It's expensive and takes a beating. How can you keep it looking good?

New Carpet Care

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Carpet Care: Keep It Looking New

I am preparing to put in new carpet. I would like to know some easy ways to keep it looking new. I live on a farm in the country and have 2 children.
Thank you.

Extra Steps on Carpet Care

When we bought new carpet, we knew we were buying for the long haul. So we bought a high traffic Berber that hides dirt well. We ended up with an oatmeal/gray/off-white carpet with a diamond design and hunter green flecks. We saved remnants to place at entrance areas so that dirty, dusty soles would have a chance to wipe off before traipsing through the house. Area rugs help keep it looking new, too. Our family custom is to remove shoes upon entrance and that just saves on wear and tear, too. Also, invest in a really good vacuum or cleaning system.

Rethinking Carpet Care

We also live in the country and when we installed our carpeting many years ago, we had three children, all boys, and always a dog and cat. If this comes anywhere near describing your own family, I guess my advice would be: don't buy carpeting! I know it makes a room seem warmer and cozier, but honestly, carpeting gets absolutely filthy, not only on top but underneath where you can't see.

Hubby and I are going to replace our "filthy" stuff with hardwood floors, or Pergo, or Armstrong (similar to Pergo, but better we're told) in the near future. The finishes on hardwood floors make them quite easy to maintain, and pretty decorative rugs can be added for the "warm atmosphere" that we all like, but never again will we be putting down wall-to-wall carpeting! Just not very practical for our lifestyle here in the woods.

How to Use Scotch Guard

This is lengthy, but I really do not know how to condense very well. It is laid out in parts, most expensive to frugal!

I was in the carpet cleaning biz for over 10 years. The best way to protect your carpet is the get a "qualified", and yes I am afraid expensive, carpet technician to apply "Scotch Guard" fabric protector to your new carpet. I highly recommend that the technician clean your carpet first since this will remove any factory residue and loose material and fibers from the carpet. It is preferred that you do this to the carpet before moving any furniture onto the carpet. Scotch Guard will stick to the rug when it is damp from the cleaning and it is really good to rake the carpet after applying the protectant. Raking will help work the "SG" in and leave your carpet looking new. If your tech has done the job correctly, your carpet should be completely dry and ready for you to safely move your furniture in within 12-24 hours. Also, reputable companies who apply Genuine Scotch Guard are certified by 3M (The makers of Scotch Guard) to do so. NOTE: Genuine Scotch Guard cost over $100 a Gallon and it is not diluted with anything, especially Water. So ask for the real thing.

If your tech simply tells you that they apply a "Teflon" protectant, run! It is not the real deal. Scotch Guard is Teflon, but cheap knock offs can ruin your new carpet or furniture.

Now for the frugal approach. Say, for example, your furniture is already in your house and you don't want to move it for whatever reason. And you don't want to spend anywhere from 20 to 30 cents per square foot to have a Pro clean and apply your "SG". That's fine, too. Your main concern is to protect the "Traffic Areas" of your carpet. Traffic areas being all the open walked on portions of carpet in you home. With this in mind you have three main options available to you:

  1. Call and get a free quote from the reputable carpet cleaning company to do 'Only the Traffic areas' of your home. This means cleaning and "SG" on the traffic areas only. This will save you hundreds of dollars.
  2. Call and get a free quote from a reputable carpet cleaning company to come out and apply the Scotch Guard to your traffic areas without cleaning your carpet. This will cost you considerably less than having the cleaning done as well.
  3. Do it yourself! The cheapest, er, most frugal, method is to go down to your hardware store or Janitorial Supply Company, and buy and apply the SG yourself. You do not have to be a pro. In fact, the bulk of the cost is from the Scotch Guard.

If you have a lot of traffic areas you want done, simply vacuum very well first and apply your scotch guard with a B and G tank (looks like an exterminators tank). It is small, holds around 1 or 2 gallons, has a handle (pump) and a spray wand on it. The tip of the spray nozzle on the tank lets you adjust your spray from a fine mist to a sharp stream. You want a Medium Mist. When you have vacuumed all the areas you are about to treat, got the young ones and pets outside or at the movies, and your tank has a gallon of uncut SG in it and is primed and pumped and ready to go, then simply start in the farthest area you are treating and apply in a steady left to right motion while walking backwards. You want to try to stay off the treated areas for at least 3 hours while the SG dries. So apply all your areas and walk yourself out of your door and find something to do for 3 hours!

This will protect you carpet for years. For smaller traffic areas Scotch Guard comes in spray cans for around $10 bucks a can and is just as strong as the liquid form. After all is said and done, if an accident occurs or an area starts to look dingy, simply use a clean and damp cloth to wipe up the spots on your carpet. If you have a spill of something really mean like grape juice or any high protein material like grass stains do not be afraid to use a mild solution of dish soap. Lather and apply the suds to the carpet or your wet rag and wipe up the area. Repeat if necessary. Moderate amounts of water will not harm your carpet. If your carpet has gotten really wet, simply stamp on a dry towel over the cleaned area and remove the excess water.

Don't Go With Off-White Carpet

I have three boys and a husband, and off-white carpeting. I have a few tips. Don't buy off-white carpeting. Tan hides the most traffic dirt and spots. If you have the time to learn about carpet types, you may find that a Berber will hold up better to use and cleaning.

Oxy-Clean, available at Walgreen's, Wal-Mart, and I think Target or K-Mart, is a great solution to spills as they occur, and has taken out old markings for me too. But it isn't to protect the carpet.

It is a big investment, and you get what you pay for with carpeting. That's not to say don't buy it on sale, but buy good carpet, or you'll be buying it again before long. Think durability, color and color fastness, stain protection, and a heavy-duty pad - you'll never regret it.

Carpet Cleaning Tips

One thing I have learned about carpet care is to not use detergents when cleaning. The residue left behind attracts dirt. The best way to clean your carpet is to use a 20% solution of vinegar in water. We rent those carpet cleaning machines (at least once per year) but just use vinegar and water. This also takes care of pet odors.

Another thing to remember is if you are spot cleaning, never scrub the carpet. Scrubbing causes stains to get trapped in the fibers. Just add some water to the stain and blot with a white towel. Keep adding water (or water and vinegar) and blot until the white towel comes away clean.

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Best Advice - No Shoes Allowed

My best advice for keeping new carpet looking new is to allow no shoes to be worn in the house. I have a wooden shoe organizer by the door and a basket of socks and "footie" slippers in all guests even comply, though I would not ask a guest to do so!

Pro Carpet Care Advice

We also just had new carpet installed in our home, which we built. The carpet layer gave me these suggestions to keep the carpet clean:

  1. No shoes in the house
  2. No bare feet, wear clean socks
  3. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum (when possible vacuum with the grain of the carpet)

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