Interior designers understand the integral part carpets and rugs play in decorating a house. They come in many patterns, allowing you to complete the look you were going for, break up existing dull colors and patterns, as well as being very practical in terms of providing insulation and making the floor much less slippery.
However, great as they may be, there is a lot of hassle involved with having a rug, and most of it boils down to not being able to keep it clean. It’s quite common for people, and particularly children, to bring in dirt from outside and spill things on the floor. Cleaning stains from rugs often involves the use of toxic chemicals. Although this is an easy way out, it doesn’t really address the cause of the problem and you can end up having to clean the carpet all over again in a short while if some preventive measures are not taken. Here are some useful tips on how to clean carpets and rugs without using dangerous chemicals.
1. Have people take off their shoes or wipe their feet when they enter the house.
You can avoid a lot of persistent stains and cut down on your cleaning if you take these simple preventive measures. Place a nice big door mat at the front door where people can wipe their feet or even several door mats both outside and inside the house. You can also buy a bunch of inexpensive house slippers and have people take off their shoes and slip into a comfortable pair of slippers when they come into your home. Make sure that you thoroughly clean your pet’s feet and wipe him down before you let him into the house, so that he doesn’t make a huge mess.
2. Vacuum regularly.
Proper home maintenance is about much more than knowing how to clean carpets and deal with nasty stains. If you don’t pay attention to the state of your carpets on a regular basis you will have a much harder job keeping them clean. You shouldn’t have more than two days in between each vacuuming session, which equates to vacuuming three times a week. If you have pets that shed a lot, you should use a brush to get the hairs out and vacuum every other day. Wet/dry vacuums are a godsend, but you’ll need to act quickly before the liquids have time to set in. There are also specialized vacuums that can be used for removing dust mites that can cause allergic reactions.
3. Use salt to soak to help soak up spills.
If you don’t have a wet/dry vacuum, you can sprinkle salt on a spill, let it soak up the liquid and then run a regular vacuum over it. You should use salt immediately after noticing the spill. If the spill was left to soak into the rug, then you’ll need to sprinkle some salt on it, vacuum and use some towels to help you blot out deeper stains.
4. Good ventilation
Ventilating your rooms frequently, especially during and some 20 minutes after vacuuming, will help you deal with unpleasant smells and dust. Letting some clean air into the room at least a couple of times a day is also great way to reduce allergic reactions caused by dust mites, as well as to prevent staining caused by cigarette smoke.
5. Choosing the right rug makes all the difference.
While there are a lot of cheap rugs that look relatively nice, these may not be as cost-effective as you think in the long run. Viscose rugs won’t last nearly as long as traditional woolen rugs, as the fibers break and discolor easily. Wool carpets are great for people with allergies as they soak up common allergens and do not re-emit them into the air, so a quick vacuuming session takes care of all those pesky allergens. Wool carpets also help prevent mold spores from taking root, which can save you a ton of money on mold removal as well. A big, fluffy carpet is a bit more difficult to clean and synthetic carpets tend to grab hair and lint, requiring more effort to get them out than just going over them once with a vacuum cleaner, and they hold odors much more readily than other materials. Take the time to choose the right rug; it will be worth your investment.
6. A towel, soap and water can take care of most small stains.
It’s important to act fast and deal with stains as soon as the mess has been made. A plain old white towel can be thrown on liquid spills to soak up most of it before it soaks into the rug or dries out. After you blot up the stain, you can wash it with some warm soapy water, rubbing it lightly with the towel and then leaving it to dry out. Soapy water will also do wonders for small dirt-stained patches.
7. Use carbonated water for persistent stains.
Carbonated water is great for taking out red wine stains, even if they have been left to soak into the carpet for a while. Some people even recommend mixing carbonated water with a bit of white wine for more persistent red wine stains.
8. Use lemon juice on light-colored rugs.
If the stains are on a light-colored carpet, mix lemon juice (from 1-2 squeezed lemons) with salt and apply it to the stain, leave it for about 20–30 minutes and blot it out with a towel. Lemon juice will also give that nice, fresh, citrus smell to your rugs, which is great for dealing with light odors.
9. Baking soda and aromatic oil keeps things fresh.
Baking soda is great for soaking up odors, so if you have pets or small children you can mix a cup of baking soda with a bit of aromatic oil, sprinkle it all over the carpet and vacuum it up after about half an hour. Your carpets will smell as fresh as a beautiful spring morning
10. White vinegar can be used to deal with strong odors.
For pee stains and other odorous spills, white vinegar is the best solution. You’ll need to soak up the stain with a towel and then mix half a cup of white vinegar with 4–5 cups of water in a spray bottle and spray it on the stain. Just leave a window open for about an hour and then blot it up with a towel to get rid of the odor. Put a couple of towels over the area, put some weight on them and leave them for a few hours to soak up liquid that has gotten deep into the rug.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong around the house, particularly when you have pets and kids or have friends over all the time. Someone is bound to spill something or make a bit of a mess on your rug, but it’s not the end of the world. In most cases you don’t have to take it to the cleaners or use toxic chemicals to remove stains. All you need in order to keep your carpets and rugs clean is to set some house rules and to learn how to clean carpets with a few proven tricks. These will cover most stains, but there are tons of other home cleaning tricks you can use.