How Often Should I have my Carpet Cleaned?

Put that question into your search bar and you’re going to get a lot of answers. If you want to know if it’s time to get your carpet cleaned – and you are tired of Folks saying, “That depends” – read on! We know carpet and we’ve got your back. Start with our 7-point evaluation then pick up your phone and schedule service with confidence.
Babies and lots of other family members, spend time in rooms with carpet.

A Word About Professional Carpet Cleaning.

Let us start by saying that there is no shortcut or do-it-yourself substitute for a quality, professional carpet cleaning. Oh there are lots of spot removers and carpet detergents on the market. Lots of rentable cleaning machines too. If you have the necessary experience with carpet shampooing, you may get passable short-term results. But if you don’t, you may cause unintended damage. And while a thorough vacuuming has its place, vacuums are only effective as often as they are used. Plus, a vacuum only removes dry soil and surface contaminants. All that to say, it is not a queston of IF you will need your carpet cleaned by the pros but WHEN – and how often.

Fruit spilled across white carpet.

Determining the frequency of your carpet cleaning is as easy as a mathematical “equation.” Just multiply the number of high-traffic, carpeted areas with the number of mess-makers in a household. Subtract for the color and construction of your carpet. Divide by any family allergies and air quality sensitivities. Ok so we’re not mathematicians. But at the very least, confirm with your salesperson, or manufacturer’s website, how often your warranty requires you to have your carpets cleaned.

And there you have it. Even the most peaceful of homes will need a carpet cleaning no less often than once every 12 to 18 months. But flooring exposed to the usual mess-makers requires regular maintainance. Households with carpets in their busiest zones, especially lighter color flooring, will need carpets cleaned more than once a year. And homes with additional concerns- kids, pets, tobacco and allergies – will benefit from 2 or more cleanings a year. How many more? Here are the 7 questions to ask.

What Type of Carpet Do You Have – and Where?

Traffic paths, can occur on carpet in heavy use areas of our homes. It is usually a mix of soil and structural damage.

Give it a close examination. Is your carpet cut pile or loop pile? Plush or firm? Is it installed in an active area or a quiet, less used space? And what color of carpet have you purchased? Once you consider these questions, the maintenance needs for your carpet are only a matter of common sense. Light carpet will need more attention than dark carpet – although the invisible contaminants hidden in any carpet’s fibers have no connection to color. Your low pile and looped carpet gives dirt less areas to hide. High pile does the opposite. And the kind of friction that your carpet suffers in the entries, halls and traffic paths can lead to damage that looks like dirt but that is, in fact abrasion. Even if you have that carpet cleaned, the structural change of abrasion can’t be undone.

All carpet in active areas will eventually suffer from abrasion. However, your efforts can significantly delay that damage which is created, in part, by sharp particles of soil being ground against carpet fibers by the passage of feet. Dry vacuuming the traffic zones at least 2 times a week helps remove the soil. When you add professional carpet cleaning – if only in the most travelled areas – you can ensure the smaller particles are lifted away too, helping to set back the clock on your carpet’s longevity. Even better, focusing the professionals’ efforts on spots, spills and traffic zones more often, will save your big ticket whole-room cleanings for that every 12 to 18 month routine. And it will mean that the deep cleanings you do budget for will be more effective! Carpet type is tied closely to maintenance needs so if you are about to do some carpet shopping, it is super smart to research how to choose the best carpet for your home.

Are there children in your household?

Babies and kids regularly lie on, roll across, crawl over and face plant on our carpets. That's why we need our carpet cleaned.

This is a good question to ask on two fronts. The first and most obvious one is the fact that children contribute a lot to the wear and tear on our carpets. They are the most likely to track in dirt and germs, to drop or spill snack food and kool-aid. Not to mention the dangers of Play-doh. Ew. All of these substances can cause spots on the surface of the carpet and bacterial colonies deep in the fibers. That is reason enough to schedule professional cleanings.

