Best Carpet cleaning method?

arlinnMay 30, 2005

Hi, I am a new poster but have been reading the forums for a long time. I need advice on carpet cleaning. Ours are in great need of cleaning. Several years ago we bought a kirby with shampooer. I dislike the whole machine. Very expensive for such a heavy machine, not to mention the shampooer is lousy. I get the impression I am just making mud. Does anyone have a not too expensive machine they would recommend? I want something that will suck the nasty stuff back up after making the carpet all wet and soapy. Any comments on a Hoover steam cleaner? Is it better to steam clean? There are lots of stains. The carpet quality isn't that great, but only 7yrs old and we can't replace it yet. It's the upper grade you can choose from when you build a modular. Had it professionally cleaned once but with an active 5yr old and a dog, I need something more convient that I can do myself more often. Thank you, I appreciate your help.

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Get a pro to come in with their steam cleaners. After several years of active famoli + dog, there's not a non-commercial machine on the market that could do as well.

Compared to the cost and hassle of buying a domestic machine, and then storing it between uses, commercial cleaning is cost-effective for many people.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 10:01PM
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Thanks for your input Lazygardens. With a professional steam cleaner I'll know the carpet is as clean as it can get at least and that will please me.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 12:47AM
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Two kids and partial wall to wall (our previous home, ALL wall to wall). A few tricks to keeping it clean.

a) Family MUST remove shoes as they come into the house. I have a shoe rack near the garage door (the door we always seem to use) and that is where shoes go. It'd better be a grownup emergency for someone to wear shoes in the house anywhere else. Gardening shoes and workboots are removed IN the garage. They don't even come inside.

This can make a dramatic difference in high traffic areas.

b) There is a throw rug in front of every door and under the kitchen sink. This is about dragging stuff around.

c) I have a patterned wool rug under the kitchen table and a patterned olefin rug in the area in front of the TV. The latter, bold colors that can hide a lot. They look fabulous, vacuum like a dream.

d) If a child wants to eat while watching tv, I either put down a beach towel (a "picnic") or I have about five of those really cheap (10 bucks)fleece throws that I got at Target. I throw one down, they eat, I roll it up and wash it.

e) If ANY child wants to drink something in my home that is not at the table or water, it goes into a sippy cup with a valve. This includes my eight year old. I'm not joking. My youngest has a fetish for cranberry juice. SIPPY CUP. I cannot emphasize this enough.

f)No one eats anything in bedrooms. EVER.

And if you really want to do it right, have the carpets professionally cleaned every six months. At the very least, every year.

I learned the hard way with small kids and a light mocha carpet in my old home. The key to keeping that carpet clean is to not let it get so dirty in the first place.

And when you find the occasional nasty deposit somewhere, clean it quickly. We also don't have pets....yet.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 3:24PM
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I pitty the poor pet if you ever get one!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 11:38AM
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Thank you for your input smom40. The thing is, we do remove our shoes at the door. There are throw rugs at every entrance and in front of the kitchen sink. We attempt to dry off the dogs feet and wipe him off with a towel as needed but occasionally he gets in without the once over. I know a big issue is my youngest eating/drinking outside of the kitchen. He does even at age 6, get beverages only in a sippy cup but that child still has a knack for somehow getting it all over. Tried the eating/drinking only in the kitchen for him many times but always seem to get lax......he's the last one and I'm getting worn out. For past few weeks however, I've been dilligent about the rule. I want that issue firmly taken care of before I go to the trouble and expense of having the carpets cleaned. In my dreams we've had our long shale driveway black topped and all of our carpet switched for hardwood or laminate flooring.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 7:25PM
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This will be the place where agreement will never be universal, but it is helpful and insightful to read the approaches used. My kids are long ago all grown up ... and the carpets are almost of no consequence to me - but I WILL go professional, rather than a personal Bissell. I have a gal pal who swears BY her Bissell, but she also swears AT it. LOL. I won't even tell you when I last had the carpets done .......nope, won't even tell you, but this summer I plan to do something different!



