Most carpets are stain-resistant, meaning that the manufacturer has treated them to reduce staining. However, no carpet is stain-proof. Over time, the carpet’s fibers trap dirt, oils and bacteria, which can discolor the material and cause unpleasant odors and stains. Use a few tips, tricks and secrets to steam clean your carpets, as needed, and then keep them cleaner longer with some simple suggestions for the whole family.
Test a hidden area of your carpet, such as inside a closet, before using an extra-strength or homemade steam-cleaning product to make sure that it does not burn the carpet or lift the color. Steam cleaning is hard work. There’s a lot of back and forth movement and bending; you’ll also be lifting and carrying buckets to empty and refill the dirty and clean water -- don’t forget to stretch before, during and after this physically demanding chore. Contact the manufacturer of your steam cleaner to ask for recommended or non-chemical cleaning solutions. If you venture out on your own and use homemade concoctions or non-recommended solutions, they could void the cleaner's warranty.
Loose dirt and grime hides in carpeting. Vacuum the floors before you set to work with the steam cleaner. By running the vacuum cleaner slowly and repeatedly over one area at a time, you will reduce the amount of dirt or “mud” pushed through the carpet by the steam cleaning process. As a metter of course, blot stains as they happen; club soda or a mixture of one part white vinegar with three parts water remove colorful stains, such as red wine, pop and juice.
Sometimes the simplest cleaning solutions are right under your nose -- or, in this case, right out of the tap or inside of the kitchen cupboard. Because steam already reduces or destroys most bacteria, pure water may be all you require to freshen your rugs. Use baking soda to remove odors and stains: dissolve 1-tsp baking soda in a cup of water to pour on pet stains or other smelly messes before steam cleaning. Don’t steam clean on humid summer days or cold winter days. On warm, dry days, you will be able to dry the carpeting and air out the space. This avoids an overly steamy home by opening windows.
Keeping Your Carpets Clean
Just as there are many tips, tricks and secrets for steam cleaning carpets, there are also lots of ideas and ways to keep them clean longer. The longer your carpets stay clean, the less often you will have to drag out the steam cleaner. Set doormats at every entryway and ensure that everyone wipes by hanging a friendly -- or cheesy -- sign as a reminder; “Please be Sweeties and Wipe Your Feeties.” Even if family members occasionally forget to wipe, the mats will catch some of the dirt as they walk over them. Vacuum thoroughly at least twice a week by running a strong-suction vacuum cleaner with a rotating power head over the floors. Have all family members remove their shoes at the door. You can keep slippers available at the door for everyone, including guests.