How to look after your new carpet
Grime and dirt. Wear and tear. Paws and claws. If you want your new carpet to look it’s best for longer, you’ll have to start as you mean to go on. This is our expert guide, full of advice on caring for your new carpet from day one.
This guide will break down into the following easy to follow sections.
- Preventative measures and knowledge
- Cleaning solutions
- Everyday stains
- The importance of vacuuming
- Calling in the professionals
Click the links above to jump to a section you need
Preventative measures and knowledge
Work smart, not hard, when it comes to looking after your new carpet and you won't end up like him...
It’s sensible spending to protect any investment you make and your new carpet should be no different.
The topics we will cover in this section are
Mats and rugs
The (not so) great outdoors
Shoe free zone
You will need to know about all these in order to make your new carpet look better and last longer.
Mats and rugs
We know that covering your carpet isn’t ideal – in fact, it’s the quite the opposite.
But you need to ask yourself this: what’s worse? Is it covering a doorway or high traffic walkway with a mat or rug? Or is it letting the unknown dirt, moisture of the outdoors into your home?
Mats and rugs should be the first line of defence for your new carpet. Use mats in doorways both inside and outside the threshold of your home for two chances to catch anything that could cause damage. Laying rugs in high traffic walkways is important too. It will protect your carpet from flattening, tearing and stop the colour from fading. To stop further flattening, you can also…
If you have further concerns, however, about your carpet flattening – which many homeowners with new carpet do - you can always use furniture coasters.
No doubt you will have seen the damage a heavy piece of furniture like a table, sofa or bed can do to a brand-new carpet. Those unsightly indents left behind can be difficult to smooth out once the grooves have been dug in.
Fortunately, furniture coasters can be a great tool to stop this from ever happening. They absorb the pressure allowing the pile underneath to remain in its natural state and avoid unnecessary flattening. They are particularly useful for protecting carpets with a thicker finish such as a plush, Saxony or a shag pile. Carpets with more denser piles like these are at greater risk of flattening. If you don’t have the budget for coasters, you can also use some of those carpet offcuts for coasters in the same way you would make them into rugs or mats.
The (not so) great outdoors
There are some threats that come from outside the home.
The biggest three that you will need to be aware of are
Don't worry; with our guidance, these threats shouldn't be an issue for your new carpet.
Prolonged exposure to water can be one of the worst things your carpet can experience.
It can cause a variety of problems but the three you need to be most aware of are
- The rotting of the backing and the development of moss and mildew which can be dangerous to your health and your home’s.
- The development of ‘dry rot’, where your carpet becomes stiff and inflexible and uncomfortable to walk on.
- It will also attract insects into your carpet
The big two insects to watch out for are moths and carpet beetles.
If your carpet is a natural fibre, such as wool, insects will tend to lay their eggs in amongst and this is where the danger lies for your carpet. When these eggs hatch, the larvae will be hungry and their appetite will see them chew through your carpet causing extensive damage.
Some signs you can keep an eye out for are:
- Active insects: Insects that are fully grown and you have spotted around your home.
- Missing pile: If your carpet seems to be disappearing, investigate: the larvae may have nibbled down to the cotton layer – which they cannot eat.
- Webs: Webs are a sign that larvae may be nested in amongst the pile.
- Live larvae: This is a major red flag. Your carpet has become infested and will need immediate treatment – use insecticide on the area and wash thoroughly.
- Residue: Brown or grey in colour, these residues (or, more accurately, droppings) are sign that larvae have been tucking into your rug and are about to cocoon.
Prolonged sunlight (ultraviolet or UV rays) can be one of the most damaging threats that your new carpet can face.
Colours can fade from one shade to another or much more dramatically depending on the type of material your carpet is made from. Synthetic carpets are at much greater risk of colour fading than natural materials.
To prevent sun damaged carpet, you can:
- Use curtains or blinds everywhere you possibly can
- Apply an ultraviolet reduction film to your windows
- Replace your windows glass with our protective planning
Shoe free zone
We’ve previously revealed our survey of the nation’s shoe habits, but if we might have our say, your new carpet will be happier and healthier without your shoes on it.
Shoes, for several reasons are a danger to your new carpet.
- They carry visible threats, such as dirt, moisture and grit.
- They carry hidden threats, such as germs and toxins. Some of these are the same as that found on your toilet seat – yuck!