But there is another concern for carpets and kids. Kids tend to spend a lot more time on the floor than adults. Maybe it is a baby crawling over the carpeted floor, sticking her fingers in her mouth, or a kid playing with Legos or blocks, nose to the carpet surface. Whatever the circumstances, kids interact a lot with our flooring choices and that makes it necessary to have carpets cleaned regularly. The presence of kids requires almost constant vacuuming – meaning two or more times a week. And deep cleanings? Experts suggest every 6-12 months, with an emphasis on professional cleaning no less than once a year.

Do you have pets in the home?

When animals live in our homes, they pose a particular challenge to the health and cleanliness of that shared space. Whether they are tracking in contaminants in the door, dropping pet dander into carpet and upholstery fibers, or leaving the occasional accident behind, pets, like kids, are mess-makers. When you have pets and carpet, it is recommended that homeowners vaccum twice a week or more. Some vacuums are designed specifically for pet-friendly floors.

Guilty looking dog looks up from his place on the carpet.  He must realize he's the main reason his family has to pay to have their carpet cleaned.

But, for the healthiest environment, when your floors are exposed to pet traffic it is necessary to have carpets cleaned every 3-6 months. That routine may include a mix of professional cleanings and a homeowner’s use of rentable cleaning machines. It’s all about removing the soil you CAN see as well as the contaminants you CAN’T see. And regular deep cleanings will help keep pet odors at a minimum. The bottom line? Pet homes require even more carpet cleaning than homes with children.

Are there any smokers living with you?

Full ashtray

In the past half century we’ve learned a lot about the impact of smoke (and second hand smoke) on the health of our loved ones. We’ve learned less about the ways that smoke contaminates textiles like draperies, furniture and carpet.

One of the positive attributes of carpet is its ability to filter the air in our home. Think about the filter in a cigarette. Though it doesn’t make that cigarette safe for the user, it does capture some of the debris from the burning process. If you remove a filter from a used cigarette you’ll see it is discolored and dirty. Well carpet does the same thing for our home’s indoor air quality. That is really good, if the carpet is kept clean. But it is a huge concern if the carpet is poorly maintained. Even regularly cleaned carpet can suffer from what is called “filtration soiling.” This is when air moves through the house, under baseboards and doorways or through the seams in a staircase and leaves dust and contaminants on those vulnerable areas.

Tobacco and all smoke producers, including scented candles and fireplace debris, will travel throughout a home, down the ductwork and return vents and through the cracks and crevices in all construction. Regular vacuuming can offset some of the discoloration of filtration soiling but often, that soil will builld up, defying even the professionals’ best efforts. Amateur shampooing can turn that same debris into a sludgy dye that is nearly impossible to remove. At the end of the day, a household with one or more smokers or smoke producers, will require as much vacuuming as a pet household. Homeowners will want to pay particular attention to the perimeter of rooms and thresholds to rooms and closets. When scheduling a professional company to get your carpets cleaned, be sure to mention any filtration stains you may have – they can advise you how to address the problem and may be able to minimize those tell-tale black lines in the carpet.

How important is air quality? The case for Allergy Sufferers in your home.

IAQ – also known as Indoor Air Quality – is a concern for most for nearly all home owners. But it is a particular priority for households that are affected by allergies. Carpet does not have to be a bad choice when it comes to allergen management. After all, carpets are like room-sized filters, capturing dust, pollen, pet dander, tobacco smoke. All the common culprits. The only problem comes when that carpet is under-maintained.

Unless the allergens are regularly removed, the person with allergies living in your home is bound to suffer. So shop carefully for your carpet and factor in the expense of regular deep-cleanings. We’re not medical specialists but even carpet fans are quick to advise you have your carpet cleaned every 2-3 months. As long as those cleanings involve shampoo and/or hot water extraction, you can expect that most allergy causers will be removed. Carpet can be an asset to a home with allergy issues, or it can be a liability. Consistent vacuuming and seasonal carpet cleaning makes all the difference.

