Carpet is a great way to add color and texture to a room and is much more foot-friendly than hardwood. But, daily life brings daily dirt, especially if you have pets or kids. To keep your carpet fresh, plan on deep cleaning it every 12-18 months or 2-3 times a year if it’s a light color or heavily trafficked carpet. When the time comes, follow these twelve steps to get the best clean and begin enjoying your carpet again.

12 Steps to a Cleaner Carpet

1. Vacuum Regularly

You should deep clean your carpet at least once a year, but to make that job easier and to keep your home clean year round, you should vacuum regularly. Deep cleaning will remove the grime from fibers, but it can push loose dirt down further.

2. Choose a Cleaning Method

There may be a preferred method based on your carpet’s manufacturer and material. Generally, synthetic carpets should be steam cleaned, wool should be left alone or done professionally, and plant-based should be dry extracted.

3. Prep

Cleaning your carpet isn’t the most complicated job, but since it has to dry for at least 24 hours after cleaning, you have to be prepared. Open a window or two in the room for ventilation while it dries and plan your escape route. It works best to work from the furthest point of the room to the door. Remove your furniture or place plastic underneath the legs. Lastly, vacuum again and do a thorough job. Get under furniture if you haven’t removed it and use a nozzle attachment to get to baseboards and in crevices. Vacuum both back and forth as well as side-to-side to get at the carpet fibers from every angle.

Open Window

4. Test Your Carpet

When you’re ready to go and have chosen a method and detergent, place a few drops of detergent on a saucer and let it dry—it shouldn’t leave behind a sticky residue, and if it does, try another soap. Once it passes, test a patch of carpet or inconspicuous corner with the detergent to make sure it won’t discolor or come apart by applying the detergent to a cloth and laying it on the carpet for an hour. Blot dry with a white cloth and see if any color has come off. Keep using both of these tests with different detergents until you find one that passes both.

5. Spot Clean

To get the most out of your deep clean, make sure any large or deep stains have been spot cleaned. This increases the chances of fully removing the stain when you use an extractor. Use a white cloth and be sure to dab, not scrub, to get the stain out rather than set it deeper.

6. Purchase or Rent a Machine

Most grocery and hardware stores have machines available for rent, but they’ll be more powerful at a hardware store. Make sure the model you choose has a built in heating core to keep the water hot. If you have light colored carpets, children or pets, and will be cleaning your carpets more than once a year, look into buying your own machine to save on repeated rental costs. Also, make sure you’ve completed the above steps to save on the amount of time you spend on the rental.

Man Deep Cleaning Carpet

7. Prepare the Detergent

More than likely your detergent will come concentrated. Prepare it according to directions, and don’t add too much soap because that can damage your carpet and furniture.

8. Remove Your Shoes

You’re cleaning your carpet, so take your shoes off and clean in your socks or place plastic bags over your feet to avoid tracking in more dirt.

9. Time to Clean

If you’ve chosen a dry method, go ahead and sprinkle the powder through your room now. For both methods, you’ll want to allow the extractor so soak up as much dirt as possible. When you move the machine forward it presses the solution into your carpet, so to extract the most back out, pull back slowly.

Powder Method Carpet Cleaning

10. Check for Soap

Wet extraction methods can sometimes leave too much soap behind. If this is the case, clean your carpets again, but this time, with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water.

11. Let it Dry

Carpets need 24 hours to dry completely, so plan to keep everyone out until then. Test before walking back into the room.

12. Put it Back Together

Once your carpet is completely dry, go ahead and put everything back in your room, remove the plastic under furniture and enjoy your fresh and clean carpet!

Couple Laying on Carpet


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About the Author: is a full-service home remodeling and construction general contractor serving the greater Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, and San Jose area. Home improvement is hard, and we make it easier for you every step of the way. That starts by understanding your goals, whether it’s making a space more livable, expanding your home, repairing damage, adding room for relatives, or something completely different. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re happy with the project from start to finish.