Carpet Cleaners - Which Ones Work Best?

Carpet cleaning when done right can remove a lot of the dirt that accumulates on your carpet. However, there are some times when you have an accident (such as a wine, coffee, or other spill) and you need to get a stain out right away before it sets in. This is when you need to have a carpet cleaning product that you can rely on.

It's important to get to stains quickly because most people have medium- to light-colored carpets, and if they are stained, they can really look awful. Plus, you also don't want the stains to set in so that they never come out. When it comes to cleaning stains on carpets and rugs, it's important to know a few rules.

Carpet cleaning rules

Rule No. 1: Clean it fast.
As soon as you know you have a spill, make every effort to clean it up. That's because some carpets are coated with stain repellants and liquids will often pool up on the carpet, allowing you to soak up the stain before it's absorbed. Use absorbent paper towels to pick up stains or other thirsty type towel (preferably white so you can tell if the stain is coming up).

Rule No. 2: Never use soaps to clean carpets.
Resist the urge to clean your carpet with a dish detergent or other type of soap product. Soaps require copious amounts of water in order to get them out of carpet, which means your carpet would be soaking wet if you used the proper amount of water to get all the soap out. Instead, use plain water or try club soda to pull stains out of carpet.

Rule No. 3: Blot, don't scrub.
As tempting as it is to try to "wipe" the stain away, avoid this method at all costs. Get a wad of paper towels or a clean cloth and put it directly onto the stain and apply as much force and pressure as possible to blot up the spill/stain. If you use a wiping acting, you can actually spread the stain. Blotting over and over is tedious, it's true. But, it will keep the stain to its present location and won't make it grow larger.

Carpet Cleaners: Which one can you trust?

The Rug & Carpet Institute recommends that you look for carpet cleaning products that have their green seal of approval on the back. These might be hard to find. But they are worth looking for so you can trust the product you are using (see the link on this page for products with the seal).

One thing is for certain: avoid regular grocery store carpet cleaners. These are not "OXY"-type cleaners, and instead, are formulated with strong concentrations of soap. Buy these and you might have an even bigger problem. They may temporarily remove the stain but they can also cause the stain to grow and grow because these products have heavy soap-based formulations that actually attract dirt to the area,creating an even bigger stain. Be especially wary of the cleaners that you spray over the whole surface of your carpeting because you'll be leaving a whole, wide area of soap behind.

If you need large area cleaning for your carpets, get a steam cleaning company to come and steam your carpets. My personal favorite is Stanley Steemer but there are other companies to also do steam cleaning. If professional cleaning is out of your budget, rent a steam cleaner from your home center or grocery store and then use about 1/5 of the recommended cleaner - or better - no cleaner at all. Warm water is usually all you need to clean your carpets well.

Some reliable cleaners include the new OXY Woolite brand carpet cleaner. Most "oxy" cleaners are also very reliable because they don't use soap. Do make sure that you check a corner of your carpet to make sure that any cleaner you use does not hurt the carpeting or its colorfastness.

Another worthwhile carpet cleaner is the Stanley Steemer carpet cleaning solution. They do not use surfactants in their spot remover -- just like their cleaning service. I've purchased the Stanley Steemer spot remover and have been thrilled with its performance. Because I get my carpets cleaned each year, I just ask for a bottle of the spot remover when I get my carpets cleaned.

Remember, carpets and rugs are a very big investment. If you have pets, small children, or really live in your home and don't treat it like a museum, invest in quality products recommended by the Carpet and Rug Institute. It's worth it to know that you can trust the products you are using on your carpets and to know that they perform like they should. Doing so will give your carpets years of life and you will be happy with the way the look for a long time.

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