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How Often Should You Clean Your Carpet? Experts Weigh In

Do you know how often you should clean your carpets? Neglecting this important household chore can impact the appearance of your home and your health.

In this post, we’ll explore the factors that affect carpet cleaning frequency, expert recommendations, and the pros and cons of DIY vs. professional cleaning, so you can keep your carpets looking and smelling fresh.

How often should you clean your carpet?

How Dirty Carpets Can Impact Your Health

Your home’s carpets are more than a cozy place to curl up with a good book or watch a movie with your family. They’re also a magnet for dirt, dust, and allergens.

Many homeowners are under the misconception that vacuuming carpets once a week provides sufficient proper care to keep them clean. 

However, this is not the case. Carpet stains happen quickly, and if they aren’t treated right away will soon leave unsightly stains scattered across an increasingly dirty carpet. Furthermore, carpets can hold onto soil particles, bacteria, and other particles that can potentially cause respiratory problems and allergies.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the factors affecting the frequency of carpet cleaning, expert recommendations for how often to clean your carpets, the pros and cons of doing it yourself and the best way to maintain clean carpets between cleanings.

A vacuum cleaner is being used to clean a carpet.

Visible and Invisible Signs Your Carpets Need Cleaning

To keep your carpets in top condition, it’s important to know the visible and invisible signs indicating they need cleaning. Let’s explore some of the most common signs that let you know your carpets are due for a cleaning.

Stains and Discoloration

One of the most obvious signs that your carpets are due for a cleaning is the presence of stains or discoloration. Ideally, you employ immediate spot cleaning to remedy any upsets, but even so, they are bound to add up over time.

These could be from:

  • Food mess
  • Red wine or liquid spills
  • Pet accidents
  • Blood
  • Ink
  • Oil or grease
  • Mud
  • Nail polish
  • Everyday wear and tear

Unpleasant Odors

Carpet fibers can trap unpleasant smells, resulting in unclean carpets. While usually from different sources, this is the same for self clean ovens as well. Let your nose be a guide for when it’s time to clean.

Some common sources of odors include:

  • Pet accidents
  • Food spills
  • Smoke or cigarette odors
  • Moisture and humidity
  • Old age

Allergies and Respiratory Problems

If you or a family member experiences allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, or itchy eyes but can’t identify the allergen, it might be your carpet.

In addition to visible signs, there are also invisible signs that your carpets need cleaning. These include allergens and dust mites that can trigger allergies and respiratory problems.

Over time, these frequent allergens can build up in carpet:

  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites

Spot Check

You can also use a white towel or cloth to check for hidden dirt by rubbing it along the carpet fibers. If the cloth comes away dirty, it’s time to schedule a cleaning.

Expert Recommendations for Carpet Cleaning Frequency

Let’s take a closer look at how often you should be deep cleaning carpets. The frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, including foot traffic, pets, and allergies.

  • Foot traffic is one of the biggest contributors to carpet dirt and debris buildup. If a lot of people walk on your carpets, a lot of dirt and debris will get trapped in the fibers. If you have a large family, young children, or entertain frequently, it’s a good idea to clean your carpets more often than someone who lives alone. ProTech Carpet Care recommends cleaning high-traffic areas such as entryways, hallways, and living rooms at least once every six months.
  • Pets significantly impact how often your carpets need cleaning. Pets shed hair and dander, and accidents can lead to stains and odors. Perfect Carpet Cleaning tells pet owners, “Any stains should be removed immediately, and high-traffic areas should be professionally cleaned with a pet-friendly carpet cleaner between two and four times a year. A carpet clean of the entire property should be carried out annually.”
  • Allergies can also be a factor in carpet cleaning frequency. If you or someone in your household suffers from allergies or respiratory problems, keeping your carpets clean is all the more important. Karen Gill, M.D. encourages homeowners to “Steam clean your carpets serval times a year, preferably monthly.” She also suggests a more practical choice of using throw rugs or washable area rugs instead of built-in carpets.

You should clean your carpets once a year to keep them looking their best. In between cleanings, the best way to avoid permanent stains is to spot clean spills as soon as they happen to prevent them from setting in. Regular vacuuming can help prevent stains from setting as well as smells.

– Siobhan Alvarez-Borland, Mimosas & Motherhood

Ultimately, the frequency of carpet cleaning will depend on your individual circumstances. For example, a single person living in a small apartment with no pets may be able to go longer between cleanings than a family with pets and small children with a lot of foot traffic.

A man regularly using a vacuum cleaner on a carpet.

