How often should you clean your carpet? Experts weigh in

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Do you know how often you should clean your carpets? Neglecting this important household chore can impact the appearance of your home and your health.

A person cleaning a carpet with a sponge.
Photo credit: YayImages.

This article explores the factors that affect carpet cleaning frequency, expert recommendations and the pros and cons of DIY vs. professional cleaning, so you can keep your carpets looking and smelling fresh.

How dirty carpets can impact your health

Your home’s carpets are more than a cozy place to curl up with a good book or play a board game with your family. They’re also a magnet for dirt, dust and allergens.

Many homeowners are under the misconception that vacuuming their carpets once a week provides sufficient care to keep them clean. 

However, this is not the case. Carpet stains happen quickly, and if they aren’t treated right way will soon leave unsightly stains scattered across an increasingly dirty carpet.

Visible and invisible signs your carpets need cleaning

Let’s explore some of the most common signs that your carpets are due for a cleaning.

Stains and discoloration

One of the most obvious signs that your carpets are due for a cleaning is the presence of stains or discoloration. Ideally, you employ immediate spot cleaning to remedy any upsets, but even so, they are bound to add up over time.

These could be from:

Unpleasant odors

Carpet fibers can trap unpleasant smells, resulting in unclean carpets.

Some common sources of odors include:

  • Pet accidents
  • Food spills
  • Smoke or cigarette odors
  • Moisture and humidity
  • Old age

Allergies and respiratory problems

If you or a family member experiences allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing or itchy eyes, but can’t identify the allergen, it might be your carpet.

Over time, these frequent allergens can build up in carpet:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites

Spot check

You can also use a white towel or cloth to check for hidden dirt by rubbing it along the carpet fibers. If the cloth comes away dirty, it’s time to schedule a cleaning.

A person cleaning a carpet with a vacuum.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Expert recommendations for carpet cleaning frequency

The frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, including foot traffic, pets and allergies.

  • Foot traffic is one of the biggest contributors to carpet dirt and debris buildup. ProTech Carpet Care recommends cleaning high-traffic areas such as entryways, hallways and living rooms at least once every six months.
  • Pets significantly impact how often your carpets need cleaning. Perfect Carpet Cleaning tells pet owners to remove stains immediately and professionally clean high-traffic areas with a pet-friendly carpet cleaner between two and four times a year.
  • Karen Gill, M.D. encourages homeowners to “Steam clean your carpets several times a year, preferably monthly.” She also suggests a more practical choice of using throw rugs or washable area rugs instead of built-in carpets.

Ultimately, the frequency of carpet cleaning will depend on your circumstances. For example, a single person living in a tiny home with no pets may be able to go longer between cleanings than a family with pets and small children with a lot of foot traffic.

A man cleaning a carpet with a vacuum cleaner.
Photo credit: YayImages.

The pros and cons of DIY vs. professional carpet cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your carpets, you have the option of doing it yourself or hiring professional carpet cleaners. 

DIY carpet cleaning methods include:

  • Using store-bought cleaning solutions.
  • Renting or buying a carpet cleaning machine.
  • Making custom DIY steam cleaners. 

DIY Pros

  • More cost-effective than hiring a professional service.
  • Allows you to clean your carpets on your schedule.
  • Mix a non-toxic cleaning solution and minimize chemical use in your home.

DIY Cons

  • Store-bought and DIY cleaning solutions can be less effective than professional-grade products.
  • DIY methods can leave your carpets overly wet, which can lead to mold and mildew growth.
  • You may need to clean your carpets more often because they never completely reset to like-new carpet.
  • Doing a large area can take a lot of time, so prepare to set aside several hours if needed.

A professional carpet cleaning company uses high-powered equipment and specialized cleaning solutions.

Professional Pros

  • More effective because they have the expertise to treat on a case-by-case basis
  • Save time and effort in the long run.
  • Possibly minimize the amount of ongoing and frequent carpet cleaning you need to do.

Professional Cons

  • More expensive than DIY methods.
  • Need to work with the service provider’s schedule, which could lead to a long wait time.

Consider your budget, time constraints and cleaning goals. 

It can be cost-effective if you have the time and energy to dedicate to DIY cleaning.

However, professional cleaning may be better if you’re dealing with tough stains, pet odors or other challenging issues. 

Additionally, if you want to extend the time between cleanings, a professional service can provide a deeper clean that lasts longer.

Best practices for preventing carpet damage

Maintaining clean carpets requires more than just regular cleaning and occasional deep cleans. It’s also important to take preventative measures to protect your carpets from damage.

Here are some tips for keeping your carpets in good condition:

  1. Frequent vacuuming: Aim to vacuum high-traffic areas at least once a week and areas with low traffic every two weeks.
  2. Address stains promptly: Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible and then apply a stain remover solution.
  3. Use the right cleaning products: Choose a carpet cleaning solution appropriate for your carpet’s material and the type of stain you’re dealing with. Avoid harsh chemicals or bleach, which can cause more damage than good, even on light-colored carpets.
  4. Invest in a good quality vacuum cleaner: A high-quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help to remove dirt, pet hair and other allergens from your carpets.
  5. Use doormats: Placing doormats at each home entrance can help prevent dirt, debris and paw prints from being tracked onto your carpets.

Committing to regular carpet cleaning and maintenance is a great way to enjoy a fresher, cleaner and healthier living space. Prioritize DIY cleaning methods as part of your regular cleaning schedule, and seek professional carpet cleaning services when necessary.

Jessica Haggard is the creator of the blog Easy Homemade Life. She inspires and supports homemakers with easy recipes, natural home cleaning tips and DIY tutorials for personal care products to promote a happy and healthy home environment.

This article originally appeared on Easy Homemade Life.

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