Carpet-cleaning professionals say that the most effective method of keeping carpeting clean — and making it last a long time — is to vacuum it regularly.
In fact, they recommend vacuuming three or more times per week, and daily in high-traffic areas.
They also point out that the quality of your vacuum makes a difference.
An upright vac does the best job of removing deep-down dirt, but a big canister vac with a beater-bar head is good, too.
Whichever you prefer, the motor must be powerful enough to create enough suction to remove the dirt, sand, and debris that is ground into the carpet.
If the vac has a beater bar, its brushes should be free of lint, fuzz, and threads.
The suction port and hose should be checked regularly for suction-robbing blockages, and the bag should be changed frequently to ease the flow of air through the vac.
Aside from regular vacuuming, the best way to keep your carpet clean and reduce wear is to place welcome mats outside every exterior door, and rugs on the inside to catch any leftover grit before it gets farther into the house.
Finally, it really pays to have everyone remove their shoes when they come into the house.
Although there is an industrial cleaning process that is in fact steam cleaning in the context of carpet cleaning, “steam cleaning” is usually a misnomer for or mischaracterization of the hot water extraction cleaning method.
The hot water extraction cleaning method uses equipment that sprays heated water (not steam), sometimes with added cleaning chemicals, on the carpet while simultaneously vacuuming the sprayed water along with any dislodged and dissolved dirt.
Many carpet manufacturers recommend professional hot water extraction as the most effective carpet cleaning method.
Actual steam could damage man made carpet fibers or shrink natural fibers such as wool.
The primary advantage of the hot water extraction cleaning method is that effective cleaning is possible using only hot water, or hot water with very diluted detergent solutions.
This avoids the problems associated with detergent residues that can remain in the carpet with other cleaning methods.
Detergent residues on carpet fibers can attract dirt from the soles of shoes as people walk on a carpet, causing the carpet to become dirty again soon after cleaning.
Since the use of detergents and other chemicals is minimized or avoided altogether with the hot water extraction cleaning method, this method is advantageous for persons concerned about possible chemical exposure, especially for children crawling or playing on recently cleaned carpets.
This method also minimizes concerns about breathing volatile chemical compounds that might be used in other cleaning methods.