How to deep clean your carpets and rugs and get professional results
If you are anything like me your carpets are probably in need of a good clean, they are often forgotten and only cleaned when something nasty is spilled on them.
But our carpets are havens for all sorts of things that daily use leaves behind, food particles, skin cells, pollen, and other bits and bobs that if left for too long will become smelly and allow bacteria to grow.
So as I had just dumped a load of food onto my sitting room rug I decide that after far too long it deserved a good clean.
Here are my tips for giving your carpets and rugs a deep professional clean:
Clear the carpet or rug of furniture, vacuum clean it, working in different directions, pre-treat stubborn stains like red wine or coffee, spray the carpet with eco-friendly detergent, wash the carpet with a good quality carpet cleaner, open windows and allow the carpet to dry for 2-4 hours.
Following these steps, it didn’t take too long to clean my carpet and I did not believe how much dirt came out, keep reading for more tips about how to clean your carpet and get a deep professional clean that removes the bad dirt and germs.
Clear your carpet or rug of furniture
The first job to do when cleaning a carpet or a large rug is to make space and give yourself room to work, clear as much furniture out of the way so that you have access to as much of the carpet as possible if not all of it.
If at all possible take rugs outside to clean them, this will mean that you have plenty of space and any liquid or water can be kept outside to avoid damage from spills which can happen from time to time.
Working outside also means the carpet or rug you are cleaning will dry off more quickly than if you are working inside because the moisture can dissipate more easily than in a confirmed room.
If you are going to clean your carpets outside, make sure you check the weather forecast and try to clean your carpets on a dry sunny day. They may not be fully dry before they need to come inside but the warm sunshine will help to dry out any moisture.
Try to avoid working on grass or exposed earth as this can become wet and muddy which will make the carpet or rug dirtier than before. For best results clean the carpet or rug on a clean, dry paved driveway or patio.
Thoroughly vacuum clean the carpet
With the furniture moved and the carpet or rug cleared and ready to be cleaned, the first thing to do is give the carpet a really good vacuuming, this removes the loose dry dust and smaller dirt particles.
To really get the carpet clean and for best results, work across the carpet in different directions, this will help to make sure you move the carpet fibres around and release as much dust and dirt as possible.
I tend to work in a uniform manner, first vacuuming up and down the length of the carpet then vacuuming across the width of the carpet.
Vacuum clean thoroughly using a good quality vacuum cleaner with an agitator head or brush that gets down into the fibres of the carpet to release trapped dirt.
There are some really good makes on the market that have high performing cleaning heads that brush deep into the fibres of the carpet to release as much dirt as possible.
Two makes of vacuum cleaner to consider when you want to really get your carpets professionally clean are Bissell and Kirby, they both have a great range of vacuum cleaners that provide a deep clean and Bissell vacuum cleaners have a motorised floor brush with tangle-free technology for even better cleaning.
You might also consider a rechargeable vacuum cleaner, these provide the added benefit of cordless vacuuming and carpet cleaning, which of you are like me always tripping over the power cable.
The cordless range from Bissell makes cleaning carpets an easy job and means no more tripping over cables, hunting for the nearest power socket or running out of cord.
Getting rid of stubborn stains
Once the carpet has been thoroughly vacuumed to remove the loose dirt and dust inspect the carpet for any stubborn or dark stains, red wine, coffee, oil or blood can be a real pain to get rid of and these types of stains will need to be treated locally with a stiff hand brush and detergent.
Give the stained patch a spray using a handheld spray bottle filled with a detergent mixture,
The area needs to be wetted down to allow the detergent to penetrate the fibres of the carpet.
Whenever possible I use eco-friendly, biodegradable detergent to avoid unnecessary nasty waste and make sure that I am being as kind to the environment as possible.
Avoid detergents that contain bleach as this can damage the carpet fibres and even revolve the dyes that give the carpet its color.
Let the detergent soak into the carpet fibres for a few minutes and then use the scrubbing brush on the stained area. I find that working the stained patch in several different motions really helps to lose the fibres and release the stain.
First work in a circular motion, scrub the area clockwise then anticlockwise, making sure you really work the carpet fibres, the detergent should build up into a foam and this will help lift the stains from the fibres of the carpet.
Spray the carpet with detergent
Once you have locally treated the stubborn stains, the rest of the carpet or rug needs to be sprayed with detergent and this needs to be allowed to soak into the fibers for a few minutes.
There are lots of detergents for different types of carpet or rug, some are better at removing smells and odors and are good if you have pets. Others give a deep cleaning action and include Scotchguard to help protect your carpet from future spills and stains.
I really like the multi-action Bissell professional range of carpet cleaning products that includes the fresh scent of Febreze, a built-in Scotchgard Protector, and Oxy power to lift dirt away from the fibers of the carpet.
They really work well to remove even the most stubborn stains, and you can find a great deal on Bissell products on our recommended tools page.
