Spring Carpet Cleaning Tips
Carpet cleaning tips for spring, even though, I can barely feel my fingers as they hit the keyboard (someone turn up the heating!). I do believe that spring has arrived in Melbourne! Looking out the window at this cold, grey, rainy Melbourne day you would swear it is still winter, but apparently not. Very soon (I hope) the sun will start shining again and the chill in the air will be replaced with a gentle warmth that thaws the bones and lifts the spirits. To me, spring means flowers, sunshine, swooping magpies and most importantly, spring cleaning! Until scientists invent self cleaning carpet, this guide will provide you with a checklist for spring cleaning your carpet and maintaining your beautiful floor coverings right through spring and summer.
Carpet cleaning Tips for spring:
Regular vacuum cleaning is my number one carpet cleaning tip for keeping your carpet looking its best and maintaining carpet over time. It is not just good for removing the dirt and dust you can see, but more importantly the dirt and debris you cannot see. Dirt which is left to become embedded in the carpet pile, can cause damage by scratching the carpet fibres. This makes them appear dull and discoloured. This is why high traffic areas often look different to other areas of the carpet not walked on as often. By regular vacuum cleaning, I mean at least once or twice a week, depending on the amount of foot traffic. Kids and pets shed an awful lot of hair, dirt and dust as they run, play, sleep, eat, roll, crawl on the carpet, so if you have either or both, then you may need to vacuum more often than a single person or a couple.
Choosing a vacuum Cleaner
Cylinder or Upright?
My spring cleaning tips start with choosing a good vacuum cleaner. It is very important to choose wisely when buying a new vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaners are usually either cylinder or upright. Cylinder vacuum cleaners are easy to maneuver and good to use on stairs, upholstery and curtains. Whereas upright vacuums are better suited to larger carpeted areas. Wattage is important for cylinder vacuums as the dirt has further to travel through the vacuum hose.
Bagged or Bagless?
Then there is the choice of bagged or bagless vacuum cleaners. Bagless vacuum cleaners are usually slightly more expensive. However you do save money on the long run as you do not have to buy replacement bags. Bagged vacuums trap the dust inside a bag and are less messy to empty. Whichever type you choose, make sure you buy one with dust storage capacity to suit the size of your home. You do not want to stop and empty the canister or change the bag half way through the job. Having said that, it is important that you do empty the canister or bag before it is completely full. If you do not, then you may lose suction.
The filtration system on your vacuum cleaner, is vital for home health and hygiene. There is no point vacuuming and just redistributing the fine dust particles all over the house. Make sure your vacuum has a good filtration system to trap all the dust particles. A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration system is important if you or your family members have allergies to dust or asthma. To be a true HEPA filter, it must be certified to remove 99.97% of particles. There are also HEPA type filters which remove 80-90% of particles. Vacuum cleaners with these HEPA type filters are usually less expensive and good for those who do not suffer from asthma and allergies.
When you have chosen the right vacuum cleaner for your carpet and budget, make sure you use it correctly. Take your time to move the vacuum over the carpet slowly, allowing time for the vacuum to agitate and extract the dirt. You should make several forwards and backwards passes, slowly over the same spot before moving on to the next section of carpet. To maximise dirt extraction, you should vacuum in all directions. For example, once you finish vacuuming in a North-South direction you should then go back and vacuum East-West. Remember – don’t rush, take your time.
Attachments and Maintenance
A final tip is to use the crevice tools and other attachments, that come with your vacuum cleaner. Cleaning along the skirting boards and other hard to reach places will help prevent the build up of dust. Dust build up in these areas can cause black lines called filtration soiling. Filtration soiling is very difficult to remove so prevention is better than cure! Vacuum cleaners do need regular maintenance, especially filter replacements. Check with your warranty details for information on how often your vacuum cleaner should be serviced. Vacuum cleaning is the first step in carpet cleaning tips guide, next is stain removal.
Stain removal is another of my carpet cleaning tips for spring cleaning. It is important to try and tackle any stains when they first happen. Firstly, there are 3 golden rules;
- Do not leave stains on the carpet for extended periods, as they may cause further damage and even become permanent. Mud is an exception however, as it is best left to dry then scraped off with a firm brush.
- Do not use over the counter stain removers from the supermarket. Many of these products contain strong chemicals and bleach which can further damage your carpet.
- Do not “Google” DIY stain removal solutions
Most food based stains are acidic and therefore can be removed using another acidic solution such as white vinegar. White vinegar is good because it does not add colour to the stain and it is odourless once it dries. Always dilute the vinegar with water and mist over the stain rather than saturating the carpet. A few drops of dish washing liquid mixed in with the vinegar and water can also be helpful for these types of stains. Always work your way from the outside of the stain, in towards the center. Dab gently with a clean dry cloth (preferably white so there is no colour transfer), never rub the carpet. Use as little moisture as possible and dry the area as quickly as you can with a cloth, so that you do not cause water damage as well! Please note: wool is a natural fibre and requires special care and attention, so please seek professional advice before attempting any stain removal on woolen carpet.
