What do you do if you spill something on your carpet? How do you keep it from showing dirt over time? What’s the best way to keep it looking like new for as long as possible? Here’s what you need to know when it comes to the basic of carpet care, maintenance, and cleaning.

Preventative Maintenance

The best defense is a good offense. Taking a few proactive measures will help keep your carpet from wearing out as quickly. For instance, be sure to have a good quality carpet pad underneath. It can make your carpet more durable, help it to stand up to heavy foot traffic, and ultimately make it last longer. It’s also more comfortable under foot.

If there’s going to be a chair with wheels or rollers on the carpet, put a carpet-friendly chair pad on the area where it will be used. That way, the rollers won’t damage the carpet as they go back and forth over it, day after day.

Close the blinds when you can, as direct sunlight can cause carpet colors to fade over time. And if you have an area rug over part of the carpet, wash it regularly, and clean the carpet beneath it whenever you do. Leaving a rug in one place for a long period of time can damage the fibers, as well as causing a color dissonance with the rest of the carpet.

Finally, just be careful, and use common sense. Wipe the dirt off your feet before walking on the carpet, and if you’re going to have food or drink in the room that’s liable to stain, be careful and try not to spill. 

Care and Cleaning

Accidents happen, and sometimes you do spill. And no matter how much you wipe your feet, the carpet will still get dirty. So how do you keep it clean?

First, vacuum your carpet regularly. Experts recommend at least twice a week, if not every day. Use a good quality vacuum that will get up all the dirt. Many cheaper models will only get the dirt on the surface, so it builds up over time. As you vacuum, pass over each patch of carpet at least three times. If it’s a heavy traffic area, or there’s a lot of dirt there, you may want to do up to seven passes.

If you spill your drink, clean it up immediately, to prevent staining. Different liquids require different care, but as a general treatment, you can use one tablespoon of vinegar, one tablespoon of dish soap, and two cups of warm water, in a spray bottle. Spray the spill and blot it (don’t wipe) with a clean cloth until the stain is gone. 

Then, once a year (or up to a year and a half), do a full carpet cleaning. The best method is with a hot water extractor, commonly called a steam cleaner (even though it technically doesn’t use steam). Using hot water and a special cleaning solution, you can get up dirt and stains that have accumulated over time, and make the carpet look like new again. You can do the job yourself, but if you really want to make sure your carpet is cleaned properly, you should probably hire a professional to do it instead.

Your home is your castle, and it’s important to take good care of it—including your carpet. All that cleaning and vacuuming may seem like a lot of work, but it becomes a lot more work, with poorer results, the longer you neglect it. By exercising basic care and maintenance regularly, you can keep your carpet looking like new for years to come.