How to Keep Carpets Clean

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Untreated dirt and stains will permanently damage your flooring. These tips to keep carpets clean protects them while making your home look tidier, too.

Cute baby and dog next to each other on a floor

As the largest surface in the home, a grimy carpet can make your entire house look messy. To make matters worse, every time someone walks across a dirty floor, their footsteps kick up dust that floats in the air and settles on your furniture.

How to Keep Carpets Clean

The good news is that you don’t have to vacuum every day to keep your carpets looking good. Following these tips will stop the majority of dirt from entering your house, protecting your floors as well as your furnishings and indoor air.

1. Make a “No Shoes” Rule

If you feel uncomfortable asking visitors to remove their shoes at the door, don’t. Shoes track in dirt, germs, toxins, and harmful bacteria, and you have every right to keep those out of your house. In some regions — especially those with red clay soil — it’s so typical to shuck shoes at the door that visitors do it automatically.

You’ll probably find that if you don’t wear shoes in your home, guests won’t want to, either. For those visitors who don’t like padding around in socks, keep some clean slippers handy. (I like to offer guests these “disposable” house slippers which stand up to laundering several times before I turn them into dog toys.)

2. Treat Spills Immediately

The longer carpet you ignore grime or spills, the harder they are to get out. Over time, stains permanently bond with your carpet’s fibers, and then you’re stuck living with them until you’re ready to pay for new flooring.

You can get up most spills by immediately blotting them with a clean, dry towel. Then use a rag dipped in warm, soapy water and press (not rub) the spot to lift out the rest. Use a fresh cloth to blot and vacuum once the area is completely dry. (Related: How to Get Rid of Carpet Stains.)

3. Put Mats at All Exterior Doors

If you put mats at every exterior door, you’ll cut down on a lot of dirt before people or pets can track it onto your carpets. Placing them on both sides of the door helps even more. Of course, dirty mats aren’t much use at all, so vacuum or shake them outside every couple of days.

4. Entertain Outdoors

Inviting friends or neighbors over always means a bit of extra clean up after they’ve gone, but you can cut down some of it by hosting your events outside if the weather’s nice. Keep plenty of drinks and snacks in coolers on your deck or patio, so they’re handy. Your guests will also appreciate knowing where to find the closest bathroom, so they don’t have to walk all over your home (and carpet) looking for it.

5. Vacuum Often and Well

Of course, your number one ally in keeping carpets clean is your vacuum. Learn to vacuum the right way, so you get even the deep-down dirt, and then use it wall-to-wall at least once a week, including the crevice tool. In between thorough vacuuming sessions, go over high-traffic areas every couple of days (or do what I do and let a robot handle it).

Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

Inspect your floors often. Even house-trained dogs and litter box-trained cats have accidents, so inspect your floors regularly for accidents and clean pet stains quickly when you find them. (Related: How to Clean Pet Stains.)

Brush your pet twice a week. Brushing helps remove excess hair before it can wind up on your floor. Try to do it outside, or put a towel on your lap to catch the hair. Remember to bathe pets regularly, too. (Yes, even your cat.)


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