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how to deep clean your carpet

While I can appreciate the beauty of a fine hardwood floor, I love having carpet at home. Carpets give your feet a break, they warm your toes in winter, and you don’t have to worry about tripping over the edge of a throw rug—or getting it stuck in the vacuum cleaner! You don’t have to mop your carpet either: just vacuum and you’re done.

Or are you?

While the vacuum will suffice most of the time, carpets do get dirty—really dirty—especially in high-traffic areas. Eventually, they’ll be stained, harbor germs, or even smell bad, so before that happens, give your carpet a good deep cleaning!

Why You Should Get a Steam Cleaner

how to deep clean carpet - vacuum cleaner

Get it on Tophatter for around $93

Most people agree that a vacuum cleaner is essential for a home with carpet. I would suggest that, in addition to a vacuum cleaner, you buy a steam cleaner. I never realized that until after my husband Fred insisted we buy one. He even volunteered to be the one to use it. As the years went by, I took it for granted that our carpets were always clean. (It helps that we use a doormat and remove our shoes in the house.) Eventually, other members of our family started asking him if he would bring our steam cleaner to their house and clean their carpets. We were shocked at how dirty they were! Their carpets looked new after he was done.

how to deep clean carpet - door mat

Get it on Tophatter for around $40

Before we moved from California to Idaho, we gave our steam cleaner to our relatives, so they could continue using it. Soon after unpacking in our Idaho home, Fred’s asthma really kicked up. I vacuumed over and over to no avail. We worried that we’d have to find another house! Instead, we bought a new steam cleaner. It pulled up lots of previously unseen, deeply embedded hair, and dander from the previous owner’s dog. Within days, Fred’s symptoms disappeared. Now, I’m a steam cleaner believer!

Choose a Steam Cleaner

how to deep clean carpet - hoover power scrub

Get it on Amazon for around $180

Sure, you can rent one at the store, but we like having our own we can use any time. Buy your own steam cleaner instead of hiring a professional service. It will pay for itself with the first use and you won’t need appointments or strangers in your home. Over the past 40+ years, Fred has tried different types of steam cleaners and found what works and what doesn’t. He says,

“I would never buy any steam cleaner other than an upright. And unless your carpet is only the size of a bathroom, you’ve got to get one with two large tanks, so you don’t lose suction and you’re not constantly changing the water. By far, the Hoover Power Scrub is the best machine I’ve ever used. Hoover makes another model that’s $50 less but too small for all but the tiniest apartments. The same goes for the Bissell models, which cost more and offer less tank space for the money than the Hoovers. And don’t even bother with any of the upright ‘stick’ cleaners or the ones with an external tank that you drag behind you; none of them work as well for me.”

How to Use a Steam Cleaner

how to deep clean carpet - bissell deep clean pro

Get it on Amazon for around $22

Fred continues, “First, move furniture aside and then vacuum your carpet to remove loose particles. Then fill the upper tank with warm water and carpet shampoo. For shampoo, I prefer the Bissell Pro Max 4X, which works with any brand of steam cleaner. Next, go over your carpet as if you were vacuuming, but a little slower. Move in straight lines so you don’t miss any spots. When the bottom tank is full, turn the steamer off and empty the tank in the toilet. Then refill the top tank and continue. Try to keep people off the carpet when it’s wet. We usually clean our carpet before bedtime and it dries overnight. A fan or open windows will circulate air to speed the drying process. High-traffic areas may need a repeat. Use your steam cleaner 2–4 times a year and your carpets will look great!”

Disinfecting Your Carpet

how to deep clean carpet - rmr-141 disinfectant

Get it on Amazon for around $30

RMR-141 RTU is an EPA-registered, ready-to-use liquid that you simply spray on your carpet or other surfaces and let dry. It kills mold, mildew, bacteria, and viruses. It comes in a gallon-size container and you pour it into a spray bottle and spray directly on your carpet. First check in an inconspicuous area to be sure it won’t discolor your carpet or other surface. Bissel makes an antibacterial carpet shampoo, but it’s not EPA-registered and only works with their “Easy-Fill” steam cleaners that I don’t like as much as the Hoover.”

how to deep clean carpet - bissell antibacterial carpet cleaner

Get it on Amazon for around $20

So, if you have carpets at home, invest in a good steam cleaner; it will pay you back over a lifetime with cleaner, healthier carpets for a healthier, happier home.

Carpet deep-cleaning shopping list:

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.


Crista Worthy writes about aviation, travel, wildlife, and more from her home in Idaho.

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