Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to Keep Your Carpet Looking Its Best

There is nothing like the softness and comfort of carpet.  But there is also nothing as frustrating as trying to keep it free from dirt and stains.  Between the kids, pets, and husbands (just kidding guys!), it can be a tough job keeping your carpets clean.  We’d like to offer a few tips that may ease your carpet cleaning troubles:
  1. Choose a Stain-Resistant Carpet. If you are still in the carpet selection process, consider a stain-resistant carpet.  Most carpet manufacturers produce quality, stain-resistant carpets that do a good job of keeping soil at the surface.  When choosing your carpet fiber, Polyester is naturally very resistant to stains and fading, and nylon, while not inherently stain-resistant, can be solution-dyed to make it resilient to stain.  Stainmaster is a premium stain-resistant applicant that does not wear off, like some comparable stain applicants.
  2. Avoid Light Color Carpets. It only stands to reason that the lighter the carpet, the more soil you will see.  If you are selecting new carpet for a high-traffic area, you may want to stay away from white, beige, or other light colors.  Carpet comes in a wide variety of hues, so even going just a couple shades darker can make a big difference in the amount of dirt you’ll be able to see.
  3. Use a Quality Pad. A good carpet pad not only adds comfort, but can also extend the life of your carpet.  This especially holds true on staircases.
  4. Take Off Your Shoes. You would be amazed how much this simple step can affect the life of your carpet.  Just by keeping your kicks at the door, you can save your carpet a tremendous amount of dirt and wear.  If you don’t feel comfortable asking visitors to remove their shoes, keeping your shoes off is a good place to start.  If you really aren’t a fan of the practice of shoe removal, at least be sure to put a mat at each entrance and wipe your feet well before entering….but trust us, this one really does help!
  5. Vacuum Regularly. While it’s probably not your favorite weekend activity, vacuuming is something you just have to suck up and do (literally).  Vacuum cleaning is considered the most important step in caring for your carpet, and it can actually extend the life of your carpet, We recommend vacuuming at least weekly to remove the everyday soil and prevent it from compacting and sinking deeper into your carpet.  Change direction when you vacuum to reduce matting.
  6. Get Your Carpets Professionally Cleaned. While vacuuming is good for removing the dirt from day-to-day living, you’ll want to really give your carpets a good cleaning every12-18 months.  There are plenty of carpet cleaning professionals that can help, or you can even rent a carpet cleaning machine (Home Depot, about $25/day) and do it yourself.  However, keep in mind that professionals know exactly the best technique for cleaning your carpet and have cleaning equipment with more extraction power than rental equipment.
  7. Avoid Prolonged Sun Exposure. Try to reduce periods of direct sun exposure with curtains and blinds.  While most carpets have a good fade-resistance, you still want to avoid direct sunlight if possible.
  8. Use Area Rugs. Area rugs are great for keeping your carpet clean in high-traffic areas, like foyers and walkways.  While it once wasn’t popular to place area rugs on carpet, it’s now considered a perfectly acceptable design technique.  Just don’t forget to still clean the carpet under the rug as well.
  9. Follow the Warranty Guidelines. If your carpet has a warranty, there are likely guidelines that you must follow in order to stay under warranty.  Many warranties require that you show proof of regular professional carpet cleaning and use only approved cleaning products, or your warranty could be considered void.
  10. Remove Stains with Care. There are a plethora of ideas out there about the best way to clean a carpet stain, but here is the method we, at Pizazz, have found works best. First, absorb wet spills quickly by blotting with white paper towels or a wash cloth. Always blot; never rub or scrub abrasively, which can create a fuzzy area in the carpet. When blotting, work from the outer edge in toward the center of the spot to avoid spreading the spill. To remove the stain use one of the cleaning items below.  After cleaning, rinse the area with water to remove detergent residue that may become sticky and cause re-soiling. Absorb any remaining moisture.
  • Detergent solution: Mix mild liquid detergent with water (no more than 1/4 teaspoon of detergent to 32 ounces of water). A clear, non-bleach liquid dishwashing detergent such as Dawn, Joy, or clear Ivory is recommended.  Cloudy or creamy detergents are not recommended because they may leave a sticky residue.
  • Vinegar solution: Mix 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water.
  • Non-oily nail polish remover
  • Ammonia solution: Mix one tablespoon of ammonia to one cup of water. (Do not use on wool or wool-blend carpets.)
  • Spot Remover: Use spot removers designed specifically for grease, oil, or tar, such as Carbona or Energine.
  • Specialty Spot Removers: Several specialty spotting products are available from cleaning industry suppliers to remove difficult stains such as Betadine, food dyes, mustard, etc.
With these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy your carpet for years.  When you are ready to replace your carpet… you know who to call!