If you live with wall-to-wall carpeting, or have a home full of rugs, you know how quickly your soft, beautiful floors can get dingy and dirty. How your carpets fare has a lot to do with your daily habits and cleaning methods, so there might be more you can be doing to keep your carpet looking and smelling its best. From how you vacuum to your stance on shoes in the house, here are a few ways you can tread more carefully.
Get good doormats (for every entrance)One way to protect your floors and carpeting is to make sure all the entrances to your home have a doormat for you and guests to wipe your shoes on when you come in. It might even be a good idea—especially in winter when snow, salt and slush from can make a huge mess—to have two at each entrance, one outside to wipe your shoes on, and one inside to take them off without making a mess.
Clean any stains right awayThe longer you wait to deal with spills and food or pet stains, the harder it'll be to clean them up later, and the more damage they'll do to your carpet. To make sure your rugs and carpeting last as long—and stay as clean—as possible, be diligent about cleaning up any messes immediately. And remember, different materials and types of stains require different clean-up methods, so make sure you're using the right solution for your carpet.
Always take your shoes off insideSpeaking of taking your shoes off, if you really want to keep your carpet clean, make it a rule that shoes come off when you walk in so you don't bring in dirt and debris from outside. And if you want to go the extra mile (or you just really like wearing shoes indoors) you can wear socks or designate house shoes or slippers to wear around your home to protect carpeting from any oils and dirt from your feet—just make sure you never wear them outside.
Splurge on a good vacuumYou might think any vacuum cleaner will do the trick, but if you've got a lot of carpeting in your home, it's definitely worth it to splurge a little on a good vacuum. Vacuuming regularly is one of the most important ways you can care for your carpets, and you should make sure yours is cut out for the job. If you're not sure how to choose the right vacuum cleaner for you, Good Housekeeping has a smart guide that can help.
Vacuum twice a weekWhile we're on the topic of vacuuming, make sure you're doing it often. First, you should be vacuuming your carpet at least twice a week, but along with frequency, the way you vacuum matters. You should go over each spot on your carpet 8 to 12 times (according to Martha Stewart) depending on how much foot traffic the area gets, and you should vacuum in all different directions to get the most dirt and debris out. If you don't think you'll be up to the task of twice-weekly vacuuming, consider getting a robot vacuum to pick up the slack between your hands-on sessions.
Clean it properlyBeyond just vacuuming and cleaning up stains, there are plenty of ways you can clean and freshen up your carpet to keep it looking (and smelling) its best. Cornmeal, Borax, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, rosemary, cinnamon and more are all household items that can help you clean your carpeting and keep it free from mold.
Get it professionally cleaned annuallyThis is a big one: To keep your carpet clean and damage free for as long as possible, you should make sure it gets a deep professional clean at least once a year. You can also rent carpet cleaning machines to do it yourself if you prefer, but make sure you know what you're doing—improper steam cleaning could attract more dirt and cause mold and mildew to grow, according to TODAY.