Before I do the unthinkable and show you my carpets, let me explain. I have 4 kids under 5. (Although, the Little Miss will be 6 next month, which kind of makes me sad.) And I have 2 dogs. And I’m clumsy. So, lots of spills. Second, my carpets are cheap. And I rent, so there is no replacing them. Yes, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have cheap beige carpet, but my world isn’t ideal. My world just is. I am thankful for a home, even if I don’t own it. And I do absolutely everything I can to make our rental house a home. (I do occasionally get pretty bummed about the whole renting thing. Then I remind myself that I’m not in a tent in the desert following a cloud, and I realize I’m extremely fortunate for God’s provision, even if it isn’t a home we own and even if our rent is astronomically expensive. God has been faithful to provide for us each step of the way and this is not the worst place I’ve ever lived, though pretty close to the most expensive.)
I’m going to share with you my carpet cleaning tips and tricks. Bear in mind, my carpet is cheap and awful. There isn’t much I can do to make it worse than it already is. Also, using anything other than the carpet cleaner made by your steam cleaner manufacturer voids the warranty. But if you want clean carpets, their stuff just won’t work. So, you can either void the warranty and have clean carpets. Or follow their rules and still have stained ugly carpet.
** Update: If you’re looking for a natural cleaner, go see my post over here. **
These are the before pictures. I know. Don’t judge me. 4 kids. 2 dogs. Clumsy me. Plus we host a lot. Okay, I’m justifying. But this carpet has made me a carpet cleaning pro. I clean it often. I do this thorough steam clean about every 2 months. (Yeah. I know.)
Step 1: Clean you carpet with your steam cleaner with one scoop of OxiClean in the hot water. Do not use off brand OxiClean. Only use the real stuff. Believe me. The cheap version leaves a white residue on stuff. Plus it smells weird. So good stuff only. And when I say “clean your carpet” know I refilled my steam cleaner 6 times to get step 1 done.
Tip: Don’t forget your shoes are wet when you step from the carpet to your linoleum/hard woods to dump and refill. You’ll get hurt.
After you steam clean with OxiClean, you’ll look at your carpet and it will be miles better. At this point, some people would stop. Not me. Clearly it is better, but it isn’t great just yet. (And believe me, I do know that some amount of staining is just inevitable and I can live with it.)
Step 2: Get a bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush (I use some cheap dish scrubber I got at Dollar General the one time I was in that store.) and scrub the spots that didn’t come up. Today, I had several spots of chocolate. Why not scrub first? Well, over half of the “stains” on the carpet will come up with the steam cleaner, as you can see. So, saving the spot scrubbing cuts down on the number of spots you scrub. Don’t be afraid to get the carpet wet and soapy.
Step 3: Rinse your carpet with the steam cleaner. I rinse one time with just hot water in the cleaner. Then I go over it a second time with a few shakes of tea tree oil in the water in the steam cleaner. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial. Since I have a crawling baby and a toddler who often eats off the floor, I like feeling like my carpets actually are clean, not just look clean. Plus, the tea tree oil makes the carpet smell really great. So, if you’re keeping count, that is 8 times I have filled up the steam cleaner. And yes, a couple hours of work. I didn’t claim it was easy. Just awesome.
Make sure you let it dry a bit before you put your furniture back in. (Tip: If any of your furniture is metal or has metal on the base, let the carpet dry COMPLETELY before putting the furniture back on it. Trust me, it will rust. And rust is not a stain that comes COMPLETELY clean.)