7 Common Carpet Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

Meg Scanlon
Written by Meg Scanlon
Updated December 8, 2021
A bedroom and en-suite bathroom with a carpet on the floor
Photo: bmak / Adobe Stock


  • Many people make carpet cleaning mistakes without even realizing it.

  • It’s essential to thoroughly clean carpet stains as quickly as possible.

  • Avoid using harsh chemicals on your carpet by creating a homemade cleaning solution.

  • Ensure that you’re using the correct type of cleaning products for your type of carpet.

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If you have carpet in your home, you may think you’ve mastered the right way to clean and maintain it. It seems simple: vacuum, spot treat stains, and repeat. But you might be accidentally making a carpet cleaning mistake that could cause long-term damage to your cozy flooring. To keep your carpet looking fresh and clean, avoid the following cleaning blunders.

1. Not Cleaning Based on Your Type of Carpet 

There are several types of carpets, but they’re divided into two broad categories: those made of natural fibers and those made of synthetic fibers. It’s important to identify which type of carpet you have because that will determine which cleaning products and homemade remedies will work best on it. Before using any commercial cleaning products, read the label and see whether they are safe for your carpet material. 

2. Not Cleaning Stains Immediately

A good rule of thumb is that the quicker you clean a stain, the less time it has to seep into your carpet. Unfortunately, it can be tough to address some stains immediately, especially if your pet has a bathroom accident while you’re not home. 

If a stain occurs while you are home, address it immediately. Liquid stains, such as red wine or coffee spills, may even soak through to the carpet’s padding to the hardwood flooring beneath it. Try to absorb as much of the liquid from the carpet first before using any cleaner. Then, follow our carpet cleaning guidelines to get rid of stains like a pro.

3. Rubbing The Stain

Many of us were taught to rub carpet stains to scrub them clean. However, this approach is not advisable because it can damage the carpet fibers and cause them to fray. It may also push the stain further down into the base of the carpet. 

Instead, try dabbing the cleaning solution of your choice directly onto the stained area as soon as possible. After dabbing, blot the spot with a paper towel or cloth towel. This method will help absorb any remaining liquid into the towel and out of the carpet. Start at the periphery of the stain to prevent it from expanding further, and then work your way into the center of the stain. 

4. Not Vacuuming Regularly 

 A woman vacuuming a carpet
Photo: Andriy Blokhin / Adobe Stock

If you’re waiting to vacuum until you see dirt or dust, then you’re waiting too long. To keep your carpets looking fresh and clean, try maintenance vacuuming once a week. If you have pets in your home, vacuum more often to get rid of pet dander and hair.  Regular vacuuming not only removes dirt, dust, and pet hair, but it also causes the carpet fibers to straighten, giving it a fluffy feel. If you’re tired of constantly vacuuming, consider hiring a local house cleaner to perform weekly cleaning tasks.

5. Using Carpet Cleaning Products with Harsh Chemicals

While there are tons of great carpet cleaning products on the market, some of them use harsh chemicals that can produce toxic fumes, like naphthalene and formaldehyde, that can be harmful to members of your household. Carpet can affect indoor air quality, so the quality of cleaning agents you use is important.

To avoid using a risky cleaning product on your carpets, ensure that you read the ingredients list carefully before purchasing. Another popular option is to make a homemade carpet cleaner using household products like white vinegar, cornstarch, and salt. Home remedies can be very effective and are often less expensive options. 

6. Using Other Types of Cleaners on Carpet

 A woman with protective gloves washing a carpet
Photo: valeriyakozoriz / Adobe Stock

While many cleaning products are multipurpose or multi-surface, you should only use products specifically designed for carpets. Using cleaning products meant for other fabrics or surfaces, like bleach or laundry detergent, could harm your carpet and cause discoloration. 

7. Not Protecting High-Traffic Areas

It’s always easier to prevent stains than remove them. An easy way to preserve the carpet in high-traffic areas, such as the entryway, living room, or hallways, is to lay down an area rug or a runner. That way, the area rug can trap most of the dirt and debris, leaving the carpet in the clear. 

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