If you’re planning a major spring cleaning schedule this year, devote at least a day to your carpets. Nothing in your home needs a spring clean more than your carpet — even if it looks great.
The average carpet harbours millions of allergens. Everything from pollen to dust mites lives deep within the pile, and even the best vacuum cleaner for carpet can’t get rid of it all.
Regular cleaning and preventative maintenance are essential for the longevity of a carpet. Stains, dirt, fading and flattening can all affect a carpet’s appearance. But if your carpet is at the centre of your spring cleaning plans every year, it will retain that unmistakable showroom appearance for longer.
Here are a few spring cleaning tips for carpets. Even if your carpet looks perfect, implementing a few of these tips could prolong its life.
Clear the room
Start your carpet’s spring clean by clearing the room of furniture and obstructions. A clear space makes cleaning so much easier. But if you’re steam cleaning your carpet, removing everything will allow air to circulate better — ensuring your carpet dries as quickly as possible.
Once you have a completely empty floorspace, vacuum the entire area thoroughly. Make sure you spend a little extra time on hidden corners and areas by skirting boards. When you start cleaning, any debris left on the floor could cause damage or staining.
The next thing to do is carefully walk around your room in search of stains and accumulations of dirt. When you find something, place a marker next to it. This will speed up the process later.
The process of stain removal changes, depending on the nature of the stain. For example, removing a greasy stain requires baking soda and vinegar. Red wine and ink might require something a little strong, such as rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
Check out Shark’s stain removal guides for top tips on removing tricky stains from carpet. And remember: if you’re adding a liquid to your carpet, always dab — never rub. For the best results, use paper towels or microfibre cloths to absorb excess liquid.
Other agents you can use to clean carpet include shampoo, powders, detergents and dedicated carpet cleaning chemicals. But for a safe, green and highly effective stain-removal agent, use superheated steam. A handheld steam cleaner can target small stains and kill bacteria at the same time.
Before you do anything, read the cleaning instructions that came with your carpet. If you cause damage by using inappropriate cleaning methods, your warranty may be invalidated.
There is a manual method of cleaning a carpet, but it’s labour-intensive and largely ineffective. And it can leave a carpet unnecessarily wet — which can be a death sentence to certain types of floor covering.
The best ways to clean almost any type of carpet are with steam and a dedicated carpet cleaner. In the case of the latter, a series of chemicals are used to “shampoo” the carpet clean. But if you’d prefer a method that requires no chemicals, a steam cleaner is a great option.
Start by cleaning a test area of your carpet. Choose somewhere that’s usually hidden from view, such as the area where your sofa usually sits. Clean around a square metre of the carpet, and leave it for an hour. If there isn’t an adverse reaction, you can start cleaning the rest of the floor with confidence.
Using a steam cleaner with the necessary attachments, clean small areas of your carpet. Don’t linger over any one area too long, as you don’t want to drench the floor. But if you’re using a powerful steam mop, you probably don’t need to worry too much. The latest steam cleaners deliver the optimum amount of steam. In many cases, carpet is almost dry to the touch immediately after cleaning.
Tip: Start with the lowest steam setting on your machine. Some carpets are more fragile than others, and they can be susceptible to damage caused by heat and moisture.
Do I need to use any chemicals when I steam clean a carpet?
In most cases, the steam alone will break through dirt and grease. And it’s worth remembering that superheated steam also kills the majority of odour-causing bacteria. However, if your carpet is particularly dirty, you can use a little castile soap to help things along a little.
Never put anything in a steam mop other than water. Instead, add your cleaning agents to problem areas of the floor, and then steam over them. For example, if you’re struggling with a particularly dirty area of carpet, spray some water and castile soap over it first. Dab away the excess, and steam clean as normal.
Ventilate the room
It’s always best to give yourself a full day when spring cleaning a carpet. And it should be a relatively pleasant day during which you can keep doors and windows open. This is because you need to give your carpet time to air-dry. Open the windows, and ventilate the room for a minimum of four hours.
If you fail to dry your carpet before you re-introduce furniture, there’s a chance that mould might form underneath. And even if it doesn’t, a carpet that doesn’t dry properly can start to smell within a day or two.
If you have a humidity problem in your home, your carpet might take longer than usual to dry out. To give things a gentle shove in the right direction, introduce a few fans. Or if the problem is particularly serious, introduce a dehumidifier to the room.
Vacuum the carpet
If you’re happy that your carpet is clean and dry, you can go ahead and vacuum it. This should be the last job you perform before you re-introduce the furniture. However, if you notice any smells, spray a solution of alcohol and your favourite essential oil over the problem area — and give the carpet an hour or two to dry again. It’s better you attend to these problems now than after you’ve brought all the furniture back into the room.
A few spring cleaning hacks for your carpet
If you need a little extra help to clean a particularly dirty carpet, we have a few hacks you can try. But as always, check the cleaning instructions before you use any of them.
If you’ve exhausted all your stain-removal options, try a little shaving foam. Apply a little to the stain, and give it 20 minutes to work its magic. Blot the area dry, and there’s a chance that the stain will have vanished.
Chewing gum removal
If you notice chewing gum on your carpet, don’t despair. Use ice to harden it, then scrape it off very gently with the side of a teaspoon.
If you’ve exhausted all your stain-removal options on a greasy mess, try a little dishwasher detergent and water. Spray the area, give it 20 minutes of contact time, and blot it away with microfibre cloths.
Pet stain removal
If you have a pet, you’ll probably be ready for pet-related stains. But spring cleaning has a habit of uncovering hidden stains. If you notice an old urine stain, treat it with borax and water. Again, dab, don’t scrub.
How often should I spring clean my carpet?
There is a balance to be struck when it comes to spring cleaning a carpet. Do it too often, and you can accelerate the natural wear and tear process. But wait too long between spring cleans, and the stains and discolourations could become immovable.
If your carpet is in a low-traffic area or made with a relatively fragile material, try to restrict these big cleans to once every two years. However, in most cases, adding your carpet to your annual spring cleaning schedule is a great idea.