Dust mites and mold spores and crumbs, oh my! Dust mites and mold spores and crumbs! If you think about what’s hiding in your carpeting—and really, if you want to protect your sanity, you shouldn’t think too hard—it’s easy to see why running a vacuum over it once in a while just won’t cut it. All those stealthy allergens and germs are enough to make June Cleaver’s head spin off.
Keeping your carpets clean is a must for your family’s health, especially if you have little ones who love to play on the floor. Sure, you chose that hard-working Berber carpet because you thought it would hide a lot of dirt and spills, but just because you can’t see the dirt and dog hair braided into its tough fibers doesn’t mean it’s okay to leave them there ad infinitum.
To protect your family’s health and maintain your carpet’s good looks, here are 7 things you should be doing:
1. Vacuum! Vacuum! Vacuum! Allergists and carpet manufacturers recommend vacuuming twice a week—daily if you have pets or kids. I hear you groaning, but vacuuming pulls up so much hair, dust, and other allergens that it’s worth the effort.
2. Not convinced that you should be vacuuming every couple of days? Consider this: walking on accumulated dirt is the equivalent of sanding your carpet; you really should make friends with your Hoover®.
3. Now that you begrudgingly acknowledge the need to vacuum, you should know that there is a right way to vacuum. That right way does not include passing it quickly over high traffic areas and poking its nose a couple of inches under the couch. Sigh. Vacuum over an area with several passes, and do it from both directions in a cross-hatch pattern. Get out that crevice attachment and hit the edges. Move stuff to vacuum under it. What good is it to get the visible crumbs off the floor in front of the couch if the mother of all dust bunnies is growing in the corner?
4. Stains can’t wait. Even if your new father-in-law comes over and spills wine on your carpet and you hate to embarrass him, don’t let the stain sit. While it may be intuitive to be a polite host, don’t sweep a carpet stain under the rug, so to speak. The longer a spill sits on carpet, the less likely you will be able to completely remove it.
5. Carpet stains require cleaning products made for carpeting. Sure, it may be intuitive, but don’t be tempted to run to the laundry room and grab the Shout® for a quick fix. Using a product not designed specifically for carpeting can fade it or leave it discolored. Then you have a stain encircled by an ugly blotch. Fail.
6. Removing a stain requires a delicate touch. Seriously. Whole tutorials have been created on the correct technique for removing carpet stains. Basically, if it seems intuitive (see #4 and #5) don’t do it. But no matter what you do, don’t rub a stain. Blot it with a clean white cloth or paper towel (for the love of all that’s holy—don’t use dyed paper towels or rags and risk having their dye bleed into the already-stained carpet!) Keep blotting. Blot some more. Get a new towel. Blot again. Does any more stain come off on the towel? Yes? Keep blotting. No? Rinse using a spray bottle. Blot again. When it’s blotted dry, you may walk away, but come back and check on it. Stains are sneaky, and if you don’t keep an eye on them, they’ll resurface.
7. Spring for a professional cleaning at least once a year to maintain your carpet’s good looks and prolong its life. Manufacturers recommend it, and it feels so good to know it’s truly clean!