- The Fantastic Team
- 22min read
- Published: August 12, 2020
- Views: 1,307
How to Clean Carpets and Rugs – Complete Guide
So many folks get into a situation one day, where they spill something on their beautiful carpet or rug and start to search on their phone for some tips on how to clean that unsightly wine or coffee stain. Well, this search game can be pretty straightforward until you get to the point that the wine removal stain advice has been meant for synthetic carpets only, while your rug is made of natural material, say, jute. Ah!
This is where our post will come in handy to the extent of bookmarking it right away because you are about to read everything that there is to know about cleaning carpets. After all, there are so many popular types of carpeting in Australia – from tufted, modular or woven rugs to shag (deep pile) and short pile floor coverings, which can be made from both natural and synthetic materials… And there are so many questions that can arise when it comes to cleaning them, be it how to remove a specific stain, how long the rug will take to dry and so on.
So, let’s get started with our complete carpet cleaning guide! Read on, especially if:
- you have a special type of rug or carpet.
- your carpet got badly stained.
- you’re interested to know about various carpet cleaning techniques.
- you wonder if you should invest in a professional carpet cleaning (say, you’re a tenant who needs to clean the carpet before moving out).
Table of Contents
- How to clean and care for a nylon carpet
- How to clean and care for a polypropylene carpet
- How to clean and care for a wool carpet
- How to clean a jute rug
- How to clean a sisal rug
- How to clean a cowhide rug
- How to clean a shag rug
- How to remove different stains from a carpet
- How to clean a carpet naturally with baking soda and vinegar
- Commonly asked questions about carpet cleaning
How to clean different types of carpets & rugs
There are different carpet cleaning methods, as well as stain removal techniques, which are suitable to use on one type of rug and not so much on another. This is because, as we mentioned earlier, carpetings can be made of different sturdy or delicate materials (natural, synthetic or mixed fibres); have specific appearance and style, etc. So, let’s have a look at how to clean various types of carpets and rugs!
How to clean and care for a nylon carpet
Nylon carpets are rather popular, due to their stain-resistant properties. This means that maintaining them clean won’t prove that hard. Also, the beauty about nylon carpets is that they can “handle” most professional cleaning methods, such as steam cleaning, hot water extraction cleaning, as well as cleaning your carpeting with foam and dry cleaning agents. Regular vacuuming is often recommended if you don’t want it to look tired and on the dull side.
And when it comes to removing various types of stains from your nylon carpet, there is a range of products and natural substances that you can use safely and effectively.
Now then, here are some general tips on how to clean nylon carpets.
What you need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Stain removal agents (lemon, club soda, dish soap, white vinegar)
Vacuum thoroughly your carpet by moving the attachment in every direction to pick up all debris. Avoid using a brush head that is too stiff, so your carpeting doesn’t end up looking overly fuzzy. Pay attention to high-traffic areas, too. Treat spillages straight away! If you need to deal with food/beverage types of stains, use the agents described above, as they can usually do the job of lifting them successfully from a rug that’s made of nylon. Pick the detergent of your choice and make a DIY solution by mixing the agent with some lukewarm water. Use a clean cloth, dipped in the mixture and work the stain, starting from its edges and treating it inwards. Of course, to remove certain types of marks, you may need to use a specific store-bought product (ex: a dry cleaning agent is good for cleaning varnish or oil based-paint).
How to clean and care for a polypropylene carpet
Polypropylene carpets are famous for their colour-fastness and water-repellent properties. This can make cleaning them, in most situations, a piece of cake. However, they are classed as oleophilic, which results in oily soils and stains being rather hard to remove. Polypropylene carpets are washable and you can clean them professionally by using any wet cleaning technique (ex: steam cleaning, hot water extraction, pressure washing, etc.). The synthetic material they are made of and its specific structure are the reasons behind their ability to feel soft to the touch and withstand pressure. Still, these sorts of rugs are prone to creasing if not stored correctly.
To maintain their clean look, you should follow a few general cleaning tips.
What you need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Stain removal agents (well-diluted bleach or dishwashing detergent)
- Spray bottle
As with every type of floor covering, vacuuming well the surface is your first step in the process. Blot out any fresh water-soluble stains with a clean cloth and then spray the mark with diluted household bleach (1:10) or liquid soap. Leave it to sit for some time, use a soft brush to work the stain, if needed, and rinse well. Oily soils should be cleaned with specially made products for this purpose. Hard soiling like dirt, soot or mud is best left to dry, first, before vacuuming the particles and washing the spot, as described above.
