How To Keep Your Carpet Looking Good!

Regular thorough vacuuming removes soil from among fibers of carpets, thus keeping their good appearance and extending their life. Most carpeted areas need this vacuuming once a week, with several slow strokes. Little- used areas need may not need as frequent vacuuming, while areas with lots of active or messy use may need quick daily vacuuming

Surface Soils

Dry soil from shoes, crumbs, etc. may stay on the surface of the carpet a short time before working its way down into the carpet. This, along with litter such as paper, threads, etc. can be removed with a vacuum, light-weight stick vacuum (or "electric broom"), or even a carpet sweeper, if used promptly. These methods will also remove dust from the carpet surface. Pet hairs should be removed promptly, as the oil in them makes them cling to carpet, and work its way down into the pile.

Deep Soil

Gritty soil tracked on carpet by shoes, wet or dry, will sink down in between fibers of carpet. Gritty soil has very sharp edges capable of cutting carpet yarn fibers. Vacuuming is the best means of removing the grit from deep in between the carpet fibers. Moving the vacuum over the carpet 7 times; forward and back, forward and back, forward and back, forward on the next section, should remove deep seated grit.

Upright vacuum cleaners generally do the best job of removing deep-seated gritty soil from carpets. Next are combination canisters with power-driven rug nozzle. Steps can be vacuumed with the upholstery nozzle or brush attachment.

Room size oriental rugs are best cleaned with an agitator type cleaner. When approaching a fringed edge with an upright cleaner, lift up the cleaner nozzle by pushing down on the handle. This will allow cleaning to the fringe, but will raise the nozzle and avoid catching the fringe. When using a canister with a power nozzle, stop before reaching the fringed edge. Fringe may be cleaned with low suction, using the upholstery tool or floor brush.

< Covering Floor>Pile fabrics tend to stain more readily due to long yarns. They may be cleaned satisfactorily at home with dry powder cleaners, but test first. Wet cleaning of velvets, etc. should be done professionally. If protected with stain resistant finish, blot quickly and gently with lint free cloth. If stain remains, spot clean, wiping the stain in the direction of the pile. Brush lightly during drying to prevent matting. If unprotected, pretest in an inconspicuous area for discoloration or pile distortion. If color proves fast, sponge lightly with appropriate cleaning agent.< Covering Floor>

< Covering Floor>Carpet Cleanin< Covering Floor>g

Eventually carpets need some type of cleaning to remove soil that sticks to the fibers. How often depends on amount of use and soil carpet gets; some areas will need cleaning before other. Basic methods are: dry absorbent powder, foam, shampooing, and hot water extraction (sometimes called steam cleaning or extraction). Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Costs in dollars, time, and energy vary, as do skill needed to do a good job. Always vacuum thoroughly before starting cleaning method. Here are some general precautions for all methods:

  • < Covering Floor>Pretest before using
  • < Covering Floor>Protect the carpet from rust stains by putting aluminum foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap under furniture legs, until carpet is dry.
  • < Covering Floor>Follow the cleaner and equipment instructions as directed.
  • < Covering Floor>Do not over wet the carpet. Excess moisture can cause shrinkage, streaks, or mildew.
  • < Covering Floor>Keep mechanical action to a minimum to avoid carpet damage or streaks.

Dry Powder

In the dry powder method, absorbent granules containing dry cleaning solvent are sprinkled over a section of carpet and worked into the pile by mechanical or hand brush. The dry cleaning solvent dissolves oils and greasy soil. These are then absorbed by the granules. When thoroughly dry, the carpet is vacuumed. A powerful vacuum is essential for total removal of cleaning granules.

< Covering Floor color="#0000FF">Advantages < Covering Floor color="#0000FF">Disadvantages
  • < Covering Floor>short drying time< Covering Floor>
  • < Covering Floor>good for delicate and non-colorfast
  • < Covering Floor>relatively inexpensive
  • < Covering Floor>effective for spot cleaning
  • < Covering Floor>less effective on heavy soil or water-base soil< Covering Floor>
  • < Covering Floor>complete granule removal may be a problem< Covering Floor>
  • < Covering Floor>dry cleaning solvent can evaporate in storage
  • < Covering Floor>not recommended
    for shag carpet

Professional Carpet Cleaning

Have your carpet professionally cleaned periodically, every third or fourth time, if this service is available in your area. Or you may find it more convenient to have it done professionally each time special cleaning is needed, rather than doing it yourself.

