I cleaned my living room carpet today. Cleaning carpets is not my favorite thing to do, but I do love the way they look and smell clean afterwards. With kids and pets, that feeling can be short lived.
I used to pay the popular companies to come and do it, because it always seemed to be such a big job. The problem with paying them to do it is they never did a good job, they rushed over cleaning them, they used way too much water, soaking my carpets and they always used these toxic, very strong smelling cleaning solutions.
I finally decided to buy my own carpet cleaner and do it myself. Once I learned by trial and error how the best way to do them, I never again will waste my money on a carpet cleaning company again. And you don’t have to either.
I clean my carpets twice a year and spot clean as needed. In the spring, I will remove all the furniture and clean the entire carpet, but in the fall I will just do the “living areas” around the furniture where everyone walks. The carpet cleaner I have is a Hoover Turbo Scrub Spin Scrub 50 and I really like it. I’m not sure you can buy that one anymore, but Hoover makes some other nice ones. Ask around and read reviews to find the one best for you.
Be sure to find a model that has the two tank system – one for the clean water and one for the dirty water. Stay away from the ones that have it all in one tank, where you have a rubber “bladder” that holds the clean water which is in the tank that holds the dirty water. Trust me, the two tank system is much easier to clean and you don’t have to worry about having any “bladder” that will rupture.
Also make sure all the pieces of the machine are easy to take apart and clean. After working on your carpets all day, you want a machine that is easy to clean. You will be tired and having something that is easy to take apart and clean will be a blessing. Be sure to clean your machine a soon as you are done. If you wait, the dirt, hair and debris will dry and get crusty, making it hard to clean out later.
The important thing to remember with cleaning carpets is to NOT saturate the carpet with too much water. This is a big mistake many do-it-yourselfers (and even professionals) make and here is why - when you put too much water in the carpet, it soaks through to the pad and no amount of suction is going to pull it back out. This can cause mold and mildew to develop, which in turn can cause terrible respiratory problems like allergies and asthma.
You also do not want to use too much cleaning solution. If you use too much cleaning solution, it stays on the carpet and will actually attract dirt to your carpets.
So how do you find the right ratio of water and cleaning solution to use?
First thing is, do not follow the manufacturer’s directions. Of course you follow their directions on operating, cleaning and maintaining the machine, just not when it comes to the amount of water and cleaning solution they recommend. They recommend way too much of water and cleaning solution!
For most carpets, only doing one “wet” stroke is best. A “wet” stroke is where you are pushing the carpet cleaner while holding down the water spray button. If you do more than one “wet” stroke, you risk over-saturating the carpet with water. I push on the “wet” stroke.
I always only do one “wet” stroke, then do 3-4 “dry” strokes very slowly. A “dry” stroke is where you are pulling the cleaner backwards toward you to suck up as much water as you can. I pull on the “dry” strokes.
Now, if I have a particularly dirty area, I will go back over that area again, making sure to do plenty of dry strokes to pick up as much water as I can.
After I do my “dry” strokes, my carpet is just ever so slightly damp. That is what you want. With the air conditioning or furnace on and the ceiling fan on, my carpets are usually completely dry within 30-60 minutes.
Another trick to get really clean carpets, especially if it’s been awhile since they have been cleaned, is to do cross strokes. In the room, you will make your strokes all one direction, like vertical strokes, then when the entire room is done, you go back to the area where you first started, but this time you will do horizontal strokes. Using cross strokes this way assures the carpet fibers are being cleaned on all sides.
What do I use for cleaning solution?
I do not like the “perfumy” smell of many carpet cleaning detergents. They are full of toxic chemicals that can cause serious respiratory problems like allergies and asthma and they are toxic to the environment.
If you have a baby crawling around on the carpet, what you use to clean that carpet with will come in contact with your baby’s skin and your baby will be breathing up those chemicals. Are you sure you want your little one to be breathing up all those toxic chemicals? Babies’ lungs are still developing and when you expose them to toxic chemicals, you risk permanently damaging their lungs. It’s the same with pets.
What I use is a mixture of Shaklee’s Basic-H and Basic-G. The Basic-H will clean the carpets and the Basic-G, which is also a cleaner, will help deodorize them.
Be very careful how much Basic-H you use! A little goes a long way. In my cleaner, the clean storage tank holds approximately a gallon of water. I only pour in about a tablespoon of Basic-H and about two tablespoons of Basic-G. You will have to adjust accordingly to your cleaner. Remember, it is better to use too little than too much. The Basic-H is so concentrated, if you use too much it will add too many suds to your carpet.
These two products together do an amazing job of cleaning and brightening your carpets and they are safe for your family and the environment! They are also extremely concentrated and cost much less than the toxic store brands!
Always add the water to the tank first, then add the cleaning solution. Also, if you need to fill up your tank again because you have a large area you are cleaning, be sure to rinse out any remaining cleaning solution before adding more. This will keep you from having too much cleaning solution in your tank and risk getting too much of it on your carpets.
Cleaning carpets effectively may take a few times till you get the hang of it, but once you do, you will love having clean carpets that cost just a fraction of the cost of paying a carpet cleaning company to do it!
Do you have any carpet cleaning tips you want to share? Be sure to share your tips with us!
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