As a carpet owner your goal is to extend the life of your carpet for as long as possible. Here are our top 10 ways to do just this.
1. Know what kind of carpet you are getting (or have).
You can only keep your carpet clean for so long depending on the condition that it first arrives in (or the condition it is currently in). Be ready to ask the supplier the different types of carpets they have available. Do they provide materials that have advanced micro-technology for higher resistance to mold and stains? How long do you want your carpet to last? For example, nylon carpet is known to last longer than polyester fibers.
The different types of carpet need to be weighed before you make your purchase or if you are moving into a new home with existing carpet. If your existing carpet is made of polyester fibers then you might want to increase your frequency of vacuuming and hot water extraction. Whether new or existing, know your carpet. Frequent terms to research are fiber, density, texture, weight, pile, twist, and PAR (Performance, Appearance, Retention) rating. Starting off with the right kind of carpet is your first step to extend the life of your carpet.
2. Regularly vacuum your carpet.
Vacuuming your carpet helps to remove dirt, allergens, bugs, and other debris. Be sure to dust your furniture and house prior to vacuuming. And remember that most vacuums come with several attachable pieces for vacuuming other parts of the house besides the carpet – like couches, chairs, drapes, and more. Also be sure that your vacuum is set to the correct level. A vacuum too high off the ground won’t pull in enough dirt but a vacuum too low can possibly damage the carpet and vacuum. Start at the highest level and move down until you find a level at which the vacuum can pull itself along just a little bit.
Also make sure that your vacuum bag is not full or close to, this can inhibit the full functioning of the vacuum and even cause strain on the unit. If using a bagless vacuum then make sure that the filter is kept clean, a dirty filter will reduce the power of the vacuuming. Spend an ample amount of time running the vacuum cleaner over the carpet. Vacuums have an optimal speed for cleaning so moving the vacuum too fast can result in far less dirt and debris removal. A slow to moderate speed should be used depending on if it’s a high or low traffic area, respectively.
Making multiple passes over the area helps to ensure you get more dirt removed. Depending on the vacuum it may only be getting on one pass, 75% of reachable dirt on the surface of the carpet. This means that you’ll have to run the vacuum three times over the same area to pull up more than 98% of reachable dirt – this doesn’t even take into effect the dirt and other debris that isn’t reachable. This unreachable dirt and debris is deeper in the carpet and requires a hot water extraction to remove (see #10 on this list). But this brings up the last note for this tip, make sure you purchase a powerful enough vacuum cleaner.
A vacuum cleaner that can pull 90% of reachable dirt on the surface will only require two passes to pull up 99% of reachable dirt and debris whereas a vacuum cleaner that can only pull 50% will require six passes to get over 98%! Read closely the reviews of other shoppers and compare specifications to help determine the best purchase of a vacuum cleaner that will provide necessary power for cleaning your type of carpet.
3. Lay down rugs or mats in high traffic areas to extend the life of your carpet.
Just like how roads experience different rates of traffic and wear, so do our carpets. Common areas of high traffic on your carpet include doorways, couches, beds, and tables. By laying down a rug where your feet rest as you sit on your couch and watch TV helps to keep a high traffic area of your carpet more protected. Research rugs and mats that are specially designed as “walk-off” and have properties like water-absorption. Over time you will want to clean these rugs and mats so they are not collecting too much debris which can then move over to the surrounding carpet areas. They may also need to be replaced if their specialized properties are becoming less effective as the mat itself ages.
4. Keep dirt from coming into your house.
The tried and true doormat at every entrance to your home helps to remove excess dirt and mud from your shoes. Make sure you have one at every entrance and take at least 10 seconds to wipe and bang your shoes against the mat before entering your home. This will help keep dirt and moisture off your carpets. Be sure to pick a textured mat that is sturdy and able to pull dirt aggressively from your shoes. Make sure all the mats are regularly lifted and knocked free of the dirt and debris they collect. And keep an eye on your mat over time, as it gets older and worn it will lose its effectiveness and soon it will be time to replace. Being proactive in helping to keep dirt and other debris from entering your home in the first place is a good way to extend the life of your carpet.
5. React immediately to spills and sticky substances.
The more time that a spill or sediment material has to sit in your carpet, the more it will be absorbed. Don’t put off cleaning it until later, you can start by physically removing any solid portions and then diluting the offending material with water to reduce its concentration. Do not scoop solid portions out, instead using a scraping action to move solid portions directly to a towel. Then carefully mist water onto the area and gently place a towel over it to allow the material to get absorbed into the towel. Repeat this as many times as needed with new towels. If the spot requires more work than this then white vinegar with water (in equal parts) is a good solution for breaking up the soil more.
