A quality carpet can last 10 years or more if you take good care of it. But this is often easier said than done. Family life is full of surprises and little accidents. And everyday traffic takes its toll.
If you’re vigilant and organised, you can prolong the life of your carpets significantly. A few precautions, preventative measures and changes to your cleaning habits can make all the difference — and save your carpet from a premature trip to the local tip.
1. Don’t eat in the room
While you may like to watch TV with your dinner on your lap, this is a recipe for carpet-based disaster. When a carpet is new, we tell ourselves that we’re going to stop all of your bad habits. We promise that, among other things, we’ll stop eating in carpeted rooms. But that promise often goes out the window after a few weeks.
Put simply, if you never bring food or drink into a carpeted room, you’ll never spill or drop it onto your beloved floor covering. Either eat in your kitchen, or in a dining room with a hard floor. It only takes a dropped chip to leave a nasty grease stain that will remain there forever.
2. No shoes
There’s no reason why anyone has to wear shoes in your home — even tradespeople and visitors. Impose a strict no-shoe policy in your home, and make everyone stick to it. Place a shoe rack or box by the door, so people have a permanent reminder of what’s expected of them.
If you’re having work done in your home that requires tradespeople to come in and out throughout the day, this policy may not be practical. In this case, make sure you cover your carpets with dust sheets before the work commences.
3. Pay for that expensive treatment
When you buy a carpet, the salesperson might ask if you’d like to protect your carpet from stains. This often entails an additional price, which you might not want to pay. However, if you’re buying a very expensive carpet, this could be a false economy.
The latest protective coatings guard against stains and discolouration. And they also come with a money-back guarantee. Stains are much easier to remove on treated carpets, which means they last much longer. Over the course of your carpet’s life, the cost of such a treatment is probably very low. And if it means you don’t have to replace your floor covering for a long time, this could be a price worth paying.
4. Protect your carpets from furniture
If you’re never going to move furniture from its current position, your carpet is more or less safe from damage. But if you ever have to move sofas, chairs and other items, there’s a chance that the feet will cause significant damage.
Under heavy items of furniture, use coasters to protect your carpet. And if you ever have to move your furniture, always lift — never drag. If the item is too heavy to lift, push it on coasters or across a canvas tarp.
5. Protect your carpets from renovations
When you’re renovating, remodelling or doing some DIY, protect your carpets from dust and debris before you begin. Cover your floor coverings with dust sheets or drop cloths. If you’re moving from room to room, always change your footwear first. And do everything you can to contain the mess to one area of your home. This might involve hanging dust sheets across doorways.
6. Hang lined curtains or thick blinds
Exposure to sunlight can cause certain types of carpet to fade and become discoloured. And in most cases, this type of damage isn’t covered by a warranty or home insurance. It’s up to you to stop natural light from hitting your carpets for prolonged periods.
Assess your carpeted rooms at least once during every season. Identify where natural light hits your carpet directly. And do everything you can to stop it. The simplest solution is to hang thick blinds and close them when the light is at its worst. Alternatively, you can partially close lined curtains to keep the worst of the natural light at bay.
There are some very effective protective window coatings on the market today — designed to tackle this common problem. Weigh up the cost of adding this to your windows against the cost of buying a new carpet because of premature fading.
7. Keep your home dry and fresh
The environmental conditions in your home could adversely affect your carpet unless you take action. For example, if there are unusually high levels of dust, pollen and dirt in your home, they could take a premature toll on your carpet fibres. If you’re worried about this, an air conditioning unit or extraction fans can keep the air cleaner.
If you live in a particularly humid home, you might want to remove some of the moisture using dehumidifiers. Moisture can lead to mould growth in your carpet. And prolonged exposure to humid conditions can accelerate wear and tear.
Make sure you ventilate your home regularly. You can do this simply by opening windows regularly. If you have any smokers in the house, make them smoke outside. And make sure you keep a close eye on any pets you have. Dog mess can cause permanent damage to certain types of carpet.
8. Vacuum your carpets daily
Whether you know it or not, there is dust and millions of tiny fragments in your carpets. Everything from small stones to dust mite carcases can cause serious damage if they’re trodden into the pile. Unfortunately, a lot of these things are hidden in the pile. So, whether you think it’s necessary or not, try to vacuum your carpets at least once a day.
9. Clean your carpets regularly
The best way to ensure your carpets are kept clean and in good condition is to hire expert cleaners once every couple of years. They’ll know which cleaning method is best for your carpet.
But if you want to save money, you can do it yourself with the right tools. Start by vacuuming your carpet thoroughly. Once you’re happy that there’s no debris anywhere, steam clean the carpet with an adapted steam mop. You’ll need a carpet attachment, but that’s about it. Steam kills bacteria and odours. And it does all of this without the need for chemicals.
10. Treat stains immediately
The biggest killers of carpets are stains. While you can remove some stains without too much hassle, speed is the key. The longer you leave a stain, the harder the removal process becomes.
The first thing you should do it remove any excess moisture with paper towels or absorbent cloths. Don’t scrub in panic — dab and blot to protect your carpet’s fibres and stop the stain from spreading. If the stain is wet, sprinkle some baking soda over it, and leave it for around an hour. Vacuum the area, and spray it with the stain remover of your choice. Homemade options include white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. Again, spray and dab the area carefully. Avoid the temptation to scrub.
A quality carpet — particularly one made with wool — always represents a significant investment. Protect that investment with the cleaning and prevention tips listed above.