Professional cleaners use similar methods to home cleaning, but they should have the knowledge, equipment and experience necessary to do a more thorough job of removing embedded soil. Room size rugs and some wall-to-wall carpets can be sent to the rug cleaning plant.

Professional cleaners can also handle spot removal, re-dyeing, rebinding and repairs. Always alert the cleaner to the location and cause, if known, of spots and stains that require attention.

When selecting a cleaning service, the main factor to consider is the operator's skill and ability. Ask reputable carpet dealers in your area whom they recommend. Satisfied customers may also suggest a cleaner to contact. Rug cleaners of long standing reputation can usually be relied upon to provide satisfactory service. They cannot provide guarantees, however, because of the range of quality and wear they face in the carpets and rugs they clean.

Professional cleaners offering truck-mounted hot water extraction, will have more power to remove soil and water than in a smaller, self contained unit (like the ones you rent). Another professional method using carbonic foams the carpet with the same bubbles as club soda, and less water. This method often leaves less moisture.

General Cleaning Instructions:

Prompt attention to spots and spills is essential. No carpet is stain proof, although many are stain resistant, which allows time to act.

Remove as much of food spills as possible by scraping gently with a spoon or dull knife.

Absorb wet spills as quickly as possible by blotting repeatedly with white paper or cloth towels.

Always blot; never rub or scrub abrasively, as a fuzzy area may result. When blotting, work from the outer edge in toward the center of the spot to avoid spreading the spill.

Always follow up with water to remove detergent residue that may become sticky and cause rapid re-soiling.

Draw out any remaining moisture by placing several layers of white towels over the spot and weigh them down with a heavy object that will not transfer color, such as a plastic jug of water. NOTE: Wool fibers absorb more water than synthetic fibers without feeling damp, so it is important to remove all excess moisture.

A good checklist to handle spills

A good checklist to handle spills should include the following items. Do not use any household cleaners other than those listed, since many household products contain chemicals that may permanently damage your carpet.

A solution of a mild liquid detergent (no more than 1/4 teaspoon of detergent to 32 ounces of water). A clear, non-bleach liquid dishwashing detergent such as Dawn, Joy, or clear Ivory is recommended. Do not use detergents that are cloudy or creamy because they may leave a sticky residue.

A solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water.

White cloths or white paper towels.

An ammonia solution of one tablespoon of ammonia to one cup of water. Do not use on wool or wool-blend carpets.

Non-oily nail polish remover.

Chewing gum remover (freeze or solid type).

Spot remover specifically for grease, oil, or tar, such as Orange sol products line.

    WARNING: NEVER use bleach solution unless you are absolutely certain your carpet is solution dyed. Carpet dyed by other systems will be damaged. If in doubt, call 1 916 969 9999

 More Cleaning Tips

Hot Water Extraction System
 Recommends the hot water extraction system, which research indicates provides the best capability for cleaning. This system is commonly referred to as "steam cleaning," although no steam is actually generated. The process consists of spraying a solution of water and detergent into the carpet pile and recovering the water and soil with a powerful vacuum into a holding tank. This can be done from a truck-mounted unit outside the home with only the hose and wand brought inside or, where a truck-mounted unit cannot reach, by a portable, self-contained system brought into the home.

Professional Carpet Cleaners
It is to your advantage to use professional cleaners because their experience enables them to do a better job than you can do yourself. Their equipment has more extraction power than the rental units available to you, and the carpet should dry more quickly. True professionals have also made the investment in training to understand the equipment, to know the proper cleaning agents for the situation at hand, and to recognize the differences in fibers and carpet construction.

Some rental companies have cleaning equipment that is similar to what the professionals use. The cleaning equipment should have enough vacuum power to allow the carpet to dry within 6 to 12 hours after cleaning. Avoid rental units found in many retail and grocery stores that do not have enough power to extract the cleaning solution from the carpet adequately and which may actually damage the carpet due to Over wetting.