    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 4:11PM
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Those of you who have used professional cleaners, how did you select one? Does Sears really do that superior of a job, anyone? I haven't heard of any recommendations in my area by word of mouth. Then again, I haven't asked. I had the carpets cleaned once a long time ago and it just seemed like an OK job, nothing that great. I don't recall him using a steam cleaner. At that time, I didn't know to inquire what method was being used. Perhaps he did use steam. Would it be obvious if stream was being used?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 9:00PM
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aren't you afraid your 8 yr. old will get beat up when his friends find out he is still using a sippy cup? Is it worth keeping the carpet that clean? Is it THAT important?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 10:23PM
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We have 3 large dogs and one careless adult in our home. With that much traffic, I would have to work outside the home to have my carpets cleaned often enough to make me comfortable. I find each carpet franchise to vary. Just because their name is familiar and maybe the franchise was excellent in another city you'd lived in, doesn't mean they're good in the next.

Eventually, I gave up on professionals and purchased a Hoover Steam Vac. Mine has worked quite well for me, and they seem to continue improving models each year. I've found a chemical company which sells cleaning products in volume (1 gal. containers); many cleaning services buy their products there. Consequently I use the same carpet cleaning agent as Stanley Steamer. If the carpets are really soiled, I use a product with live bacteria which removes any soil any dog can leave in a carpet. As a rule, I clean my carpets every other month.

With 3 large dogs, we've also reduced the carpet to the bedrooms only. The rest of the floors are either stone or tile with throw rugs or area rugs.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 11:55PM
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My Bissel Steam Cleaner is great... WallyWorld under 300 three years ago. Now they have the kind that heats the water (or keeps it heated).. same price.

I don't use it as often as I should, but whenever I do use it I say to myself, "Why don't I use this every month?? It's so easy!!"

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 2:31AM
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Thank you RSH and Gina. It's good to get some feedback on home products others have had good results with. I was wondering about the Hoover Steam Vac. Does it effectively extract the dirty liquid from the carpet? Perhaps there is no significant volume of dirty water to extract with steam cleaning. My Kirby poorly applies a mix of water and shampoo and just spreads it around making the carpets VERY wet. Takes a long time to dry. The carpets do look better but they can't be clean if it doesn't THOROUGHLY extract that dirty soggy water and debre.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 1:33AM
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Stanley Steamer cleaners told me that using soap product on carpet isn't good, the best would be vinegar and warm water-
he said the soap just attracks more dirt. I tend to agree, I have a Hoover Steam Vac, have used it, but also get Stanley Steamer for deep cleaning. Now I'm thinking the next time I use my Hoover Steam Vac I will put Vinegar and water in the dispenser rather than the cleaning soap liquid. Can't hurt!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 8:28PM
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Dear Dragonfly 2

Thanks for the info on the vinegar and water alternative for cleaning did you do with that? If it went well, what ratio did you use.....??


    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 2:17PM
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Rent a steam cleaner from the hardware store and use only Oxy Clean. You'll love the results!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 2:27PM
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We've used those rent machines and they do get the deep down dirt out.
Yesterday DS vacuumed my rugs for me but first he got down on hands and knees and used the old dog brush (wire one) and scrapped the rug and got loads of deep down cat hair out.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2005 at 1:13PM
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Personally I love my Bissell Steam Cleaner. It does a great job and it sure beats having to go to the store to rent their machine, put it in the car and clean it up to take it back to the store...

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 10:59PM
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My long ago ex did dry cleaning of carpets. It worked very well, but only on carpet which was routinely maintained with that method. If someone hadn't done anything for a few years they were in for a disappointment. Needless to say, I always had clean carpets since he would send the crew over if they weren't busy. We had pets (but no kids) and it worked well.

