Carpet Maintenance 101: 13 Tips to Extend Your Carpet’s Life

Audrey Bruno
Written by Audrey Bruno
Updated April 21, 2022
mother and daughter hanging out on the floor
Photo: Wavebreak Media / Adobe Stock

Get the longest life out of your carpet by giving it the treatment it deserves

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Though your carpet is at a greater risk of stains from stray sippy cups, indentations from your favorite comfy chair, and tears from furry friends than flooring options like hardwood or tile, it can have a similarly long lifespan with the right care. Ensuring that it stands the test of time is simply a matter of knowing how to maintain carpet yourself and when to call in a pro.  

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your carpet intact despite all the foot traffic it might see. From unexpected DIY hacks to routine deep cleanings, these tips will guarantee your carpet always looks its best. 

1. Don’t Wear Shoes Inside Your Home

Shoes are magnets for dirt and debris, and wearing them inside is a sure way to track a mess onto your carpet. If you’re not used to this habit, buy yourself a pair of house slippers to ease the transition. 

2. Move Heavy Furniture With Care

Dragging heavy furniture on carpet can damage both the most delicate and most sturdy carpet piles alike. Move large objects like sofas, armchairs, and TV stands by carrying them rather than pulling or pushing to prevent rips and indentations from occurring. 

3. Add Area Rugs to Your Space

Having carpet doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to area rugs. In fact, combining the two is a great way to protect delicate and lightly-colored carpets from foot traffic and spills. Place them in your most highly-traffic areas for an extra layer of defense. 

4. Use Protective Carpet Treatments to Maintain High-Traffic Areas

Giving your carpet water-, dander-, and stain-protecting treatments is great for both high-traffic areas and elsewhere in your home. When it comes to carpet spills, Murphy’s law applies. Anything that can make a mess on your carpet will make a mess on your carpet, from pets to shoes to coffee. These types of treatments are best after installation or professional cleanings. They will cost extra but will reduce what you pay for deep cleanings in the long run. 

5. Shade Your Carpet From Sunlight to Prevent Fading

While it’s not always going to be possible to keep your carpet away from sunlight, doing so whenever you can will keep bright colors as vibrant as they were on day one. Close your shutters or curtains whenever a room with carpet isn’t in use and rely on area rugs to cover spots that receive sunlight around the clock.  

woman cleaning carpet
Photo: bedya / Adobe Stock

6. Vacuum Several Times a Week 

Even if you practice the utmost caution, crumbs, pet fur, and the like will always manage to find a way into your carpet. And allowing dirt to build up can damage the way your carpet fibers appear. Fortunately, you can prevent major dirt build-up by vacuuming multiple times a week. Always vacuum repeatedly over each area and make sure to move the vacuum in different directions to pick up every last stray piece of dust. 

7. Clean Stains as Soon as Possible

The longer a spill has to dry, the harder the resulting stain will be. This rule applies to almost all types of fabric and includes just about every variety of carpet. Spot treat carpet stains when they occur (or whenever you first notice them) by blotting up all the moisture and then covering the area with baking soda. 

Tougher stains may also need to be lightly soaked in a carpet stain-removing solution. Just be sure to blot out as much moisture as possible after the fact. And try to avoid using store-bought carpet powder cleaners because they’re prone to leaving behind a sticky residue that even pros may struggle to remove. 

8. Neutralize Unwanted Odors With Common Household Supplies

Keep the baking soda out if you’re struggling with a carpet smell that just won’t go away because this common home supply works wonders on everything from pet accidents to stinky beer spills. 

If you know exactly where to find the source of the smell, cover it in a thin layer of baking soda and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming. If you’re not sure where the smell is coming from in a specific room, take a day to dry clean the entire carpet. Cover each square foot of carpet in a thin layer of baking soda, let it sit for a few hours, vacuum thoroughly, and leave the window open to air everything out. 

9. Schedule Annual Carpet Deep Cleanings

Professional carpet cleanings are necessary every 12 to 18 months, even if you’ve taken every step in the book to keep your carpet tidy. The pros rely on steam and power cleaners to remove dirt and restore fluff in a way that no average vacuum can. Expect to pay between $125 and $235 for the services of a professional carpet cleaner in your area

10. Opt to Rent a Steam Cleaner and Do It Yourself

Learning how to deep clean carpets yourself costs considerably less money than hiring a pro. But just because you can rent a steam cleaner for just $35 to $50 a day doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. Without the right skills and knowledge, you may end up paying more for damages inflicted than you saved by not hiring a pro.

11. Revive Carpet Pile With a Couple of Smart Tricks

 woman cleaning carpe
Photo: bedya / Adobe Stock

Beyond cleaning, there are a handful of other hacks to revive the carpet pile. Fix everything from indentations to flattened areas with these easy tricks. 

  • Use an iron and damp cloth to fix the trampled carpet pile. Place the cloth over the affected area, then place the iron on top of the cloth for a few seconds. Work area by area until your shag carpet looks good as new.

  • Remove indentations with an ice cube. Rearranging furniture usually leads to the discovery of carpet indentations. Place an ice cube in these spots and let it melt fully to make them disappear. You can also use a hairdryer on a low setting to speed up the process. 

12. Cut Snags to Avoid Large Tears 

Long carpet pile tends to snag, which can lead to tears if left unfixed. Use a pair of shears or sharp scissors to remove snags whenever you notice them. But don’t pull the snags out because doing so will only make the problem worse. 

13. Hire a Carpet Repair Professional for Heavy-Duty Repairs

Large carpet stains and tears require skills, tools, and materials that inexperienced DIYers might not have or know how to use. Instead of risking even more damage, find a local carpet repair person.

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