How to Clean Indoor Outdoor Carpet
On April 9, 1965, AstroTurf was introduced to the world.
It was an artificial grass product called AstroTurf because it made its debut at the Astrodome.
The innovation was amazing – here’s a carpet substance that can be subjected to rain, sun, and snow. It didn’t take long for the turf to start appearing on patios of private homes.
The problem was that there wasn’t much variety. AstroTurf is supposed to look like grass. In a stadium seat, it did, but up close, it was a little cheap looking.
Homeowners also found that over time, their turf patios were crushed and didn’t look so great. It was also really tough on bare feet – like sharp, pointy grass instead of soft, lush grass – but it was really the only option for indoor/outdoor carpet.
Times have definitely changed! Now indoor/outdoor carpet can look just like carpet or more like grass.
It comes in a variety of colors, and the textures can be incredibly soft on feet. These carpets can take so much abuse that you can actually put them around a swimming pool!
Tips for Cleaning Indoor/Outdoor Carpets
The best way to understand how to clean your carpet is to understand the components of your carpet.
Almost all indoor/outdoor carpet is made of 100% Olefin, which is a thermoplastic resin. It’s really tough, which is why it can be used both inside and outside.
Removing Oils Stains
You might notice that your olefin carpet seams to be stain-proof. It almost is. The one problem is oil. For some reason, the fibers cling to oil-based stains and won’t let it go. You might notice that your light-colored indoor/outdoor carpet is a dingy grey. This is where oil has been absorbed into your carpet. You can attack the spot with a dish detergent (some people swear by a dish soap solution, some by a dishwasher detergent solution) to clean the oil stains and remove the dinginess. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry thoroughly.
Reduce Wicking / Stain Reappearance
A big problem with indoor/outdoor carpet is wicking. Because of the nature of the olefin fibers, they dry extremely quickly from the base upward. You might think you’ve completely removed a stain when it suddenly appears again!
This is because the soil and stains sink to the base of the fibers and the backing of the carpet. When the carpet gets wet again, it brings the stains up to the surface as it dries. You might also notice that your carpet looks so much cleaner when wet. This is also an effect of wicking.
The easiest solution for wicking is to vacuum the carpet twice with a powerful vacuum before cleaning. This will pick up more of the dirt that is sitting at the base of the fibers. If you eliminate them before cleaning, they won’t rise to the surface as the carpet dries.
Another way to cut down on wicking is to control the amount of water that you use and use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up the water from the base of the carpet. If you suck up the water with a ShopVac, you will get some of the dirty water up from the carpet backing.
Olefin is notorious for crushing. This is when the fibers get smashed down on a carpet from foot traffic, and they don’t return to normal. There’s really not a lot you can do in your cleaning ritual to save a crushed carpet.
The more often you vacuum, however, the less noticeable it is. When you buy indoor/outdoor carpet, stay away from longer piles and long-loop Berbers. While they are plush and soft to walk on, they experience the most crushing.
Mold and Mildew
While indoor/outdoor carpets are mold and mildew resistant, mold and mildew can still happen.
Usually, it depends on the type of carpet backing you have. If you are going to buy indoor/outdoor carpet for a place that stays wet most of the time (near pools, hot tubs, or outdoors in rainy climates), you should get a carpet with marine backing. This is the backing used in most boat carpets, and it is the least likely to get mold or mildew.
Before panicking, let the sun do some magic. Usually direct sun will get rid of mildew problems. If there is mold, on many indoor/outdoor carpets, you can use a bleach solution. Test in an inconspicuous place and start with a gentler bleach solution.
Interesting Facts About Indoor/Outdoor Carpets
There are more reasons to have indoor/outdoor carpet than just decor. Many colleges have switched to AstroTurf in their stadiums because of safety.
Falling on AstroTurf is less likely to produce a serious head injury than falling on a hard surface.
In addition, it’s better to walk on for the health of your joints. Pool areas can be slippery, and indoor/outdoor carpet makes a safer area for both kids and adults.
Chemical Resistant Dyes are Easy to Clean
Olefin carpets are dyed as they are being made, before the resin mixture dries. This means that the dye is an actual component of the material, not just an application.
The benefit to you is that you can use almost anything to clean indoor/outdoor carpets without fading them. (Don’t use oily materials like mineral spirits, though, because of olefin’s attraction to oil.)
You shouldn’t use harsh chemicals every time as it will break down almost any material eventually, especially some carpet backings. It’s good to know, however, that you can use harsher chemicals in case of stains.