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Few people are confident on how to maintain and clean carpet despite the popularity of carpets and rugs in homes around the world. On top of regular cleaning to prevent the visible build-up of dust and dirt, understanding how to manage embedded fine dust and remove stains can be a challenge.
“At Dyson, we have almost 30 years of research into how best to clean flooring, including carpets,” says James McCrea, Senior Mechanical Engineer at Dyson.
“In our Pick-Up Laboratory, we test how effective our machines are at removing dust, dirt and hair from your home using many different floor types – from industry standard carpets, to tatami matting commonly found in Japan.”
To maintain the appearance of your carpet, a vacuum cleaner should be your first port of call.
“Carpets can hide dust and dirt between their fibres, as well as harbor microscopic life – such as dust mites, moulds and allergens – all of which can impact your wellbeing. So, it is important not to wait until your carpet looks visibly dirty before vacuuming,” says James.
Vacuuming slowly gives the airflow and brush bar more time to “agitate” the dust and dirt between the carpet fibres and remove them entirely. It also means you are more likely to capture invisible allergens hidden deep in the carpet pile.
More passes over an area will give the vacuum the best chance of cleaning carpet well, but any more than two or three times gives minimal increase, according to our research in the laboratory.
While it may seem like an effort to change tools mid-vacuum, this will help you remove dust you can see, and dust you can not. Use a crevice tool to clean hard to reach places round the edge of the carpet, or a mini-motorised tool to remove dust buried in thick pile rugs.
While they may not be top of mind, areas under sofa cushions, furniture and in curtain creases can harbor dust and potentially millions of dust mites and their feces. Once these are disturbed, they can become airborne and easily inhaled. This in turn can trigger allergies, so ensure you do not neglect them in your frequent cleans. Mini-motorised tools are ideal for hidden corners of soft furnishings, while soft brush tools or Ccmbination tools can gently remove dust from curtains and bookshelves.
Beyond day-to-day cleaning, there are times when carpets need extra attention. Stains can be made up of a number of chemicals or chemical components, so you may need to use a variety of methods to remove them from your carpet. But understanding which type of cleaning products are best for the job can be difficult and potentially dangerous.
A study undertaken by the CDC found that poisonings related to combining household cleaning products surged during the Covid-19 pandemic as people sought to clean their homes with a mix of disinfectants and bleaches.
“While it can be tempting to try and deal with a stain as quickly as possible with as many cleaning products as possible, it is vital to not mix cleaning products,” says Dr Calum Robertson, Chemical Research Scientist at Dyson.
“When dealing with a stain on your carpet, it is important to start as lightly as possible – and to always read the label of the product you are using!
“Starting with the lightest treatment possible, then slowly trying more abrasive methods can help you remove stains properly, safely and avoid damaging your carpet too.”
Avoid wiping substances like ground coffee and spices - water can make the stain worse and even permanent. If you have a surface level stain or spill, try vacuuming it first – unless it’s already a wet stain. Moisture can have a negative impact on the mechanics of your vacuum.
Carpets are usually dyed fabric, so if you use a product that is too strong on a stain, you risk removing the carpet dye too. Start by delicately blotting the stain with a surfactant, which is typically warm water and soap. This will work to break down or emulsify oil stains like grease or butter and will not put your carpet at too much risk. Watch out for delicate rugs though, as the dyes could be impacted by certain soaps.
For protein, starch or lipase-based stains, like blood, grass and chocolate, an enzymatic solution can work well. Enzymes work by breaking down large molecules into smaller, more soluble ones. Use warm water and biological laundry detergent and gently blot the stain until it has dissolved.
Some stains, like tea, coffee or red wine can discolor your carpet and so you may need to apply a bleach-based product – but only in sparing amounts. Always test the product on a more inconspicuous bit of carpet first and be patient when cleaning. Applying too much at once can cause irreversible discoloration to both the stain and your carpet.
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