What's the best way to clean my carpets and rugs?

Real Mom Problem

“We have an area rug. I vacuum it almost daily, but with little ones it's got food and drink stains and regular yuck on it. How do you go about cleaning something like this?”

by wright1212 wright1212

Quick Tips

  • 1. Invest in a high quality vacuum and use it regularly to keep dust down
  • 2. Have a designated area for shoes near an entrance so less dirt is tracked in
  • 3. Take your time when vacuuming going over spots more than once, especially in areas of high traffic; use attachments to get into corners and other hard-to-reach areas
  • 4. Shake small rugs outside weekly and if they're machine washable, throw them in every few weeks and then hang them out to dry
  • 5. Consider renting or buying a steam cleaner or hiring someone to steam clean your carpets once or twice a year
  • 6. To freshen up carpets naturally, sprinkle some baking soda on them, let it sit a few minutes, and then vacuum it up
  • 7. Blot up spills with towels right away and research how best to remove your particular stain before applying any products or soaps so you don't make it worse

Real Mom Solutions

Cleaning your carpets and rugs regularly helps keep dust, germs, and allergens down, and makes your house look and smell nicer. So, besides the whole having-to-clean-them part, it's a win-win! Try these tips from moms like you!

Becky Becky

Our Expert Mom Says...

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning carpets and rugs. Start with shoes off at the door and you'll be tracking in less dirt. You can put a cute basket with slippers or socks at the door to gently encourage your guests to do the same.

With regular vacuuming, you'll keep the dirt and dust off your carpets. The best way to vacuum your carpet is to start in the corner that is farthest away from the door and to slowly pull the vacuum cleaner in a straight line towards the opposite side of the room. Then work your way to the other side of the room using the same technique. You'll have those nice carpet lines and you'll know that you covered the whole room. Once a month or so, make a point of vacuuming under your furniture.

I have a Bissell ProHeat Carpet Cleaner that I use to spot clean and remove bigger stains as well as to clean entire carpets (one room at a time) and to clean the steps. You can rent or buy your own steam cleaner. If you're shampooing your carpets and you notice that there is a lot of soap or a residue, you might want to try using equal parts white vinegar and hot water in the carpet cleaner, instead of the soap. This formula will dissolve stains and dirt and neutralize any odors (the pickle-y smell will dissipate after the carpet dries). This "recipe" is from the carpet cleaning company that I use to clean my carpets yearly, in between my own carpet cleaning.

Becky, aka Clean Mama, is a cleaning expert, list maker, wife, and busy mom to three little ones. She blogs at Clean Mama where she talks about all things clean and organized and she has a successful Etsy shop, Clean Mama Printables, where she helps others make lists, organize, and clean. She's been featured in HGTV magazine, as well as on Oprah.com, and BHG.com. Becky strives to make homekeeping fun AND easily implemented into everyday life.

The Moms of CafeMom Say...

  • lovemymarine18

    I just steam clean my area rugs with a carpet cleaner.

  • HaydensMomma07

    For something like a red juice stain, get a bucket of warm water, add some blue Dawn dish soap, and bring an iron and a stack of white towels or rags that you don't mind ruining. Soak a towel in the water/soap solution and wring it out, then place it on the stain and run the hot iron on the steam setting over the towel (make sure to keep it moving so it doesn't scorch the carpet). Prepare a new towel the same way as the old one dries or turns red. It may take some time but it will fade the stain, if not completely remove it.

  • Bmat

    I use Resolve in a pump bottle for bad stains. But one time I had a cat throw-up stain that I couldn't get out of the carpet and it turns out that I had removed the dye from the carpet using a cleanser, so be careful about that.

  • nickygsmommy

    It's always a good idea to establish a no-shoe policy so not as much dirt gets tracked around your house. I know not everyone likes to do this but it helps a lot. Investing in a REALLY good vacuum cleaner and using it often is a must. You need to have something good enough that it can pull all the dirt out of your carpet. When you have spots, try to treat them right away with a non-soap cleaner (like club soda), and try to get as much of the residue out as you possibly can. Don't clean your carpets more than twice a year (I really recommend only once), and have it done by a professional carpet steamer with a truck/van mounted unit. Also, pet urine stains are basically death to a carpet (especially light ones). Even having them treated with the special enzyme treatments can't get it all out. Eventually, the stain will attract dirt again. Regular steam cleanings can help to keep them under control, but that spot will never be the same.

  • cjsix

    If you can afford to buy a steam cleaner, do it. I have a Hoover that we've had for at least 10 years and it's great! If you can't buy one, many stores rent one called a Rug Doctor that's good too.

  • Caitlin411

    For an area rug, I would steam clean it. If you don't have a steamer, I've also thrown our area rug out in the driveway and used the hose and a bucket of cleaning solution with a scrub brush to get it clean and then rinsed it really well. Bonus: the sun will dry it fast and neutralize any odors.

  • mom2four1978

    I use my pressure washer to clean area rugs. I hang the rug on my deck railing and just start on the top (where it lays on the railing) and work my way down both sides. My rugs changed color the first time I did this. Changed color in a good way. I had cleaned them before and thought they were really clean, but the pressure washer made them like new. I totally recommend a small electric pressure washer as a cleaning tool that everyone should have. I clean so many things with it, and it makes it so easy to clean the outside areas of my home.