How to clean and care for a wool carpet
Wool carpets and rugs come in all styles and designs. You may have a luxurious wool shag rug or a durable wool short-pile carpet, either way, it’s important to know how to maintain it clean and in top condition. These beautiful natural floor coverings are resistant to fading and are fire-retardant, too. However, they shed (at least, when new) and can be stained easily. Unfortunately, wool carpets are also prone to carpet beetle- and moth-related damage.
But let’s get back to their cleaning maintenance specifics!
What you need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Wool cleaning detergent
- Lukewarm water
To start with, remember that vacuuming regularly your wool carpet is a must, as it can collect all sorts of debris, especially if it’s a high-pile one. Also, note that new wool carpets are best vacuumed several times a week, in order to remove lint, fluff and shedding fibre. When it comes to professional cleaning methods, wool carpeting and rugs can be cleaned with hot water extraction equipment or you can apply the shampooing technique yourself, providing you ensure that your carpet dries properly before laying it again.
In addition, removing stains immediately is vital. Always, test beforehand the agent you’re going to use, even when it’s been specially designed for cleaning wool floor coverings. When treating marks, use cool water to ensure that natural dyes don’t get damaged. Never use bleach-based cleaning agents!
How to clean a jute rug
If you have a jute rug at home, you’ve got yourself a job maintaining it nice and clean. Jute rugs are delicate, can absorb odours very quickly, are prone to developing mould if wet, their fibres can become brittle over time and so on, and so on. Still, they can bring this natural vibe to any interior, especially if matched to a pastel colour scheme with “earthy” hues and tones. If you consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner to spruce up your jute rug, make sure that no wet cleaning methods are applied in the process.
What you need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Eco-friendly mild washing-up liquid
- Dry cleaning agent/baking soda
Vacuum your jute rug with a soft brush head attachment and never apply too much force. Hard soiling like mud should be left to dry, first, before removing the particles with a vacuum cleaner. Pet mishaps and spillages can be treated with baking soda or a dry cleaning agent. So, blot the stain gently, first, with a clean paper towel or cloth and then, sprinkle some soda over the spot. Leave the powdered substance to sit for a while, so it can absorb the liquid, then vacuum the area well. Water spillages, unfortunately, can darken your precious jute rug and the stains are quite difficult to treat and eliminate. Try using a well-diluted liquid soap by spraying it over the water stain and then, immediately blot the area with a cloth. Fingers crossed that it will work! Still, if you want to know more about treating pest urine or water stains, you can check our in-depth post on how to safely clean a jute rug.
How to clean a sisal rug
Sisal rugs are timeless and never go out of fashion. They are durable when the right care and maintenance is applied. These natural-fibre floor coverings are made of the Agave Sisalana plant and are famous for their sound- and moisture-absorbing properties. Talking about the latter, it means that one should not use any wet cleaning methods to keep them fresh-looking and pristine. Also, don’t lay a sisal rug near wet rooms or in damp places. On the other hand, they could be a great and practical addition to any home, located in a region with a humid climate. In such cases, people often consider laying a sisal rug in a room, full of electronic and IT equipment, which are, of course, sensitive to moisture.
To clean a sisal rug, you’ve got a limited choice of materials and tools.
What you need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Dry cleaning detergent or baking soda
- Vinegar (in some cases)
As you would vacuum regularly any type of carpeting, sisal rugs need to be vacuum cleaned often, too. What’s good about sisal rugs is that hard soiling or dust just sits on the woven structure and doesn’t get embedded within the fibres, making it easy to remove with a vacuum cleaner. To spot clean your sisal carpet if an accident happens, always apply a dry cleaning detergent or some baking soda after you’ve scooped any solids or blotted the spilt liquid well with a cloth. In really dire situations (pet accidents), you can spray a little vinegar as well, followed by blotting the area and then, drying it straight away with a hairdryer. Dry cle
How to clean a cowhide rug
Cowhide rugs are not everyone’s cup of tea, even if one understands that the poor animal has not been killed for that sole purpose. Still, some folks just love the luxurious and cosy feel these rugs bring to their home interior. Maintaining them clean doesn’t involve anything out of the ordinary, although you’ll need to keep a couple of things in mind.
