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Cleaning Carpets

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 24 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Cleaning Carpets Steam Cleaning Hot

While popular as a choice of flooring especially in cooler climates, carpets can be a hassle to keep clean, particularly if you have chosen a lighter colour and/or if you have an active household which includes children and pets. As carpets can harbour a host of parasites and other allergens, however, it is important to keep it as clean as possible on a regular basis, with a deep clean at least once a year.

Basic Cleaning
Like most types of flooring, carpets benefit from regular vacuuming. This will keep the general level of dirt and grime to a minimum and help to prevent long-term soiling and staining. It will also help to reduce the amount of allergens which can be lodged in the carpet fibres. You can also deodorise carpets by sprinkling some bicarbonate soda over it about 10 minutes before vacuuming and for additional antibacterial action, sprinkle some tea tree oil into the bicarbonate soda powder first, stir it around and let it soak in for 15-20mins – then sprinkle the powder onto carpets before vacuuming. This will leave your floors feeling particularly clean and refreshed.

Stains
Any stains or spills on the carpet should be tackled as soon as possible. Blot up as much excess liquid as possible using absorbent white paper towels. Resist the temptation to scrub vigorously as this will spread the stain and push it deeper into the carpet fibres. Most stains can simply be rinsed with warm water, working from the outside inwards, and then blotted repeatedly to soak up the stained liquid.

Avoid using detergents or soaps in the first instance as these can be very hard to rinse from the carpet and if residues are left behind, they can actually attract dirt and cause more stains. However, if the stain is very stubborn, then you may have to resort to using some detergent. If your carpets are wool, it is best to use a detergent designed for woollen clothing. Whatever you use, make sure you rinse and blot thoroughly. If your home detergents are not working, you can try specially formulated carpet shampoos and stain removers.

Deep Cleaning
At least once a year, it is a good idea to invest in a deep cleaning process. This will remove any ingrained dirt, grime and allergens, tackle any stubborn stains and also make your carpets appear newer and fresher. It will also help to extend the carpet’s longevity and usability. You can now easily contract professional companies to come and deep clean your carpet for you but you can also hire the machines to do it yourself. The most popular method is “steam-cleaning” or “hot water extraction” where, using special equipment, the carpet is infused with a hot cleaning solution which is then rapidly sucked up again, now containing the suspended dirt. This method must be accompanied by quick and thorough drying afterwards, with the help of fans or dehumidifiers, to prevent over-wetting and consequent damage to the carpet.

Other ways of deep-cleaning carpets include dry extraction, which uses a dry absorbent compound instead of the hot cleaning solution and the extracted dirt is removed by vacuuming; dry foam extraction which is similar except that a special foam detergent is used which is then removed by wet vacuuming and finally the rotary shampoo method where a special machine “shampoos” the carpet using rotary brushes.

Whichever method you use, if you are attempting it yourself, make sure that you always use cleaning products especially designed for carpets and not your ordinary household detergents – this is especially important if you have a “stain-resistant” carpet which has been treated with a protective product: if you do not use a product specially formulated for this kind of carpet, you risk damaging its stain resistance.

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