Wall-to-wall carpeting can simultaneously be wonderfully cozy and comforting and a complete headache. Yes, it feels soft and warm on bare feet in the winter, your kids love to wallow on it, and your dog appreciates that he can sit on it without slowly sliding backwards, but those rewards require a lot of diligent maintenance. And even with diligent maintenance, problems lurk deep within the fibers.
Many of the problems with carpets come from humans and pets. Some, like pet hair, skin flakes, and spills, are unavoidable. You can, however, control a good bit of soil by installing high quality entry mats at each doorway to the outside. Asking people to remove their shoes upon entering also avoids tracking in dirt. But no matter how careful you are, your carpet is going to accumulate soil and dirt, marring your floor’s good looks and grinding into the fibers. High traffic areas get the worst of it, becoming dull or gray and losing the shape of the fibers.
You can keep your carpets looking cleaner by regularly vacuuming. How regularly? At least a couple of times a week, but if you have really high traffic areas constantly tramped by kids and dogs, it would be a good idea to hit those areas at least once a day. Never wait until a carpet looks dull dirty to vacuum it.
Besides extending the life of your carpet and keeping it looking good, regular vacuuming will help remove irritants, another huge problem with carpeting. Allergens abound in carpeting, and every step we take just launches them into the air we breathe. Dust mites, mold and fungi spores, pet hair and dander—all of these can wreak havoc with allergy sufferers, but even those without allergies can be negatively affected. The irritants imbedded in carpet can cause sneezing, itching, and respiratory problems if left unchecked.
Another health concern with carpeting is the release of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) into the air. Found in carpeting, padding, and their glue, these chemicals seep into the air as a gas and evaporate. Especially virulent immediately after installation, “off-gassing” can continue for quite a while. For many, VOCs trigger headaches, nausea, eye irritation, and trouble breathing comfortably. Using fans, opening windows, and keeping the area well ventilated will help. Vacuuming with a HEPA filter vacuum will also improve conditions.
For all of these problems, professional carpet cleaning using hot water extraction will help immensely. Hot water extraction is especially useful on soiled carpets. The hot water used in this method boosts the power of the cleaning agents and helps dissolve soil. It also does a great job of effectively rinsing carpets. (Carpets in which the soap and chemicals haven’t been well rinsed will actually become a dirt magnet, and you will see rapid re-soiling.) Hot water extraction will also help remove VOCs.
So no matter how often you vacuum or how effectively you treat stains, a yearly professional cleaning is definitely a good idea. For keeping your carpets looking nice, removing allergens and irritants, and reducing VOCs, there is nothing better than a thorough hot water extraction.