What you need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Hard plastic brush
- Mild liquid soap and/or vinegar
You should get into the habit of vacuuming your cowhide rug at least two times per week to keep dust build-up to a minimum. Also, a good plastic brush can help you remove hard particles, pet hair and crumbs, as well as give your rug that fluffy, soft and attractive appearance. In the case of accidents, such as pet misbehaviour or spillages, act straight away! Remove solid food by scraping it, first and blot liquids with a clean cloth. Then, apply a homemade cleaning solution to the area with a sponge. You can either mix a bit of mild shampoo or soap with lukewarm water or dilute a bit of white vinegar with the same success. Never pour the mixture directly over your cowhide rug, however. After the DIY detergent sits for a bit to do its magic, rinse with clean water and blot dry well.
How to clean a shag rug
Shag rugs are long-pile floor coverings that can hide well all sorts of debris, dirt and grime. But this doesn’t mean that you should ignore your rug’s regular cleaning maintenance “requirements”. On the contrary, if you don’t want to breathe in all the dust collected within the fibres and put up with its dingy look that will become a sure thing over time, then vacuum your shag carpet regularly. With regards to any professional cleaning techniques, a shag rug can usually handle the use of dry cleaning shampoos, as well as steam cleaning. And to maintain your rug clean by yourself, follow our advice below.
What you need:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Dry cleaning shampoo or mild soap
Right then, first and foremost, use a quality vacuum cleaner and vacuum your shag rug from both sides. Turning the carpeting, facing down, will help you remove the accumulated dust more effectively. You can also beat the rug with a broom outside as an alternative option if you like. To spot clean your rug, you can follow the advice we’ve already mentioned in this post. Always blot our liquids spilt on the surface with a cloth and scoop up any solid food or other types of “mishaps” (like vomit, pet accidents, etc.). Then, clean the stain with a dry stain removal agent and vacuum the residue, or wash the mark with a mixture of lukewarm water and mild soap.
How to remove different stains from a carpet
And now, let’s explore some of the techniques of how to remove a few common stains from a carpet. You see, different types of stains require different solutions, especially if we are talking about old marks on your precious rug. Of course, the material of the rug also matters, so don’t forget to refer to our specific tips for each type of carpeting above, in order to avoid using something that might cause more harm than good (ex: sisal rug vs. wet cleaning methods).
Remove pet urine from a carpet
Pet accidents happen. Full stop. So, whether you’ve got an elderly dog or small kitty that hasn’t taken toilet-training into its stride, yet, you may one day discover a pee stain on your beautiful rug. Worry not, though, because we’ll teach you how to clean it up the easy way.
To remove a cat or dog urine stain from your carpet, you’ll need just two ingredients to make an effective DIY cleaning solution – dishwashing liquid and ammonia. If the stain is fresh, blot it, first, with some paper towel to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Then, mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing soap that does not contain bleach, 2 tablespoons of ammonia and two cups of water. Apply the solution over the stain with a clean cloth and leave it for a while to work its magic. Rinse with a wet sponge and repeat the same process until the stain is gone.
Tips: Dry pet urine marks can be treated as described above, however, you may find the job much easier if you add some white vinegar as a mid-step in the stain removal method, i.e. before rinsing the mark with water.
Warnings: Never mix bleach or bleach-based detergents with ammonia. It’s dangerous!
Remove coffee stains from a carpet
Coffee stains are common, as almost everyone likes to start the day with a nice cup of fresh coffee that can be spilt accidentally on the carpet. You can use your favourite carpet stain remover to clean the coffee stain up or make your own solution by mixing 2 cups of lukewarm water, a tablespoon of washing-up liquid and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Use a clean cloth and dip it in the solution. Work the stain inwards. Repeat as needed, rinse and blot dry.
Tips: If the stain is dry and old, you can always wet it a bit beforehand and then, proceed with applying the stain removal solution. For coffee stains that contain milk and sugar, it’s best to use a quality enzyme cleaner. Just follow the instructions on the product label!
Warnings: If you have a delicate, natural-fibre rug, stained with coffee, always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to remove specific stains.
Remove red wine stains from a carpet
Red wine is another possible culprit behind a ruined floor covering. But don’t despair, as there is a way of removing a red wine stain from a carpet. Let’s see what you can use. Luckily, you probably have everything you’d need for the job at home. Get yourself some baking soda, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and a cloth.
Soak up the stain by generously sprinkling some baking soda on top and leave it to sit for a few minutes. Vacuum carefully the powdered substance and then, apply some well-diluted soap with a cloth. Work the stain inwards to avoid spreading it and actually becoming bigger. Then, apply 3% hydrogen peroxide with a cloth and leave it to sit for about 20 minutes. Finally, rinse with water by using a clean cloth or a sponge. Repeat if necessary.