Also remember to blot the stain, not rub it. Rubbing creates pressure that pushes the stain deeper and spreads it. Take your time to carefully blot so as to allow the material to be absorbed into your cleaning cloth and not the rug. Blot from around the stain first to help reduce spreading the stain to the surrounding carpet area. If it’s gum or other sticky substances, you can first try to freeze the piece before removing. Freezing most gum and other sticky material will help to greatly reduce its adhesiveness to the carpet fibers. Freezing also makes most substances contract or shrink, so this will actually help pull the gum away from the fibers. After freezing apply gentle pressure to rock the material back and forth with a spoon to see if it is detaching itself from the fibers. You may need to cut a small portion of the attached fibers but this is usually not noticeable. If it is not working then you can allow it to return to room temperature for other cleaning options.
If your stain is grease-based then you can use dishwasher detergent to help break apart the stain, just like you would in your dishwasher. If blood is spilled on the carpet then most if not all can be removed with ice water and some detergent to break up the organic matter. If there is still blood visible, hydrogen peroxide can be used to treat it. A Shop-Vac can be used to pull up any remaining fluids. In the end, no matter what quick cleaning process you use for spills and sticky messes, utilizing a hot water extraction cleaning later will be needed to remove as much of the material as possible. So if a spill does occur, clean it quickly but then check your calendar to see if it’s time for a deep cleaning of your carpet. The timing could be just right.
6. Remove your shoes inside your home.
The average weight of a person in the U.S. over the age 20 is about 164 lbs according to the Centers for Disease and Control1. If we estimate the surface area of a shoe to be about 20 in2 then that is more than 8 pounds per square inch (psi) being applied to the carpet when a person in standing! So if your shoe is covered in dirt, this would be comparable to rolling a medium sized bowling ball through mud, drying it, and placing it on your carpet. Keeping your shoes on, especially if you are active working in a garden or doing home repair outside, will accumulate much more dirt and debris than making the habit to remove your shoes at the doorway. Another nice thing about having your shoes near the door, besides that you will help to extend the life of your carpet, will be that you’ll always know where they are and be ready to go!
7. Consider what kind of pets to have in your home.
If in the process of picking up a new dog, cat, or other animal, think about the pros and cons between short-hair and long-hair, age, and other characteristics like if they will be strictly indoor or if they will be spending time outdoors as well. Animals that shed more hair will contribute to more dirt, allergens, and debris collecting in your carpet. Younger or untrained animals can also introduce urine and other odorous substances into your carpet. Such stains usually require special enzyme treatments. Work with your pets toward clean habits to extend the life of your carpet.
8. Consider supplemental cleaning tools.
You might be the kind of person who is always on the run and doesn’t have time to slowly vacuum your house regularly. Consider getting one of many of the new automated cleaning tools like the carpet robots that diligently and intelligently work their way around your home cleaning carpets and floors. While they are not a full replacement to your more powerful vacuum cleaner, it’s better than letting all dirt and debris collect freely on your carpet. If you have pets then it might take time for them to get used to a robotic carpet cleaner. But ultimately a tool like this can help to get at least some of the dirt up, especially if there are vast stretches of time between you being able to get to that vacuum cleaner.
9. Interestingly, the best move you may be able to take to extend the life of your carpet may be to make the decision to get a new carpet.
The reality could be that your existing carpet has reached its expiration date, is made of now outdated materials, and getting a new carpet with better resistance properties will better set you up for success. Otherwise throwing money at a carpet that has outlived its purpose will be money lost alongside a carpet that is past the point of return. In other words, it may be time to think about ways to extend the life of your carpet for your new carpet!
10. Though this is last on the list it’s one of the most important to extend the life of your carpet – regularly deep clean your carpet.
Give your carpet a hot water extraction cleaning at least once a year but as often as 6 months if you have a family of four or more. Be sure you are working with a company that knows what they are doing. Signs of a professional carpet cleaning company is that they use truck mounted equipment for creating a high-pressure rinse and afterwards use foam blocks to protect the carpet and furniture while the fibers complete drying. It’s tempting to skip professional services and rent a portable machine but be warned. These machines only clean superficial dirt. It’s only with truck-mounted equipment that you get the power and rinse capabilities needed to remove deep dust, allergens, greasy residues, and more that has become embedded into the carpet.
We hope you now have a good grasp of the basics to extend the life of your carpet. But if you do have any questions or need more information about how to extend the life of your carpet, please contact the Carpet Cleaning Pros Phoenix at 602-903-3005.
- Centers for Disease and Control (CDC). (2016). Anthropomorphic Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2003-2006. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr010.pdf