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How to Shampoo Your Carpets

Updated on November 9, 2010

Every homeowner needs to consider shampooing their carpets at least once per year. No matter how often you vacuum, you are still going to get dirt worked deep into the carpet and the occasional stain that carpet shampooing will take care of. Households with children or pets might consider cleaning their carpets at least twice per year. Many people hire services to clean their carpets for them, but that can get expensive if you are doing it a couple times a year. So, at some point you will probably decide to shampoo your own carpets. When that time comes, you may wonder where to begin. What kind of shampoo should you use? How much shampoo should you use? What kind of carpet cleaning machine is best? How do you operate a carpet cleaning machine? How many times should you go over the carpet? How long should you let the carpet dry before using the room again? There are these questions and many more to be answered. Read on for some insight and suggestions.

How to Choose a Carpet Shampoo Machine

The first decision you will need to make when picking your cleaning equipment is whether you want to buy or rent. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Buying is good if you plan on cleaning your carpets often because after a few rentals you could have bought the equipment to begin with. Renting is better if you have a small home with not much storage space. Carpet cleaners are usually slightly larger than a vacuum and take up quite a lot of closet space for something that you will only use once or twice a year.

Next you should consider the feature available on different machines so that you find the shampoo machine that will do everything that you need. For example, make sure you are getting a shampooer with a rotating brush system if you have high traffic carpets to clean with lots of stains and especially dirty areas. Fixed brush systems just do not do as good a job at the deep down cleaning. Another important feature to consider is how easy it is to remove the waste water tank when it is full. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to get out a full waste water basin and having a hard time resulting in spilling the dirty water on the carpet you just cleaned.

How to Choose a Carpet Shampoo

Once you have the machine picked out you will want to choose a shampoo to use with it. The brand on the shampoo does not have to match the brand of the shampooer you have chosen. All the different brands will work just fine with each other. In addition, you can use homemade carpet shampoo in these machines. If you make a one to one mixture of vinegar and water and add just a drop of dish detergent, you will have a powerful and effective carpet cleaner.

Much more important than brand is the additives in the shampoo. Some shampoos come with anti allergens; others come with special odor fighting additives. Think about your household and the problems you create carefully before choosing your shampoo. If you have pets then odors are going to be a problem. As the pet owner, you might not notice them as much, but pet smells can be quite offensive and are hard to get rid of. If you or a family member suffers from indoor allergies then an anti-allergy additive can make life much more pleasant for them. Some shampoos have Scotchgard in them which is designed to protect your carpet from future stains. If you have children, then that is a welcome addition to any cleaner.

How to Operate the Carpet Shampoo Machine

Of course, you should always follow the directions that come with the machine carefully, but they basically all work in a similar way. You usually start by filling a reservoir with hot water and cleaner. Then, you will hold down a button as you move the carpet shampooer over the carpet to spray the cleaner out. As you move, the rotating brushes will work the shampoo into the carpet and then the suction of the machine will carry the dirty liquid into a waste water holding tank. Periodically you will have to empty the waste and refill the cleaning reservoir.

It is usually a good idea to go over the entire carpet twice. That way you can concentrate on areas that look like they need extra attention after the first treatment. My method is to run the machine the second time perpendicular to the way I ran it the first time. That way the carpet gets cleaned in multiple directions and you are more likely to get all the dirt. After two passes with cleaning solution, you want to run the machine a third time with only cold water in the cleaning reservoir. The cold water will attract any leftover soap residue in the carpet and help to rinse. You do not want to leave any soap or foam behind because that can cause wicking. Run the machine with only water until the waste water tank is clear water.

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