The Easy Guide to Cleaning Carpets

How to Clean Carpets

Having only one man in the house and a few girls, keeping the carpets from becoming thrashed wasn’t too hard, but I still needed regular carpet cleanings.  I have cleaned my carpets with professionals and doing it myself at home with a machine. While I prefer to have my company come out and clean mine, I know that for some of you it’s more feasible to do it yourself. I have some tips and tricks to help you deep clean your carpet safely and effectively.

  1. Vacuum the area first
    Remember that one time when I showed you a picture of the rocks that came out of my carpet? Yeah, carpet cleaning machines have a harder time picking up those little rocks since they are designed to pick up the finer particles that your vacuum cannot pick up. Vacuuming first will help produce better results.
  2. Pre-treat stains and high traffic areas
    While some stains may come out just by passing over them with the carpet cleaning machine, others need the pre-treatment to break down the stain for easier removal. Some areas may even need two separate cleanings to get the results you want.
  3. Use hot water
    Whatever soap you decide to use, it will perform better when it is dissolved in hot water. The hot water, at the right temperature, will also help kill germs living in the carpet. Some machines have a built in heater and others will need you to heat the water before filling the tank.
  4.  Dilute the soap
    Whether the machine has a soap dispenser or you put it directly into the tank, dilute the soap. As with laundry soaps, commercial soaps are concentrated and encourage you to use more than you need. Using too much soap can lead to soap residue in your carpet causing it to dirty faster, thus needing another carpet cleaning sooner than you think.
  5. Avoid over wetting the carpet
    Usually one or two passes at a medium speed is enough to wet your carpet with your soapy solution. Over-wetting the carpet can cause stains to seep into the carpet padding and result in stains that reappear when the carpet is done drying.

    Easy Way to Clean Carpets

    This is dirty water from second pass over a high traffic area I did the night before.

  6. Move slowly
    I tend to move the machine at a slow baby crawl, mostly because I want to make sure to get as much water out as possible. The suction on the carpet cleaning machine is not the same as it is on a vacuum. The opening is about 1/8 of an inch wide and does not have a brush flinging dirt up towards it. Moving slower than you would with vacuuming  allows adequate time for that small opening to suck up the dirty water. Plus, you’ll be able to monitor how much water and soap is coming out of the carpet.
  7. Go over the carpet in two directions
    For better results, clean your carpet in a north/south direction followed by east/west. This is to help ensure that the fibers get cleaned from all directions.
  8. Rinse
    After you think you have sufficiently removed as much of the dirty soapy water as you can, go over your carpet again with plain water or water mixed with a little vinegar. Rinsing the carpet will help to ensure that will be no left over soap residue, therefore your carpet will stay looking clean for  longer.
  9. Vacuum when dry
    After the carpets are sufficiently dry, vacuum them to pick up any dirt that has wicked up from the bottom of the pile. Even after a professional cleaning, it is normal to pick up some dry soil.

There are a few other factors to consider when you perform your own carpet cleaning like carpet type, what type of machine you’re using and what type of soap you’re using. Low pile Berber will need less water than high pile shag carpet to get it clean. Alternatively, using commercial soap may get more stains out than if you just use water and vinegar. Carpet cleaning machines that have spinning brushes may get more dirt out of your carpet than a machine that does not. Brushes will agitate the carpet more and allow for the cleaning solution to break down the soils. When cleaning my own carpets, I have had the best results by following the tips listed above and with a machine with rotating brushes. I’ll let you know in another post what cleaner works the best.

For your information, I borrowed this very basic carpet cleaning machine from a friend and I am pleased with the results. I will create another post with homemade cleaning solutions I used and which ones produced the best results.

Happy Cleaning!

Have you cleaned your own carpets before?


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5 thoughts on “The Easy Guide to Cleaning Carpets

  1. Hi, Angela! These are wonderful instructions—very thorough! I am hoping to purchase a steam cleaner for our carpets in the next several months. I’ve been looking at a double tank Hoover. It is extremely kind of you to share the diy information for those of us who do not have access to your company’s services. You’re the best!

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