Project Guide

How To Clean Carpet

Vacuum Thoroughly
Woman vacuuming carpet before steam cleaning it.

Tip: A vacuum cleaner with a rotating bristle is best for lifting embedded dirt.

  • Prep the room/area you are planning to vacumm by moving furniture, cords and other items that may be in the way. 
  • The best way to clean a carpet is to begin with a vacuum. Carpets should be vacuumed often to prevent dirt from being ground into the carpet backing or from wearing away carpet fibers. How often you vacuum will depend on the size of your household and the pets that live with you. 
  • Use various vacuum attachments to clean carpet edges and around any furniture that cannot be moved. 
  • Vacuum in two directions, perpendicular to each other for best results.
  • You can also choose to clean your carpet at home just using the vacuum cleaner method. For this approach, you would apply dry foam carpet cleaning solution, scrub into the carpet and let dry.
Choose the Right Floor Cleaning Solution
Bottles of carpet cleaning solution

As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of carpet cleaning products available. Always read the label and manufacturer guidelines on how to clean carpets using the specific machine you selected to ensure that you have chosen the product. 

  • Test the product on an area of carpet that is hidden away from plain view rather than the stain itself to test the carpet’s colorfastness. If you notice any dye changing or the cleaner stains the carpet, opt for another type. 
Pre-Treat Stains and High Traffic Areas
A glass of red wine is spilled on carpet.

Tip: When spot testing, use a clean white cloth so colors do not run onto the treated area. 

  • Test for colorfastness by spraying spot cleaner in an obscure corner.
  • Spray the cleaner on the stain following the manufacturer’s directions and blot with a clean, white cotton towel. For stubborn areas, gently rub with a scrub brush and then blot with a clean white towel.
  • Repeat until stain is gone. Extremely tough stains may require multiple treatments.
Select Cleaner and Begin Steam Cleaning
Person steam cleaning carpet

Tip: For large furniture that cannot be moved prior to steam cleaning carpets, place plastic sheeting under the legs to prevent damage. 

  • Buy or rent a carpet cleaner. Portable carpet cleaners are available from The Home Depot for purchase or for rent and are offered in a variety of options. 
  • Before you begin, be sure to read the instructions included with the machine you choose.  
  • Using hot water and a small amount of the cleaner you have selected, begin cleaning the carpet, moving from front to back slowly. 
  • The machine is made to push out water as you move forward and pull it back up as you move backward, so be sure to allow the machine to pull up as much water as possible to avoid mold and mildew. 
  • Allow a full 24 hours for carpet to dry. If needed, open doors and windows to speed up the process, or use a fan to ciruclate air. 
Vacuum Again and Reorganize Rooms
Room with clean carpet and dog laying on sofa
  • Once you have let the carpet fully dry, vacuum one more time to be sure carpet is dust free. 
  • Remember to remove plastic from underneath furniture and return moved items.