The Complete Homeowner’s Guide to Carpet Maintenance

The comprehensive guide to maintaining carpet and keeping it in excellent condition

Carpet is one of the most common types of flooring, partially because it’s a relatively inexpensive option. However, one of the reasons it’s so cost-effective on average is because its lifespan is shorter than more durable alternatives like hardwood. So for yours to last and stay in good condition for as long as possible, regular carpet maintenance is a must. And that goes for both preventative care and carpet cleaning. What do these involve? 

Carpet maintenance tips you should swear by 

What can you do to prevent damage to your carpet, keep it clean, and keep it in good condition longer? Here are 10 carpet care best practices:

1. Remove shoes in the house 

Wearing outdoor footwear inside is a surefire way to track in dirt that not only makes carpeting look discolored but that can also contribute to allergies and other health problems. Removing your shoes at the door can go a long way in keeping dirt, grime, and allergens at bay. 

2. Protect areas with heavy foot traffic 

Hallways, stairs, and other areas of your home that see lots of foot traffic are bound to need more care than low foot traffic areas. To prevent them from gradually becoming stained or worn out, use area rugs, runners, and mats to keep those areas from taking a beating. 

3. Clean up spills immediately 

Always clean up food and liquid spills immediately. The quicker you do, the easier they are to get out. If you use the right techniques, of course. Different types of spills call for different spot-cleaning methods. For example, to clean up: 

  • Red wine stains and other dark liquid spills, spray or pour 3% hydrogen peroxide over the stain, let it sit for about 30 minutes, and blot it up. You can then also spray the area with a mix of white vinegar and water, and blot again. 
  • Food stains, lift as much of the food matter as you can using a spoon or dull knife. Wet the area slightly with some water (and a bit of detergent if needed) and blot the stain. Go back and forth over the area with your vacuum cleaner, add more water, and continue blotting as needed until the area is clean. 
  • Oil or grease-based stains, purchase and apply a dry carpet powder, give it time to lift the oil or grease from the carpet fibers, and then vacuum it up. 
  • Pet urine stains, cover the area with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. When the mixture dries, vacuum it up, clean any residual baking soda with a damp, clean cloth, and repeat as necessary until the odor is gone. You can also purchase enzyme remover specifically for pet stains. 

Taking swift action and using the right cleaning solution are crucial, even if you have stain-resistant carpeting. 

4. Use a carpet protector spray 

While stain-resistant carpets are by no means stain-proof, they do have an added layer of protection. So if your carpeting isn’t stain-resistant, make it so using a rug and carpet protector spray to repel liquids and stains! Just be sure to follow the directions for application exactly and to reapply the spray within the recommended time frame to maintain maximum protection. 

5. Clip snags

Notice a snag or sprout in one of your carpet fibers? Pulling on it could make matters worse. Instead, simply clip it with scissors to prevent it from getting snagged even more. 

6. Reduce periods of direct sunlight 

To keep your carpet looking vibrant for as long as possible, avoid prolonged sunlight exposure. UV rays can eventually cause the color to fade so close your blinds or shades during the time of day when your carpet gets the most direct sunlight. 

7. Vacuum regularly 

We can’t forget to mention the importance of vacuuming regularly to remove soil, dust, and debris that are embedded deep down in the pile. As mentioned, these can make your floors look worn and can even contribute to health issues. But did you know that dirt and dust particles can also cut into carpet fibers and make them less durable? It’s true, and it highlights why vacuuming often is so essential. 

How often should you run your vacuum cleaner, though, and how should you go about it? As a general rule, you should vacuum: 

  • High-traffic areas daily or, at most, every other day 
  • Low-traffic areas at least twice a week 
  • Shag, wool, and wool-blend carpeting with a suction-only vacuum (or one with an adjustable brush that can be lifted away from the carpet to protect the pile) 
  • Other carpet types with either a rotating brush or beater bar or brush bar to loosen dirt and debris 

8. Change your furniture around 

Over time, it’s not unusual for pile to be crushed under the weight of heavy furniture such as bookshelves, couches, and beds. So moving furniture around periodically can prevent any one area from becoming permanently crushed. It also helps to use a blow dryer or the steam from your iron to revive smushed pile once your furniture is out of the way. 

