Imagine this: you’re in high school, it’s early on a Saturday morning, and you’re trying to sleep. Suddenly you hear a door slamming; it happens to be the closet in the hall. You realize what’s happening. Your mom is about to vacuum.
“MOM,” you yell.
She pretends she can’t hear you yelling…
When I was younger, I thought the vacuum was invented for moms to be passive-aggressive towards their kids. It was Mom’s way of telling us to get out of bed.
The truth is, carpet cleaning is probably more important than we thought, and you will probably thank your mom after you read this. Actually, pick up the phone and thank your mom right now (before you read this).
Your carpet might be the most disturbing part of your home or apartment. It can be a host to thousands of different bacteria and contaminants. Every time you walk across or play on the carpet, you are stirring up these irritants into the air. If you want to control the cleanliness of your carpet, you need to know what you are dealing with.
- Dust & Dust Mites: Every house in the world has dust, which means they probably have dust mites too. Dust settles in carpets, and dust mites feed on the dust. Mites are usually only found in humid climates. These are some of the top indoor allergy triggers for people. Along with the soil, the mites leave a large number of droppings behind. Just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
- Mold: Carpet is going to get wet. It’s an inescapable fact of life. You can do your best to avoid it, but spills are going to happen, and fungus grows in a moist environment. Water, food, and excessive humidity can all be factors in carpet mold growth. Also, if you have mold in your air, it can eventually settle on your carpet.
- Dead skin: Every day, humans shed almost 1 million dead skin cells. So it is highly likely that your carpet is covered in dead skin cells.
- Feces: Yes, feces. Remember those dust mites I mentioned? They leave their droppings all over the place. They may be invisible to the eye, but it doesn’t make it less disgusting. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your feces might be on there too. If your carpet is anywhere near your bathroom, it’s possible that stool particles made their way onto your floor.
- Bacteria: This isn’t anything new, but Dr. Philip Tierno Jr., Ph.D., a microbiologist and immunologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, says that there are approximately 200,000 bacteria per square inch of your carpet. While there are plenty of different species of bacteria that could reside in your carpet, I will only list a few: Escherichia Coli (E. Coli), Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph), and Salmonella are some of the main ones.
That list of inhabitants failed to mention the mud, animal hair, human hair, bugs, food, pet urine, and other things that can be brought into a house by people or pets. Now that we have a decent picture of how gross our carpets are, how do you go about cleaning them?
Oh.. That noise machine that you hated growing up has a purpose after all. Vacuuming consistently and often is an excellent start to keeping your carpet clean. The best practices for the most efficient vacuuming are:
- Go back and forth. Going both ways over the carpet will ensure you are getting the most out of your effort. If you have time, switch directions and vacuum over it from another angle. Check out the best way to vacuum.
- Go slowly. It shouldn’t be a race. If you are going too fast, you are probably doing more harm than good. You can just stir up the things you are trying to suck up.
- Vacuum (at the very least) once a week. I vacuum mine every Saturday morning. If you have pets, you should probably vacuum more than once a week. I’m not a home hygiene expert, but after a couple of in-depth vacuum sessions, you’ll see why weekly vacuuming is necessary.
- Make sure you don’t skip the spots underneath furniture. Carpet that is covered gets dirty too. Underneath furniture might not need it every week, but every other week will be sufficient.
- Vacuum immediately after any food or drink spills. It can prevent mold growth before it starts. The immediate response can also keep away any unwanted odors.
I recommend using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. These are helpful for people with allergies because it filters the air of 99.97% of air particulates. It prevents you from just tossing those mold spores and bacteria back into your air.
Even if you vacuum twice a day, every day, you will never completely rid your carpet of germs. This bacteria refuge doesn’t give up that easily, meaning further tactics must be taken. If you hate vacuuming, you can use our app to schedule a house cleaning.
If you have never had your carpet cleaned, you might want to consider it now. Getting your carpet cleaned is an incredibly satisfying experience, and it leaves your entire home feeling refreshed and clean.
