floor covering and design...with a fuzzy side

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

7 ways to make your carpet last longer

Everyone wants to get more for their money -this includes their flooring.  Flooring can be expensive to replace so taking steps to keep it looking its best for as long as possible can be a big money saver.  It will also add to the beauty of the room.    Shawn McCully, owner of Dedicated Cleaning Systems, LLC, has been in the carpet cleaning business since 2007 and knows his stuff when it comes to keeping them looking their best.  Here are 7 great tips for extending the life of your carpet from a true expert.

a vacuum cleaner
1. Vacuum...often 

  How often?  There are varying schools of thought on this.  Some say once a week, some say once a week but hit the high-traffic areas twice.  Some say once per week per adult and dog (2 adults, 2 dogs =4 times/week)
The answer: 
  • No kids, no pets: once a week.  
  • Kids, no pets: twice a week. 
  • Pets, no kids, 2-3 times per week. 
  • Kids and pets, 3-4 times per week.

2. Check your shoes at the door(s)

a circle of feet all wearing Chuck Taylor's of various colors and styles

Everyone drags in loads of dirt from the outside on their feet.  It is unavoidable.  The best way to stop it; take off your shoes.  There are tons of super cool ways to store you and your guest's shoes.  Check out this pallet shoe rack bench constructed from an old shipping pallet.  Have you visited Etsy.com?  You'll find loads of storage products all hand-made by artisans.  If you have more than one entry, you'll want more than one place to store those shoes.  You may even consider a witty 'take off your shoes at the door' sign. (lots of them on Etsy also)


3. Get a door mat(s)

It may seem like an obvious suggestion, however the type of door mat plays a very important role.  Don't go cheap when it comes to door mats.  The cheap ones will eventually add to the dirt in the house because they only wipe off what's on the surface of your shoes and leave it there for the next person to track in.  Amazon has a decent selection of these. 

A quality door mat is usually made of some type of rubber material, has several layers of looped fibers and can be cleaned using a garden hose.  They 'trap' dirt within the looped fibers rather than leaving it on the surface.
If you're particularly neurotic when it comes to keeping your flooring clean, have two mats per door.  Use the rubber, dirt trapping mat outside and a softer, absorbent mat inside.  The one thing the rubber mat will not remove from your shoes is water so, on a rainy or snowy day, you can wipe the dirt off your shoes outside then wipe the water off inside...the one-two punch.

4. Have your carpets professionally cleaned at least once per year

A professional carpet cleaning using a truck-mounted hot water extraction system every year (sometimes more depending on...kids, pets, etc.) will extend the life and luster of your carpet more than any single suggestion on the list (except for the vacuuming).
Why specifically truck-mounted hot water extraction? Heat and suction! Portable cleaning units don't come close to generating the amount of heat required to get a good cleaning and once that solution has done its work, you need lots of suction to extract the water otherwise your carpets will be wet for days.
Tips: Ask your cleaning professional to pre-spray any stains and apply Scotchguard (or other spray-on protector) after the cleaning.  The cleaning itself will remove the protector that was most likely applied to your carpet at the mill.  Last thing: Make sure they rake the protector into your carpet otherwise it will only cling to the top of the fibers.

Yes, they make such a thing as a carpet rake.

5. Make sure you are vacuuming properly

Vacuuming technique
Yes, there is a right way to vacuum and a wrong way to vacuum and it makes a BIG difference. (Great instructional video below.)
There is a technique to getting up as much dirt as possible when vacuuming.  For each up and back stroke, one should overlap that stroke by about 50% -essentially vacuuming that area twice.  As you move from left to right (or right to left) you would take your first stroke twice then shift away from the edge by about 50% each stroke.

Also, don't be afraid to use the handheld extension.  This is a very important part of vacuuming.  Make sure to get the edges and anywhere a vacuum cannot reach with the extension bar.

Stairs are a different animal altogether.  To properly vacuum your stairs you need to make two passes.  First with the vacuum (if if is light enough to manage) and second with the extension bar.  Just pass over the tread (the flat part of the steps) with the vacuum.  This is important because you want the beater-bars to work up the fibers.  The second pass, use the extension bar and a flat headed attachment if you have one. Vacuum the edges, the riser and the lip of the stairs, then run the attachment over the lip a few times working up these fibers.
Why all the fuss with the stairs?  Stairs are typically the first area of carpet to wear because of the high traffic. (see the nasty stairs photo above if you don't believe me)  The center of a set of stairs fall victim to the most abuse because that's where people walk so extra attention is required.  Running the attachment over the lip several times will lift the fibers and help prevent premature wear.

6. Clean up stains right away

This one is kind of a no-brainer but still needs to be said.  As soon as you see a stain, clean it.  If you don't know how you should clean whatever it is that has stained your carpet, check online or call your local professional.  There are tons of stain removing resources online.  Scotchguard has a handy stain removal guide right HERE. The faster you address a stain, the more likely it is to come out.

7. Booties

If you can't get them to take off their shoes, make them wear booties.  This solution is handy for contractors and other folks who come into your home and aren't used to removing their shoes.  The booties will contain the dirt and keep your carpets looking newer longer.


Other suggestions...

These suggestions didn't make the top seven (some for obvious reasons) but or worthy of a mention if only for a chuckle.

  • Put booties on your dog
  • Send your kids to boarding school
  • Send the pets with your kids to boarding school
  • Set up an elaborate system of zip-lines so you don't ever have to set foot on your carpet

 And for the future...

Don't buy light carpet.  Regardless of how neurotic you are about keeping it clean IT WILL get dirty faster than a darker color.