I have a love hate relationship with carpet. On one hand, it's nice and cozy (especially in the winter) compared to tile. On the other hand, it is a pain to clean. When it comes to carpet cleaning, I have tried to all, from do-it-yourself to Chem-Dry.
Since I live to save money, I've found a few DIY carpet cleaning tips that have worked well for me. When you have children, it seems the carpet is never really clean-- but, quick clean up and maintenance is the key to not needing to replace every few years.
- Clean carpets start at maintenance. Vacuum your carpet weekly (or more) to pick up surface dirt before it gets embedded into carpet. Go over each section of carpet several times, once is not enough to get deep debris.
- Clean spills immediately! Never rub a spill, instead begin by blotting it with a clean towel. If a stain is still present, use a spot cleaner and continue blotting until spot is removed.
Some stains are more easily removed on carpet than others. Check out these removal techniques for tough spot cleaning:
- Red Wine- Dilute the spill with white wine (really!) and blot with a thick towel. If stain remains, cover with salt and wait up to 10 minutes. Blot excess and vacuum up salt.
- Pet Stains - Mix 1 teaspoon laundry detergent with 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 quart warm water. Apply the solution and blot until stain is lifted.
- Gum or Candle Wax - While not a true stain, gum and candle wax are enemies of carpet. Use ice cubes to harden and then pull off remaining pieces.
- Coffee - Blot off excess liquid and then mix a paste of baking soda and water. Apply to stain and let dry. Vacuum excess baking soda.
When spot cleaning isn't enough, it's time to buy, rent or borrow a carpet cleaning machine.
- Use Tide instead of the expensive carpet cleaner. I've found the Tide to water ratio to be about the same as the cleaner. Fill the canister slowly to prevent the mixture from bubbling over. You can also add a small amount of Oxi-clean, but make sure to test an inconspicuous spot on your carpet for colorfastness first.
- Always use hot water in your carpet cleaner. The Steam-Vac we borrowed did not heat itself, but filling with hot water solved the problem.
- Deep clean or steam your carpets at least twice per year to remove allergens, even if stains aren't present.
If all else fails, hire a professional. It will still be cheaper than replacing the carpet!