Here are a few areas carpet cleaning can improve your carpet and your home:
- Stains – Whether you have a small wine spill or kids tracking mud into the house, stains are easy to cause and harder to remove. No matter how careful you are, stains are nearly unavoidable.
- Pollutants – The number of contaminants that take residence in your carpet is disturbing. I’m reminded of that every time I vacuum. When you vacuum, you are only picking up surface level contaminants such as dust, hair, and smaller pieces of trash. Taking it a step further with a carpet cleaner will help you get rid of the deeper issues. Eliminate mold, bacteria, and the dirt that the vacuum left behind. Cleaning your carpet is the only real way to get the full clean that you desire (and need).
- Prevent mold growth – If done correctly, carpet cleaning can eliminate mold and prevent future mold growth. Food and moisture are the reason that you have mold in the first place. If cleaning is not done correctly, there can be too much moisture on the carpet, and that can lead to unwanted mold and mildew.
- Extend the life of your carpet – If you maintain it, carpet can be durable for years to come. The life of your carpet depends on two things: the grade of carpet that you have and how well you take care of it.
- Improve the smell of your home – Who knows how many of those foul odors you smell are caused by your carpet. As things get dirty over time, they tend to give off a smell. Carpet cleaning can leave your home feeling fresh and clean while smelling like a brand new home.
- Improve indoor air quality – Air quality can have a significant impact on someone’s health. For people with asthma or allergies, the quality of home’s air can make someone sick. Some air pollutants (mold, dust, allergens) can settle on the carpet. Consistent cleaning can improve your home’s air quality and perhaps even alleviate some allergy symptoms.
Types of Carpet Cleaning
You might be surprised to find out that there are different types of carpet cleaning that professionals use regularly. While there are some that are recommended for different situations, these are the most commonly used practices. Which one you choose is based on the type of carpet you have and how often you have your carpet cleaned.
Encapsulation – This form of carpet cleaning involves pre-treating the carpet with an encapsulating solution, which traps and crystallizes the soil together. Once crystallized, the soil gets vacuumed up normally. Encapsulation is not the most efficient form of carpet cleaning, but it is quick and easy. There isn’t a lot of moisture involved, so it dries fast. This type of cleaning is popular because the carpet is ready to walk on almost immediately after it is cleaned.
Dry cleaning – Dry cleaning is also referred to as bonnet cleaning. While it may have the word “dry” in the name, it still involves some solution. The cleaning solution gets sprayed on top of the carpet. After settling, the cleaner “buffs” the carpet with a rotating absorbent pad (which is called the bonnet). The bonnet works the solution into the carpet and breaks down the soil. This type of cleaning isn’t the best choice for residential carpets.
Foam cleaning – Also called dry foam cleaning, this method is similar to bonnet cleaning. The difference is the rotary whips the solution into a foam on top of the carpet. The foam must be extracted by the same machine, or a different device must be brought in to rinse the foam. This type of cleaning is excellent for removing stains, but it mainly deals with surface level soil.
Hot water extraction
– Hot water extraction is also known as steam cleaning. It may be called steam cleaning, but it is not the steam that is doing the cleaning. Hot water extraction is done by applying some type of cleaner to the carpet and using water and a high-powered extractor to remove it and the soil. The extractor can be portable or is sometimes a hose attached to a truck. The steam comes in because the water is heated to scorching temperatures to kill bacteria and mold.
This is the most recommended form of carpet cleaning. Mainly because it provides the most thorough clean. The deep penetration, along with the high temperatures removes most dirt and bacteria from any carpet.
Every carpet cleaner you meet will probably tell you why their way of doing it is the best way. Hot water extraction is often called the best type of carpet cleaning, but it can really disrupt a day because of how long it takes to dry. Dry cleaning techniques involve little to no water, so daily functions can continue without interruption. They all have their pros and cons, so it should come down to which method is best for you.