Wash the carpet with a carpet cleaner
After the detergent has had a few minutes to soak into the fibers of the carpet it needs to be washed out and the dirt with it.
There are lots of good carpet cleaners on the market, Bissell makes great quality machines that fit every budget, and I’ll give you some tips on how to choose a good carpet cleaner at the end of this post.
Following the manufacturer’s instructions, set up the machine ready to clean your carpets.
Fill the carpet cleaner with fresh clean water, you don’t need to use detergent as we applied this already,
Filling the tank up with warm water helps to loosen the dirt and some carpet cleaners have their own heating system to make this work even better.
Never use boiling water in a carpet cleaner, not only will you damage the machine you will also ruin the carpet. The maximum temperature should be 140℉ (60℃) but check the user manual for your carpet cleaner before adding water.
Use the carpet cleaner to wash out the dirt and detergent, the carpet calendar will spray fresh clean water over the carpet as you move back and forward across the area.
As the carpet cleaner sprays the water, the brushes in the head unit turn rapidly and will agitate the carpet fibers, loosening the dirt and allowing it to be pulled up with the water as it is sucked away by the powerful suction or the carpet cleaner.
Take care not to stay in one spot too long as the brushes can accelerate the wear on the carpet so keep moving back and forwards.
The dirty water is usually collected in a separate water tank and when this is full it will need to be emptied.
You can then dispose of any dirty water down the drain, rinse out the dirty tank and replace it onto the carpet cleaner.
To get your carpets really professionally clean repeat this stage of the process several times to really flush out the dirt and detergent, again working in different directions across the carpet will give you the best results.
You can tell when your carpet is clean when the liquid collected in the dirty water tank is clean.
Let the carpet dry out
Once you have thoroughly washed the carpet and all the dirt and detergent as been removed allow the carpet to dry out before replacing and furniture
If you are cleaning your carpets outside leaving the rug or carpet in the sunshine to dry out will make the process quicker. You can use old bricks or some wood to support the carpet off the ground, this will help air to pass underneath and also speed up the drying time.
For carpets that are fitted inside and cannot be moved, open window and doors to allow fresh air to pass over the room
The time needed for your carpet to dry out will depend on the performance of the carpet cleaner you use and how much moisture is removed when cleaning.
I always leave my freshly cleaned carpets for at least 2-3 hours before I check to see how damp they are.
Once you are happy that they are dry you can replace your furniture, clean out your brushes and the carpet cleaner and enjoy the fresh scents and aromas of clean rugs and carpets that will fill your home.
What to look for when choosing a carpet cleaner
Use a good carpet cleaner to make this as quick as possible, to get great professionally clean carpets. You can buy a good quality carpet cleaning unit Bissell has a good range for a reasonable price, look for features like:
- Powerful motor at least 800W
- Large capacity water tank
- Hot water heating
- Multiple brushes for enhanced cleaning
- Wide cleaning head to speed up the job
- Lightweight for ease of use
You can buy them new or second hand, just make sure if you are buying a second-hand carpet cleaner that you check it has been looked after and been serviced,
If you only have one or two carpets to clean it may be a good idea to rent a carpet cleaner. This can work out to be cheaper in the short term but if you want to keep your home clean and fresh investing in a good quality carpet cleaner is a good idea and clubbing together with your family or friends to share the cost works out even better.
How often should you clean your carpets?
Keeping your carpets and rugs in good condition means they need to be looked after and if done properly they will last a long time.
Having a regular carpet cleaning schedule will mean that the dirt and grime that cause bacteria bad smells are removed and stains from everyday use are cleared away leaving your carpet and your home looking fresh and clean
Here’s our simple guide to keeping your carpets clean:
Amount of Traffic/ footfall
Regular household cleaning
Deep/ Professional Carpet Cleaning
Local/ Stain Treatment
General Detergent Cleaning
Deep Professional Cleaning
Once a week
|Clean as soon as the stain is found||General Clean every 12 – 18 months||
Every 2 years or per manufacturer warranty
Once or twice a week
Clean as soon as the stain is found
|General clean every 6 to 12 months||
Once a year
|Daily or as required||Daily or as soon as the stains are found||General clean every 3 to 6 months||
Twice a year
(every 6 months)
Following the steps in our guide will keep your carpet in great condition, to find out which carpet cleaning tools and equipment we recommend check out our recommended tools page.
This article was written by: Richard Quinton – The DIY Help Desk Owner, Engineer & technical specialist.
Richard is one of the key partners in The DIY Help Desk team. He is a qualified Engineer, writer, and publisher, educated to Master’s level. He is a keen advocate of DIY and home improvements.
Richard enjoys helping others to learn new skills and reach their goals and believes that passing his knowledge and experience on through his writing is an effective way to positively impact the lifestyles and well-being of others on a larger scale.