6 DIY tips to clean carpets

Ah, wall-to-wall broadloom! How wonderful it feels on the feet. But with all those feet walking back and forth, not to mention pets, carpets can get dirty all too quickly. These handy cleaning tips will keep your carpets clean and fresh-smelling in a jiffy.

6 DIY tips to clean carpets

1. Freshen up with baby powder

Cooking fumes, cigarette and cigar smoke and other odours can cling to carpeting and make your house smell musty.

  • When a little freshening is in order, spread a liberal coating of baby powder over the carpet, using a flour sifter.
  • Leave the powder in place for a few hours or overnight, then vacuum it up.
  • Baking soda will do the job, too, if you have a darker carpet, though you may want to throw in a bit of ground cinnamon or nutmeg to sweeten its smell.

2. Iron and fork

When you move a piece of furniture in a carpeted room, its footprints stay behind. What do you do to raise the crushed fibres? Use your iron and a fork.

  • Put the iron on the steam setting and hold it about 0.6 cm (1/4 in) above the carpet, then fluff out the steamed fibres with the fork tines.

3. DIY cleaner

Before spending money on commercial carpet-cleaning solutions, mix one part white vinegar to 10 parts hot water. Or if you choose, 125 ml (1/2 cup) household ammonia in 500 ml (two cups) of hot water.

  • Use either in a carpet-cleaning machine or apply with a scrub brush and elbow grease.
  • Rinse the cleaned carpet with a damp cloth.
  • To help dissipate any lingering odours, open your windows (best done when you start spring cleaning) and, if necessary, place an oscillating fan in the room.

4. Alum fix

Alum, or potassium aluminum sulfate, does a great job cleaning carpet when combined with water and vinegar. You can find it in pharmacies and some supermarkets.

  • To make your own cleaner, pour about 8 L (2 gal) of hot water into a large pail and add 500 ml (2 cups) of alum, 250 ml (1 cup) of white vinegar and 175 ml (3/4 cup) of cinnamon tea (for scent).
  • Now dip a sponge mop into the solution, squeeze out the excess and mop one section of carpet at a time.
  • Be sure to rinse the mop in fresh water after each cleaning as you work your way around the room.

5. Racket beater

Dust and dander collect daily on (and in) area rugs, so shake 'em out the old-fashioned way:

  • Hang the rug over a rail or taut clothesline and beat it. Your beater? A tennis racket.

6. Pet relief

Did Fido relieve himself on your beautiful carpet? No need to cry!

  • Scoop up the mess, turn the rug over, place a bucket under the offending spot, and pour water — repeatedly — through the underside of the stain and into the bucket until the spot is gone.
  • This will clean the delicate fibres without the need for scrubbing.

Carpets and area rugs add texture, colour and warmth to a room. You'll be amazed at how easy it is to keep them looking fresh and new.

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