Carpets and rugs add warmth and comfort to the home and are a popular choice for flooring in residential homes.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of carpets and rugs will keep them looking their best. There are also some things to avoid when it comes to caring for rugs. To help break down how to care for your carpeted floor, we talked to experts about how and how often to vacuum, how to treat stains as they happen, and what to do when carpets and rugs need a deep clean.
“Proper carpet care and maintenance is much simpler than most people expect,” says Julie Beth Fisher, director of brand marketing for Shaw Floors. “Regardless of the fiber type, regular vacuuming and spot cleaning is all you need to keep rugs looking beautiful.”
A vacuum cleaner is an essential tool for cleaning a carpet, and because accidents can happen, it’s also smart to have a carpet cleaning product that can be used to treat stains as they happen. When a deeper clean is required, use a carpet cleaning machine that pushes a cleaning solution into the fibers and draws it out with suction.
Gina Perry, senior cleaning salesperson at The Home Depot, recommends the Shark Navigator because it’s a lightweight upright vacuum with a removable canister. The removable canister allows you to use the vacuum to clean stairs and other hard-to-reach places with ease.
When selecting a vacuum, Sam Holland-Burse, technical coordinator for the Mohawk Flooring Group, recommends looking for models with an adjustable-height feature. He explains that adjusting the height to fit your rug’s construction allows for the best cleaning possible without damaging the fibers. “If the vacuum is set too high above the carpet surface, it won’t pick up embedded dirt,” he says, “but if it’s set too low, the beater bar or brushes can ‘fuzz’ the carpet surface, causing it to smear.” I know that. look worn and frayed.”
Our pick for the best upright carpet cleaner of 2022, the Hoover SmartWash+ scored big points for its automatic spray system.
The experts we spoke with agreed that, at a minimum, carpets and rugs should be vacuumed once a week. Stains should be treated as they occur.
A deeper cleaning with a carpet cleaning machine should be done every 12 to 18 months. Busy households, including those with pets or small children, may need more frequent deep cleaning of carpets and rugs. Perry suggests a deep cleaning of high-traffic carpets and rugs every 6 months.
Most carpet and rug stains can be treated with a spot cleaning method, which involves using a carpet cleaning solution and an absorbent white cloth to remove the stains from the carpet. For more information on treating common blemishes, check out our guide to blemish treatment techniques and products.
If there is a liquid spill, start by absorbing as much as possible with a cloth or paper towels before treating the stain. “When treating stains,” says Perry, “use a clean white cloth so the colors don’t run onto the treated area.”
Perry recommends ZEP’s Enzyme Formula Carpet Cleaner to treat stains and odors. “It’s a professional-grade formula that penetrates the carpet fibers to restore color and texture,” she says. Before using any carpet cleaning product, test it on an inconspicuous area of the carpet to ensure it will not cause the carpet to fade.
Spot tests will help prevent irreversible damage caused by improper use of cleaning products. “For spot cleaning, bleach and other harsh chemicals found in common household cleaners can cause color fading and should not be used. Product warranties and floor care documents are a great resource and should detail recommended cleaners that are approved for use by the manufacturer,” says Fisher.
When a deeper clean is required, use a carpet cleaning machine that pushes a cleaning solution into the fibers and draws it out with suction. “If you live in a big house with kids or pets, buy a carpet cleaner that you can use anytime,” says Perry. “For those in smaller homes with less storage, renting in-home carpet cleaners can be a great option.”
Holland Burse says, “Even with regular vacuuming, dirt particles and oily grime stick to the carpet fibers; foot traffic pushes these particles and dirt deep into the carpet.” Deep cleaning with a carpet and upholstery cleaning machine will remove tough stains and stubborn odors trapped in the fibers.
This machine was our pick for the best carpet cleaner for pet hair.
All of the experts we spoke with recommend extraction cleaning every 12 to 18 months, although busy households may need to deep clean carpets and rugs more often. “For larger homes or those with pets and children, cleaning carpets twice a year can be beneficial,” says Perry. She recommends Hoover PowerScrub because it has a quick clean feature that speeds up drying time, which is ideal in homes that require more frequent deep cleaning of carpets.
Bissell Little Green Multi-Purpose Portable Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
Portable carpet and upholstery cleaners like Bissell’s Classic Little Green are a good choice for households with limited storage and those looking for a smaller, lighter machine that’s easier to use. Regardless of the style you choose, Perry says, “When using a carpet cleaner, be sure to allow the machine to extract as much water as possible to prevent mold and mildew.”