5 Tips For Keeping Your Carpet Clean

You walk all over it, spill drinks on it and rub crumbs into it to make them disappear. Your carpet is bound to get dirty, but you can keep it looking fairly new if you make a regular effort to clean it up.

A wiseGEEK post suggests several ways to keep your carpet clean. Here are five that stand out:

* Take off your shoes when you enter the house. The tough part is getting guests to do the same.

* Don’t use heat when cleaning stains. You don’t want to bake a stain into the carpet.

* Sprinkle baking soda before you vacuum. The substance absorbs odors, keeping your carpet from stinking as much.

* Clean stains immediately. The quicker you act, the less time a stain has to become permanent.

* Steam clean it twice a year. Pushing all the furniture around to get every inch clean is a hassle, and the process is time-consuming, but it’s the best way to make your carpet look fresh again.

How do I Keep a Carpet Clean? [wiseGEEK]

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  1. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    Don’t let your cat eat your Christmas decorations and then puke them up for the next 2 months.

    • PHRoG says:

      But that’s what makes Christmas fun!

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Cats are drawn to carpet when they puke. My cats never, ever puke on the kitchen or bathroom floors, which are linoleum, but always on either the bedroom or living room carpets. Once one of my royal highnesses puked on some choir music I left sitting on top of the cedar chest. It must be something ingrained in their DNA.

  2. Don't Bother says:

    Don’t having heavy shedding dogs like a Bernese Mountain Dog.

    • Don't Bother says:

      Or have. That works too…
      UGH.

      • agent 47 says:

        Or a large dog in general. When they puke, it’s not pretty.

        *Owns a German Shep*

        • ExtraCelestial says:

          Or a parrot with a sick sense of humor and amazing ability to hold a grudge…

          • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

            We actually have a pet parrot that likes to eat chicken (esp. the bone).

        • Don't Bother says:

          If I had a German Shepherd, I would be so tempted to teach all of its commands auf Deutsch.

          “Schnell! Halt! Guten Hundchen!”

          • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

            That would be so cool – that way strangers couldn’t order him or her around!

          • Cat says:

            While abroad, I’ve given dogs commands – only to realize that they don’t understand English.

          • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

            We had a Belgian Maliois guard dog and taught her commands in Polish (we had to learn them too – we are not Polish) so that nobody could mess with her when she was doing her work.

        • Snaptastic says:

          Same goes for a round of Montezuma’s Revenge.

          On the bright side, poor guy only let loose in a hallway and I bought a carpet steam-cleaner the week before. I must have made over a dozen passes with that cleaner to make sure it was clean. X-D

    • Jane_the_cynic says:

      Ugh, I’m moving into an apartment that is 100% carpeted and we have a dog that sheds like mad! Currently we have hardwood floors and we get these fur tumbleweeds that get sucked up by the handheld vacuum. Also, our bedroom has carpeting and if our dog has diarrhea he always runs to the living room or kitchen. The new bedroom is really far from the kitchen so I have a feeling there will be plenty of fun times ahead :

    • BurtReynolds says:

      Or a Rottweiler. My beige carpet changes to a gray-ish color once you give her a few days to lay on it and leave black fur behind.

  3. Dallas_shopper says:

    Don’t have carpet.

    • Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

      I wish wish wish we could replace our carpet with any other hard flooring. Crap, cement would be fine with me. But I just do not know how to approach that with my landlord.

      • PHRoG says:

        Yank it all out and tell him you were robbed. :P

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        I still have carpeting in many parts of the house but since my house is a pier and beam, there are hardwoods lurking underneath most of the carpet. I just have to go through the pain of having them sanded and refinished.

        Carpet SUCKS.

      • Derigiberble says:

        If the carpet is looking ratty and is due to be replaced soon you can just ask. Next time you talk to them (dropping off rent or whatever) say that you think that having a laminate floor in the living area would be easier to keep clean.

        Rental carpeting gets worn out FAST due to a combination of using the cheapest carpet possible and normal wear and tear. 5-8 year replacement intervals are common.

        • Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

          They replaced it right when we moved in 6 months ago. Yeah new carpet! Blech, its carpet :(

  4. comedian says:

    How can I steam clean without using heat?

    • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

      I was wondering if someone caught that, LOL

    • caradrake says:

      The last time we got our carpets ‘steam cleaned’ it was by a professional company. They didn’t actually steam the carpets. It still used water, but very little. It was pretty neat and the carpets were only damp for about two hours (they advertised dry in one hour), when normal steam cleaning leaves them damp for far longer than that.

      It was pretty neat and got up a lot of stains that wouldn’t come out any other way.

  5. Cat says:

    Professional truck mounted steam cleaning is the best way to clean a carpet – I ran a truck for 3 years. (Until the owner snorted the business up his nose, lol)

    Want to hire the best steam cleaner for a really nasty carpet? Ask the manager of Chuck E. Cheese or your favorite Asian restaurant who cleans their carpets. If they can clean those carpets, they can clean anything.

  6. Rebecca K-S says:

    Isn’t the baking soda thing a myth?

    • Costner says:

      Only if someone says it can cure cancer… but for removing odors it actually does work.

      I wouldn’t do it though. Baking soda is so fine that I’m not convinced you would ever get it all back out of the carpet. I’m sure some random Dyson owner will try to convince me their $650 magic machine could it it, but I’m still not convinced. Besides… I honestly don’t think my carpet stinks, and since I walk on it instead of smell it, I’m not sure I really care.

      • HSVhockey says:

        Not only did the Dyson Animal I had not remove it all (even from tight berber), what it did remove nearly ruined the vacuum. Even though I did a dump and shake of the internals after each clean, and a filter wash every month. It put a lot of stress on the motor. I fixed it and gave it to a friend and it is still running like a champ years later.

        Even my industrial canister vacuum that I used to use for sawdust when I had the Dyson took a beating from the baking soda carpet fresh.

      • chefboyardee says:

        We have a very nice Dyson. We rent, and recently replaced carpet in the room where our cat stayed when our baby was born and we turned said room into a nursery. Up until that point we vacuumed said room every week for 2 years (since we moved in). When I pulled up the carpet and the pad, I am not exaggerating when I say the entire sub-floor was hidden beneath a layer of white powder (I’m assuming the previous owner sprinkled baking soda or a similar “smells good” powder before vacuuming). So I would have to agree with your assessment.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Baking soda is a bad idea for so many reasons: It clogs vacuums, the granules increase wear and breakdown of carpeting, it never comes completely out of the carpet, it is alkaline and can irritate pet and children’s feet.

    • mszabo says:

      I think the baking soda thing was a myth primarily because it was advertised as being put in the fridge. In the fridge it is packed tightly in a box, and in a moist environment which would cause a little clumping, resulting in very poor contact between the stinky fridge air and the actual baking soda. In this application your spreading it out and if it has any odor removing properties it should work better, but seems like this would call for a different experiment.

  7. HSVhockey says:

    Sprinkling baking soda is a horrible idea if you ever plan to vacuum it. I’ve had those A&H carpet fresh powders nearly ruin two vacuums, a Dyson animal, and my semi-industrial vacuum even with regular cleaning of the internal parts. I was able to fix both myself, but I’m a little handier than most.

    Use febreeze spray and it will work on carpets just fine and is what I do now.

    My friend has this little mini bissel steam spot cleaner that is the size of a toaster oven (not the handheld junk). I love that thing for stains.

  8. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    instructions are contradictory. I will install hardwood instead.

    • Rachacha says:

      Next on Consumerist How not to scratch the $hit out of your hardwood floors! I love my hardwood floors but the downside is you have to sweep or vacuum them a couple times a week or the dust that would normally hide in your carpet builds up along the perimeter of the room.

  9. valkyrievf2x says:

    Best one?
    Don’t have kids. They are responsible for most of the abuse the carpets get, lol.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      No kidding. Even if you make an effort to clean up messes after every meal, something always manages to get mashed into the carpet (often in well-hidden locations a surprising distance from the table).

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      Or boyfriends in their 20s!! (though I’m worried this is something they don’t actually grow out of!)

      • makreljohnson says:

        If he’s in his 20′s and still behaves like an 8 year old, you got bigger problems than your carpet ;)

        Have a look at the DirecTV Grandchild Dog Collar commercial and call it the Ghost of Christmas Future

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Uh oh. What did he do?