Tips: You can replace the baking soda with salt if you wish. Also, you can try to remove the wine stain with a store-bought stain removal product.
Warnings: Beware that hydrogen peroxide has mild bleaching properties, so always test the product on an inconspicuous spot, first, say, under a piece of furniture. The last thing you want is to discolour an area on your carpet during the stain removal process.
Remove tea stains from a carpet
Did you know that tea stains are quite similar to coffee stains when it comes to cleaning them up? You see, theine (the active ingredient in tea) and caffeine (the active ingredient in coffee) have the same molecule. So, you can easily apply the same method, as described further up, to address tea stains on your carpet. If you wish, you can also give the good old baking-soda method a go, as well. Just dip a damp cloth into a small bowl, filled with baking soda, and apply the substance gently on the tea stain. Rinse and blot dry. Repeat as many times as necessary.
Tips: Some folks swear by the effectiveness of borax for removing tea stains from carpets and rugs. The recipe goes as follows – 3 parts borax and 1 part warm water should be mixed well to create a paste. With the help of a toothbrush, apply the paste over the stain. Leave it to dry and then, vacuum the soda residue.
Warnings: Eliminating milky tea stains may require a more advanced approach, like using a stain removal product or enzyme cleaner, both available in your local store.
Clean up vomit from a carpet
Ah! That fun birthday party last night! One guest had just a tiny bit too much to drink, right? And the evidence of it has miraculously ended up on your carpet. Yak! Well, not all is lost, so grab some paper towel, a packet of baking soda, distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and a cloth! Remove as much of the soiling with the paper towel as possible and place the waste into a bin bag. Sprinkle some baking soda and leave it to sit for a bit. Then, sweep the dried substance with a dustpan and brush. Dilute either distilled white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and apply the solution over the vomit stain with a cloth. For an even easier application, you can use a spray bottle if you wish. Then, blot the treated area with a paper towel. Repeat if needed, of course.
Tips: Store-bought enzyme cleaners are also effective for cleaning up vomit from a carpet.
Warnings: Never mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, because when combined, they produce peracetic acid, which is toxic and can irritate your skin, eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
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How to clean a carpet naturally with baking soda and vinegar
We’ve already mentioned these natural ingredients but if you want to know a bit more about how to clean a carpet at home without any harsh chemicals, you need not look further than baking soda and vinegar!
This organic solution uses only these two ingredients that you already have at home, so you won’t waste time looking around the shops for the perfect chemical cleaner.
Baking soda and vinegar create a gentle cleaning mixture, suitable for a wide range of materials, as they won’t damage their fibres. They also work on a variety of stains, such as pet stains and grease. Both of those ingredients are great deodorisers, especially baking soda, so they’re perfect for smelly stains. And most importantly, the two substances are both eco- and pet-friendly, so you won’t need to worry about harming your furry friends.
So, let’s learn how to clean a carpet with baking soda and vinegar!
What you need: baking soda, white vinegar, spray bottle, vacuum cleaner
Generously sprinkle baking soda over the stain, covering it completely.
Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray all over the covered stain. The mixture will fizz up – that means it’s working!
Wait for the mixture to dry, letting it sit for a couple of hours, so the baking soda can soak up the stain.
Using a vacuum cleaner, remove all the dried up baking soda and vinegar.
And there you have it! An all-natural way to deep clean your carpet! The smell of vinegar should dissipate quickly, but if it’s too strong for you, you can speed up the process by rinsing it with a cloth and some water.
Commonly asked questions about carpet cleaning
Right then, you know now how to clean specific types of carpeting and how to remove different types of stains from your rug. Anything else you want to know? Yep? We thought so!
Let’s explore some of the most common questions people might have and give you some handy answers to get even a clearer picture of what carpet cleaning entails.
How often should you clean your carpet?
Well, this will depend on various factors but generally, you should deep clean your carpet and rugs at least once a year. You can guess here that hiring a professional for the job is advisable if you want truly effective results. Other than that, vacuum your rugs at least twice a week, give special attention to high-traffic areas, address carpet accidents and spillage mishaps straight away and spot clean your carpeting whenever necessary.
However, your carpeting could do with a deep clean every six months if the following applies to you:
- Your family is on the large side, say, you have 2-3 kids;
- You are an animal lover and your two dogs, rabbit, guinea pig and gorgeous feline are valuable members of your family;
- You’re a party lover and there’s no weekend gone by without having lots of friends round;
- There are people in your household, who are sensitive or allergic to dust mites, pollen, pet dander and so on.
