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After the Christmas dinner party and the New Years Eve bash, your carpet probably won't look too pretty. You might find a blop of cranberry sauce squished into the middle of the living room floor, or maybe a cakey, yellow goop hardened near the coffee table. Spray and scrub as you may, you just can't seem to get them out. "No problem," you think "My lease is nearly up. I just won't mess with it." That's a great solution... but only if you don't want to see any of your security deposit back.

Maybe part of that deposit will simply pay for professional cleaners to come in and get your carpets back in good condition... but what if your landlord decides to go ahead and replace the entire carpet? Goodbye security deposit. If you don't hold up your end of the lease (keeping the apartment in good, clean condition) your landlord has every right to use your security deposit to repair and replace things damaged beyond the average "wear and tear" - including your nasty carpet.

Although cleaning your carpets before you move out will probably help you get your security deposit back, it doesn't come for free. If you're tight on cash, here are some frugal carpet cleaning ideas:

  • You can rub any type of foaming shaving cream in to the spots or high traffic areas and then rinse with warm, wet towels. Be careful not to over wet the carpet or this could cause mildew.
  • Rug/carpet cleaner recipe: 2 cup cornmeal + 1 cup borax, Sprinkle, leave for 1 hour, than vacuum.
  • Rug/carpet stain remover recipe: club soda

If you have a little cash, go to a janitorial supply company and purchase their cleaners in bulk. This way, you'll only be paying for the cleaner, not the advertising, and the solution won't be diluted.

If you think household cleaners aren't going to do the trick, you should see about renting a professional cleaner. A rental is usually somewhere around $20.00 (plus shampoos and cleaners), and most grocery stores and rental centers rent out high quality steam cleaners.

Some people find the best option is to simply purchase a carpet cleaner. These range anywhere from $80 to $400, and you can take this with you to your next home. For consumer opinions on the best value for a carpet cleaner, visit The Dollar Stretcher Website.

There are two types of carpet cleaning machines: wet and dry.

WET

How it works: The wet cleaners work by injecting a solution into the carpet, and then sucking the solution (along with the dirt) into the machine.

Disadvantages: If the carpets are overwet, this can damage the carpet backing and underlayment and can cause shrinkage, discoloration, and odor.

DRY

How it works: Dry cleaning machines work when you sprinkle a chemical powder over the carpet and then vacuum it up.

Disadvantages: Although they usually work better than home steamers, dry machines and chemicals are more expensive than steamers and wet extraction solutions.

So keep in mind that if you're living in an apartment, and you don't get the stains out before your lease is up, your landlord could see this as grounds to replace the carpeting. While future tenants would probably enjoy new carpeting, you would probably enjoy getting your security deposit back even more. If you follow these tips to keep your carpet looking clean, you'll save yourself from losing any money in the long run.

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