With kids and spills and just plain dirt all over, I really liked my Hoover. I just use Simple Green in the same proportion as the directions recommend for the cleaning agent. I use hot water and rinse with clear water. Setting up a de-humidifier will really decrease the drying time. I also would go over the areas numerous times with just the suction going to help speed the drying.

I've tried numerous professional cleaners (Sear included). It was always based on the square footage, but in reality they didn't clean that much. You can't clean out all of the rooms and only the main traffic areas can get cleaned much. The carpet stayed wet a long time and it always cost me well over $300 as well as having to take off work, rearrange the furniture, etc. I haven't tried renting a machine, but we had rentals and people would rent a Rug Doctor and I wasn't impressed with the job they did. And don't even start me on those ones with the suction thing out in a van. That thing running for hours just drives me nuts! So loud!

I only have carpet in the master bedroom now and I cleaned it the other day. First time in two years and it was pretty dirty. No place else to catch the dirt with tile and laminate. I set up the de-humidifier and it was dry in just a couple of hours. Give me something easy which I can pull out of the laundry room and be done quickly.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 2:02AM
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The Carpet Rug Institute recommends professional cleaning by the guys with the big trucks with hoses. The pros have the equipment that can maintain hot enough water temperature to disinfect and return memory to yarn twist. They use products that do not contain residues that attract soil and cause rapid resoiling. The equipment has enough suction to remove excess water that can cause delamination of carpet backing, saturation of carpet pad, and mold & mildew problems. They recommend using a CRI certified carpet professional that has been certified by the Carpet Rug Institute.

The Institute warns against the use of oxy-whatever products on carpet. These are oxygenating bleaches and will take a toll on fiber strength and dye over the long-run, if not immediately.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 11:52PM
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My carpets get filthy, from our two kids and dog but also from DH who insists on carrying food up to the bedroom so he can eat in bed. He eats meals at the table, but snacks in bed. There's a trail of food stains leading to his side of the bed. My friend came over and spilled her coke on the off-white carpet. And I once tripped carrying a cup of coffee. You got the picture? We had a professional come and use the Chem Dry process to deep clean all our rugs. It took about four hours and was dry almost immediately. It was quite expensive, over $500 for all the house. But I really recommend this service.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 8:50AM
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My carpet is nearly 20 years old and I have had it professionally DRY CLEANED about once a year. It is more expensive but I do believe that not having it steamed cleaned has helped keep it in such good shape.

i just had it done about two weeks ago. The original owner has sold his bussines to one of his workers so everything is the same but the head guy. I was talking to him about vaccuming as we just bought a new upright to use on our patio carpet and I thought I would try it out on the carpet inside. I was amazed at how much dog hair, my hair, and dirt it got out. I thought my canister was doing a good job, guess not!He said 75% of the dirt in the carpet is dry dirt and if vaccuum 3 times a week, you can keep your carpet in great shape so much longer. After seeing what I get each time (new vac is bagless), I believe him!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 8:00PM
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I am going on 17 years with my carpeting and it still looks in great shape. A recent appraiser thought the carpeting was new. I have always used the liquid extraction method or what is commonly known as "steam cleaning". You just have to know how to clean your carpeting.

It is true that vacuuming is so important. Many think that if they do not see any dirt, then they must not need to vacuum. Wrong! There is alot more dirt below the surface. If left, it can damage carpeting over time. granules of dirt are like sharp glass. They can cut the carpet fibers. If you have allergies, the house needs to be vacuumed more also with a high filtration vacuum cleaner. Everyone does not need to vacuum their carpeting 3 times a week. It depends upon how much traffic the carpeting gets. One person, who is hardly homes, does not need their carpeting vacuumed 3 times week. On the other hand, a home with multiple members including shedding animals does need more. This situation may call for daily vacuuming. In my situation, my carpeting gets vacuumed twice a week. When the animals shed excessively, I vacuum 3 times a week. Vistors tell me my carpeting looks like it does not need to be vacuumed.

