General Care 

Regular thorough vacuuming removes soil from among the fibers of carpets, thus keeping their good appearance and extending their life. Most carpeted areas need this vacuuming once a week, with several slow stokes. Little-used areas with lots of active or messy use may need quick daily vacuuming. Dry soil from shoes, crumbs, etc. may stay on the surface of the carpet a short time before working its way down into the carpet. This, along with litter such as paper, threads, etc. can be removed with a vacuum, light-weight stick vacuum or "electric broom", or even a carpet sweeper, if used promptly. These methods will also remove dust from the carpet surface. Pet hairs should be removed promptly, as the oil in them makes them cling to carpet, and work down into the pile. Gritty soil tracked on carpet by shoes, wet or dry, will sink down in between fibers of carpet. Gritty soil has very sharp edges capable of cutting carpet yarn fibers. Vacuuming is the best means of removing the grit from deep in between the carpet fibers. Moving the vacuum over the carpet several times; forward and back, should remove deep seated grit. Upright vacuum cleaners generally do the best job of removing deep seated gritty soil from carpets. Room size oriental rugs are best cleaned with an agitator type cleaner. When approaching a fringed edge with an upright cleaner, lift up the cleaner nozzle by pushing down on the handle. This will allow cleaning to the fringe, but will raise the nozzle and avoid catching the fringe.

Deodorizing Carpets

Commercial deodorizing powders that are sprinkled over the smelly area, and then vacuumed up, usually do a good job of removing odors. Regular problems with odors from cooking, or cigarette smoke can be removed from the room by ventilation, exhaust fans, or room air cleaner machines before they affect the carpet. Odors from stains require removal of the stain residue. Musty odors indicate mildew which must be removed. Household disinfectant sprays, or concentrated odor-removing liquids may also help remove some odors, following directions on the product labels. 

Coping with Wet Wall-to-Wall Carpet

When dealing with a wet wall-to-wall carpet, the problem is somewhat different due to the size. Most of the advice given concerning rugs can be used if the carpet is small enough and there is a place outside where it can be dried. If a rug cleaner can pick up the carpet, take it to his plant, give it a cleaning, and dry it, and in most situations -- this would be the best recommendation. If it is felt that the carpet cannot be removed, a concerted effort should be made to remove as much of the water as possible. Vacuums capable of removing water from the carpet can be obtained in many cities from rental companies. Hot water extraction units can be rented in many different types of establishments and the vacuum on these units can be used for water removal. Or a professional service can be hired. Even if a wet vacuum is used, care should be taken to prevent electrical shock. Home-type vacuums normally are not designed for this use and, if used on a wet carpet, could present a real danger. If a wet vacuum can be obtained, the carpet should be vacuumed until no more water can be removed. A large portion of the water can be vacuumed out of the face of the carpet; however, if it has gotten under the carpet and into the pad, it may not be possible to pull this water through the carpet. If there appears to be a lot of water under the carpet, a portion of the carpet will have to be raised. This can be done by pulling the carpet off the installation strips at one of the corners. After lifting a corner of the carpet, if the pad is wet, the entire carpet and pad will have to be removed. This is necessary so the flooring can be dried. Water on many types of flooring will result in buckling. Once the floor has dried, the dry pad and carpet can be reinstalled. Normally, the pad can be dried by allowing it to be exposed to good drying conditions. Even if it does become discolored or stained, it really will not make any difference since it will be covered by the carpet. If the musty mildew odor is present, either the mildew should be killed or a new pad obtained. Smaller amounts of water in the pad can be removed by blowing air between the carpet and the pad. This can be done by lifting a corner of the carpet and using a fan to blow air under the carpet. Another method is to attach a vacuum hose to the exhaust of the vacuum and put it in the slit in a seam. This will float the carpet on air and aid in drying. Turning up the heat, opening the windows, and/or using fans will aid in the drying. A dehumidifier in a closed room will pull out water fast, and can be rented from rental companies. Dirty water on the carpet presents another problem in that it should be removed while it is still wet. On location, about the only way this can be done is with the hot water extraction method. Many professional carpet cleaners are equipped to do this, or the equipment can be rented. If dirt is allowed to dry on the fibers, it will be very difficult to remove. The additional water added by the cleaning will be offset by the removal of greater amounts of water with the vacuum. 

Cleaning Food Soiled Carpets

1. It is very important to dry rugs and carpets as soon as possible to prevent mildew, a spreading gray-white mold that stains and rots fabrics. Pull up waterlogged rugs immediately to prevent further damage to the floor. If possible, dry small rugs outdoors in the sunlight. To get air and heat to carpets, open windows if weather permits, or use household electric fans, crop drying fans, or electrical lights suspended in coat hanger "nests". Do not try to vacuum, sweep, or shampoo carpets until they are thoroughly dry. 

2. After the carpet is dry, thoroughly sweep or vacuum to get rid of dirt and debris. Move the vacuum cleaner slowly to pick up more dirt. Clean off as much crusted dirt and sediment as possible before shampooing. 

