Top Carpet Cleaning Tips
Stains are an inevitable part of having carpets at home. No matter how hard we try, we will eventually fall victim to the occasional wine, jam, or grease stain. But when a stain does occur, there are a few simple carpet cleaning tips to make the clean up easier.
Some of the most common household products can be used to combat stubborn stains and can be easily applied to the stain to lift it easily from the fibres of your carpet. Just like with any other new cleaning routine or method, please always test your carpets in a small area that is in the corner of a room, or less visible area, just in case it reacts with the carpet fibres.
For some tougher stains, you may find that organic or household remedies just do not do the trick. There are many carpet cleaners available on the market, and it is important to carefully read each label to find out if it is the right one for the stain you are dealing with. Similarly, it is important to read the label and make sure that the cleaning agent you choose is compatible with the carpet and colour you have. Certain carpets, like delicate wool carpets, for example, cannot tolerate strong cleaners and are better suited to a powdered shampoo because they can shrink when they come in contact with liquid solutions.
One of the most important rules in carpet cleaning is to never wipe a stain. This may seem like common sense, but it still needs to be included in this list. By wiping a stain, you can drive it deeper into the fibres, making it harder to remove, or even spreading it further. Always dab the affected area with a clean paper towel, cloth or sponge. Use a butter knife to gently remove any stubborn solid matter that can not be absorbed by a towel, but just like with a liquid spill, try to lift the spill straight off the carpet with as little smearing as possible. Sometimes, like with mud on a carpet, by simply letting it dry completely and running the vacuum over the area, it will be enough to dislodge any debris.
For stains that will not be as easy to clean as dirt or mud, such as coffee stains, ink stains, wine stains, or really any other liquid stain, there are three different solutions that you can make at home. These three DIY carpet cleaning mixtures work great on any liquid stain that may cause discolouration to your carpets:
- Ammonia mixture. Great for removing blood, pet urine, and pet faeces, this solution is easy to make and will help to sanitize the affected area, in addition to removing the stain. To make the solution, combine in a small spray bottle ½ tablespoon of clear ammonia, with 1 cup cold water. Once the mixture is combined in the spray bottle, gently spray the area. Next, using a dry, clean, towel or sponge, dab the area to lift any stain away from the carpet. Repeat as necessary until no more stain is left to be absorbed.
- Vinegar mixture. Perfect for removing coffee stains, wine stains, dirt, and soft drink stains. First, just like with the ammonia mixture, in a spray bottle combine a ½ tablespoon of white vinegar with 1 cup of warm water this time. Gently spray the area that is affected to ensure an even coat. Do not over soak the area because excess moisture can cause odour and mould. Again, with a clean, dry towel or sponge, dab the area until the stain is gone. Repeat if necessary to ensure that the fibres are clean.
- Detergent mixture. This last mixture works great on pretty much any liquid stain. It is a gentle cleanser made with ¼ teaspoon mild liquid dish soap and 1 cup warm water. Combine both ingredients in a small spray bottle, and apply to the stained area. This detergent mixture works well for oily stains, ink stains, and also tough dirt stains. Gently blot the mixture into the carpet to dislodge any mess from the fibres of the carpet.
Always try to use as little of the mixture as you can. The more you use, the more that you will need to absorb after the stain is gone. It is important to use enough to get the stain to easily lift from the fibres with blotting the area, but you want to avoid soaking the area needlessly. Excess moisture in a carpet is not a good thing and can create more problems. Any leftover mixture can be stored in your cleaning cupboard until you need to remove the next stain. And we all know there will always be a next stain…
After you have used the correct mixture to remove the stain, use a dry, clean, towel and place it over the previously cleaned area. Place a heavy item, like a book, on top of the towel to allow any excess moisture to be absorbed up and away from the carpet. Leave the book and towel for a few hours, or until the area is dry. Next, vacuum the area and you will not even notice that a stain had ever occurred.
For more stubborn solid stains, like candle wax, or gum, there are a few quick tips to make clean up easy.
When gum gets embedded into carpet fibres, it can be very hard to dislodge. Pulling on it can cause it to spread and create a bigger mess. First, set an ice cube on top of the gum, and let it sit. After about five minutes, the gum will become solid, and more manageable to remove. Using a butter knife, gently lift he gum away from the carpet. If the gum becomes sticky again while you are trying to remove it, simply stop, and put the ice back into the gum and try again in five minutes.
For candle wax, simply using a paper towel, a clean cloth, and a clothes iron can help to make your carpet looking like new. First, place the clean cloth over the wax stain. Then, gently heat the area with the iron, making sure that the iron does not get too hot. After heating the area, remove the cloth and place the paper towel in its place, on top of the stain.
Again iron the area covered by the paper towel. The heat from the iron will cause the wax to bond with the paper towel. Leave to cool in place for five to ten minutes. After the paper towel has cooled, you can gently lift it away from the carpet, and with it the wax that has hardened to it. If there is still wax left behind on the carpet, repeat the process until all the wax is absorbed. Use a different cloth and paper towel each time you repeat the process to ensure that you do not spread the stain further.
While stains are a fact of life, they do not have to be permanent. Using a few simple household ingredients, no stain will last forever. Addressing a stain as soon as it happens will improve the chances that you will be able to fully remove it, but if it is particularly stubborn, you may need to use a stronger carpet cleaner. Just like with any other cleaning task, the longer you leave it, the harder it will become.