Stains such as blood, red wine, rust, ink, paint and oil usually need professional carpet cleaning and specialty stain removal treatments. I would not recommend attempting to remove these types of stains without seeking professional advice. Which brings me to the third of my carpet cleaning tips.
We recommend cleaning carpet in residential homes, at least 1-2 times per year. Although it really does depend on the number of occupants and pets. A single person or couple may only need professional carpet cleaning once a year, however a family with several small children and pets, may need carpet cleaning every three to four months. Spring is a good time to book in a professional carpet clean. For information on Professional Carpet Cleaning please read “Professional Carpet Cleaning – what is it? or for information on how to choose a Professional carpet cleaner, please refer to my previous blog Finding the best carpet cleaner – Top 5 questions to ask
Carpet steam cleaning (Hot Water Extraction) is probably the most effective and thorough method of carpet cleaning and the one we mostly recommend for residential carpet. This is a process where a solution is sprayed onto the carpet to loosen and trap dirt and debris, sometimes some form of agitation is used to enhance this process. Next a hot water extraction machine (either a portable unit or truck mounted system) is used to apply heat, water and suction to extract the dirt and solution and rinse the carpet. Usually carpet is dry within 4-5 hours.
There are a few different methods referred to as “dry’ Cleaning. Bonnet dry cleaning is a low moisture method where solution is sprayed onto the carpet and then wiped off with a buffing machine with an absorbent pad attached. This type of cleaning will dry within 2-3 hours and is good for lightly soiled carpet and as a maintenance clean between carpet steam cleans. However, we do not recommend it as a complete replacement for steam cleaning. Another method is dry compound cleaning. This process uses a machine to spread dry compound material over the carpet. The compound attracts and absorbs the dirt and both are then vacuumed away leaving the carpet clean and dry. This method is good for general carpet cleaning but will not remove some stains. If you want to use this system, make sure the operator uses organic compounds not polymers.
Professional carpet cleaning is not a cheap option, however when you consider that carpet costs thousands of dollars to replace, it is a very worthwhile investment. I would not recommend going cheap in this instance as it may cost your dearly in the long run! Now the carpets are clean, my next carpet cleaning tips are more about maintenance.
Nothing says spring more than the smell of flowers and nothing says clean carpet more than a beautiful fresh, clean scent. Some carpet cleaners use chemical deodourisers after they clean your carpet. These can cause respiratory issues in some people who are sensitive to perfumes and the scent usually disappears after a couple hours. We prefer to use natural products to deodourise your carpet after cleaning. To replicate this scent you can make your own carpet deodouriser. Mix 1 cup of sifted bi carb soda (baking soda) with 20-30 drops of your favourite essential oil. Place in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake well for a minute or so to combine. Then all you need to do is sprinkle the Bi carb lightly over your carpet using a container with a lid that has medium sized holes (e.g. a spice bottle or chocolate shaker). Wait 20-30 minutes before vacuuming up the bi carb soda and enjoy the beautiful natural fragrance! Bi carb soda is good because it will also help absorb any unpleasant odours.
No doubt spring will bring on a sense of new beginnings and possibilities, which may lead to wanting a whole new look for your rooms. Moving furniture around into different positions is a very easy way to change the look and feel of a room. However sometimes indentations occur where heavy furniture has been in place for a long time on the carpet. To restore the carpet to its usually fluffy state and get rid of these indentations is not always easy. One of the best carpet cleaning tips I have picked up over the years, is to fill the indentation with ice blocks and leave them to slowly melt over several hours. Then blot up the excess moisture and gently fluff up the carpet pile with your fingers or a spoon. The moisture will cause the carpet fibres to swell making them easier to fluff up back to their natural state. Another trick is to place a damp cloth over the indentation and then use an iron on a gentle heat setting on top of the cloth, to steam the area. Remove the iron and cloth then fluff up and loosen the fibres with your fingers.
All of the above carpet cleaning tips lose their effectiveness, if you do not also find ways to prevent re-soiling. Barriers such as mats and rugs are important for minimising the amount of dirt brought into the house. Spring is a good time to spruce up the front door mat. Wash it or brush it to remove any mud or dirt build up from the wetter weather. This one tip will make your front step look so much more welcoming. Keeping your front path well swept and clear of leaves and dirt will also help nature from finding its way into your home of ruining all your hard work!