Choosing a good vacuum cleaner is just the start.
Most homeowners think they’re caring for their carpets adequately if they’re hiring a professional carpet cleaner periodically and vacuuming now and again, but many don’t know that a few simple steps could help their carpets last longer.
“Whether it’s the wrong carpet spotter or forgetting to vacuum often enough, there are a number of steps homeowners can take to make their carpets last longer between pro cleanings,” says Eric Moe, owner of Alpine Specialty Cleaning, a family-run business that has been cleaning carpets around Seattle since 1969 and which specializes in chemical-free cleaning processes.
These days, when Alpine Specialty Cleaning comes to clean a home’s carpets it uses a rare chemical-free de-ionized water system from a high-suction truck to draw out impurities from carpets. But working on a carpet that has been well maintained always helps lay the foundation and maximize the results of a good professional clean.
Here’s a look at how to keep your carpet in good shape.
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Use a high-quality vacuum
If you’ve got wall-to-wall carpet in one or more rooms of your home, you need to play a role in keeping it shipshape between professional cleanings. To do that, you’ll need a high-quality vacuum with maximum suction, preferably at least 245 AW (air watts). There are several other suction measures to know when vacuum shopping, so familiarize yourself with them and look for the higher end of the spectrum when shopping.
Vacuum high-traffic areas daily
If you’ve got carpet, you’ll need to vacuum at least weekly. But for high traffic areas – front door entries, halls leading to kitchens, family rooms – you’ll need to vacuum daily to keep your carpet from marinating in future stains and damage and to maintain fibers’ pluck and firmness.
Use pads beneath area rugs
Many homeowners use accent area rugs atop wall-to-wall carpeting. But those who choose to do so should place rug pads beneath these carpets to prevent two common problems – dye transfer, and carpet-surface erosion. Unpadded area rugs can seep dye into surfaces beneath them, and their scratchy backing can act like sandpaper and erode the wall-to-wall carpet’s pile.
Rearrange furniture periodically and doctor divots
Carpet wear and tear is often directly related to furniture positioning. Sofas and chairs in permanent locations create natural foot-traffic patterns and dirt patterns (where snacks and drinks spill, where toddlers or pets romp), and the furniture legs planted on carpet surfaces can eventually damage carpets if not moved (even a few inches) periodically. If your carpet has divots, place ice cubes in a plastic baggy and rest the baggy inside the divot. The cold from the ice will force carpet fibers to swell, restoring their resiliency and the carpet’s surface.
Use a proper stain spotter
“If you use a harsh store-bought stain spotter, it will remove the carpet’s stain resistance, allowing more stains to soak into the fibers,” Moe says. The principle is similar to overwashing hair so that it’s stripped of natural oils, and thus becomes oilier more easily. Once applied and allowed to sit, stain spotter should be thoroughly removed. Alpine offers free stain-spotting solution to its clients for between-cleaning spotting, as well as tips on how to remove common carpet stains using household remedies and products.
Know when it’s time to replace carpet
If your carpet is old and damaged, there are certain signs that cleaning alone won’t restore the carpet to its old luster – and only replacement will do. If the carpet’s pile is worn down or has “bald spots,” if the carpet is heavily soiled, or if it has begun to delaminate or separate from its backing (so it’s no longer stretched tight to the floor beneath it), it’s time to replace rather than clean the carpet.
Got new carpet? Get in a cleaning routine.
If you’ve moved into a home with new carpet or are replacing old carpet with new, that’s the perfect time to get into an established cleaning routine. How often should you clean carpets? Moe says that most homeowners need professional carpet cleaning at least annually – every six months if pets, crawling babies or toddlers, or allergies or respiratory sensitivities are present. Another tip for new carpet: Make sure to use blinds or curtains so constant direct sunlight doesn’t fade or change carpet colors.
Alpine Specialty Cleaning was founded in the Seattle area in 1969 by Maurice Moe. Eric Moe and his wife, Bobbie, continue the “Tradition of Quality” and “5 Star Experience” that Alpine has been known for over the years.