- It will stop your carpets pile from getting torn up, frayed and bobbled by the tread of different shoes.
- It will prevent your carpet from being flattened even further by the extra weight of heavy soles.
Keep these in mind when you choose where your rugs and mats may be laid. It might be a good idea to lay one near entrances and exits to the home – just in case guests don’t take their shoes straight off!
Top Tip: Encourage your guests to remove their shoes by placing a shoe rack by the entrances and exits to your home.
Two of your most useful cleaning solutions you can make yourself.
There are two cleaning solutions that will be referred to throughout this guide. These will be:
Bleach cleaning solution
Light soap solution
Before you prepare your bleach cleaning solution, we recommend that you wear personal protective equipment such as a facemask and rubber gloves. This is to protect your skin and respiratory system from the harmful effects of bleach.
When making either of these two solutions, remember that standard spray bottle sizes are normally 500ml or 750ml in size. One part in a 500ml capacity would be 50ml, one part in a 750ml capacity would be 75ml.
To make a Bleach cleaning solution
1) Pour out 1-part bleach into a spray bottle
2) Mix this thoroughly with 9-parts warm water
Before you use a bleach cleaning solution, be sure to open windows and doors to ventilate the area. Remember only polypropylene (PP) carpets are suitable for bleach cleaning.
To make the Light soap solution
1) Half a teaspoon of carpet cleaning shampoo with
2) 2 litres of warm water
Any of these stains look familiar?
Top Tip: Never rub or scrub a carpet vigorously. This could result in damaged pile. Also, never soak your carpet through to the backing – this will stain and damage your carpet.
No doubt you, like us, tremble at the thought of a sorry looking stain splashed across your new carpet. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you find a way to clean these away and keep your carpet looking good as new.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of stains that you will come across throughout your home. These are:
Water based stains
You will need to tailor the way you clean depending on which type of stain presents itself in your home.
With stains of any kind, it is absolutely vital that you treat them as soon as you can. The longer a stain is left, the more damage it will cause to your new carpet.
Top Tip: We recommend always having a hairdryer handy to dry your carpet as you clean it.
To clean dry stains
1) Scrape off any excess with a clean spoon. Start at the edges and move towards the centre.
2) If it’s a bad spill, freeze it first with ice cubes – make sure these ice cubes are in a clear, plastic bag so they do not melt and soak the surrounding area.
3) Apply a light soap solution to a cotton wool ball then use it to dampen the stained area.
4) Hover your hair dryer over the cleaned area, making sure to keep a distance and move it around continuously.
5) Repeat the process if the stain hasn’t completely shifted.
6) Cover the area with a layer of white paper towels (around 6 will do) and place a reasonably heavy object on top of it. Leave this for 24 hours – this will soak up any excess staining in the yarn.
Change your approach for water based stains
1) Soak up as much as you can with plain white tissue roll or paper towels
2) Dampen a clean sponge or cotton wool ball with warm water and use this to slightly dilute the spilled liquid.
3) Blot the area with a plain white tissue or paper towel
4) Move your hair dryer over the cleaned area, making sure to keep and move it around continuously.
5) Follow these steps repeatedly until you have managed to clean the stain away.
6) As with any type of stain, pile 6 layers of white paper towels over the stained area, place a fairly heavy object over this layer and leave it to air dry for 24 hours.
It can be harder to clean grease stains
As a general rule, you will need to use a product designed to specifically treat grease stains to fully clean away the blemish.
Top Tip: When using such a grease cleaning agent, conduct a patch test. This will help you decide if the product is suitable for wider use. Patch tests are best conducted on parts of your carpet that will be seldom seen, such as underneath furniture or in the corner of a room. Never apply a product like this directly to your carpet – use a clean, white cloth to apply it.
Follow these steps to clean a grease stain:
1) Apply your grease cleaning agent using a clean white cloth to the affected area. Work from the outside of the stain inwards. Leave this for 5 minutes to work into the fibres.
2) Blot with absorbent, white tissue or paper towels. Don’t worry if carpet initially darkens – it should disappear afterwards.
3) Use a light soap solution to remove any residue of the grease cleaning agent.
4) Dab the area with white tissue or paper towels.
5) Use your hair dryer to air dry the cleaned area, making sure to keep a distance and move it in a circular motion.
6) Repeat until the whole stain has been entirely removed.
