How to Clean Carpets and Rugs
Most basic method for cleaning a carpet is, of course, vacuuming. In order to clean low-, medium- and high-pile carpets and rugs, a good carpet vacuum cleaner must have adjustable cleaner head height, rotating brush, good suction and good air filtration.
Vacuuming with a vacuum cleaner will keep the carpets clean, but there are many instances where vacuuming alone is not enough.
Also, one has to keep in mind that carpets are made from various materials (artificial fibers, wool, etc.) and all those materials don't react the same way, when cleaned with different methods. In order to avoid damaging your carpet, whenever trying a new cleaning method, read the instructions thoroughly, check labels on the carpet and try the new method on small carpet area.
For example, some oriental carpets have sensitive colors and fibers and they should be cleaned using vacuum cleaner with gently rotating brush and, when required, mild carpet cleaner, designed for sensitive oriental carpets.
Carpet Cleaning Methods
Vacuuming – most basic method. Rotating brush agitates even deeply embedded dirt in the carpet, while strong suction remove the dirt and debris into the vacuum cleaner. For people with pets and long hair in general, cleaning heads optimized for such dirt are highly recommended. Cleaning head height must be adjustable, in order to provide enough air flow that will remove the dirt, but also keep the suction within fibers high – if the head is too high, plenty of air enters the vacuum, but the suction within carpet is low; if the cleaning head is too low, insufficient amount of air enters the vacuum, and the carpet suction is again – low.
Air filtration must be good, or dirt, dust, pollen and other small particles will be returned to the cleaned area – not recommended, even if you don’t have issues with asthma and allergies. Bagged vacuums (with no charcoal filtration layer) can use crushed scent discs in order to provide pleasant fragrance after cleaning, while bagless vacuums must have special compartment for scented powders or they can use scented air filters, if available.
Dry cleaning – dry cleaning is the combination of chemical and mechanical carpet cleaning. Dry cleaning powder is sprinkled above the carpet surface, then gently rubbed into the carpet and left there for 10-30 minutes - read the instructions first and check if your carpet can be cleaned this way. After the required time, simply vacuum the carpet. Carpet dry cleaning powder is actually slightly moist and when applied, it stick to the dirt particles and dislodge them from carpet fibers – when vacuumed, both the dirt and cleaning powder are removed from the carpet, leaving carpets thoroughly cleaned.
Carpet dry cleaning powders often have soft and pleasant scent, increasing the feeling of freshness and cleanness even further.
One of the interesting features of a good carpet dry cleaner is that the carpet is left protected (up to the point, of course) against the sticky dirt and dust, making future vacuuming faster and easier.
Carpet foam cleaning is the form of chemical carpet cleaner, often used to remove spots and stains, which are hard to remove with other means. It is very similar to ‘dry carpet cleaners’, except they are sold in the form of foam spray bottles.
Use is very simple, often requiring just spraying the foam onto the carpet surface. Rubbing the foam into the carpet with dry of moist cloth or a brush and then vacuuming after some time, often leads to even better results.
Nonetheless, read the instructions and since these are chemical cleaners, check if your carpet is designed for such cleaning.
Carpet spot cleaners are type of carpet cleaners optimized for cleaning spots and stains which are really hard to clean, like stains from beef gravy, food grease, coffee, cola, grape and other juices, makeup, red wine etc. Carpet spot cleaners combine several methods for cleaning stains, like cold/warm/hot water with or without carpet cleaning agent, mechanical brush and strong suction.
It is very important to use them as soon as possible, since dry messes are often much harder to clean. Again, be sure that your carpet allows this form of cleaning. Also, cleaned spot is usually visible even after drying, requiring whole carpet to be thoroughly cleaned, which shouldn’t be a problem, right? :)
Carpet washers/shampooers are carpet spot cleaners’ big brothers. Carpet washers combine water with cleaning agent to thoroughly wash the carpet by applying the cleaning solution, rubbing it in the carpet with rotating brush(es) and then drying the carpet with strong suction which remove the liquid from the carpet. Some models even include a flow of warm air to additionally dry the carpet.
In most situations, carpets require some time to get thoroughly dry, most often several hours. However, carpets are clean almost as new.
Note: if you have carpets on the wooden floors, don’t use carpet washers to clean the carpets, since moisture can penetrate wood and make it buckle and rot over time.
Steam vacuums/mops can be used to clean the carpets, too. Steam vacuums remove the dirt using suction, and clean and sanitize the carpet using hot steam. Also, hot steam help remove the dirt, too.
Sensitive carpets should not be cleaned using steam vacuums/mop, since such cleaning can damage them. Also, steam mops don’t remove the dirt from the carpets, they ‘just’ sanitize and freshen the carpets.
If you have a good carpet vacuum cleaner, there is no need to get steam vacuum – vacuum the carpet first with a vacuum cleaner and then steam it using steam mop, which is much cheaper than full size steam vacuum cleaner.
Carpet Cleaning With Home Remedies
Vinegar can be used to return original color to a faded Oriental rug or carpet. First, clean the carpet with the vacuum cleaner. Then, mix vinegar and water in the suitable pot and using cotton or microfiber cloth (or even gentle brush), rub the liquid into the carpet.
Not only that the acetic acid dissolves the dirt, it also helps faded colors to shine again.
There are other home remedies that can be used to clean the carpets, like:
- Carpet beater – excellent thing for removing the dust and making a dust cloud in the backyard. Also, requires horizontal pole to hang the carpet. IMHO, use a good vacuum cleaner with motorized beater bar or rotating brush.
- Wet salt – used similarly as carpet dry cleaning powder, can help remove the dirt from the carpet. Be careful, salt crystals can damage the carpet fibers.
- Lemon juice – used similarly as vinegar, leaving pleasant fragrance of citrus fruits after cleaning.
- Baking soda – used like wet salt and other powdered, but slightly moist, carpet cleaners.
When cleaning carpets with various cleaners like lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, wet salt, foam and powdered cleaners etc., always read the instructions and check carpet label. IMHO, if not 100% sure, go for commercial cleaning products designed for sensitive carpets and rugs and always test on small, hidden area first.