I have to tell you that new vacuum cleaners are going to pick up alot of dirt your old cleaner left behind. Older vacuum cleaners are not using new bristles on their brushroll. They may not have a new belt, etc. Also, we do not know what your old canister was. Was it a suction-only canister or did it have a power nozzle on it? If it was suction-only and was used to clean carpeting, then yes, your new upright will do better on carpeting. If older vacuum cleaners were maintained, they would continue to work like new. I have had a few people say that their vacuum does not clean like it did at one time. I look at the vacuum cleaner and the belt has stretched so much that the brushroll does not spin when on top of the carpeting.

So always maintain your vacuum cleaner, so you can keep it longer and vacuum often.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 3:46AM
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My canister is a Kenmore and is about 10 years old, I guess. I know it was still picking up quite a bit since we have two puppies and I generally checked the bag every couple of weeks to see how full it was getting. But after using the upright (which I still don't like as far as bare floors and getting under desks and other low furniture, cabinets. It is just a hassle to have to use the attachments, and I always seem to have the cord in the way)

I do have allergies and that is one reason I vaccuum at least twice a week. Three times is a bit too much but then there is just the two of us at home now, except for the pups. Luckily they are low shedders Mini Labradoodles.
Still, I know we track in dirt from the yard and I spend alot of time gardening so theres that dirt too on our clothes and shoes.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 8:35AM
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Spot-cleaning on carpets: Any suggestions what to use for spot cleaning on a medium light carpet? Thanks

    Bookmark   August 13, 2007 at 10:06PM
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RE: If you steam cleaned a new carpet everyday for seven days straight, what would the carpet look like?

Answer: If you had a state-of-the-art truck mounted system, your carpet would look BEAUTIFUL!

RE: if you dry cleaned a new carpet everyday for seven days, what would the carpet look like?

Answer: Most folks don't want to clean new carpet. They want dirt cleaned out of their old carpet. And most people understand that you can't clean without water! That's why even ChemDry is using hot water extraction these days. Just check out their website, you'll see. The old chemical methods just don't work.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 12:37AM
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Yeah, geez.

To answer the question... not sure if it's the BEST method, but I personally ended up buying a Rug Doctor and use that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rug Doctor

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 1:37PM
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I lived in a rental apartment for 8 months in 2006. The building used a dry powder cleaning method. I vacuumed the carpet probably twice a week and at the end of my time there, I was still pulling loads of powder out of the carpet. I don't know that leaving powder in the carpet is any better than leaving water.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Whatever method you choose to have your carpets cleaned, it's a good idea to get to the spots and spills as soon as possible to keep them clean. I have GREAT luck with Woolite Oxyclean or Bissell OxyPro. They both use a dual canister that mixes the solution as you spray it on the carpet. I use a brush, or even the side of the handle, to scrub the foam into the carpet before vacuuming it back up. I've gotten some real ugly spots out with these products and they don't come back like when I've cleaned with some other products.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 3:47PM
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> Fact: Much of what carpet is made of and a fine wool suit is the same.

Uh, not exactly. Although wool carpeting does exist, it is incredibly expensive. 99% of the carpeting used is synthetic (petroleum-based) fibers. No builder uses wool carpeting, unless requested by a purchasers. (High-end luxury homes may be an exception).

Dry (powder) cleaners are fine for odors, but are unable to suspend soils since surfactants have to work with a liquid or moisture of some kind. While it's true a cleaner will leave some water, this is mostly irrelevant since the second and third pass are rinses, so this is clean water that will evaporate.

Also, don't be fooled by the name "dry cleaning." True they do not use water, but the cleaning agents are all liquid. There is no "powder" or dry agent involved.

FWIW, I never had a cleaning service remotely approach the level of cleaning I get when I DIY with a good machine. Understandable, since it's not their place and they are on a time schedule.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 3:04PM
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I recently went to a seminar on Carpet Cleaning. Milliken Carpet recommends Dry Cleaning your carpet (or at least high traffic areas), several times a year. They then say a good wet/steam system once a year. ALSO don't use water that is TOO HOT.

