Though everyone can easily recognize “spring cleaning,” autumn is actually the season of choice for cleaning your carpets, for a few reasons. It’s the time of year just before the holiday season, which means you’ll want to take the opportunity to make your home look as presentable as possible before hosting guests for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holidays. It’s also when your kids are back at school and out of the house, so you can get the carpets cleaned without worrying about keeping them out of the way.
Paradoxically, autumn is also the time when your carpet is likely to get the dirtiest. Fall rains can bring mud and dirt into your home on the bottoms of shoes and pants, and when the trees start losing their leaves, the fallen foliage can follow you into your home. This makes cleaning all the more important, along with prevention — you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your carpet from getting dirty in the first place.
With this in mind, here are a few tips for caring for your carpet this fall:
1. Examine your carpet.
If you’re not sure whether it’s necessary to clean your carpet, take a look at the fibers to see for yourself whether or not dirt has seeped in. Start by opening the blinds in each room and turning on all the lights to have the maximum amount of visibility possible, then do a cursory examination: look for darker spots in the carpet where discoloration has set in and it’s noticeably different from what it looked like originally. A good point of comparison can be the carpet underneath furniture, like the couch or a cabinet, which should have retained its original color over the years — take note of what this looks like, and see if any parts of your carpet are markedly different.
Then, once you’ve identified problem areas, get down on your hands and knees and look closely at the fibers that make up your carpet. You’d be surprised at how much you can discover, from dirt to stains to even small objects that you’ve lost deep in the carpeting. The texture of the carpet can tell you more about whether it should be cleaned, depending on if it feels soft and new or stiff and caked with some kind of foreign substance.
2. Pretreat stains.
Stains are one of the main reasons to hire a professional. If you have any significant stains on your carpet, it’s a good idea to pretreat them to make sure that one carpet cleaning will be enough to get them out. You can sometimes do this with dry carpet-cleaning methods, which can be beneficial if you’re trying to gain access to your carpet immediately and don’t have time to wait for the pre-treatment to set (if it’s wet). Then, once it’s time to conduct a more thorough carpet cleaning, any difficult-to-remove stains should be mostly neutralized.
3. Conduct an in-depth cleaning.
When it’s time to clean your carpet, make sure that you get a service that works for you depending on several factors: how many rooms there are in your house, what kind of carpet you have and whether you’re looking for an all-natural carpet cleaner or are fine with any variety. No matter who you choose, look for quality service, affordable prices and a degree of personalization — the company should work with you to meet your personal needs.
There are several reasons a deep carpet cleaning could be valuable, starting with the fact that it helps you get rid of pathogens and allergens. If you have pets, fur and dander gets stuck in carpets and irritates the eyes and throat of people who already have a susceptibility to pet allergies. Household dust is another irritant that can lead to problems like sinus headaches or watery eyes. And pathogens like bacteria can be removed with a thorough cleaning that steams and/or sanitizes the carpet.
4. Prevent dirt from getting in.
The best way to clean your carpets is actually to prevent them from getting dirty. Invest in a doormat that helps keep out the largest particles — like leaves and chunks of dirt — and make sure you get one of the right design, which depends whether it will be outside or inside. All doormats should be longer than a single stride, while inside mats should be made of acrylic with a vinyl or rubber backing. Outdoor mats should have a wire rack underneath to catch mud.
Other than having a doormat, make sure that you enforce a no-shoes-inside policy, or have a shoe rack that you use at the very entrance to the house to restrict the dirt to one specific area.