• 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

    For a person who has recently purchased a new carpet there are a few important things to know when deciding on how to 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, opting for a spot cleaner instead of following the recommendation of the warranty has the potential to void the carpet warranty. 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 color fastness, you should avoid it.

    When picking a spot cleaning agent, avoid any products that contain bleach or bleaching agents such as 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. Oil acts as a magnet for dirt, and increases 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 ammonia, and dish soap as they can cause damage to carpet. Some dish soaps contain bleaching agents, and almost all of them contain glycerin which attracts dirt. Ammonia can discolor carpets, and since you must also be very specific in the kind of ammonia you use, we recommend avoiding it all together.

    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 additional clean up options.

    No Warranty

    If you are not trying to maintain a warranty, maintenance is still important if you want the carpet to look beautiful for a long time. Properly maintained carpets can last well beyond their life expectancy. 

    In order to know how often you should clean the carpets it is important to look at the amount, and type of traffic that is traveling over the carpet. If you are a small household of two people, who vacuum regularly, clean up spots as they happen, and wear house slippers instead of shoes in the home, 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 amount of time you can go between rug cleanings. On average, carpets should be cleaned once every year and a half to two years when a carpet protection is applied, but this does not hold true for all households. Here is a break down based on traffic and use.

    Traffic, Cleaning

    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

    Wheel chair 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 cleaning up spots may think that they can go longer in between cleaning (which is true). However, carpet protection does eventually wear off as you walk on carpet. In walk ways 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.

    If you have ever walked into a house where you can see the walking path from the front door, down the hallway, and around the bed, or into the living room and right in front of the couch, you are seeing a traffic pattern. While cleaning will remove a good portion of dirt from the areas, carpet that is permanently damaged will not lighten up completely in these paths. Instead, the cutting of the fibers has led to fraying which 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.