Use chemicals/detergents MADE FOR THE MACHINE you are using. Substituting others will give uncertain results (plus make you libel for machine rental damages that really can occur, these machines are $600-1500!)

A good dry system is DUO-P BY SEBO and The Simplicity "Take your carpet to the Cleaners". The Simplicity product needs a spray activator as well as the powder. They also have a reasonably priced machine that works the product into the carpet that would be a better investment than a cheap steam cleaner IMHO.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:11PM
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Save the money you would spend on a pro and buy yourself a Hoover clean surge steam vac.. I LOVE mine. I purchased it from and got it for about 160.00 It works great and REALLY gets the water out of the carpet. I don't use soap with mine just hot water and vinegar to remove smells out of the carpet. I would not take anything for mine. WORTH THE MONEY!!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 9:30PM
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The best steam cleaning methods involve a number of stages, including a thorough pre-vacuum to remove the dry soils from the carpet before they are wet and turn to mud, treating spots and stains, pre-spraying with a cleaning solution, agitation of the cleaning solution into the carpet pile, hot water extraction (this should include the rinsing of the carpet with neutralising agent) and deoderising. Or other option is, the detergent used in this method is foam. The machine generates the foam and uses brushes to agitate the foam on the carpet. An extraction vacuum is used to pick up the foam and the trapped soil.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 5:03AM
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I have been in the indianapolis carpet cleaning business for 15 years and after returning from Iraq I started my own all green carpet cleaning company, AmeriGreen Carpet Care. I worked for various different companies growing up and I have witnessed first hand the use of harsh chemical agents in use and how bad the chemicals burned my nose yet made the carpets look clean. It made me sick cleaning and knowing what children and people with allergy sensitivity were being exposed to yet the guys would tell them oh its safe. That is why I went green and yea sometimes you cant get all of the stains out due to people not taking proper care of the carpet for example I have gone into homes with fresh piles of dog feces and mice droppings and the people asked me to clean it up. Since going green is a big selling point these days you have people saying they are green and they still use the same harsh chemicals just with an orange smell. Bottom line do your homework Angies list is a great tool and ask your friends word of mouth goes a long way. Last thing your first line of defense in keeping your carpeting clean is to vacuum not too many people do that enough these days. Bottom Line I use steam extraction and I also use an rx rotary tool for the really dingy carpet and I still see better results than the "Dry" method and the one guy has a point people with brand new carpet dont have the issues that older carpet has.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 5:19PM
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I stand by my Bissel Pro-heat machine. Looks and works like a vaccum (other than filling and emptying the tank) and after 3 years of use with two big dogs (and loaning out to my kids) it is still going strong. It gets the rugs cleaner than the people I hired (admitedly not an expensive outfit) and I love that I can quickly clean up spills. You should see the water I pour out - looks like coffee!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2011 at 3:04PM
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In spite of what everyone has posted here I am a certified carpet cleaning tech for one of the best carpet cleaning companies in the nation. It's quite alright to use a household carpet cleaner for a routine maintenance cleaning. The trick to this is nit to use as much soap as the directions say because if you use too much soap then it will dry up and leave a residual spot therefor attracting more dry soil most likely leaving you with a dirty carpet once again. The very best method for getting your carpet thoroughly cleaned is by hot water extraction. Earlier someone posted that getting your carpet wet cleaned isn't good because it causes mildew and mold. This is only half true. If you hire the right company with the right equipment then there's no way that that's gonna happen. The reason that this method can cause mildew or mold is by improperly drying you'd carpet or leaving it too wet for a lengthly period of time. Carpets should dry in around 8 hours when properly cleaned by hot water extraction. Also when you get your carpet professionally cleaned, it is recommended that you get it treated with a protector solution so that you can get the best lifespan of your carpets. Try to get up spills as fast as possible to avoid to staining. Once it's a stain it means that the carpet has took on whatever the color that the foreign matter had left behind. So in essence; spots are topical or on the surface and stains are worked through the carpet fibers like a dye. Try not to use too much of spot treatments like soaps. Remember what I said earlier about soaps. Another thing with spotters is that they sometimes lighten up an area like a bleaching affect. Ask yourself when was the last time that you've seen your spotter going to someone's home cleaning a carpet. So just stick to the pros and try to gain the most info that you can from a professional.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 9:55AM
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The Best Carpet cleaning method is the Hot Water method Extraction. This method is also called Hot Water Extraction or Steam Cleaning. It is recommended by many carpet manufacturers and carpet fiber producers.

