Cleaning Carpets

Keeping carpets fresh requires commitment. Once a week— more often in high-traffic areas— use an upright or canister vacuum cleaner with a power (beater) nozzle. This keeps dirt from settling to the bottom and grinding at the fibers. Once a year, shampoo or steam-clean your carpets, depending on how deep the dirt is embedded. Shampoo comes as either a concentrated liquid detergent you mix with water or an aerosol spray foam. Remember that shampoo is a surface cleaner only. Either remove all of the furniture at once or allow two days, doing half the carpet each day. Whip the detergent into a foam by vigorously scrubbing the carpet. Let the foam dry, then vacuum the dried detergent and loosened dirt. Do not soak the carpet—it might shrink, the colors might run, and mildew might grow.

Steam-cleaning machines actually spray a mix of hot water and detergent deep into the pile, then immediately vacuum up both the solution and dislodged dirt before the carpet becomes soaked. Steaming is much more effective than shampooing. Hardware stores, home centers, and carpet stores usually have steamers for rent. Or purchase an inexpensive steam cleaner. Oriental and antique rugs require professional cleaning to make sure they don’t run or shrink. In day-to-day life, when a spill occurs, speedy cleanup is of the essence to avoid permanent staining. Remove as much of the spill as possible with a large spoon, a spatula, a putty knife, or a large knife.

Consult the table to select a cleaning agent. Apply the first cleaning agent listed for the type of stain. Do not pour the agent directly onto the spill area. Instead pour it onto a sponge and blot—don’t rub—the stained area. Remove as much liquid as possible by pressing a paper towel into the stain. Repeat the pour-into-sponge, blot, and dry sequence with the remaining cleaning agents listed in the table. After all the agents have been applied and removed, rinse the area with fresh water. Dry the area by stepping on a pile of paper towels stacked on the wet area. If the stain type is not listed, try trichloroethane, a dry-cleaning solution available at many stores, followed by detergent.

Carpet Stain First Aid




Water, then detergent


Trichloroethane, then detergent


Detergent, then ammonia

Coffee or wine

Detergent, then vinegar


Trichloroethane, then detergent

Egg or fruit juice

Detergent, then ammonia, then vinegar

Furniture polish, grease or oil

Trichloroethane, then detergent

Ice cream

Detergent, then ammonia, then vinegar


Detergent, then ammonia


Trichloroethane, then detergent, then ammonia, then vinegar


Trichloroethane, then detergent

Paint (oil)


Paint (latex)


Shoe polish

Trichloroethane, then detergent, then ammonia, then vinegar


Detergent, then vinegar, then trichloroethane


Vinegar, then ammonia, then vinegar again, then detergent


Scrape, then apply trichloroethane


Patching Damaged Carpet

Wall-to-wall pile carpeting or machine-made area rugs can be repaired with relative ease. Handmade or Oriental rugs, however, require special care and should be taken to a professional.

1. Tack a lid over the area. Partially nail a clean can lid or other template over the damaged area. Leave the heads of the nails projecting.

Other Carpet Repairs

■ If carpeting is pulling up at the edges, press it back into place with a putty knife or tap it with a hammer. If that doesn’t do the trick, you may need to stretch it or install a new tack-less strip.

■ To lift an indentation caused by a furniture leg, lay a damp towel over the area and press with a heated iron for a few seconds. Lift up the towel and mb the indentation with the edge of a coin. Repeat if necessary.

■ To repair a tear or slice, pull back the carpet to reveal the underside. Apply seam tape, and heat it. Or stitch the tear from below, using a heavy needle and carpet thread.

■ To patch a small hole, cut a replacement section of pile and attach it to the padding or flooring using superglue.

2. Cut out the damaged area and make a patch. Using the lid as a guide, cut through the carpet with a sharp utility knife. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 on a piece of scrap carpet to make a matching patch.

3. Apply tape and seam cement. Vacuum up loose fibers. Slip double-sided tape halfway under the cutout edges of the old carpet. Apply a thin ribbon of seam cement to the edge of the carpet patch.

4. Weight the patch overnight. Press the patch into place. Weight the patch overnight with a book or board and a heavy object.

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MindyGunton's Avatar
MindyGunton replied the topic: #16017
Excellent post and tips, much obliged. Maintaining cleanliness is an important aspect and should not be ignoring, same as we should not ignore carpet cleaning. To avoid health risks to your family and pets, one should have their home and office carpets cleaned periodically. I always suggest my friends to go for chemdry to keep their family safe. Hope this post inspires others as well.