    • qwickone says:

      Don’t let them eat where there’s carpet? Is that an option? My parents have white carpets and we managed to keep it clean when we were kids. There was a STRICT “no eating outside of the kitchen” rule. I mean STRICT.

    • qwickone says:

      Don’t let them eat where there’s carpet? Is that an option? My parents have white carpets and we managed to keep it clean when we were kids. There was a STRICT “no eating outside of the kitchen” rule. I mean STRICT.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Adults who eat over a carpet or in the living room are no help either. Clean those beer, tea, coffee and soda stains/spills right away. I know a beer drinker who has a carpet that looks like a mechanc’s garage with all the drip spots all over. Senior citizens are no help either-tea spills not fun.

    • katarzyna says:

      Or cats….

  10. Lethe says:

    My family/community is Dutch, and it’s always been custom for everyone I knew growing up to take shoes off as soon as you enter houses. I can’t even imagine wearing shoes on hardwood or carpet.

    • Don't Bother says:

      We aren’t Dutch, but I’ve always done that as well. I was just taught that it was the polite thing to do growing up.

      I still ask people if I should take my shoes off before entering, especially if it’s a house I’ve never been to before. Some people give me a weird look.

      • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

        Glad to know I’m not alone on this. We always took our shoes off in the entry. That’s where I end up scanning when visiting someone else’s house. Only time I won’t take my shoes off automatically is if they are obviously wearing shoes around, or if there are pets.

      • Cat says:

        Mrs. Cat is militant about enforcing the “no shoes in the house” rule. Even on the hard floors. But it’s part of her culture – in her country, shoes are ALWAYS removed before entering. And outside every household is a pile of shoes.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        I rented a room from an old Taiwanese lady one summer who requested that I to take off my shoes when I was in the house. I actually have been practicing this and requiring it of others since then. It feels awkward not to and it really does help keep things cleaner.

      • Kate says:

        I don’t remove my shoes for anyone. You don’t like it, I can go elsewhere.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        Me too. Not Dutch, but none of us ever wore street shoes in the house. We wore house shoes, socks, or went barefoot.

  11. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’d say getting stains or spills right away is one of the best things you can do. Also don’t let too much time lapse in between vacuming because if normal or ‘routine’ dirt accumulates it can be walked into the carpet. Also keep the areas by the entrances to your house or apartment swept so stuff isn’t tracked in.

  12. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    Upon entering the house, Sam knew there was a problem. He could smell the faint odor of gunpowder wisping through the air. There was something else though. A familiar smell, but he couldn’t place it;he just knew he didn’t like it. He knew he had to hurry. Any minute now, the little ruse he had left for the Strapnik and his mercenaries would be finished, and they would be hot on his heels.

    With his Colt drawn, he moved through the foyer and down the hall towards the kitchen. The counter was littered with the remains of several food stuffs. The remains of several kinds of cheese and expertly baked bread lay mixed in with various traditional charcuterie. The head cheese and aged salamis were still fresh. La Muerte Deliciosa had been here, and recently if the warmth of the bread was any indication.

    Moving quickly through the house he back tracked until he reached the dining room, and discovered the source of both the gunpowder and the mystery smell. Facedown on the floor lay Pietro Genovese, head of the Genovese syndicate, a hole in the back of his head crying crimson tears. Scattered next to his body was the remains of a sandwich, stained with blood from the man who was shot before eating it. Something else was there, looking like it had been haphazardly squirted onto the body after he had been killed. Leaning down to get a closer look, the strange odor became very strong, and the shock of it’s true nature nearly knocked him over. Someone had finally done it. By using the Third Reich Mustard as a starting point, La Muerte Deliciosa had simultaneously created the most flavorful, and the most dangerous, mustard known to man. And he had prepared a sandwich for Pietro here, who had helped him acquire it, right before killing him to secure the secret. The pungent mustard was mixing with the blood on the carpet, leaving a sickly brown stain on the carpet.

    He stood up to head to the front door. As he moved to make his way out, he heard the unmistakable screech of several cars stopping in front of the house, and the hurried yells of a tactical squad approaching the house. Strapnik had figured out the ruse quicker than Sam thought. He had to move quickly to escape the net that was closing in on him, or he could count on spending the rest of his days in an undisclosed government holding cell.