If you want to know which type is best for your carpet, you might need to do some research to find out the best option. It is a good idea to talk to your carpet manufacturer to find out which cleaning method they recommend for which type of carpet. Either that or talk with a cleaner about which type they recommend. If they are a professional, they will help you make the right choice.
Many industrial cleaners may contain some harsh chemicals. So it is important to be aware of that before you hire a professional. There are green cleaning options available and also countless do-it-yourself cleaning solutions that you can use to spot clean stains and eliminate carpet odors.
How often should you clean your carpets?
Most experts you ask would give you a similar answer, and that is it should be done every 12-18 months. There are a lot of variables going into a question like this. As a homeowner, you need to think about the type of foot traffic your carpets receive. If you have a family of eight and are regularly cleaning up stains, perhaps you should consider doing it more often than once a year. The same goes if you have pets.
Something to be aware of is your carpet’s warranty. Apparently, some carpet manufacturers require that a carpet gets professionally cleaned every 12-18 months. Not only that, but the homeowner must save the receipt to show to the company. It may even have to be cleaned using a certain method. If not done, the warranty could potentially be voided.
Cost of having your carpets cleaned
Again, this is an answer that is determined by many qualifying factors. Prices can vary from company to company, but two of the primary determinants are size and dirtiness.
Alan Fletcher, also known as the Carpet Professor, has mapped out some general estimates for carpet cleaning and how to price it. Alan says, “the typical cost to clean your carpet ranges from 15 cents to 45 cents per square foot.” Soil level is the reason that the price per square foot is so broad. A company might charge 15 cents per square foot for a clean carpet, but if that same carpet is twice as dirty as a usual carpet, they will be inclined to charge twice as much for the job.
In conclusion, your home’s carpet needs grooming. I frequently write about the house as if it’s a system or a body. Carpet cleaning is an important thing to factor in when considering “house hygiene.” The wide range of benefits that come from consistent vacuuming and cleaning should be enough to convince any homeowner.
Now go thank your Mom (again).
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33 thoughts on “The Art of Carpet Cleaning”
Thanks for the great article. I was hoping you could answer a question I have. How can I protect my carpet from getting dirty so quickly? I just purchased a home and the carpets are a mess. I’d love to hear what you think.
Start by kicking the shoes off at the door. Shoes bring in most of the dirt and grime that makes it onto your carpet. Once you have your carpet cleaned, do your best to keep up on vacuuming. Along with that, immediately clean up any stains that take place. It’s a lot easier to do a little bit of carpet maintenance than it is to do a full deep clean. I hope this helps!
That’s good to know that you can improve the air quality in your home if you clean your carpets since they can have allergens and pollutants stuck in it. My son has pretty bad asthma so I’m trying to figure out the best way to help him out. I’ll have to find a carpet cleaning service that can professionally clean our carpet so I’ll know it’s clean and hopefully it’ll help my son breathe better.
You should try a vacuum with a HEPA filter! I use one myself. I don’t have asthma, but I do have allergies! I’m the type of person who will try anything to beat allergens.
My mom wants our home to be spotlessly clean for the coming family reunion at home. It was explained here that there are lots of carpet pollutants like dust and mold. Furthermore, it’s recommended to hire professionals for quality carpet cleaning.
Professional carpet cleaners can leave your carpets looking as good as they did when they were new. Some people don’t even recognize their carpets after!
I didn’t know that your carpet is most likely covered in dead skin cells. My husband and I haven’t gotten our carpet cleaned since we moved into our house 5 years ago. I’ll have to look into finding the best carpet cleaning company in our area that can come and get our carpets completely clean.
Covered may be a stretch, but there are definitely dead skin cells on your carpet. If you vacuum consistently you can keep the amount down.
I would clean the seam between the bathroom floor and the tub. Then the kick plates under my lower kitchen cabinets.
Haha. Your article introduction brings back memories. Now I enjoy doing it to my kids.
