, aside the fact that professionally deep cleaning your carpets gives you a really clean carpet, having clean carpets is a step in the right direction of having clean air.

If you didn’t already know, carpets could be a breeding ground for mold, especially if they are wet and/or damp. This is why you want to clean up spills immediately and ensure that you get a professional to deep clean for you so that they can get out all the moisture.

Finally, do not forget to pick up large debris and vacuum your carpets before the professional cleaner comes (source).

Cleaning Area Rugs

How To Clean Carpet
Carpets hanging to dry after being washed in a traditional public carpet washing place

You clean areas rugs in about the same ways you clean your entire floor carpets. So, you’ll have to clean up spills immediately, routinely vacuum and periodically invite a professional to deep clean.

However, because area rugs are small pieces of fabric and so can be easily moved around, you could exchange the routine vacuuming for good old shaking and intense beating.

These work pretty well; however, only consider this method if nobody in your home has an allergy or a compromised respiratory system.

Also, when we think you could actually get away with steam cleaning your area rug by yourself because it is a smaller surface area and you could easily just place it under the sun to dry. However, if you’ll be calling in a professional just allow them do the whole thing.

Cleaning Car Carpets

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washing the carpets for car with soapy liquid

You could leave the cleaning of your car carpets to your detailer (we always like for the professionals to do their thing) for professional cleaning. However, there are a number of things you could do yourself.

For one, some vacuum cleaner manufacturers have some special tools for cleaning cars. These tools are usually some form of suction instrument with a streamlined mouth that allows the vacuum cleaner reach into small spaces. So, you could get yourself one of those.

Removing the floor mats and any other removable thing that could pose a hindrance allows you enough reach to thoroughly clean the carpet.

Aside what has already been mentioned, things could get tricky and that is because they involve water. You’ll be thinking about washing the carpet and maybe even steam cleaning. And while you’ll probably do this successfully, we are skeptical about doing it without the help of a professional because how will you dry things out?

Conclusion

In cleaning your carpets, there are a number of things that we recommend you handle yourself; chief among which is routine vacuuming. However, when we start entering into the territory of water and cleaning chemicals, we prefer that those are left to people with expertise in that area.

Nonetheless, if you are a DIYer and want to try out different things in order to get out that stain or generally get your carpet clean, be careful to try things out on an area of carpet that nobody really sees.

This way, you are warned if the cleaning mixture you’re making is a dangerous one. Also, consider protecting your nose and mouth and maybe even your hands because some of these things are tricky.

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