Avoid over wetting the carpet. Prolonged dampness may promote growth of mildew and bacteria in the carpet or cause separation of the backing. A carpet that is wet for more than 24 hours could develop a growth of mold and mildew. This is controlled by a combination of proper equipment and operator training. Most problems in do-it-yourself cleaning are due to over wetting and use of excessive detergent.

Use a cleaning solution with a pH less than 10, preferably near 9, and with a minimum of non-sticky residue. For wool and wool-blend carpets, use a cleaning solution that has been formulated for wool and other natural fibers and has a mild pH range of 5 to 8. Bear in mind that the detergent residue continues to attract the particles after cleaning. Increasing the amount of cleaning solution beyond the recommended level does not greatly increase cleaning performance, but makes the removal of detergent more difficult. Because buildup of detergent residue is the most common cause of accelerated re-soiling complaints, do not use extra cleaning solution. Shaw Industries recommends a clear water rinse after cleaning.

Carpet with stain resistant treatments must be cleaned with products formulated for this purpose, or the stain resistance will be impaired and the warranty voided. Do not use cleaning or spotting solutions that contain bleaches or optical brighteners because they can discolor the carpet.

Use any silicone-based anti-soil treatments on carpets recommended buy A-1 Janitorial supply. The only anti-soil products approved for use as needed are either Dupont Teflon or Pro tech 5to one concentrated.

Reduce drying time by using several fans to move air across the carpet in combination with a dehumidifier or air conditioner to pull moisture out of the air. Carpet should be dry within 12 hours; even less is better.

Bonnet cleaning systems
Bonnet cleaning systems employ a rotating bonnet of terry cloth or other absorbent material to agitate the carpet pile and absorb soil. A detergent solution is sprayed onto the pile and then worked with the bonnet attached to a rotary floor polisher.

Use Walk-off Mats
Walk-off mats should be used at all entrances to absorb soil and moisture, and mats should be cleaned on a regular basis so they don't become sources of soil themselves, especially during inclement weather. Sidewalks and entrances should be kept free of excessive dirt and substances which can be tracked into the home.

Use a Quality Pad
Use a quality pad under your carpet, particularly on stairs. Good pad not only gives better resilience underfoot, but it can also add to the life of your carpet. Some carpets carry warranties with specific density and thickness requirements. Before purchasing your carpet pad, review your warranty.

Occasionally Move Heavy Furniture
Occasionally move heavy furniture to avoid excessive pile crushing. Put coasters intended for use with carpet under the legs of tables, chairs, and other furniture to help distribute the weight and prevent crushing the pile. Do not use chairs or appliances with rollers or casters on carpet without a chair pad designed for carpet. Continued use without a chair pad can cause damage to the carpet.

When moving heavy wheeled furniture (pianos, buffets, etc.), prevent damage by placing a protective barrier of heavy cardboard or plywood between the wheels and the carpet.

Use Area Rugs
If you use area rugs over your carpet, be sure to remove and clean them regularly. Clean and restore the pile of the carpet underneath. Be certain to check area rugs for colorfastness before putting them back over carpet, as the dyes in some rugs may bleed through to the carpet. After cleaning your carpet, remember to allow complete drying before replacing rugs.

Avoid Direct Sunlight
Protect your carpet from prolonged periods of direct sunlight with blinds, shades, or awnings.

Vacuuming Tips
For rooms with light traffic, vacuum the traffic lanes twice weekly and the entire area once weekly. Those areas with heavier traffic require that the traffic lanes be vacuumed daily and the entire area twice weekly. Up to three passes of the machine will suffice for light soiling, but five to seven passes are necessary for heavily soiled areas. Change the vacuuming direction occasionally to help stand the pile upright and reduce matting.

Vacuum cleaner recommendations:

A good vacuum cleaner is vital to prolonging the beauty and life of your carpet. An inexpensive machine can remove surface dirt but will not effectively remove the hidden dirt and particles embedded in the pile.

A-1 Janitorial Supply recommends the use of vacuums with a rotating brush or combination beater/brush bar that agitates the carpet pile and mechanically loosens soil for removal by the vacuum. Note that carpet with thick loop pile construction, particularly wool and wool-blend styles, may be sensitive to brushing or rubbing of the pile surface and may become fuzzy. For these products, Shaw recommends the use of a suction-only vacuum or a vacuum with an adjustable brush lifted away from the carpet so it does not agitate the pile. A vacuum with a beater/brush bar can be tested in an inconspicuous location and used if no excessive fuzzing occurs.