7) To completely dry, place 6 layers of white paper towels over the stained area and a slightly heavy object on top and leave this for 24 hours.
The importance of vacuuming
A cylinder vacuum is one of the three main variants you will use.
December 2019 research indicates the average working week is around 37 hours. That’s only 22% of your week, meaning there is plenty of time for you to vacuum your new carpet!
Before we go further, these are the main types of vacuum you may come across (images from left to right):
- Upright vacuum: These are perfect for bigger homes. They stand upright and you push them back and forth. They work using beater bars or bristle brushes to agitate the carpet and clean it.
- Cylinder vacuum: These trail behind you and have flexible, long hoses for suction.
- Cordless vacuum: Lightweight and often convert into a handheld cleaner. Mostly ineffective around big stretches of carpets but are useful for tight nooks and crannies.
Certain types of carpets require different types of approaches and types of vacuum.
- Berber Loop pile carpets should be vacuumed with a cylinder cleaner using solely the suction head. Avoid using any sort of beater head or brush. These will lift the fibres and create an unappealing bobbled finish to your carpet.
- Cut pile carpets should be vacuumed with an upright vacuum; ideally one with a beater bar/ bristles and a brush. You can also use a cylinder vacuum with a similar brush attachment.
- Saxony or Deep Pile Saxony carpets should use a vacuum with an adjustable height so that enough air flows through over the pile during cleaning.
We recommend the following as good technique for vacuuming:
- Always empty your bag or cylinder before you start vacuuming.
- Dust thoroughly around the room before you begin vacuuming.
- Move the vacuum backwards and forwards as your motion for a thorough clean.
- Make sure to vacuum slowly – tedious though it might be, it’s much more effective.
- Adjust the height of the vacuum as necessary for a clean that reaches everywhere.
- Use attachments for those hard to reach areas such as underneath furniture.
Having a strong routine of times to vacuum helps you prevent damage to your new carpet. The routine stops outside threats such caused by dirt and grit getting twisted in the yarn. It will also stop allergens, like pet hair or pollen, from getting trapped in your new carpet too.
We recommend vacuuming your new carpet at least twice a week in high traffic areas.
Calling in the professionals
We all need a little bit of help sometimes, especially when it comes to caring for a new carpet.
Though all of our carpets come with guaranteed wear and stain warranties, if you want it to look better for longer, you’ll need to call in professional carpet cleaners.
We recommend calling professionals in to clean your carpet at least once every 12 months to ensure that new carpet remains spick and span. There are DIY brands that you can hire yourself such as Rug Doctor – you’ll find these are available to hire from most major supermarkets now. We also recommend consulting the National Carpet Cleaners Association (NCCA) website to find an accredited, reliable, professional carpet cleaner in your local area.
Important questions for you to ask a professional carpet cleaner would be:
- Will I need to move my own furniture?
- How clean will it make my carpet?
- What effect will it have on dried in stains?
- How wet will my carpet be afterwards?
- Are there any things I can do afterwards to help the process?
There are different types of carpet cleaning available. The most common types can be broken out into the following categories:
Shampoo cleaning is the oldest technique of these four. Encapsulation replaced as it the in trend method. Whilst it seems like a thorough clean, shampooing can be a disadvantageous method as a high volume of wet foam is left behind as there is no rinsing step in the process, leaving the carpet sticky and prone to another soiling.
Encapsulation cleaning is considered the most environmentally friendly professional cleaning process. It uses detergent that crystallises when it becomes dry covering all the dirt within a carpet and doing the same to that too. It then can be vacuumed up or brushed clean taking the crystallised dirt with it. This method is more effective than shampoo cleaning, but less so than others.
Dry cleaning is the most time efficient method out of the four major household professional carpet cleaning techniques. A motorised cleaning brush rotates and applies cleaning compound into the carpet. The brush opens up the carpet’s fibre and allows the biodegradable cleaning compound to settle inside. This then absorbs any dirt in the carpet and is removed with equipment at the end of the process, guaranteeing a thorough clean.
Steam cleaning is sometimes referred to as “hot water extraction cleaning”. A brush agitates the dirt within it and then high pressured hot water further agitates the carpet and dissolves any grime that has come loose. This is followed by the cleaning agent being applied and settling into the carpet. This will then be washed through using the carpet cleaning equipment before the room starts to dry.