Best Carpet Cleaning Tips
Carpet is a wonderful floor covering, offering warmth and color and a little added style to any room in your house.
But - between kids, pets, and working in the yard, carpets are bound to get dirty – and they can get dirty pretty darn fast!
I’m sure some of you have or have thought about hiring a professional carpet cleaner to take care of your mess, maybe because you think it’s easier than having to do it yourself?
I’m not saying don’t ever hire a professional because I think it’s important to have your carpets cleaned occasionally, but there are spills and stains you can take care of with great results on your own.
These are some of the best carpet cleaning tips I know that will help you keep your carpets looking clean and fresh without having to call in a professional every time something falls on the floor.
5 Common Carpet Stains and How to Clean Them
If you’re like me when you first see a stain, you think “Oh crap” then go into hyper drive to get it cleaned up. Hey, I paid a pretty penny for the carpets in my house, they’re soft, comfy and I love the look and feel of my carpets.
I know I can get them clean though without the additional cost of hiring a professional to do it for me.
What to Do When Cleaning up Carpet Stains
- Blot or dab, never rub the stain. This will keep the stain from getting deeper into the carpet and from fraying the carpet fibers.
- Always work from the outer edges of the stain in towards the center of the stain. This will prevent the stain from spreading.
- Don’t over wet the carpet. Only use enough water and/or cleaning agent to get the job done. Over saturating will only cause the padding underneath to become wet which could create additional problems.
- It’s always a good idea to try a new cleaning method in an inconspicuous spot first to test for fading or staining.
- Vacuum thoroughly when dry.
Remember, don’t freak out and the faster you act on a stain, the more effective the cleaning method will be.
Blood will coagulate with heat, so be sure to use cold to cool water to prevent the blood from permeating the fibers of the carpet.
- Use tap water to blot up as much of the stain as you can before using your cleaning method.
- If the blood has dried on the carpet, take an old toothbrush or something similar to carefully scrape off the dried blood.
- With old blood stains, you may have to let your cleaning solution sit a bit longer than if you’re dealing with a fresh stain.
- If, after cleaning a blood stain you see a remaining yellowish stain, this is because blood contains iron. You may have to do one extra step to get rid of it.
There are quite a few ways you can treat a blood stain on carpeting, below are a few of my cleaning methods.
I have never had a problem using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on my carpets, but it’s always a good idea to test in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it’s safe for your carpet.
Using cool water, blot up as much of the blood stain as possible.
Pour 3% hydrogen peroxide over the blood stain. Cover in plastic wrap then a towel. Check after one hour. Repeat if necessary. Blot to remove any excess liquid.
Hydrogen peroxide will turn to water when exposed to light so that is why we cover it – to keep the light out.
Set-in Blood Stains Using Meat Tenderizer
If the blood stain has set in, scrape up as much dried blood as possible.
- Then make a paste of meat tenderizer and salt (50/50) and water. Only add enough water to make it like a paste.
- Spread this over the stain, gently work it in a little bit using a clean toothbrush, then let it sit overnight.
- Vacuum the next day and if there is any remaining paste, use a clean towel dipped in cold water to remove the excess and re-vacuum.
Removing Yellowish Tint from Leftover Blood Stain
If after cleaning a blood stain you spy a yellowish tint – pour a little hydrogen peroxide on the stain and cover as mentioned above.
Mud can get in the house easily especially if you have a handyman for a husband, kids, or pets – Oh and you too!
Even though you may not want to do this – let the mud dry first. If you have to keep traffic off the dirty spot, cover with a towel or chair or anything that will prevent others from walking on it.
After it’s dried, brush the mud to loosen it from the carpet fibers then vacuum up. How easy was that?
Crushed in Mud
If, after you let the mud dry and vacuumed then you notice a crushed in mud stain, mix together the following:
- 1 quart warm water
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon mild detergent
Apply to the mud stain and blot. Repeat as necessary. Let dry then vacuum.
In summer we barbeque hot dogs or hamburgers with the kids on the weekends and especially when friends and family come by, so we’ve had our share of ketchup stains on the carpets.
Here are the steps to clean:
Note: if the ketchup has dried, wet with a little warm water before cleaning.
- Clean up as much of the ketchup as you can with a spoon or a dull knife.
- Then use plain water to dilute the ketchup, just enough to cover the stain, then blot this up with paper towels. This step can be repeated until you’ve gotten up all the ketchup as possible.
- Now mix together in a spray bottle, 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid (such as Dawn) with 2 cups water.
- Spray the remaining ketchup stain thoroughly and let sit 5 minutes.
- Blot up excess liquid with a clean towel. Repeat as needed.
- Cover until dry.
Clean up as much as you can first being careful not to push any solids into the carpet.
- Mix 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent, ½ cup of white vinegar, and 2 cups warm water together.
- Using a clean cloth, work the stain until clean.
- Blot with clean towel until liquid is absorbed.
- Clean with cold water, blot up excess liquid.
If there is any smell remaining, sprinkle a little baking soda over the area to absorb the odor, gently work in the carpet with an old toothbrush, let sit about 30 minutes then vacuum up.
I’ve had my share of nights on the couch where it was just me, my chocolate and a good movie. Have you been there?
If so then you know either later in the night or the next day, you’ll find little telltale signs of this forbidden rendezvous on and around the couch. Shame on me and you!
As with all other stains; remove as much of the chocolate as possible. Try not to make the stained area any larger than it already is.
If the chocolate has hardened, vacuum after removing as much hardened chocolate as you can.
- To 1 cup of warm water add 1 teaspoon of either a clear liquid detergent or white powdered detergent and mix well.
- Using a clean cloth or sponge, pour a little of the mixture on the stain and carefully work the solution around with a finger.
- Blot until you have removed most of the liquid. Repeat as needed.
- Rinse with clean water and blot up excess liquid.
Caring for Your Carpet
Knowing how to treat certain stains is just a small part of caring for your carpet to keep them looking good for years.
Remember: the first thing for good carpet care is to always vacuum thoroughly at least once a week or more if there is a large amount of traffic coming and going from the house.
If you have a lot of traffic in certain areas of carpeting more than other areas – vacuum once going in one direction, then again going in another direction – like a crisscross pattern.
Vacuuming your carpets thoroughly and overlapping your strokes will help keep dust, dirt and bacteria from accumulating inside your carpets.
A carpet rake can be used on some carpets to help lift and loosen dirt and debris. Use as instructed and carefully - you don’t want to damage the carpet fibers.
Use a Quality Vacuum and One that Is Made for Your Carpet
I do believe that a high quality vacuum is better for your carpets. An inexpensive vacuum may only get to the surface dirt and not the deep down dirt and could possibly damage carpet fibers.
Also, when buying a vacuum, make sure you are getting the right vacuum for the type of carpet you have.
Occasionally Have Your Carpets Professionally Cleaned
Even though I take care of my carpets, I clean up stains, and occasionally (as needed) I lightly clean them myself throughout the year – I will still have my carpets cleaned professionally from time to time.
Professional carpet cleaners recommend carpets be done every 12 to 18 months based on your household conditions.
If you do not want to hire a professional, make sure you read the instructions completely on a rented carpet cleaner and make sure you do not put too much carpet cleaner in the tank.
More is not better here as too much cleaner can leave a residue and cause re-soiling much faster.
Cleaning your carpets may seem like a big job, but if you take the time to learn the best method to cleaning your specific carpet or rug, then you will find the job easier than you ever thought.