Carpet isn’t as high-maintenance as most people tend to think. However, it still does require some care (like anything) and must not be mistreated.
To protect your carpet and ensure that it stays looking beautiful for a long time, here is a list of the things that should NOT be done to your carpet (and what to do instead).
Do Not Scrub
When you’ve had a spill on your carpet, I know it’s tempting to attack it with a vengeance.
After all, for so many other tasks we’re told that a bit of elbow grease is necessary to get the job done. However, this is one instance in which fiercely scrubbing is not helpful, and in fact will likely be harmful to your carpet.
Carpet is made up of fibers that have been twisted together in order to increase their strength.
The twist is then “locked in” with heat. By abrasively scrubbing at the fibers, you run the risk of undoing the lock and having the fibers come untwisted – something known as blooming. This will cause the appearance of a big fuzzy patch on your carpet, which could end up looking worse than the stain from the original spill.
So, when cleaning a spill from your carpet, it is best to be gentle, and blot at the area rather than scrub it.
Do Not Use a Non-Carpet Cleaner
True story: shortly after my husband and I moved into our first apartment, I came home one day and discovered he had attempted to clean a spill on the carpet with Spray Nine. Needless to say, the remedy was worse than the evil. It occurred to me then that for someone who didn’t grow up in the carpet industry as I did, it may not be obvious that an “all-purpose” cleaner should not be used on carpet.
So let me say it clearly now: the only type of cleaning product you should be using on your carpet is a cleaner that is specifically designed for carpet!
Ah, but there’s always an exception to the rule. Clear liquid dishwashing soap may be used to treat a stain on carpet, but only when extremely diluted.
Do Not Wear Your Shoes
I am continually surprised by how often this simple piece of advice goes unheeded. Taking your shoes off at the door – every time – is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do for your carpet. Not only will you avoid tracking in dirt and soil from the outside world, you will avoid also tracking in chemical residue (think driveway sealant).
If you have pets that go outside, consider wiping their paws when they come back in, before they can roam past the entrance.
Do Not Drag Furniture
Dragging your furniture across the carpet may be the easiest way to get a heavy item from point A to point B, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to cause ripples in your carpet. Always lift the item off the carpet before moving it. If the item is too heavy to be lifted, place a sheet of plywood on the carpet in front of the item and “walk” the item onto the plywood. Then, place a second sheet of plywood in front of the first, and maneuver the piece of furniture onto the second sheet from the first. When the item is fully on the second sheet, use the first piece of plywood again in front of the second, and continue in this manner until the piece of furniture has been relocated.
Do Not Use Beater Bar on Berber
A vacuum beater bar, or power head, is designed to brush carpet fibers as it vacuums. It helps to improve the appearance of many cut-pile carpets such as saxonies and friezes, but can be harmful to looped styles of carpet such as berber.
Generally, the beater bar itself will not cause a snag in a berber. The problem occurs when there is a small snag existing in the carpet, that may even have gone unnoticed. The beater bar could grab hold of the loose strand, which could then become wrapped around the rotating bar. The beater bar is powerful enough to continue to pull the strand, which can then unravel from the carpet backing, causing a run in the carpet. Not good.
To avoid this possibility, simply switch off the beater bar on your vacuum head if you have the option, or switch out the head and replace it with a suction-only vacuum head.
Bonus Tip: Do Not Expose to Excessive Sunlight
Most indoor residential carpets are not colorfast, meaning that they can and will fade due to age, wear, and most of all, strong direct sunlight. If you have a high amount of afternoon sunlight in your room (in North America, this typically occurs with a southern or western exposure) you will want to take some minor precautions against carpet fading. Generally, this can be accomplished simply by closing your blinds or curtains during the peak sunlight hours.
Another option if you are buying carpet for a space with extensive direct sunlight is to choose a carpet that is fade resistant. Nylon has relatively poor colorfast properties, so it would likely not be your best option. Triexta has very high colorfast properties – in fact, Mohawk SmartStrand carries a 25 year warranty against fading, one of the longest in the industry. Choosing the right fiber type can help to keep your carpet looking its best for years to come.