Lave My Carpet: How to Deep-Clean Your Carpeting

by Team HomeServe
a dirty carpet gets steam cleaned using a professional vacuum and we can see the side-by-side results.

Perhaps no part of your home takes a beating like your carpets, so knowing how to clean a carpet is an absolute necessity for homeowners. Whether your carpet is as old as the hills or you just installed it last spring, it's vulnerable to everything from pets' and kids' messes to dirt and grime from shoes and other abuses by family, friends and guests.

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Luckily, it’s not too difficult to clean your own carpet, and you can get good results if you have just a few basic pieces of equipment. You’ll also need to be willing to invest some sweat equity and elbow grease.

What Do I Need to Clean My Carpet?

To properly clean your carpet, you only need a few basic things, including a vacuum to sweep up any debris or dust before you begin the carpet-cleaning process. You should also buy or rent a carpet-cleaning machine. According to Bob Vila, the gold-standard carpet-cleaning machine is the hot water extractor type of cleaner, such as a Bissell, Hoover, Dirt Devil or Rug Doctor. In addition, you’ll need water and carpet cleaning solution for the machine.

How Do I Clean My Carpet?

Your best bet is to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. These are usually found in the user guide that accompanies your purchase or rental. Although instructions vary, most suggest that you:

  • Clear the room of as much furniture as possible to reach the maximum amount of floor space when cleaning.
  • Vacuum the floor first.
  • Address any stains using stain remover products.
  • Spot test your carpet in an inconspicuous area if you're using a carpet cleaning product that may contain bleach. This tests for colorfastness.
  • Clean the carpet by working from one wall to the other, operating the machine per the manufacturer’s guidance.
  • Allow up to six hours of drying time for well-ventilated rooms and up to 24 hours for full drying in some rooms that lack proper ventilation.
  • Run the vacuum over your clean, dry carpet again to remove any residual cleaning products.

How Do I Deep-Clean My Carpet?

Using a water-extracting carpet cleaning machine with heating capabilities is the easiest, fastest way to deep-clean your own carpet. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to clean your carpet yourself, you can hire a carpet-cleaning company to do the job for you. Look for a company with an excellent track record and many satisfied clients.

How Can I Deep-Clean My Carpet Without a Machine?

If you don’t own or plan to rent a carpet-cleaning machine (and you don’t want to hire a professional cleaner to do it for you), you can also clean your carpet by hand. Obviously, it will take longer to do so, and the job requires a lot more effort than most folks are willing to extend. However, if you have the get-up-and-go in you to clean your carpet by hand, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations that are printed on the carpet-cleaning solution that you use.

You can also opt to use a steam mop or clothes steamer to deep-clean your carpet. To do so, just vacuum your carpet and treat any stains. Stir up a one-to-one mixture of salt and baking soda, and sprinkle it on your carpet. Use steam to dampen the mixture by holding the steamer’s head around 6 to 12 inches from your carpet. Use a scrub brush to work the salt and baking soda into the carpet.

For steam mop users, take the head of the mop (or the attachment for carpet if your mop has one), and run it over the salt mixture. Use a scrub brush to work the mixture into the fibers of your carpet. Blot any loosened soil with microfiber towels. Let the carpet dry before vacuuming up any remaining residue.

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How Often Should I Clean My Carpet?

The standard recommendation is to vacuum your carpet at least weekly, or even more often if you have kids or pets. Treat any stains and spills as fast as you can to stave off any irreversible damage. Deep-cleaning twice annually is generally sufficient for most homes, but your mileage may vary in that regard.

How Can I Keep My Carpet Clean?

With a little effort and forethought, you can help your carpet stay cleaner longer, so you have to clean it less often. For example, position doormats at all entrances to the home. Request that everyone removes their shoes at the door. Vacuum your rugs at least a few times a week and take care of stains as they occur.

Having carpet means that, eventually, you’ll have to decide whether to hire a carpet-cleaning service or tackle carpet-cleaning yourself. If you keep your carpet clean, you may find you're able to stave off replacement longer because cleaning gives most carpets a new (although sometimes short-lived) lease on life.