dcsimg
Visit our

How to Clean a Carpet

Buying carpet is the third most expensive purchase most homeowners will ever make. It makes sense to learn how to clean carpet yourself and understand proper carpet maintenance, so this investment lasts for as many years as possible.

The Carpet Buyers Handbook has performed many carpet cleaning studies over the years while employed by the carpet industry, and many of the results of these studies have been published within various Carpet Buyers Handbook sections on carpet cleaning.

These studies included best practices for carpet cleaning procedures, evaluations of chemistry, vacuum cleaner ratings, efficacy evaluations of carpet cleaning methods and many, many other studies. Each study used a scientific approach to dispel myths or prove industry beliefs. The result of many of these studies proved that you don't necessarily have to be a professional carpet cleaner to ensure satisfactory results.

Any homeowner can learn how to clean carpet, provided they follow a few simply guidelines and understand that there are no shortcuts. Cleaning carpet is hard work! After cleaning carpet yourself a few times, you may opt to hire a carpet cleaner for future cleaning, but a homeowner can obtain satisfactory results.

The best carpet cleaning results actually begin before you clean. These methods are called preventive maintenance or preventive care. Preventive care includes all the things you do to prevent your carpet from getting dirt. Entry mats are a major preventive care measure. Review our sections on commercial carpet cleaning and commercial carpet maintenance, which both provide a detailed explanation of preventive care measures.

The second area to ensure good carpet cleaning results is daily care. Daily carpet care primarily consists of vacuuming and stain removal. Also review our section on selecting a vacuum cleaner.

Principals of Carpet Cleaning

All carpet cleaning methods utilize four principals of cleaning; dry soil removal, soil suspension, extraction, and drying. each of these for principals are used each time you perform carpet cleaning (please no shortcuts or results will be diminished)

Dry Soil Removal - Dry soil removal is the first step in carpet cleaning. Carpet cleaning chemicals (soil suspension) cannot break down dry soil (it is insoluble), so you must make an effort to remove as much dry soil as possible before you apply carpet chemicals. Your cleaning chemical will try to break down these insoluble dry soils, but chemical usefulness will be weakened (or overcome) in its attempt to suspend these soils and cleaning result will be diminished. Dry soil removal amounts to simply vacuuming! Before you begin to clean vacuum the area you are about to clean THOROUGHLY. One or two passes may not be enough. In doorways, 10-12 slow, deliberate passes will remove about 60% of the dry soil. The more dry soil you remove, the better the carpet cleaning chemical will be able to break down soluble soils.

Soil Suspension - Soil suspension is the use of a detergent to attach to soluble soil (soil that dissolves in water) particles. If you are interested in understanding the chemistry of how this works, be sure to review our other sections of Do-it-yourself carpet cleaning.

Soil suspension also has 4 principals. Each must be used in careful balance. If you subtract or limit one of the principals, you must increase the other three. These include:

Time - Your chemicals need time to work. I have always found it is best to apply the chemical as a prespray and allow 5-7 minutes for the chemical to begin breaking down soil.

Agitation - Once the prespray has been applied to the carpet, it should be agitated or scrubbed. A pile rake works well in working the chemical into the carpet pile, dislodging soil, and helping the chemical break down soluble soil.

Chemical - The quality f your chemical significantly impacts your cleaning result. If you are using a poor quality chemical you must increase the other three principals

Temperature - The higher the temperature, the better. For every 18 degree increase in cleaning temperature above 140 degrees, cleaning effectiveness is doubled.

The fourth principal of Cleaning is drying. You must get the carpet dry within 8 hours or mold can develop.

This should provide a basic overview of carpet cleaning. For a step-by-step procedure for cleaning carpet, visit our DIY carpet cleaning section and our steps for DIY Cleaning page. We have two pages on carpet cleaning methods. The DIY Methods page explains basics our professional cleaning methods section explains each cleaning method. Subsections include dry foam cleaning, dry powder cleaning, steam cleaning, rotary bonnet, and rotary shampoo.

For more detailed explanations of carpet care and carpet cleaning, visit our commercial carpet maintenance and commercial carpet cleaning section which provides a more detailed explanation of how to clean carpet.

Did you know?

There are many more types of rugs than oriental rugs. Some area rugs are truly treasures. Many of these area rug treasures may be 75 years old or more, with numerous, priceless area rugs being several hundred years old. These are not rugs that are used simply for wiping your feet, however. In buying area rugs, make sure you know the carpet fiber content, because some area rug fibers require special carpet cleaning considerations. For an area rug price quote from area rug wholesalers, visit our area rug price quotes section.

In This Section
Carpet Cleaning Checklist
Preparing to Clean
Carpet Cleaning Standars
3 Eco-Friendly Steps for Removing Carpet Stains
THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED 'AS IS' WITH NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. THE AUTHOR, THE SITE OWNER AND ITS AFFILIATES ASSUME NO LIABILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS CONTAINED THEREIN OR FOR ANY USE OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT. The article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice.