How to Clean Carpet: 10 Tips to Remove and Prevent Stains
| Fact Checked By: Ashley De Zeeuw
Published: September 23, 2020 | Updated: January 19, 2022
Carpet is one of the most popular flooring options on the market and has been for decades. However, one common question that comes up is how to clean carpet. To answer this question, it’s important to understand the different methods of cleaning a carpet and how often to do so to keep your carpet looking fantastic at all times.
In this guide, we will go over why regular carpet cleaning makes a difference, and carpet cleaning methods to remove and prevent common stains. Are you ready to have the cleanest carpet? Let’s go!
Best Carpet Cleaning Solutions
Before we dive into the “how to clean carpet” steps, let’s start off with what carpet cleaners work best. Luckily there are a lot of cleaning solutions for carpet, both DIY and store-bought. Let’s take a look.
Best Store-bought Carpet Cleaner
Head to your local grocery store and you will find a selection of carpet cleaners. Whether it’s spot cleaner or pet mess cleaner, they have it. But the truth is, not all cleaning sprays perform the same. Some might even attract more dirt and oil after you use them, or cause discoloration to your carpet. To make sure you choose the right carpet cleaner for your floor, and your mess, it’s best to use a Carpet and Rug Institute certified cleaner.
Best DIY Carpet Cleaner
You know what else most grocery stores have? The ingredients for an awesome homemade carpet cleaner! If you don’t have the budget for a store-bought cleaner, or you would just prefer to use your own ingredients, here’s a homemade solution that should work for spot-cleaning.
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1/8 tsp dish soap (without bleach, oils, or moisturizers)
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
Please note: For any homemade cleaner, it’s a good idea to first test it in an inconspicuous spot to see if it causes any unexpected discoloration or damage.
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Basic Carpet Cleaning Methods
Carpet is a great flooring option, that’s also great at keeping filth trapped in its fibers. Walking on dirty carpets allows the dirt to work its way below the surface, making it far more difficult to get rid of (source). The same goes for spills. If you don’t clean them right away they can seep to your carpet padding and subfloor, only to cause more damage down the road.
This is why learning how to clean carpet with basic cleaning practices like vacuuming and spot cleaning can take your carpet a long way.
Vacuuming Your Carpet
By simply vacuuming your carpet regularly, you extend the life and beauty of your floor. For low-traffic areas, it is recommended you vacuum the foot-trails twice weekly, and the overall area once weekly. For the more busy areas of your household, vacuum the foot lanes daily and the overall area twice weekly. To help reduce matting the carpet piles, it’s best to change the vacuuming direction every once in a while (source).
By routinely vacuuming your carpet, you can successfully avoid stuck on dirt!
Spot Cleaning Your Carpet
Once you get all the loose dirt and other particles from your carpet, you might notice some minor stains. Let’s face it, sometimes spots and stains happen. But what do you do about them? While we’re at it, let’s learn how to clean carpet stains too!
Using your chosen form of carpet cleaner, you can follow these steps for basic spot cleaning of recent or set-in stains on your carpet.
- Spray the cleaner over a small area and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Dab the stain with a clean towel.
- Once the stain has vanished, rinse the area with clean water.
- Soak up the remaining moisture with a second clean towel to finish up.
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The Most Common Carpet Spots and Stains and How to Treat Them
If you’re a klutz like me, there’s always that one thing you drop or spill. But like I said before, even if you’re very cautious, stains and spills happen. The important thing to know is how to handle the stains that pop up! Let’s go over how to treat the most commonly spilled substances.
Red Juice, Wine, and Coffee Stains
While this may seem specific, juice and wine stains fall under the same category as ice cream stains, berry stains, and soda stains. This category is called water-soluble stains.
To get rid of these stains, you can create a simple cleaning solution made of ¼ teaspoon of non-bleach detergent or white vinegar mixed with 32 ounces of water. Working from the outside in, blot the stain, then rinse with warm water, and blot again with a clean towel. Remember to test your cleaning solution in an inconspicuous spot to see if it causes any unexpected discoloration or damage.
