My husband is a fanatic when it comes to keeping the carpets clean. I think it comes from his high school days when he worked as a carpet cleaner. Not to mention he is a little obsessive about a clean house. It makes it nice for me as I have very clean carpets. He periodically will go through the house and spot clean the areas that are bothering him (he is much more picky than me). I have never hired a professional cleaner, and why should I when my husband takes care of this for free!
Here is his secret to clean carpets (don’t worry he is an engineer so he won’t mind me sharing this) – don’t leave soap or detergent in the carpet. Almost every time he cleans the carpet he only uses water. Yup, that’s it, some hot water, a clean white rag, and then a drying rag. With this secret formula of water and a rag he has gotten out chocolate, dirt, vomit, red dye, all sorts of dinner food, and much more. He will take a small bucket with hot water and soak a rag, but only ring out part of the water, and then start scrubbing. The idea is to get enough water to allow the dirt (or whatever) to separate from the carpet. Usually it takes a few rounds. He rigorously scrubs with water and then uses the dry rag to soak up the water (with the dirt). He will repeat this process until the spot is gone. Then he leaves a dry thin towel over the spot and tells the kids to walk on it, as that will continue to soak up the remaining water. He always uses a white rag and white drying towel as you don’t want color from the rag or towel staining the carpet.
Since he doesn’t use soap or detergent the spot never comes back. When you use a detergent on carpet you have to make sure you get it out of the carpet. All detergents attract dirt (this is why they are cleaning agents). Think of when you do the dishes, you apply and scrub the dish with soap and water, and then rinse it thoroughly. The rinsing step is what many people do not do when it comes to cleaning carpets. And just as you can clean most dishes with water and some elbow grease, you can do the same thing with carpets. Many people will try spot cleaners, but they are really dirt attractors sitting in the carpet – unless you rinse them out thoroughly with water. Spot cleaners will make the carpet look clean at first, and then over time it will collect and attract dirt and many times will look worse than the original spot.
Okay, now there are the fun and wonderful nights when our kids are sick and don’t make it to the toilet (yuck). This calls for our wet-vac machine. My parents gave us an old wet/dry vacuum with an attachment that allows us to scrub and suck out water from the carpet. So on these really bad occasions my husband will use a little detergent. He grabs a huge bucket of water for rinsing, and a smaller bucket with soap mixed together. Never put a detergent directly on your carpet as it is a royal pain to get out. Always mix it with water (you only need a little bit of dish soap, about a teaspoon for a gallon of water). He first gets the big chunks out with a paper towel (sorry for the image). And then he uses water to get most of it out and then rinses with the wet-vac. Then if he can’t get it clean with water only, he will use the soap-water mixture and scrub out the spot. He always rinses (usually twice) with the vacuum. Again, the idea is not to leave any detergent in the carpet.
The water only method has been very successful at getting pretty much everything out of the carpet. Every few months or so, I will see him take the bucket of hot water and go around the house and spot clean. I figure I will take advantage of this for as long a possible and use the extra money I save for more fun and interesting things.