Pros and Cons: DIY vs. Professional Carpet Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your carpets, you have the option of doing it yourself or hiring professional carpet cleaners. Both approaches have pros and cons, and it’s important to understand the differences before deciding.

DIY Cleaning Options

DIY carpet cleaning methods include using store-bought cleaning solutions, renting or buying a carpet cleaning machine, or making custom DIY steam cleaners

DIY Pros

  • More cost-effective than hiring a professional service
  • Allows you to clean your carpets on your schedule
  • Mix your own non-toxic cleaning solution and minimize chemical use in your home

DIY Cons

  • Store-bought and DIY cleaning solutions can be less effective than professional-grade products
  • DIY methods can leave your carpets overly wet, which can lead to mold and mildew growth
  • You may need to clean your carpets more often because they never completely reset back to like-new carpet
  • It can take a lot of time to do a large area, so be prepared to set aside a number of hours, if needed

Professional Cleaning Options

A professional carpet cleaning company uses high-powered equipment and specialized cleaning solutions.

Professional Pros

  • More effective because they have the expertise to treat on a case-by-case basis
  • Save time and effort in the long run
  • Possibly minimize the amount of ongoing and frequent carpet cleaning you need to do

Professional Cons

  • More expensive than DIY methods
  • Need to work with the service provider’s schedule, which could lead to a long wait time

When deciding between DIY and professional carpet cleaning, it’s important to consider your budget, time constraints, and cleaning goals. 

The first choice can be cost-effective if you have the time and energy to dedicate to DIY cleaning. However, professional cleaning may be better if you’re dealing with tough stains, pet odors, or other challenging issues. Additionally, if you’re looking to extend the time between cleanings, a professional service may be able to provide a deeper clean that lasts longer.

In summary, the decision between the two approaches will depend on your individual circumstances and cleaning goals.

A woman cleaning the carpet.

Best Practices for Preventing Carpet Damage

Maintaining clean carpets requires more than just regular cleaning and occasional deep cleans. It’s also important to take preventative measures to protect your carpets from damage.

Here are some tips for keeping your carpets in good condition:

  1. Frequent vacuuming: Regular vacuuming is the most effective first step to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating on your carpets. Aim to vacuum high-traffic areas at least once a week and areas with low traffic every two weeks.
  2. Address stains promptly: If you spill something on your carpets, it’s important to address the stain as soon as possible. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much liquid as you can, and then apply a stain remover solution. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can cause it to spread.
  3. Use the right cleaning products: Not all are created equal when it comes to cleaning products. Choose a carpet cleaning solution appropriate for your carpet’s material and the type of stain you’re dealing with. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach, which can cause more damage than good, even on light-colored carpets.
  4. Invest in a good quality vacuum cleaner: A high-quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help to remove dirt, pet hair, and other allergens from your carpets. Vacuum cleaners with adjustable height settings and rotating brushes can help to loosen and remove dirt from your carpets.
  5. Use doormats: Placing doormats at each home entrance can help prevent dirt, debris and muddy paw prints from being tracked onto your carpets. Encourage family members and guests to wipe their feet, especially muddy shoes, before entering your home.

By following these tips, you can help to prevent damage to your carpets and extend the time between thorough cleaning sessions.

Final Thoughts on Keeping Your Carpets Clean

By understanding the factors that affect carpet cleaning frequency, recognizing visible signs that your carpets need cleaning, and following best practices for preventative maintenance, you can extend the life of your carpet and improve the indoor air quality of your home. 

It’s important to prioritize regular DIY cleaning methods as part of your regular cleaning schedule for all areas of your home. From cleaning countertops to your shower, frequent touch-ups make day-to-day maintenance a lot easier. Then, seek professional carpet cleaning services when necessary.

Regular carpet cleaning and maintenance is a great way to enjoy a fresher, cleaner, and healthier living space.

Tula

Friday 12th of May 2023

Pets? Check. Small children? Check. Mine definitely need some TLC!

Jessica Haggard

Monday 15th of May 2023

Happy to help with some easy tips so the answer is clear. Thanks for visiting, Tula!

Mary

Friday 12th of May 2023

I'm behind, lol. Thanks for all the pros and cons, very helpful!!

Jessica Haggard

Monday 15th of May 2023

You may be behind, but you can get ahead again! Thanks for visiting, Mary.

S

Thursday 11th of May 2023

As a renter who has only been asked to clean carpets once before we leave the apartment, I'm not going to buy a tool to clean them myself. Does anyone know of a fairly inexpensive but good quality carpet cleaner to use? Please let me know if you do.

Jessica Haggard

Monday 15th of May 2023

Great question. I hope someone can chime in with a recommendation. For me, renting a tool seems like a good way to go.