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How Often Should You Clean Carpets?

By Carrie Dixon, Blog Editor

Cleaning carpetMost homes today have carpet. Its soft and warm on your feet, it muffles noise, and it can last for a very long time. It’s also not as expensive as wood, or even laminate flooring. However, carpet does need to be maintained in order to look good and prevent it from harboring harmful allergens, dust and even pests. If you’re wondering how often you should clean your carpet, read on to learn everything you need to know.

Regular vacuuming is just as important as in-depth cleaning

Let’s start with the most obvious type of carpet cleaning – vacuuming. This probably isn’t what you think of when you picture carpet cleaning, but it does play a crucial role. You should thoroughly vacuum all the carpets in the average house at least twice a week (yes, you’re probably doing it less than that). There are two items of note in the statement above that probably need a little further explanation.

Average House: The average house is something of a misnomer. None of us really live in the “average” house. You’ll need to tailor your vacuuming schedule to the amount of traffic your carpet sees, whether you have pets, the amount of dust in your home and more.

Thoroughly Vacuum: This is where a lot of people get into trouble. They run the vacuum over their carpet quickly, and see that it leaves a clean streak. They follow this pattern for the entire room. However, the problem is that speed does not equal thorough when it comes to cleaning. You need to slowly move the vacuum over the carpet to ensure that you’re getting as much dirt and grime as possible. It should take roughly 15 minutes to properly vacuum 300 square feet.

The occasional steam cleaning

Yes, you’ve heard that DIY steam cleaning beats vacuuming and there’s some truth to that. However, you should only steam clean periodically (on an as-needed or emergency basis). There are several reasons for this. First, steam isn’t really all that good for your carpet and an intensive steam cleaning routine can damage the fibers. Second, no home steam cleaner is capable of getting all the moisture out of the carpet, and repeated wettings can encourage mold and mildew to grow.

As with vacuuming, there are a few things that should be addressed with steam cleaning (the DIY kind). First, make sure you do it properly and do not overly wet the carpet. That can lead to mold in the carpet fibers, and it can also soak through the carpet into the padding underneath. In serious cases, it can soak through the padding to the flooring underneath everything. Second, you don’t need fancy carpet cleaning chemicals. A little bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid is enough. You can even use a little bit of vinegar instead of soap if you want. In many instances, you only need hot water.

Professional carpet cleaning is better

Yes, you can do a lot with a DIY steam cleaner, but understand these machines have only a fraction of the power that professional equipment offers. You should have your home’s carpets professionally cleaned once a year or so. Yes, the pros cost more than DIY cleaners, but you’ll find only professional equipment is capable of pulling up most of the water and dirt, leaving your carpets as clean as possible.

With the right care and maintenance, carpets and rugs can last for a very long time in your home. Just make sure you’re following the right carpet cleaning steps to maximize its lifespan.