Carpets have an amazing ability to transform your living spaces. They add warmth, color, comfort, and interest to a room without grabbing all the attention for themselves. They’re available in a dazzling array of designs, textures, materials, shapes, and sizes. Carpets are cozy in winter and soft underfoot in summer. But all this comes with a caveat. Whether you own a vintage Axminster, or an off-the-rack sisal floor covering, keeping it clean, bright, and hygienic can be a challenge. They represent a big-ticket investment and need regular maintenance. We’ve all walked into places where the carpet gives off a distinct odor – a mixture of mildew, spoiled food, pets, and spilled drinks. You certainly don’t want that happening to your home. Professional cleaning can be expensive, so here are some great Do-It-Yourself Carpet Cleaning Tips that are just as effective minus the drain on your pocket.
Carpets and Cleaning: A Quick Flashback
Carpets originated perhaps in Central Asia, where nomadic tribes used them as functional and decorative floor coverings in their tents. They could be easily transported and could quickly be laid out. Many of these tribes were sheep or yak herders, and they learned how to weave the fleece into carpets on simple looms. The wool was dyed with vegetable and mineral dyes. The patterns were simple and geometric.
Carpets, as we know them, probably originated in the Middle East and were created to make the ground more comfortable to sit, eat and pray on.
The oldest surviving carpet, the Pazyryk Rug, dates back to the 3rd or 4th century BCE. It was part of the burial remains of a Scythian royal and was found perfectly preserved in ice in Siberia. Carpets were regarded for much of history as a sign of affluence. This opinion survives in most parts of the world today.
Not much evidence survives today about how the ancients cleaned their carpets. However, there is documentation about how this was done in the Middle Ages. Smaller and heavier woolen pieces called druggets were laid under tables to protect carpets from food and drink spills. Wealthier households in Europe covered their carpets with canvas fabric when they were away from home for extended periods.
Ill-ventilated rooms, lack of awareness of hygiene and disease-causing organisms, and primitive cleaning technologies and products made carpet cleaning one of the most tedious household tasks.
Huge changes happened during the Industrial Revolution. New ideas, the invention of new cleaning equipment, the availability of professional cleaning, more effective and affordable cleaning products, and better knowledge helped to improve general hygiene in homes. Carpet cleaning benefited enormously from these factors.
Domestic journals of the era featured interesting tips on how to clean carpets. They ranged from using tea leaves and straw brooms to cleaning with an extract from the gallbladder of bulls mixed with water. Chemicals such as naphtha, refined oil extracts, chloroform, and clay paste, were widely used.
With the invention of the vacuum cleaner in the 1870s, a sea change took place in the field of carpet cleaning. An electrically powered carpet sweeper made its debut in 1900. Carpet shampooing also became popular during this era.
Today, the most commonly used methods of professional carpet cleaning include:
- Steam cleaning
- Hot water extraction
- Bonnet machine cleaning
- Encapsulating with synthetic foam
- Carpet Shampoo
Do-It-Yourself Carpet Cleaning Tips
Carpets are a trap for not just dirt but also for disease causing germs. While there are plenty of choices for professional carpet cleaning, the bottom line is that they come at a price. Another possible issue that could crop up is if you entrust the job to an inexperienced cleaner. This could damage your carpet irreparably. Many professional cleaners use toxic chemicals that could cause allergies in humans and animals.
You can easily keep your carpets clean and fresh by using products available in your home. DIY takes some effort, patience, and time. But you can be sure that you’re using safe products and methods. You can clean according to your own convenience and schedule. You can clean up immediately when the spill happens. There is no messy residue to remove, and you save a tidy sum. If you need heavy-duty equipment, you can always rent it.
DIYers can use these great tips to clean carpets:
- Baking Soda: This miracle ingredient is sure to be on your kitchen shelf. Sprinkle dry baking soda directly on your carpet and leave it for a few hours or overnight. For stubborn stains, spray a fine mist of water on the baking soda after you’ve sprinkled it on the carpet. Let it dry overnight. You can vacuum or sweep the carpet in the morning. Baking soda gives the added bonus of removing nasty smells. This is a great DIY solution if you have pets in the house.
- Wine Spills:Plain white table salt works wonders with wine stains. Sprinkle generously as soon as possible, and when it turns reddish, vacuum and repeat the process till the stain vanishes.
- Brush and Dry: Choose a sunny day to take your carpets outside. Brush thoroughly and hang them up in the sun on the reverse side. This eliminates odors and keeps the carpet clean.
- Stains:Layer the stain with a mild, fragrance, and additive-free shaving foam. Soak for half an hour. Gently blot with a clean, damp microfiber cloth till the stain disappears. This works for blood stainsas well.
- Odors: Nasty odorsfrom food, mildew, and pet fluids are disastrous on your wool carpets. They can linger for a long time and damage the carpet too. Mix a solution of I cup water and 1 cup vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray in a fine mist on the carpet. Leave for an hour. Dry with a ceiling fan or hair dryer (cool setting) and vacuum thoroughly.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide, hot water, white vinegar, and dishwashing soap. Swirl in a spray bottle and mist the carpet. Leave for a while and dry the carpet thoroughly before vacuuming. Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria and germs.
- Ice Cubes: They work wonders to remove chewing gum, candle wax, or play dough from carpets. Freeze the stuff with a few ice cubes held firmly against the contaminant. Once it cools and freezes, the gum/wax is easy to peel off. Dry your carpet thoroughly.
- Lint Roller:Use a fabric lint roller to easily remove pet hairs and food particles from your shaggy carpet.
- Nail-Polish Remover: If you’ve spilled nail paint on your carpet, wait till it dries fully. Scrape gently with a butter knife or blunt-edged tool. Get as much as you can out by peeling it away. Apply nail polish remover on a cotton swab and gently rub away the remaining stain.
Cleaning your carpet is a chore that you put off for as long as you can because it seems so overwhelming. You’re not completely right if you thought that only a professional cleaning service could get them really clean. Plenty of DIY methods save money, time, and effort.