carpet care and cleaning basics

Tips for clean stain-Free Carpets

Carpet is one of the most popular flooring choices for living areas.

The advantages are that it's warm and soft and makes a room feel cozy. Carpet also softens sound, and that, as any Mom knows, is a distinct plus. 

Here are the carpet care basics you'll need to know to keep your cozy, comfy floor coverings clean, stain-free, and looking their best.

The Carpet Care Basics

  • Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum with a rotating brush or beater bar at least twice a week, more frequently in heavily-trafficked areas. (Sorry!) Vacuum cleaning is essential to any carpet cleaning routine. Pull the vacuum back and forth to get out embedded dirt. Change vacuum bags often and keep brushes clean.
  • Keep curtains and window blinds closed when you're not in the room to keep the carpet from fading.
  • Use coasters under furniture.
  • Don't roll or pull things directly across the carpet.
  • Be careful using strong chemicals near carpets.

Out, out #&*! spot! If you've got kids, you'll get spills. And invariably those spills will be on white carpet. 

Most manufacturers put a stain-resistant finish on carpets, but it can only do so much. Deal with spills immediately. The longer you wait, the more the rug absorbs them. 

Scrape up any solids first. Then blot up stains with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Don't rub. 

Put a small amount of stain remover on a clean cloth and lay it over the stain for 10 minutes. (see below for appropriate remedies for common stains.)

Then begin blotting from the edge of the stain to the center. Rinse the area with cold water and blot dry. 

Put a stack of clean white towels on the spot and weigh them down with a heavy object for six hours to soak up excess moisture. 

Caution: If you don't remove all of the cleaning agent, a worse stain can result. Don't skip this last step! Also, if the stain is really serious, you might want to call a professional in right away. 

Home remedies may worsen the problem or even set the stain permanently.

Removing Common Carpet Stains

Food and beverages are attracted to carpet like magnets. Stains happen. 

Here are some remedies for the most common stains. Pretest all cleaners in an inconspicuous area before you use them on a  carpet.

Ballpoint pen ink: Pour a little rubbing alcohol onto a clean, dry cloth and blot.

Blood: Someone get a boo-boo? After you kit it well (and apply a happy face Band-Aid), go to work on the spot.

Rub an ice cube on the stain. As it melts, so will the spot. Don't let the area get too wet, however. Blot up the stain with a clean white towel.

Burns: If a large section of carpet is burned, you will need to patch the carpet. However, small burns can be disguised by cutting away the burned tips with scissors and trimming the surrounding tufts to disguise the cut.

Fingernail polish: Some little lady's in big trouble! Remove the polish with a non-acetate nail-polish remover on a clean cloth. Work from the edges to the middle and leave the remover on for a few minutes. Then blot dry. It may take several tries.

Pet accidents: Urine is the worst. And once it soaks into the pad, you've got a big problem. First, blot up as much as you can. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent in 1 cup of lukewarm water and blot it onto the stain with a clean cloth.

Blot dry using a second cloth. Rinse. Blot dry. Keep repeating those steps until the spot is gone. Then mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar in 1 cup of water and blot again. 

Finally, put a pile of paper towels on the spot and weight it down with a heavy object until all moisture is absorbed. (Hint: Don't use too much liquid, or you will inadvertently spread the urine into the pad yourself.)

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