As a professional carpet cleaner, you would think I discourage people from renting or purchasing a carpet cleaning machine. Not me! If you want to grab the reigns and tackle carpet cleaning, go for it. I believe that DIY carpet cleaning can extend the life of your carpets.
***But, let this article be your warning***
I have seen many a carpet ruined by improper DIY carpet cleaning. So, before you start filling the water tanks and going to town on your spots and stains, make sure you avoid these 5 common pitfalls.
Too Much Cleaning Solution
If a little is good, more must be better, right? Wrong.
Think of cleaning solution like making a drink from a powdered concentrate. Too much or not enough powder makes the drink taste gross. You want just the right amount to taste perfect. That’s the same with cleaning solutions. I actually recommend using less than what the manufacturer recommends.
The machines available for a homeowner to purchase or rent are not that powerful. Considering a professional carpet cleaning machine, that can cost upwards of $20,000 and requires hours of training for proper use, only cleans the top 1/8″ of carpet fiber, what do you think the little red machine you rent at the supermarket can do?
With this in mind, why is too much or too strong a cleaning solution bad? Because excessive solution that is not fully extracted will leave a residue, which may:
- Attract more dirt making future carpet cleaning and vacuuming less effective
- Set stains or turn spots into stains, which means even a professional cannot remove them
- Shorten the life of the carpet. Un-extracted solution can soak into the latex backing of your carpets and over time can weaken the backing and allow carpet fibers to become loose.
Too Few Vacuum Passes
A “vacuum pass” in carpet cleaning terms is exactly what it sounds like. On most machines you need to push a button to release the cleaning solution, without the button pushed, only the vacuum and possibly the rotary brush will be functioning.
I recommend you make an extra vacuum pass over all areas of your carpet. Over-wetting your carpet can cause the same problems as too much solution. Also, really wet carpets may encourage microbial (mold) growth, which is worse than a juice spot.
You should also consider the weather. Unless you have central air conditioning, it is best to avoid carpet cleaning on humid or rainy days.
Wrong Type Of Carpet
Most synthetic fiber carpets and rugs will not be harmed by water-based carpet cleaning products, but if you have any Oriental, natural, or wool fiber carpets or rugs, please hire a professional. Improper cleaning techniques on these types of fiber can cause:
- Water spots
- Color Bleed
- Fiber damage
The DIY Carpet Cleaning machine is made for normal maintenance and not heavy duty cleaning. If you are cleaning your carpets every 6 months using your machine, especially in high traffic areas, you are probably in good shape. But, if you are 5 college students moving out of an apartment after 2 years of regular social events, the rental machine will get your carpets wet, but that’s about it.
If you can see traffic patterns and many spots are more than 24 hours old, you might want to consider professional cleaning.
Never Getting Your Carpets Professionally Cleaned
Even if you are a 25 year old, triathlete, who drinks smoothies made out of kale and salmon everyday, you still need your regular checkups.
Most carpet manufacturers recommend having your carpets professionally cleaned every 6-12 months. If you are using a DIY carpet machine properly, you should be able to extend professional carpet cleaning to every 18-24 months. I would not go longer than 2 years between professional carpet cleaning.
Got a question before you try to clean your own carpets? Ask below!