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How To Make Your Carpets Look And Smell Professionally Cleaned

Updated on June 6, 2017

Benefits Of A Clean Carpet

Keeping your carpet clean is important for several reasons. First and foremost is the appearance. The look of your carpet sets the tone for your home. A clean carpet is appealing and welcoming. Carpet left uncleaned not only looks bad, but it can also shorten the life of your carpet. If the padding is not cleaned, stains from pets, food or drinks can promote bacteria and mold growth. Humidity and moisture can also allow mold and bacteria to spread in the padding. This can cause the carpet to deteriorate more rapidly. Such growth can also cause illness. Respiratory and skin problems can be reduced when the carpet is clean and well maintained. Those who suffer from allergies can also benefit from a well maintained carpet as cleaning removes allergons such as dust, pollen and pet dander.

How Do You Clean Carpets

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Hire A Pro or Replace The Carpet?

Keeping a carpet clean might sound like an overwhelming task, however it can be done quite easily on your own without hiring a professional. Knowing how to properly clean a carpet will save money and keep the carpet looking and smelling like new.

Hiring a professional carpet cleaner can be a hassle. Generally when hiring a carpet cleaner, you have to revolve around the cleaner's schedule. Their availability determines when you get your carpet cleaned. Typical cleaning hours are in the day. This can require you taking time off work, or rescheduling your calendar to prepare for their arrival. Because they schedule several appointments a day, the time slots available are in blocks, meaning they schedule a window where you need to be home. Once they arrive, you have to deal with that awkward feeling of having someone in your home and wanting to be available to help them if needed, but not wanting to feel like you are watching over their every move. Professional cleaners bring in hoses that are attached to mounted carts. The hose that runs from the truck to the cleaning machine ends up keeping the door to the outside propped open, letting in bugs and air that compromises your indoor temperature, whether it be heating or air conditioning.

Aside from minor irritants, there are bigger issues with hiring a carpet cleaner. The cost! Carpet cleaning can cost anywhere from $80 to $100 . . . in some cases per room. There are then added expenses. Some cleaners charge extra for stain protector or deodorizers. When these charges are brought up, one has to even wonder what they are using to clean the carpet with. Is it safe? Is it watered down? Is it soap based? Is it green? Will it harm pets or children? Then there is the issue of the actual work. What happens if after the carpet dries stains reappear or odor is present. Then you have to work with the cleaner to either reschedule a follow up or get refunded for unsatisfactory work.

Carpet Cleaning Machines

Cleaning your own carpet has never been easier. Carpet cleaning machines have become readily available for consumers. Whether you own a home and are maintaining it, or you rent and are looking to keep the carpets clean to ensure you get your security deposit back, a carpet cleaner is a sound investment.

There are a number of carpet cleaning machines available. These machines range in size from handheld machines to full upright machines. They are versatile in their functions and many have various features to make cleaning even easier. Among the features are the bristle types. Some machines have rotating bristles which work to gently agitate carpet fibers in a manner to remove dirt and debris. Others have functions that allow the user to control temperature. Most household machines also have attachments. Attachments are great for spot cleaning as well as cleaning steps, furniture and car interiors.

In the event that the machine will not be used enough to validate purchasing one, they can be rented at various grocery and hardware stores. Rental type machines are great for large projects as the tanks typically hold more water and solution than a home machine.

This stain was spot cleaned with a soap based cleaner. Rather than remove the stain, the soap attracted more dirt and left a brownish mark.
This stain was spot cleaned with a soap based cleaner. Rather than remove the stain, the soap attracted more dirt and left a brownish mark.

Cleaners That Can Ruin Carpet

With all the carpet cleaning solutions on the market, and all the at home remedies, it might be confusing trying to figure out what the best way is to clean carpet.

The most popular products are carpet shampoos sold in conjunction with a particular machine's manufacturer. These cleaners are often soap based cleaners. When used they create a heavy foam. Soap based cleaners are not an ideal cleaner for carpet. Soap attracts dirt. When applied to carpet, it will actually pull dirt to the area being cleaned. This often results in grayish or brownish streaks in the carpet when spot cleaned. A machine might leave behind a splotch effect where the attracted dirt is being collected. The soap itself can be hard to remove from the carpet even when rinsing. As the soap is being rinsed, it continues to foam up. The it foams, the more residue is left behind. Soaps, leaving residue in the carpet also leave residue in the padding. Rather than clean the padding or disinfect it, these cleaners leave more behind then they clean up. Because of the residue left behind, people who use these types of cleaners often see a stain constantly reappear over time.

Several spray type stain removers are used to clean carpet. There are countless brands that market these products. While some of them might be good for removing stains on clothing or counter tops, caution should be used when using them on carpet. Again, they are soap based, which can cause streaking or clouding in the carpet. Some contain bleach. Bleach can severely damage carpet. Other cleaners that severely damage carpet are those which promote oxidization. Through this process, oxygen is introduced to create a chemical reaction. If your carpet has been treated with stain guard, or other cleaners have been applied to the area, oxidation can cause discoloration. Typically, this causes the carpet to turn orange or pink. Unfortunately when this happens, the process can not be reversed and the carpet ends up damaged permanently. These cleaners also have no ability to reach the padding. Nor do they eliminate odor below the surface.

