• Cleaning your carpet is an important part of home maintenance.  It will increase the longevity of the carpet, and keep it looking beautiful for many years. However, the time frame to clean carpets is different for every family based on use, and other factors.

    Carpet Warranties

    If you have recently purchased a carpet, there are a few important things to know to help maintain the carpet. First, all carpets come with a warranty that requires professional cleaning once every 18 months. If you want to maintain your carpet warranty, you need to follow the requirements of the guarantee. Secondly, it is important to read the warranty information. On top of cleaning requirements, there may also be some very specific care instructions for removing spots and spills. While there are many spot cleaners on the market, it is important to follow the recommendation of the warranty. Some spot cleaners on the market will void carpet warranties. In fact, Mohawk’s carpet warranty specifically states that a bleaching agent will void the warranty. If the spot cleaners you reach for says test for colorfastness, you should avoid it.

    When picking a spot cleaning agent, avoid any products that contain bleach, chlorine, peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, and sodium perborate. In addition, avoid anything that contains ammonia, petroleum or glycerin. Ammonia is found in urine and is often a cause for lingering smells.  Petroleum and glycerin products are oil-based. Oils act as a magnet for dirt and increase the likelihood of reoccurring spots, and the development of traffic patterns.

    Some carpet manufacturers state that you can use dish soap, and certain types of ammonia to clean up specific spots. As carpet cleaners who see and clean several thousand carpets each year, we recommend avoiding this recommendation. Some dish soaps contain bleaching agents, and almost all of them contain glycerin which attracts dirt. Ammonia can discolor the carpet. Since a specific form of ammonia must be used we recommend avoiding it altogether.

    Additional information on warranties can be found at the following links.

    https://shawfloors.com/flooring/how-to/carpet/warranties/warranty-highlights

    https://www.mohawkflooring.com/customer-care/warranty

    Best Spot Cleaning Practices

    For almost all spots and stains, we recommend using a solution of half and half white distilled vinegar and water. 

    1.    Remove any solids

    2.    Blot up with a towel or paper towel as much liquid as possible

    3.    Spray area liberally with the water and vinegar mixture

    4.    Let it sit for 1-2 minutes

    5.    Shop-vac or blot up any remaining moisture. 

    6.    Repeat until the spot has been removed. 

    If you have spilled paint, nail polish or ink on the carpet, we recommend checking out our Emergency Spot Tips page for helpful tips.

    No Warranty

    If you are not trying to maintain a warranty, maintenance is very important. Performing periodic maintenance such as spot care and regular cleanings will help to keep carpets looking beautiful. Carpets that are properly cared for can last well beyond their life expectancy. 

    To determine the cleaning frequency look at the amount, and type of traffic the carpet endures. A small household of two people, who vacuum regularly, practice spot cleaning and don’t wear shoes indoors, you are going to be able to go much longer than a busy family of four with pets. 

    In addition, re-applying the carpet protectant when having the carpets cleaned will also extend the life of the rugs. On average, carpets should be cleaned once every year to two years when carpet protection is applied. This does not hold true for all households. Here is a break down based on traffic and use.

    How often should I clean based on traffic?

    1-3 people no pets, 18mo-2 years

    2-4 people no pets,    1 yr. – 18 months

    2+ people with pets (no pet soiling), 1 year

    People with pets that soil, 6 months – 1 year

    Wheelchair traffic, 6 months – 1 year

    This information is based on standard use and proper care. When the carpet protection is not applied carpet will tend to get dirty faster and will also develop wear patterns.

    But the carpets don’t look dirty

    Many people feel that it is not important to clean carpet until it looks dirty. However, carpets can accumulate as much as 25 + pounds of soil per year. Homes with higher traffic can accumulate much higher amounts, gaining as much of a pound of soil per week in the winter months when snow is on the ground. In addition, winter months also add an additional component aside from soil. Ice melt is a chemical that is not only toxic, but is also a dirt magnet. If members of a family struggle with asthma, allergies or chemical sensitivities it is important to remove the extra soil regularly.

    The other problem with the accumulation of soil without proper removal is the compounding damage that occurs to the rug. Those who are very diligent with vacuuming and spot cleaning may think that they can go longer in between cleaning. This is true. However, carpet protection does eventually wear off as you walk on carpet. In walkways, the protection is typically gone in two years. That means the soil in the carpet is starting to actually cut the fibers of the carpet. This leads to the development of traffic patterns. 

    Traffic Patterns

    Stairs receive some of the heaviest concentration of traffic in our homes. Above is an example of a traffic pattern before and after cleaning. On the right despite cleaning you can still see the area most traveled clearly.

    Have you ever walked into a house where you can see the walking path? Maybe starting from the front door, moving down the hallway, and around the bed. Maybe it moves into the living room and right in front of the couch. This is a traffic pattern. While cleaning will remove dirt from the areas, a carpet that is permanently damaged will not lighten up completely. These paths will remain darkened. The dirt has cut the fibers and has led to fraying. Fraying changes the way light refracts off the carpet, creating permanent darkening. If you see walking paths on the carpet, it is already past time to clean it. 

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