How Often are You Willing and Likely to DIY?

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. And we mean gritty. Market experts say that the most important requirement of carpet ownership is regular maintenance. And most folks have no idea that this means, on average, vacuuming more than once a week. With kids, pets, or allergy concerns, we’re talking more than twice a week. Keep in mind, this isn’t a quick-swipe -over-the-surface kind of job. The key is slow, deep passes to remove the maximum amount of soil. It comes down to a commitment to regular vacuuming – and follow through. This is a judgement free zone. Life is busy. Homes are usually full of a variety of mess-makers. And housecleaning tends to fall to one person. We feel your pain.

Professional cleaner targets a spot on white carpet.

Honestly, not every household is a fit for wall-to-wall carpet – at least in the high-activity zones. So if you have carpet you want to keep, get some help maintaining it. And if you’ve inherited carpet that is failing your needs, consider a more easily managed alternative. Wood floors are a perennial favorite. LVT – luxury vinyl tile – is making huge waves in the flooring market for looks and livibility. Tile is still on trend.

Still, nothing beats the feel of carpet on your tootsies when you step out of bed on a winter morning. Nothing insulates your home better or dampens ambient noise. Flooring choice is about living your best life. If vacuuming and having your carpets cleaned is no challenge, great. If it poses a constant hardship, then make the best choice for you!

What are the manufacturer’s requirements for professional carpet cleaning?

Professional carpet cleanings are an important component of regular maintenance.

When it comes down to getting your carpets cleaned, there is one non-negotiable. If you want to protect your investment, you need to schedule a professional carpet cleaning as often as your carpet manufacturer requires.  Many buyers do not realize that even the most popular carpet producers will refuse to honor the warranty on their product if those buyers have failed to have the product professionally cleaned.  Cleanings must be completed every 12 to 18 months. 

That may sound like an arbitrary hoop to jump through, but carpet manufacturers don’t get kickbacks from cleaners.  So why 12-18 months?  Because, in that amount of time, even regularly vacuumed carpets can collect pounds of dirt which can actually damage the fibers of the carpet. This is especially true in high-traffic areas. And manufacturers do not want to pay for damages linked to the everyday use of their product. Even if you don’t care about your warranty coverage, it is wise to take a note from multi-million dollar brands like Stainmaster, Dupont, Mohawk and Shaw. The highly funded research departments of those companies recommend regular professional cleanings. And maybe they know a thing or two.

Regular Care Lengthens the Lifetime of your Carpet

It is a common misconception that the complete expense of flooring like carpet is upfront costs and installation. But like most surfaces, carpet is an ongoing investment – if you want to get your money’s worth. Regular maintenance and care begins with inexpensive efforts – like effective doormats and leaving outdoor shoes in the mudroom. Keeping the vacuum cleaner on the ready, replacing vacuum bags or emptying cannisters regularly to insure the most effective soil removal is another easy routine.

Some specialists suggest vacuuming twice a week for an active household. But, ultimately, DIY shampoos and professional carpet cleaning are the mainstays of your carpet’s longevity. Keep in mind that doing the work yourself with a rentable kit does not replace the work of the pros – carpet manufacturers are going to want to see your receipts for certified service. And make sure that you are choosing a qualified company for the cleanings. Beware the “3-rooms-for-$99” promos. Your carpet warranty may not honor the work of Joe-Blow-Discount-Co. Know that a quality carpet is going to require professional service – and feel confident paying for quality work. After all, you’re not only investing in your carpet, you’re preserving the health of your household and insuring that, when it comes time to sell that home or apartment, your well-maintained carpet will be an asset, not a liability.

For a great snapshot of suggested floor-care frequency, use this helpful carpet cleaning chart. If you are looking for information about choosing the best vacuum cleaner for your lifestyle, we can help! Lastly, if you need some tips to find a reputable carpet cleaning company in your area, we have some pointers for that too.

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