But if you’d prefer not to move things around any more than you have to, you can use carpet protectors for table legs, chairs, couches, and so on to distribute weight across greater surfaces. 

9. Take precautions when moving heavy furniture 

As a follow-up to the last tip, when moving heavy furniture, take precautions. Avoid pushing or pulling it directly across the floor (even if it has wheels on it). Instead, create a barrier to prevent stretching, tears, snags, and other damage. A piece of plywood or thick cardboard should do the trick! 

10. Periodically have a professional cleaning done 

The tips above work well for everyday maintenance and spot cleaning. But deep cleaning is also needed, and it’s best not to turn to DIY. For example, one of the most popular carpet cleaning methods is hot water extraction, AKA steam cleaning. The process involves applying a powerful cleaning solution to lift dirt and debris, and then using water and suction to extract it from the pile. 

There are other methods as well but, no matter which one you choose, one thing is for sure. Hiring professionals is worth it for deep cleaning, which can keep your carpets looking good, smelling fresh, and in good condition for years to come. But regular carpet maintenance can lengthen the time needed between deep cleans and save you money.

How often should you have your carpets professionally cleaned? 

A professional cleaning is generally recommended every 6 to 12 months. However, if you have a lot of foot traffic going through your home or you have pets, you may want to have it done even more often. This will help keep dust, dander, allergens, and odors to a minimum. 

The pros and cons of carpet maintenance 

Now that you know how to maintain a carpet and keep it as clean as possible, consider some of the pros and cons of regular cleaning and care. 

The pros of carpet care 

The advantages of maintaining a clean carpet, many of which we’ve already mentioned, include: 

  • A clean appearance: Consistent carpet maintenance prevents stubborn stains, traffic lanes, crushed pile, snags, and any other common issues. 
  • Maximum durability: Whether your carpet is meant to last 5 years or 15, you want to maximize your carpet’s lifespan. That requires taking care of it daily and doing preventative maintenance as described above. 
  • Health benefits: Carpet is notorious for trapping dust, debris, pet dander, pollen, and more deep within its fibers. Lack of regular cleaning can accumulate and exacerbate allergies, asthma, and other health issues.  
  • More appeal for buyers: If you’re planning to sell your home, a clean carpet can help you do it. While carpet doesn’t add as much resale value as hardwood or other types of flooring, it can still contribute to a positive first impression overall. 

The cons of carpet care 

Are there any cons to regular carpet maintenance? Since the pros are so significant, we wouldn’t say that there are any true cons. Instead, there are just a few things you should be aware of. 

  • DIY might not cut it: Everyday maintenance and spot cleaning are up to you. But leave the deep cleaning to the pros since their equipment is much more powerful than DIY machines. Not only will you get a better clean but you’ll also avoid common issues that arise from DIY methods. One such issue is mold and mildew growth resulting from excessive moisture. This occurs because DIY carpet cleaners rarely have the suction needed to retrieve excess water. 
  • Check your carpet’s condition: Before you call in a cleaning company, consider what condition your carpeting is in. If it’s loose, wrinkling or torn, it would need to be repaired first to avoid making the damage worse. 
  • Be sure of what you’re paying for: When you hire a professional carpet cleaner, clarify the pricing upfront. Some companies charge by square footage, while others charge per room. Not to mention that many charge extra for sets of stairs, spot cleaners, etc. 

When is it time to replace your carpet altogether? 

Despite the most diligent maintenance, at some point, it’ll be necessary to replace your carpet entirely. For example, water damage may be too extensive for your existing flooring to be salvaged. Or your carpet could simply be nearing the end of its lifespan. (On the lower end of quality and with average usage, it lasts 3 to 5 years. On the higher end of quality, it lasts from 5 to 15.) 

In either case — or if you have other issues such as burns — you can install new carpet or another type of flooring. If you stick with carpet, make sure you have a high-quality carpet cushion or pad underneath. This can extend its lifespan, be softer and more comfortable underfoot, and be great for insulation. 

On the other hand, if you’re planning to sell your home, you’ll want to look into luxury vinyl and hardwood, which are more attractive to modern buyers and increase home value. Ask your real estate agent how Curbio — the leading pre-listing home improvement expert — can help with pre-listing home improvements (including flooring) at no upfront cost to you! 

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