This post was edited by Ram1 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 2:57

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 1:04AM
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Keeping carpet clean is tough.
I have found guests subtly protest against taking their shoes off.. New guests or clients are happy to take their shoes off (I'm a photographer so clients come to my home for meetings)
but friends can be rude 'oh what? are you serious? you want my shoes off?'
that annoys me

I have 2 cats.
Pet stains = Ugh!
I am a germofobe.. Well I'll kiss my kitties.. otherwise if I was THAT much a germafobe I wouldn't have cats.. but one of them has a thyroid disorder and sometimes the poor little guy vomits.

My mistake has been spending a lot of money testing different carpet cleaning products, and a lot of the time sponging the carpet clean with such products would create a bigger mess or spread the stain!

Ikea sell $15 metre square colorful rugs.
I bought 6.. black, red, pink, yellow, green, blue
when they are laid next to eachother it looks like one big rug, and this has helped a lot. Its so easy to wash one rug when a cat pukes, than it is to wash the actual carpet

I have discovered that Vinegar is a bit of a miracle washer!
If I clean the cat vomit with vinegar I get better results than ANY product from the shelves.

I recently didn't realise that a lemon fell from my shopping bag behind a polyester ikea crate full of clothes, and the lemon had developed that dusty black mould and the mould dropped to the carpet

It vaccumed up easily but I washed that part of the carpet by hand with cloudy ammonia.
I read online that ammonia kills germs like mould.
I seem to have made a big water stain though which I'm annoyed about

I paid a local carpet cleaner guy $100 which was a bargain for a 2 room clean of a 1 bedroom apartment.
The people I hired last year charged me $140 as they wanted extra money to come up one flight of stairs.

This man was lovely. Even though I vac twice a week and mop almost daily, his industrial machine got up 2 large handfuls of cat hair!!!

He said the minute I told him I had pets over the phone, he brought his special equipment.

Unfortunately I messed up the carpet where I used the cloudy ammonia. There's just some darker markings like water staining, so I'm trying the watered down laundry soap routine this time

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 11:24AM
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We just installed new, light colored carpet in the bedrooms. DH has agreed to no shoes in the bedroom as much as possible. I agree that because we rarely wear loafers - it is going to be a hassle.

Thanks for the vinegar tip. Our contractor installed the carpet last week before they removed the toilet from the bathroom. Well, the plumbers didn't bother protecting the carpet, and they dripped two nice spots of toilet wax on my new carpet!! I think I'll try vinegar next. Nothing else has worked. It's a polyester carpeting. Not big spots thankfully, but pretty obvious right when you walk into the room.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 10:41PM
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There are alot of cheaper carpet cleaners out there.Hoover got a lot of good products that are cheap and works well.If you have some extra dollars to spare go for BISSELL.I have been using it for 2 years.
And about cleaning always wet the area with stains before hand with the cleaning solution before using the shampooer.This will make the stains to come off much easily.Also use a good cleaning formula which was recommended by the machine.The BISSELL got one product that can apply extra solution on stains using a hand control but the machine is bit heavy though

Here is a link that might be useful: Hope this will help you to chose the best carpet shampooer

    Bookmark   February 7, 2015 at 10:07AM
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