How To Care For Your Carpet

A good quality carpet these days can be costly. After the initial expense of getting a new carpet, you really don’t want to have to replace it any time soon.

It’s important to make sure you look after your investment and keep you carpets looking clean bright and fresh for as long as possible.

The main cause of unclean carpets is from dirt brought into the house from outside, and household dust. You can of course reduce outside dirt by insisting that shoes are taken off at the front or back door and by having both external and internal door mats. But household dust will still be an issue.

How Did They Used To Clean Carpets?

Historically, and to some extent still today, rugs would be hung outside and beaten with something like a rug beater to knock out as much of the dust and dirt as possible. This method can be a bit messy and isn’t practical with a fitted carpet, so what other options are there?

Brooms and Push Cleaners

You can opt for the manual broom and dustpan and brush which will keep your carpets reasonably clean, but it is very labour intensive, as well as time consuming. Also with todays varied carpet styles it may be very difficult to sweep some carpets, for example shag pile carpets. A slight variation on that method are the manual push cleaners; rotary brushes with a portable waste bin.

These make carpet cleaning much quicker, but once again it will struggle on unusual carpet types. The depth that these can clean to is normally only the top layer of the carpet, leaving dirt lying just below the surface.

The reason why you need to try to get up all the dirt from within the carpet as well as on the surface is that dirt particles can damage the carpet fibres and so lead to it degrading faster than it should. Another reason, and quite an unpleasant thought, is that large amounts of dust are actually from dead skin and hair.

Nice huh? As it is organic matter if it is left in/on carpets it will create bacteria within your carpets, causing odours. So, it is a good idea to try to get as much of it out as possible.


Vacuums are a lot better at extracting dirt from carpets as the suction generated pulls the dirt from the carpet and stores it in a waste container or bag.

It is still a good idea to make sure that your vacuum also has a filter to stop the small particles that it sucks up from being blown out the other end and back onto the carpet that you just cleaned!

Not all vacuums are created equal – the amount of suction and therefore the size and amount of dirt particles that it can pick up can vary quite considerably.

A basic rule of thumb should be that the more powerful the motor, the better suction it should have.

Be aware that some vacuums are so powerful these days that some people might even struggle to use them because of the effort required to push against the suction. You might be interested in reading our Best Vacuum Cleaner Guide.

What a lot of vacuums also feature now are rotary heads that spin small brushes into the carpet to agitate the dirt and dust at a deeper depth. This is then sucked up by the vacuum providing a deeper clean in the carpet.

Just like brooms and carpet push cleaners, different types of carpets can cause problems to some types of vacuums. You wouldn’t use a rotary head on a shag pile or a rug with tassels as they will get caught up and either jam the brush head, or strip the carpet, or both!

Carpet Cleaners

A basic vacuum cleaner will not resolve any odours or stains in the carpets. There are a number of things that you can use here but with all these products you should always test it in a hidden corner to ensure that the practice or product doesn’t damage your carpet.

Though the thought of wetting your carpet fills most of us with dread, you can use a carpet cleaner to shampoo your carpet.

These typically involve using warm to hot water, with a special cleaning solution which is sprayed onto the carpet. It works by dissolving the dirt, and is then sucked back up into the machine.

carpet-cleanerThese special wet/dry machines will leave your carpets slightly damp, but this should dry out quickly.  I tend to either wait until a hot day, or make sure that the heating is on to help it dry more quickly. You also won’t get that damp smell if it takes hours to dry.

Other options include dry foam products that you spray on and vacuum up when they have dried, or just dry products that are laid out over the carpets and then taken up by the vacuum.

Steam Cleaners

If you want to try a chemical free option then you could try a steam cleaner. A steam cleaner will clean and neutralise bacteria and smells in the carpet just through the power of steam. There are some cleaners that can use additional cleaning products within it.

A steam cleaner wouldn’t really be used to clean a whole carpet, but more likely be used as a spot cleaner. Once again though it is very important to test these before as wet carpets or steam cleaners might have unforeseen side effects like fading or shrinking.

You might be interested in our Best Steam Cleaner Guide >>

Top Tips To Keep Your Carpets Looking Good

  1. Vacuum your carpets at least 2 to 3 times a week, depending on how busy your household is. If you have young children or pets this might turn into a daily clean!
  2. Prevention is the preferable option. Ask people to take shoes off and keep good quality door mats at the front and back door.
  3. Deal with any spillages straight away. This way any stains will be reduced. Try not to get the carpet too wet by mopping up spillages with a damp cloth.
  4. Before you buy your carpet consider the colour and wear quality. Hall carpets and other high foot traffic areas will need extra care and darker shades should be considered.

With the many technological advances of materials these days, most carpets are created to withstand heavy traffic and require minimal care.  It all depends on what is important to you: luxury or durability.

If you’re really lucky and patient in your search, you may be able to find both features in the carpet you want.


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