For tougher stains, you can use stronger chemicals, such as bleach or ammonia. But these chemicals can cause discoloration. It’s best to check with the manufacturer of your carpet to ensure the best results (source).
Nail Polish Spills
If I had a dollar for every time I spilled nail polish, I could buy a lot more nail polish. Here’s a simple way to get rid of nail polish spills. Remember, this works best when done immediately after the spill.
- Blot the area with a clean cloth that has been dipped in nail polish remover. DO NOT pour the nail polish remover on your carpet.
- Once the stain is up, rinse the area with warm water, and blot dry with a clean towel or rag.
Wax or Gum Stains
If you have kids, you never know what you’ll find on your carpet. Gum or other sticky messes are a little different than your typical liquid spill but don’t lose hope. Here’s a little trick!
- Freeze the wax or gum with an ice cube.
- Once frozen, break the area with a spoon or blunt object.
- Vacuum the broken pieces before they thaw and blot the carpet with a towel.
Pet Urine Smells and Stains
Pet owners, unite! Accidents happen too, that’s why you need the right carpet cleaner for urine smells and stains.
- First using a clean towel, absorb the mess as much as possible, then blot the area with a damp, cool cloth.
- Next, spray or blot the area with equal parts of white vinegar and water.
- Lastly, apply a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of clear, mild, non-bleach detergent and 32 ounces of water, then rinse the area with warm water, and blot dry (source).
Please note: another great cleaning solution for pet urine is an enzymatic cleaner. These cleaners break down the stain for an effective stain remover. An enzymatic cleaner can be found at your local pet store.
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Deep Cleaning Your Carpet
Now that we have the basics down, let’s move on to deep cleaning your carpet. Unlike vacuuming and basic cleaning, deep cleaning is more of a semi-annual thing unless of course, your carpet has heavy foot traffic at all times.
To keep your floor looking its best, it’s recommended to fully deep clean it every 18 months or so (source). Use a steam cleaner or rent a carpet cleaner for the best results. To ensure your carpet is cleaned with top-notch standards and equipment consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner to get the job done!
“A reputable professional carpet cleaner is knowledgeable on the latest carpet construction,
carpet care products, and safe cleaning methods. Contact a carpet cleaning professional when
soil and stains are no longer removable with vacuuming and recommended carpet cleaning
procedures.” – Joy Carpets & Co.
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Preventing Stains on Your Carpet
While it’s great to know the tips and tricks for how to clean carpets, let’s talk about some preventative measures you can take to save your carpets from dirt, spills, and stains in the future.
- Clean spills immediately: Any time something spills on your carpet, it’s best to get it cleaned as soon as possible. Otherwise, the spill can work its way down through your carpet to the padding, and potentially soak through to your subfloor, causing more damage.
- Use Scotchgard spray: If your carpet isn’t stain-resistant but you’re not ready to install new flooring, consider a preventative spray! To protect the fibers of your carpet you can use a rug and carpet protector spray like Scotchgard. This spray repels liquids and blocks stains from your carpet.
- Invest in stain-resistant carpet: To avoid these stains altogether, you might consider installing a stain-resistant carpet that is designed to hang tough against all life has to offer. These carpets are designed with a leak-proof backing, and the fibers are sealed with a protective coating to prevent liquids from staining.
Keeping your carpet looking fantastic is easy, as long as you know the cleaning methods, and measures needed. Are you ready to tackle those carpet messes? In the meantime, check out our selection of carpet, in case you’re looking to upgrade!
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Thanks for informing me how to properly clean and maintain my carpet. At home, we have two kittens who are not yet potty-trained so some mornings we wake up with pee stains all over our beige carpet, so I like how you explained to me how to clean those up with a white vinegar solution. I’m thinking of hiring a service to help me clean the nasty stains up but I hope I can find a cleaner who uses eco-friendly products instead of harsh chemicals so I’ll be sure that they won’t be harmful to my pets.