The key to keeping carpet smelling fresh is regular maintenance. Particulates (dirt, dust and debris) become trapped in your carpet on a daily basis, so what you smell when you sense an odor is the carpet fibers releasing these particulates. Here's how to ensure the carpet in your home not only smells fresh, but contributes to a clean indoor environment as well.
Deep clean first
Start your quest for fresh-smelling carpet with a clean slate that begins with deep cleaning. Rent a carpet cleaner from a home improvement store, or hire a professional cleaning company with good references. If you own a carpet cleaner, be sure that the machine itself (like the tanks) are clean and free of residue.
Lose the shoes
If you want to keep as much dirt as possible off your carpet, make sure shoes come off before anyone walks on it. Anything shoes have stepped on will stay on their bottoms rather than your nice clean carpet.
Keep rugs on your carpet in areas with high traffic. Places such as the front and back door areas should have a rug so that you can wipe your feet and leave your shoes there, instead of tracking mud and dirt throughout your home.
To keep your carpet fresh, vacuum your home at least three times a week (every day if you have pets). This prevents the particulates from becoming airborne and creating nasty smells. Use a lightly scented carpet freshening powder, following the directions and vacuuming thoroughly afterward. Fabric refreshers can help eliminate odors harbored by your carpet, as well.
True HEPA vacuum cleaners (with airtight casings) remove particulates embedded in carpet fibers, preventing them from becoming airborne. If a true HEPA vacuum cleaner is not available, high-efficiency microfiltration vacuum bags will also trap very small particulates. Don't forget to clean your vacuum's filters to maintain its efficiency.
Changing your furnace's air filters regularly to improve the circulation of air in your home and maximize the particulate-catching efficiency of the air filter itself.
Rules of thumb from the experts
Rodney Brown, owner of Millicare Textile and Carpet Care in Tempe, Arizona, has two simple recommendations for maintaining the fresh smell and look of carpet:
1. Use soap-free chemicals when cleaning carpets. The soap residue acts as a magnet for dirt, just as shampoo would if you forgot to rinse it from your hair. Instead, try using water-based compounds.
2. Where possible, eliminate moisture that acts as a food source for smelly bacteria. If you have to spot clean, use a clean, white cloth dabbed in a solution of vinegar and water to blot the spot, repeating as many times as necessary until no more stain transfers to the cloth. Vacuum the carpet after the stain has been removed.
A carpet can be the main decorating element of a room, and its cleanliness can make the difference between beautiful and dingy. Use these basic maintenance tips to enjoy a fresh, clean carpet.