Prolonging the Life of Your Rugs and Carpets
Proper care of your rugs and carpets can dramatically improve their life and how good they look.
The first golden rule for keeping a rug or carpet clean is to prevent it getting dirty in the first place. Removing outdoor shoes when entering the house is a good idea as hard outdoor soles and stiletto heels can wreak havoc with the look of a carpet and tramp mud into the house.
To clean a rug, take these steps:
Choose a sunny day, as this makes drying quicker. Vacuum both sides of the rug well.
Shampoo the rug with cool water and mild liquid soap or rug shampoo. You need to test for colour fastness on a small patch first. Using a soft, long-haired brush or a firm sponge, brush the pile firmly with linear motions in the direction of the nap (the direction in which the carpet fibres lie). Wet the fibres thoroughly with the soapy water.
Wash any fringes with the same soap solution. Use a laundry brush, and brush repeatedly away from the pile. Rinse thoroughly with running water.
Squeeze out excess water - a rubber window squeegee works well. Squeegee the pile repeatedly in the direction of the nap until no more water is forced out.
Dry flat. When the surface feels dry, turn the rug over and dry the back thoroughly. If the pile feels a bit stiff when dry, brush gently or lightly vacuum.
It is worth getting fitted carpets steam cleaned every few years, but you can make a huge difference to how your carpet looks by knowing how to treat everyday stains effectively yourself.
For fast stain removal on rugs and fitted carpets, take these steps:
This is a problem that needs prompt attention, as the odour can be hard to remove or disguise and ammonia in the urine can weaken your carpet.
Blot up as much liquid as possible with paper towels or a clean, white cloth. Try to dilute the stain with tepid water. Then add about 1 cup of white vinegar per gallon to the rinse water – vinegar helps prevent colours from running and will help neutralise the smell.
Blot dry and sponge with rug shampoo. With a rug, arrange it so that air can circulate top and bottom for thorough drying. For a fitted carpet, use a hairdryer to aid drying.
Blot up as much as possible with paper towels or a dry cloth. Sprinkle white wine (its acidity helps neutralise the stain) or water on to the stain and blot up again. Remove remaining stain with methylated spirits and a dry cloth. Do not use salt! This tends to fix the stain – exactly what you don’t want.
Tea and coffee
Mop up as much as possible using paper towels or an absorbent cloth. You can add a little water and soak up again with cloths until the colour is gone. A cloth wrung out in a mild detergent, or methylated spirits dabbed with a dry cloth, may bring up any residue left.
Some fitted carpets have black marks where the carpet meets the walls. This is caused by dust coming up from underneath the floorboards. Cleaning will usually only partially remove them and they may reappear. Putting down paper and sealing the edges of the floor before a carpet is laid may stop them coming up.
To prevent moth damage
Clothes moths thrive in dark, undisturbed areas and feed on wool and silk, the very materials your best carpets are made of. Over years, the moth larvae eat away at your carpets, eventually leaving bald patches.
Vacuum your carpets weekly if possible. It is important to get under furniture and beds, as these are the common areas for moths to thrive. For a rug, at least several times a year, vacuum the underside and the floor underneath. If the rug is too large to handle, flip the edges over, and vacuum at least two feet in along the borders on the underside of the rug. The corresponding areas on any rug underlay and the floor should also be vacuumed.
Mothballs are ineffective in moth control for rugs. These materials act only as a minor repellent to moths. They do not kill moth larvae, and the naphthalene odour can be unpleasant and difficult to remove from the rug.
Move your rug around regularly to prevent uneven wear and ridges forming.
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