Replaceable paper vacuum bags do a better job of trapping the small particles that pass through cloth bags back into the room. High efficiency vacuum bags, also called micro filtration bags, trap even smaller microscopic particles such as mold and mildew spores and dust mite byproducts, often found to be a source of allergies. This type of bag is sold under several brands, such as the "MICRO-LINED" bag available at most vacuum specialty shops, or the "MICRO-CLEAN" bag available at some department and discount stores, and "MICRO FILTRATION" and "MICRO LINER" brands available at A-1 Janitorial supply. These bags are available under other brand names; verify that these bags trap particles smaller than two (2) microns. All vacuum bags should be checked often and replaced when half full.

Make sure the belt is in good condition and that the brush or beater bar rotates when in contact with the carpet. To adjust the vacuum to the correct height setting for the carpet, raise the beater/brush bar to the highest setting and then lower it until it contacts the pile enough to slightly vibrate the carpet several inches away from the machine, but not low enough to cause significant slowing of the motor.

Change the vacuuming direction occasionally to help stand the pile upright and help reduce matting.



Carpet is a tremendous value, but it is still one of the largest purchases you will make for your home or business. How can you best protect this investment?

The durability and soil hiding characteristics of today's carpet can disguise the need for maintenance. Proper maintenance of carpet can enhance the beauty and extend the useful life of carpet and protect your investment. Clean carpet contributes not only to the overall aesthetics of a structure, but it plays a significant role in the healthful state of the indoor environment in which people work, live and spend the majority of their time.

1. Controlling Soil - Most abrasive particulate soil accumulates initially within the first few feet of major entries to homes and commercial buildings. Once inside, this soil takes its toll on carpet fibers and on the general appearance of the structure. It also contributes airborne particles that affect overall indoor air quality. Every effort should be made to keep this soil accumulation outside by the of properly selected entry mats.

Entry mats that collect or absorb soil and moisture should be placed ad adjacent to carpeted areas in entries of homes and businesses and, if possible, not on top of the carpet. They must be maintained by periodic vacuuming, shaking and cleaning.

2. Vacuuming Carpet - Routine vacuuming with properly maintained, quality equipment is the single most important step a home or business owner/manager can take to extend the life and appearance of carpet. A top-fill upright vacuum with brush agitation or a canister vacuum with a "power head" incorporating brush agitation should be selected and used with routine frequency. Equally important, soil that is loosened and vacuumed from carpet must be collected in the vacuum's recovery system and not allowed to re-enter the air within the structure to contribute to indoor air pollution. For this reason, a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering system or bag should be used in any vacuum equipment employed.

3. Immediate Spotting - Most spots can be removed easily if the excess is lifted or blotted and the area is treated immediately by carpet owners with plain water or with spotters containing mild (pH range of 5-9), dilute cleaning detergents that do not leave residue. If ignored, those spots, or components thereof, may bond with fiber dye sites, forming permanent stains. Immediate spotting is an essential responsibility for home and business owners/managers.

4. Cleaning - Installed residential carpet exposed to routine use should be programmed for cleaning at least annually. Carpet that is subjected to extreme soiling or heavy use, particularly high traffic areas, or carpet installed in homes occupied by persons with allergy or respiratory problems requires greater cleaning frequency. Carpet in low traffic areas, such as formal living rooms and dining rooms, needs less frequent cleaning. Cleaning frequency recommendations are available from The Carpet and Rug Institute or the manufacturer of your carpet. 

Commercial carpet should be analyzed according to its construction, the type and frequency of traffic, the soiling conditions encountered, and other extenuating circumstances, such as occupant activities, structure design and indoor air quality. Specialized maintenance and cleaning programs (e.g. weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc.) should be developed based on individual needs. Moreover, frequent cleaning of entrances and high traffic areas reduces the contaminants and soil particulates tracked in from outside the structure that accumulate in these areas.

One of the most critical, though often neglected, responsibilities of carpet owners involves routine maintenance. The useful life and appearance of carpet are affected substantially by the type, quality and frequency of maintenance procedures. Carpet that is properly cared for will provide many years of beauty and service.

Thank you and may God keep you and your carpet Healthy and Wealthy.