Memories for sure! It seemed to be like clockwork. Start a movie… suddenly it’s time to vacuum the stairs. I’m extremely thankful now!
That’s good to know that your carpet can grow mold but if you get a carpet cleaning done it can eliminate and prevent mold. My carpet is pretty old and has a strange smell so I’m looking up how to get rid of it. I’ll have to find a carpet cleaning company since mold could be the problem and I want to make sure my home is safe.
I was surprised to read that there are approximately 200,000 bacteria per square inch of your carpet. This is nasty! I have never had my carpet cleaned, so I wonder if this stat is worse. I’ll be sure to look for a cleaning service to help me make my house a cleaner.
Isn’t that disturbing?? You can never completely prevent bacteria from building up, but you can maintain it!
I didn’t know that humans shed almost 1 million dead cells daily. This makes me really want to get my carpet cleaned. I’ll have to look into finding the best carpet cleaning company in my area.
I liked what you said about this helping to improve the smell of your home. I never thought about this being something that happened when getting our carpets cleaned but it makes a lot of sense. It’s definitely something that will make us want to get our carpets cleaned regularly.
Thanks, Gerty! It’s amazing what a good carpet cleaning can do for the smell of a home. Especially when someone has pets or a lot of foot traffic.
Man! your website is dope! I mean you have included infographics and all…..it is really helpful! Also, I agree, carpet cleaning is an art. One has to look deep and find out dirt wherever it is hiding and kill it permanently, that is when customers are happy!
Thanks, Paul! We appreciate that. We spend a lot of time on our content to make sure our customers and readers are happy!
It’s great you elaborated on the many variations of how a carpet cleaning can be done, as the only one I know of is running a vacuum right through it and hoping for the best. There’s a carpet in my mother’s living room that’s been there for several years and I wanted to ask her about getting it cleaned since she wants to replace it with another carpet. I’ll be sure to inform her that getting a professional carpet cleaner is the way to go as opposed to her cleaning it herself.
Hi Adrian! A professional carpet cleaner won’t solve every problem, but it can sure help!
I like how you talked about how carpet cleaning can make your house smell brand new again. My house has pets and it is starting to smell like it. I’ll have to consider getting the carpet cleaned in the future.
Hi Bob, absolutely! It can never hurt to get your carpets cleaned. If you want a short-term fix for carpet smells, you can check out this DIY method for deodorizing carpet.
Most homeowners fail to clean and maintain their carpets on a regular basis and end up voiding their new carpet warranty. Here is what homeowners need to know about carpet cleaning and new carpet warranty requirements.
Alan – The Carpet Professor – http://www.CarpetProfessor.com
Thanks for taking the time to read the article! I appreciate the information.
It’s great to know more about carpet cleaning. I love how you said that it’s good to get rid of stains, and it also can keep your carpets durable for years to come. Our carpets look dirty right now, so I’d love to hire someone to clean them!
I was talking to my sister the other day about getting a carpet cleaning. It makes sense that you would want to get a foam cleaning since it will get rid of stains. My sister just got a new carpet and spilled some wine on it this tip might help her.
Definitely! I even made a video about getting wine stains out of carpet. Check it out!
I really liked how you said that steam cleaning is the most thorough cleaning you can get because of how deeply it penetrated and the high temperature. In my home with two dogs, a cat, and four kids. It seems as if the carpet is never clean, making sure that it gets cleaned properly and by a professional would be really helpful in keeping the carpets clean of bugs and diseases to protect my kids.
Oh, boy! I definitely recommend deep steam cleaning for that type of foot traffic. Protecting our loved ones should be the number one priority. I agree I don’t mess around when it comes to mold and other allergens.
Thanks for the information, during the cleaning chemicals stay on the surface of the carpet and then could cause allergies?
Very thorough and well-written article. Hiring a professional is well worth the cost and extending the life of the carpet. I appreciate your article and thanks!