Your furniture and accessories, from tropical metal art to musical wall decor, can add a wealth of style and interest to any room. However, nothing will make a room look good when the carpets are dirty or stained. There are many different ways to go about cleaning a carpet, and some methods may simply may make your carpet look cleaner while actually adding more grimy residue to the fibers.
You have undoubtedly seen shampoo formulas that you apply wet and vacuum up after they dry. Well, these cleaning solutions are actually leaving behind a residue that attaches to the dirt so that it can be removed with a vacuum. Unfortunately, the net result is that the dirt get embedded even deeper into your carpet. While the cleaner may make your carpet initially look cleaner with brighteners that reflect light back into the room from the carpet, over time, the carpet will begin to develop a yellowish tinge from the grime remaining in the carpet.
Photo credit to mwichary.
Steam Cleaning Still the Best Choice
If you really want to clean a carpet, the only way to do it properly is to have it steam cleaned. Just about all carpet manufacturers recommend steam cleaning for the best results. Steam gets dirt that is buried deep in the nap of the carpet, and it breaks the dirt down and removes it. Steam cleaning a carpet can reach grime that has worked it way all the way down to the base of the carpet. Even though the process is called steam cleaning, the moniker is not quite accurate. Usually there is no steam actually used in steam cleaning. The process involves water and detergent being transmitted to the carpet surface in a fine spray. Then it is brushed into the carpet and removed with strong suction.
External extraction is the process that most companies use. They have powerful equipment mounted in a truck, which is much more powerful than either your vacuum or the steam cleaner that you rent at your local hardware store. All that comes into your home is the hose, while all of the machinery remains outside in the truck.
If you decide to rent a steam cleaner, make sure to mix the detergent correctly following the instructions for the proper strength. If you have too strong of a formulation, you will leave residue in your carpet causing it to get dirtier faster. Start with the grimiest areas on your carpet so the detergent can soak the area for a while. You can also repeat the process several times if your carpets are particularly dirty.
To get your carpets really clean you can rinse twice after cleaning. In essence you will repeat the entire cleaning process, however you will not use any detergent. The effect of the second cleaning is actually that of a thorough rinsing.
Maintaining a Clean Carpet
To help keep your carpets looking great in between steam cleanings, you can use powder freshening products. Powder formulas help your carpet stay smelling fresh, and they also absorb grime. However, before sprinkling powder on your carpet, make sure that your vacuum is powerful enough to suction the powder from your carpet, or you are just making a bad situation worse.
When you have stains on your carpet, spot treat them using your steam cleaning detergent. Rinse thoroughly and use a shop-vac to remove all of the water from the carpet. Then cover the area with a dry towel to absorb any remaining moisture. Keep foot traffic off of the area until the carpet is completely dry.