  13. sahovaman says:

    A lot of carpet cleaning chemicals are activated with heat, so you DO want to use heat with chemicals. Time, Temperature, Chemical, and Agitation are the 4 points of carpet cleaning.

    The proper chemical to be used is determined by the ph of the stain, if the stain rates a 5 on acidic side of the scale, then you want a chemical that rates around a 5 on the base side to neutralize the stain.

    Properly dilute your chemicals as instructed, a lot of chemicals need a bit of time to soak into stains to break them up (some will wreck your carpet so watch out and read instructions), and then by using hot water and agitation, you can lift the stain (unless you are dealing with distortion of the fabric) Otherwise, you may be able to use an oxy cleaner which just masks the stain, they don’t get rid of them. I used to do carpet cleanings and have to go back out to homes because previous companies “treated” the stains with an oxy cleaner and the stain re-appeared after being cleaned.

  14. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Have you any idea the horrid THINGS that live in carpet and that pad below it? Have you seen how much dirt and dust and DEAD HUMAN SKIN builds up in carpet?

    I don’t rent places with carpet. Period. No way I’m walking around on scary germs and someone’s dandruff.

    Hardwoods or polished cement is the best option.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      In south Florida most rental units/landlords are required by law to have their carpet professionally clean when changing tenants. This is also why I always clean a new enviorment once I move in. I unpack the bare minimum until I’ve thoroughly clean everything including the insides of drawers and moved furniture. I’ve even reswept storage units. Rentals with eating utensils and china definately reclean let alone the cabinets they’re in.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      Polished cement is so brutal.

  15. James says:

    Agree with “Don’t have carpet.” If you visit Mexico or a tropical beach area (South Florida) rooms are tiled and it looks beautiful. I know in northern climes it can be cold, but a few nice area rugs in main traffic areas and living rooms takes care of that. – and gives a much more creative look, and you can change them out as you like.

    I have laminate floor on my main leve, hardwood upstairs, and carpet still in my basement. My neighbors did tile downstairs and it looks bright and modern..

    Just my opinion

  16. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t have carpets, but I’m sure all these tips can apply to area rugs as well. My main rug in the living room probably needs a good steam clean but being as I’m getting sick of it, I may just pitch it and get another one. It’s only a Walmart rug anyway.

    Off topic, but I spent the last year writing for wiseGEEK. :D This isn’t one of my articles, however.

  17. Jfielder says:

    Regarding #1: If you have several incontinent dogs, and/or never clean your house, do not expect me to remove my shoes. I’d rather not have to throw out my socks and wash my shoes when I get home.

    For the record, I am exaggerating here, I am not a clean freak… but when it looks like I just ran the NY marathon in my socks, that’s just gross.

  18. Shorebreak says:

    If you don’t want to clean your carpets once in a while, just don’t invite people over. Making guests take their shoes off is inconsiderate. In the Far East, I will remove my shoes without being asked because it’s the custom. But I reside in Texas, and never will I ask a good neighbor to remove his boots before entering my home.

  19. Paularado says:

    I love my carpeting even though I know it’s hard to really clean. We have small kids and it’s so fun to romp around on the floor.

    We take our shoes off, but I never, ever require our guests to do the same. For my kids, it’s just automatic to take off shoes when you walk into any home, which is nice.

    I bought a bunch of shoe covers from amazon, which are awesome. If I have to run into the house because I’ve forgotten something, I can just slip those on and run through.

  20. mopman64 says:

    Being a carpet cleaner with my own business, I will correct :

    * Clean stains immediately. The quicker you act, the less time a stain has to become permanent.

    Once you drop something on your carpet it is a spill, spills can for the most part be cleaned, it is when something sits and becomes a stain that you are for the most part out of luck.

    There is not much under the common hosehold kitchen sink that can clean a stain.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I just have to say this, along with my cats being drawn to carpet to puke, I’m convinced they do it within 20 seconds of me walking out the door to go to work, so their little gift can sit on the carpet for the maximum amount of time to sink in and stain.

  21. physics2010 says:

    Oh good. Baking soda. Poor more crap onto your carpet that your vacuum isn’t going to pick up all of. Stupid people that use carpet deodorizers…every time you do a little bit more stays behind.