Odor is another carpet issue commonly attempted with be cleaned with solutions that have no real effect. Air fresheners and fragrance sprays do not resolve issues with carpet odor. Carpet odor typically stems from sources below the pile and in the padding. Mold and bacteria, or pet urine are the most common culprits. This needs to be cleaned with a deodorizer the kills the source of the odor. Neutralizing the air does nothing other then mask the scent. When the actual source of the odor is not treated, that smell will worsen. If air fresheners and sprays are being used, you will just need to spray more frequently as the real source of the odor continues to grow within the carpet.

Homemade remedies are popular all over the internet. Frugal Mom's online are notorious for their ill given advice on mixing household cleaners with ammonia, vinegar, dish washing soap, laundry detergent and baking soda. This does no more to clean your carpet than the soap based, store bought cleaners. Laundry detergent and dish washing soap are again soap based and will only attract the dirt. Baking soda might freshen up odors, but it will not kill the source of the odor. Vinegar and ammonia do have an acidic base to them and can break down stains, but will not kill the source of odor either.

This brings us to vinegar and ammonia. If you do not have pets, then vinegar and ammonia may very well be ideal carpet cleaners, however in the event that you are a pet owner, vinegar and ammonia are the worst things you could ever use to clean your carpets. As indicated previously, vinegar and ammonia have an acidic base. The pH levels found in either product are comparable to the pH levels found in pet urine. Animals, both cats and dogs, urinate where they smell they have gone to the bathroom before. This is instinctual and has nothing to do with how well trained your pet is. If your pet smells ammonia or vinegar, they may mistake the pH odor as being their urine. As a result, your pet, be it a cat or dog, will be more likely to go in that spot again and again until the carpet is properly deodorized and the bacteria and germs found in the urine are destroyed and removed.

Enzymatic cleaners are often recommended for pet owners. They are toted as being green. A close look at some will show they have the same agents found in fertilizer. While it may be green, it is hardly safe. Enzymatic cleaners have a series of problems of their own. People who use enzymatic cleaners often find themselves satisfied with the results upon cleaning, however after a few days, they become unsatisfied when they find the stains reappear or the smell worsens. When using enzymes, one must understand the process by which they function. Enzymes rely on the chemical reaction of one compound being introduced to another. With enzymes, the theory is that when introduced to the stain, the stain will react in a matter to reduce or eliminate the stain. Unfortunately the process is not that simple. Enzymes are extremely complex. They only work when introduced to the right compound. Often, they are described as a key and lock scenario. There might be one lock and a million keys, but only the key cut correctly will unlock the mechanism. Enzymes are no different. The enzymes sold in stores are a general enzyme. For them to work, they have to be introduced to the right stain. Pet stains come in all forms; urine, vomit, excrement and so on. A general enzyme does not have the ability to impact every stain. On top of the stain type, there are other variables preventing them from interacting with the stain; pH levels, diet, health. To even further complicate matters, external factors have an impact. temperature, moisture, chemicals on the carpet and previous cleaners used can all prevent an enzyme from working. Enzymes also lose their strength before they fully reduce stains. Because of this, the stain deep in the carpet is not always eliminated. It is when this happens that the odor returns days later or the stain reappears after the carpet has dried. Both are common experiences for those who have used enzymatic cleaners.


How To Clean Carpet

The best way to clean carpet is using a surfactant based cleaner. Surfactant cleaners work with water to make a stain water soluble. When a stain becomes water soluble, it can then be broken down. When a stain is broken down, it is then able to be flushed clean. The best surfactant cleaner available is Genesis 950. Genesis 950 does more than just clean stains. It also disinfects, killing germs, bacteria and mold growth. In doing so, it deodorizes and removes the odor.

Genesis 950 can be used as a spot cleaner for surface stains, or in a machine to thoroughly clean the carpet as well as the padding. When using in a machine, the general cleaning ratio is 1 part Genesis 950 to 7 parts water. However for tougher stains and odors this can be increased all the way up to a 50/50 mix. Genesis 950 comes in concentrate form making it much more affordable then the cost of hiring a professional or replacing carpet.

Before & After

Carpet stain worsened by use of a soap based spray. The soap attracted dirt and made a dark mark in the carpet.
Carpet stain worsened by use of a soap based spray. The soap attracted dirt and made a dark mark in the carpet.
Carpet cleaned with Genesis 950 in a carpet cleaning machine. The original stain as well as the stain left from the soap based spray were completely removed.
Carpet cleaned with Genesis 950 in a carpet cleaning machine. The original stain as well as the stain left from the soap based spray were completely removed.

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