3. Use a commercial rug shampoo or make your own shampoo by mixing one-fourth cup mild dry detergent and one cup warm water in a pail. Beat the mixture with an egg beater until it forms a stiff foam that looks like whipped cream. With a sponge, rub suds on a small patch of carpet with a light circular motion. Work suds in with sponge. Use a stiff bristle brush if carpet is deeply soiled. Dip sponge on a weak chlorine solution - one-fourth teaspoon Clorox to one cup water. Wring out sponge and wipe suds off carpet. Rinse several times with clear water, wringing most of the water from the sponge each time. Change the rinse water as it becomes dirty. Use as little water as possible on the sponge since water will weaken carpet backing. Blot up remaining moisture with bath towels or other soft absorbent material. Apply lather to another small area, overlapping the first. Overlapping helps prevent streaking when the carpet dries. Rinse and blot dry. Continue until the entire surface has been cleaned and rinsed thoroughly. 

4. After shampooing, dry rugs or carpets quickly. Hang rugs on line if possible, or lay them flat in a warm, dry place. An electrical fan will speed up drying. Carpets and rugs should be thoroughly dried. Even though the surface seems dry, any moisture remaining at the base of the fiber tufts will cause mildew or rot. If you must walk on the carpet before it is dry, put down brown paper. Vacuum when dry, and brush the nap in one direction. 

5. Some types of machine-made pile rugs may need resizing to make them lie flat. To resize a rug: Lay the rug face down on papers where it can remain undisturbed for several days. Check to be sure rug is straight. Tack it down at intervals. Dissolve one-half pound granulated glue in one gallon boiling water. With a whitewash brush or whisk broom, brush hot glue over the back of the rug. Do not use too much glue. You don`t want it to soak through to the right side of the rug. Let the glue dry thoroughly. 

Causes of Mildew in Carpets

Mildew gets its food from the root system which works its way into the material in which it is growing. Mildew can only get its food from natural materials such as protein or cellulosic (cell-u-losic). In a carpet, the protein material would be wool, the cellulosic would be jute or cotton. If a carpet is used where mildew growing conditions are present, then all man-made fibers should be used. The possibility of mildew growing on this type of carpet is very small and, even if it does, it will not damage the carpet. The damage mildew can produce is twofold. The root system can remove as much as 90 percent of a natural fiber`s strength in two weeks. If the mildew growth was in the backing fibers, the rug may have little strength, and can easily be pulled apart if an attempt is made to move the rug. If damage this sever has taken place, then nothing can be done to correct it other than cutting out the damaged area. Mildew can also leave a discoloration inside the fibers which is almost impossible to remove. The color will vary depending on the type of mildew from white to black, reds, browns, and greens. If it is neither possible or practical to prevent mildew growth, the carpet may have to be replaced with one made from all man-made fibers. The construction of many homes with the family or recreation room below ground produces ideal conditions for mildew growth. An unsealed concrete slab will allow moisture to pass from the ground into the room. If a carpet is to be installed, three steps should be taken. First, seal the concrete. Sealers can be obtained from hardware and paint stores and can be applied with a paint brush. Install only a carpet or rug with all man-made fibers, both face and back. If moisture and mildew are still a problem, use a dehumidifier or call a carpet professional that can sanitize the carpet and kill the mildew. 

Rushes, Grass Rugs - Care and Cleaning

Natural fiber rugs are made of rushes and grasses. Fiber rugs should only be used in dry areas. They should not be put on patios, open porches, or damp basements, since moisture can cause deterioration. Coarsely woven natural rugs serve as durable floor rugs, but lacily woven types made of delicate fibers should be used as wall hangings. Natural fibers do not attract much dirt because they are anti-static. Any dirt trapped in the fibers can be removed with the floor brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner. A fiber rug can be cleaned with detergent and water. To do this, take the rug outdoors. Dip a brush in a detergent solution to clean the entire surface; rinse with a hose. Hang the rug over a clothesline in the sun. Be sure it dries quickly and completely. Damp, natural fiber rugs will mildew and eventually disintegrate

Removing Smoke Odor after a Fire

Wash or dry clean, as appropriate, clothing, curtains, bedding, etc. Send area rugs to be cleaned, or clean as described for carpets below. Wash walls with ammonia or trisodium (tri-sodium) phosphate (fos-fate) or detergent solution and rinse well. Apply compound "BIN", or others which act as both a sealer and a deodorizer. It seals the sooty residue which didn`t wash off so it can`t bleed through new paint; penetrates into dry wall and seals surface; seals smoky smell in. Then repaint. Do NOT shampoo carpets. Extract with steam extractor. Hire professional truck-mounted unit, which is many times the horsepower of home rental units. If smoke smell lingers, rent a couple of ozone machines and put around the house. They filter, circulate, and purify air. Removal of smell is gradual, but it works. Check on commercial air purifying machines to see what they recommend using for removing smoke odors. Odor removers such as "Odor Away" and other brands may also help lingering odors.