So, to sum up, deep cleaning your carpets more regularly will improve the indoor quality of air in your home and provide a healthy environment for your family. After all, professional carpet cleaning eliminates all sorts of allergens and germs. It will also prolong the life of your carpet, as well as make it easier to maintain. Last but not least, a clean carpet does wonders for the overall tidy and presentable look of your home interior.
How much does a carpet cleaning service normally cost?
Again, this question doesn’t have a single answer, as different factors play into the price formation of professional carpet cleaning. The condition of the carpeting, the presence of hard-to-remove stains, the size of your rugs, the method used, the need for carpet protection application, as well as where in Australia you live will all be taken into account before you get a quote by a carpet cleaning company. Other factors may include things like: when or how soon you want the job done (urgently, on a weekend, etc.), how hard is to access certain carpeted areas for the job to be completed, as well as whether you require some extras like cleaning the stairwell or deodorising the rug in your living room.
Just as an idea of how much carpet cleaning costs, you could be looking at paying anything from $75 to $150 for a specialised carpet cleaning service and have 2 or 3 rooms spruced up if you’re located in Melbourne or Sydney, with the latter being in the higher end of the price range.
On the whole, you may feel that you can do things cheaper by say, hiring a steam cleaner at $40 for 24 hours, but trust us, don’t be surprised if you end up with somewhat mediocre results!
How much time does carpet cleaning usually take?
A professional carpet cleaning can take anything from 30 minutes to an hour per room, depending on the condition of the floor covering. You see, pre-treating old stains and high-traffic marks, vacuuming and then, using a professional hot water extraction or dry cleaning equipment simply takes time. Then, add the application of carpet protection (if you’ve requested it) and you get the picture. Or in other other words, if you live in a fully carpeted 3-bedroom house, expect the job to take a good 2 and a half to 3 hours if done properly and with attention to detail.
How long does a carpet need to dry?
Well, it pretty much depends on the material the rug has been made of, the exact type of technique that has been used and some other factors that you can learn about here. For instance, a hot water extraction machine is designed to extract almost all the moisture used in the cleaning process, which means that a standard synthetic carpet could be dry within 3 to 6 hours. Add an open window or a turned-on fan or heater to this scenario and you’ll be walking back on your completely dry rug even sooner.
Of course, a wool shag rug may take ages to dry, whereas a cowhide rug that’s been dry cleaned can be in use again straight away. Note that you may notice a lingering smell after your rug has been steam cleaned, but worry not, because the odour will soon disappear, once the carpeting dries out completely.
Dry carpet cleaning or steam cleaning – how do they differ?
Although the names of these carpet cleaning methods are in a way self-explanatory as to what is used in the process (hot water or dry cleaning agent), it’s good to explain a little bit more here about what they are and when they can be used.
Dry carpet cleaning
The dry carpet cleaning method involves the use of dry cleaning detergent and usually, a bonnet cleaning machine (other types of equipment can be also used). The machine disperses the dry chemical agent, agitates the carpet fibre via a pad and then, removes the surface dirt along with most of the detergent. Bonnet carpet cleaning can also involve liquid encapsulation, which is the more effective technique out of the two. This carpet cleaning method is suitable for delicate materials that do not tolerate water and can certainly save you time when drying is an issue.
Steam cleaning (hot water extraction)
People use the two terms above interchangeably but the hot water extraction cleaning method doesn’t actually use steam. The equipment injects hot water, mixed with a small amount of detergent under high pressure into the carpet fibres. Then, the machine extracts almost all the moisture together with the dislodged dirt. One of the biggest pros of this method is its effectiveness at removing deeply embedded grime, especially when your carpets are constantly exposed to foot traffic.
All pros and cons for both professional carpet cleaning methods, as well as when to use both of these methods you can find out in our Dry vs. Steam Cleaning Guide.
Our advice is to always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or a professional cleaner’s opinion, so you know what’s the best cleaning method for your carpeting.
- It’s important to know what material your carpet or rug is made from.
- The faster you attend to the stain, the more successful will be the stain removal result.
- DIY cleaning and stain removal solutions can be also effective.
- Tenants, beware! You might need to hire a professional carpet cleaning company to meet your landlord or the agency’s expectations.
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What do you think about our carpet cleaning guide? Did you find it helpful? Please, comment below!
- Last update: June 8, 2022
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