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Should You Steam Clean Your Carpets Yourself Or Hire A Pro?

Deep-cleaning your carpets isn’t much fun, but it’s necessary to get the most life out of your carpets. You should probably do it around once a year, but most homeowners admit to only having their carpets cleaned every few years, sometimes less. But carpet cleaning isn’t just about getting out stubborn stains — it’s about extending the life of your flooring.

How Often Should You Clean?

Like we mentioned above, most carpet manufacturers recommend having your carpets professionally cleaned every 12-18 months. It’ll depend on a few factors like usage, material, whether you have kids or pets, whether you wear shoes in the house (don’t wear shoes in the house), and so on, but that’s a good ballpark estimate.

The smart thing is to roll it into your annual spring cleaning, along with scraping the gutters and sweeping the garage and the other chores you don’t like doing.

Thinking about skipping it? You should probably know that regular cleaning is a required condition of a lot of carpet warranties — if your carpet starts to unravel and you can’t show that you’ve been cleaning regularly, your carpet might not be covered. Read the manufacturer’s warranty carefully to make sure you’re staying compliant.

A Note On Cleaning Nylon Carpeting

All carpets benefit from a good annual clean, but that’s especially true in the case of nylon carpeting. Nylon has a unique molecular structure that gets flattened down over time but can be revitalized with deep cleaning. The fibers actually resume their original shape, making nylon carpet fibers look like they’re fresh off from the manufacturer once again.

What Is Steam Cleaning?

So-called “steam cleaning” is better referred to as “hot-water extraction” cleaning, since it technically doesn’t use steam. Essentially, a nozzle is spraying hot water into the carpet to loosen dirt and stains, then sucking the dirty water back into the machine. Often, there’s some sort of cleaning solution added to the water to help with stain removal.

Professional cleaners use either a truck-mounted suction unit with a long hose or a portable unit. The portable units are more easily able to access apartments and condos, but the truck-mounted units are far more powerful, which makes them much more effective cleaners.

There are also plenty of options for steam cleaning machines that you can rent or own yourself, from machines the size of vacuum cleaners to bigger units that are pushed around on wheels. If your household is prone to stains — like if you have small children or a carpeted work area — having a household steam cleaner on hand is a good idea. But for cleaning an entire floor or house worth of carpet, you should really consider a professional.

Why Not DIY?

The risks of using a DIY (do-it-yourself) carpet cleaner are that they simply don’t do as good a job at cleaning your carpets. Most DIY machines don’t heat the water as hot as their industrial counterparts, so they’re less effective at loosening hard-set stains and soiling. They also don’t have the same level of suction as the professional units, so they can leave your carpet damp (which isn’t great for its longevity) and leave dirt behind that a more powerful unit would have captured.

There’s also the matter of experience — professional carpet cleaners know which compounds to use on what kinds of carpets, how to handle different lengths properly, how fast or slow to move across the carpet, and how to clean in hard-to-reach areas like corners and staircases.

In short, “steam cleaning” is an effective way to extend the life of your carpet, keeping it soft and beautiful and saving you money in the long run. It should be done at least once every 18 months, but for anything bigger than spot stains, you should probably hire a professional. Your carpets will thank you.