You probably think that you keep a clean house. You never wear shoes inside. You wash your dishes right after you eat (or at least rise them and put them in the dishwasher). You sanitize your bathroom on a biweekly basis. You vacuum! But there’s one thing you’re missing.

 

Vacuuming your carpets doesn’t count as cleaning them.

 

(And you’re doing it wrong.)

 

Vacuuming 101

 

Your vacuum cleaner uses suction to remove dirt, hair, dust, and other debris from your carpet fibers. Used on a regular basis, it keeps your carpets looking fresh. However, even with regular vacuuming, you likely notice that high-traffic areas still gain some grunge after a period of time; plus, vacuums are useless at stains caused by dropped wineglass or not-quite-potty-trained puppies. And while studies have shown that owning a pet reduces stress… our loving companions can be not so great for the cleanliness of your abode.

 

Carpets and Air Quality

 

You should vacuum at least monthly, but many people do not. Furthermore, many people vacuum ineffectively. You should vacuum slowly to allow the vacuum suction to work its magic. You should also vacuum in both direction to catch dirt that may be trapped in the carpet fibers, and make sure to change the bag! A full vacuum is an ineffective vacuum.

 

How to Actually Clean Your Carpet

 

While vacuuming is a necessary task, actually cleaning the carpet takes much more work. Most carpet cleaning appliances today are steamers, which look somewhat similar to handheld vacuums but work much differently. Steamers spray hot water or steam combined with a liquid cleaning solution onto the carpet. Rotating brushes on the appliance lift rug fibers to get at the crevasses that vacuums can’t reach, and aggressively extract the dirt and grime that’s nestled down deep. Getting rid of dust and grime is much better than leaving it trapped deep in the carpet fibers!

 

You will need to have your carpet professionally deep cleaned at least once every 18-24 months in order to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty. Many warranties specify that must be done professionally. If you have pets, you should be cleaning much more often than the minimum required by your carpet manufacturer’s warranty: Robin Wilson, an interior designer specializing in allergy-free-living, recommends that carpets be professionally cleaned every four to six weeks in households with furry friends.

 

Regular carpet cleaning also has benefits beyond keeping your carpets sparking. It can also prevent mold growth, which occurs when dirty areas are exposed to water, and can clear out nasty dust mite infestations, which many people have but are entirely unaware.

 

Potential Health Impact

 

You may be worried about the chemicals in traditional carpet cleaning solutions, or “carpet shampoo.” To mitigate the adverse effects of harmful chemicals, more and more people are turning to green carpet cleaning solutions. These lack harmful chemicals such as perchloroethylene. Perchloroethylene is a common ingredient in carpet cleaners which can cause nerve damage and kidney failure if ingested and dizziness, nausea, and fatigue if simply inhaled. Green cleaning products can be purchased at stores, or be made from common household ingredients such as vinegar or baking soda. They’re better for the environment and better for you!

 

Do not, however, take this as an excuse to stop vacuuming on a regular basis! Vacuuming before steaming your carpet or having it professionally cleaned is a necessity to get rid of any surface-level grime, making it easier for the steamer to do its work. Besides, it’s not actually that hard to haul out the vacuum once a week, and it keeps your carpets looking fresh in between deep cleanings. Additionally, keeping your carpet clean means that your house’s air quality will improve. While cleaning your house requires a bit of regular commitment, good air and nice carpets are well worth the effort.</a>