A great carpet is really a luxury. It’s a soft sanctuary to feel under your bare feet after a long day at work or running errands. It’s your kids’ favorite place to relax and watch a movie or where they play with their friends. In either case, wouldn’t you want to feel good about walking on it barefoot or letting your kids squish their faces in it? Yeah, we thought so.
So what’s really in your carpet?
Most people only think of cleaning their carpet when they can actually see the dirt and spots on the carpet, and that’s the first mistake. In order to get out of that habit, try thinking of your carpet as another air filter. It receives all the nasty stuff that gets dragged in by shoes, pets, and other things that constantly go in and out of your home. When you clean and dust your house, you’ve essentially “missed a spot”. Although you can’t always see it, the dust that didn’t necessarily land on your fireplace mantel or get sucked into the air filter landed in your carpet. It also explains why people with allergies can suffer even indoors in the spring and fall – because the dust and pollen accumulates in the carpet.
And it’s not just dust and dirt that gets buried in there. In fact, according to Men’s Health magazine, your carpet is a germ hotspot and can be 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat. “Rugs are botanical and zoological parks,” microbiologist Dr. Philip Tierno told the magazine, and they can have several different organisms living inside them.
Now that you know the truth about how many things can potentially live within your carpets many fibers, here are a few details you should consider as well as some solutions to keep your carpet clean and safe for everyone.
The Ugly Truth
Tierno’s research indicates that your home’s carpet probably contains about 200,000 bacteria per square inch and is home to hundreds of thousands of different types of species. These infestations happen because the average person sheds about 1.5 million skin cells every hour (crazy, right?). These skin cells then get into the rug and serve as food for germs. Not to mention that they get food particles, pollen, and pet dander to satisfy their hunger as well and keeps them living and reproducing longer. Homeowners need to know that a vacuum cleaner’s suction and rotating beater brush don’t usually reach the bottom through the many fibers. What does this mean for your carpet? Oh, you know, just communities of E. coli, salmonella, staphylococcus, and other bacteria growing deep in there. Every single time you walk on the carpet or roll around on it with your kids, you disrupt the bacteria, bringing some closer to the surface. Scary.
When to Clean
Professionals say that the most effective method of keeping carpeting clean and increasing its lifetime is to vacuum it regularly. In fact, we recommend vacuuming your carpet and rugs three or more times per week, and daily in high-traffic areas if you can. A vacuum cleaner with strong suction, rotating brushes and a HEPA filter (dirt and dust won’t get blown back out in the exhaust) is best. To consider the bigger picture, we suggest hiring a John Moore professional once a year for a deep steam cleaning, but weekly maintenance is extremely important as well.
Matted Down Spots
As the dust and dirt settle in your carpet, it is pushed further and further down to the base with each step. At the same time, it is acting like little pieces of sandpaper grinding down on and damaging the carpet fibers. Have you ever stood at one end of the hallway and looked at the matted down path where everyone walks? That is evidence of the dirt grinding away at the fibers. The fibers are no longer standing up nice and straight. However, if you clean your carpet on a regular basis you can remove this dust, dirt and pollen and make the carpet last longer as well as improve the indoor air quality of your home.
It’s a good idea to encourage family members to remove shoes upon entrance into the home. Pesticides, pollutants, dirt, and even animal feces come indoors on shoes and are tracked onto carpets. Now picture your son or daughter rolling around on that. If going shoeless is not acceptable to family members, suggest that they wear house shoes (that don’t go outside), slippers or socks. If that doesn’t get guests to budge, tell them about the animal feces thing. They’ll get the idea.
Clean Up Spills Immediately
This will help prevent stains. Soak up any liquid spills by covering them with clean, light-colored towels or paper towels. Scrape sticky substances off carpets with a spatula or spoon. One thing most people don’t remember: don’t rub the spill! That will damage carpet fibers and make the stain spread even more. To clean the stain, mix 1 cup warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of mild liquid soap, like a dishwashing liquid or gentle fabric detergent. Apply a small amount, blot by pressing a clean white towel into the carpet and lift. Repeat this process until the stain is gone. Remember, y’all, be patient. It goes a long way. After stain is removed, rinse the area with a solution a few teaspoons of white vinegar to one cup water and blot with another clean towel. Once the area is dry, vacuum it to get the fibers upright and pretty again.
Use baking soda to remove odor from carpets. Carpet deodorizers and fresheners often contain fragrances that merely mask the smell. Baking soda soaks up the odor. Just sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the carpet. Let it stand for 15 – 30 minutes. Then vacuum.
If you want to rent a machine and deep clean your carpet yourself, make sure you do it right. Most do-it-yourself carpet-cleaning machines use the hot-water extraction method: a hot-water-and-detergent solution is sucked out of a reservoir, sprayed on the carpet, and immediately extracted with a powerful vacuum. Before you head off to the hardware store to rent a machine, you need to know what your carpet is made of to select the right cleaning solution, so get that in check. You can test the solution on a hidden spot to make sure it won’t leave a stain of its own or bleach the color out. Read the instructions on the machine and on the detergent and follow them very closely. Be aware that machines for rent are generally not as powerful as professional units and can result in less efficient cleaning. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it alone or your efforts just aren’t working, it’s probably time to call in a John Moore carpet cleaning professional.
Professional cleaners may use either a truck-mounted unit or a portable machine to deeply steam-clean. The portable machine is good when used in apartment and condo buildings in units that would otherwise be beyond the reach of a truck-mounted unit’s hose. However, truck-mounted units are much more powerful and efficient than portable ones.
So, to ensure you get the longest lifespan possible from your home’s carpets, you’ll want it professionally cleaned. While you can definitely rent carpet cleaning equipment from nearby stores, many of those machines are in poor condition or simply don’t have the cleaning power that a professional machine does. A professional machine will be able to get to the dirt and bacteria that is buried deep down in the fibers of the carpet. Take our word for it: the money that you spend on getting your carpets professionally cleaned will be worth it. Not only will it guarantee the deepest clean possible, it will also extend the life of your carpet by many years.
Make sure to ventilate well during and after a carpet cleaning. To speed drying time and prevent mold growth, keep windows open and use fans. Avoid carpet cleaning on humid or damp days to maximize the ventilation capacity.
Why It Matters
Carpet cleaning is not merely a way to keep germs and dirt away. Having your carpet cleaned will totally rejuvenate your carpet and increase its lifespan, and will add value to your home overall. Once you’ve got it cleaned, you can rest easy knowing you, your family, and your guests are safe from potentially harmful germs and other organisms that were once living in there. It’ll smell good and fresh, too, which is always a plus! Getting regular maintenance done by a John Moore professional or doing it yourself will always help with preventing damage and infestation. If there is something you want to get lax about, don’t let it be this. If you know you haven’t had it cleaned in a while, don’t brush it under the rug any longer (pun intended)! Call John Moore today with any questions and concerns you may have before your carpet’s condition gets any worse.