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DIY a Professional-Quality Carpet Clean at Home

    Take a good look at your carpet. Do you see stains? Smell something off-putting? Notice a general discoloration? The way carpet is designed leaves room for dirt, pet hair and dust to settle beneath the surface. A regular vacuuming schedule helps, but what makes a bigger difference is cleaning the carpet a few times a year. Doing so will extend its lifespan and keep it looking as good as new.

    Everyone wants clean carpets, but sometimes it’s not necessary to pay a high price for them. A professional clean can cost $50 or more per room, depending on size. For any home, that starts to add up. If you’re looking to save, turn to your local rental store. You can get a carpet cleaner rental for a fraction of the cost of a professional clean — and get the same desired results. A half-day rental costs $20-$30, while a full-day rental runs $30-$90.

    You can also buy a steam cleaner if you want to clean your carpets regularly, but a high-quality option will set you back $100-$200.

    DIYing this task takes a little time, but anyone can do it since it doesn’t require specialized skills. Many DIY items require woodworking knowledge, practice using tools or setting aside time to learn those skills. Using a carpet cleaner has a learning curve, too, but it can be picked up very quickly. Rentals are usually available for up to 48 hours, which is enough time to complete a thorough clean.

    Before you jump in, there are two precautions you need to take to ensure the cleaning doesn’t do more harm than good.

    1. Check the manufacturer website to see if there are any specific instructions for cleaning. If you’re unsure of the manufacturer, ask your local rental store for advice on treating your specific type of carpet.
    2. Test clean a small, hidden area to ensure the cleaner doesn’t damage your carpet.

    Once you’ve done those two things, you’re in the clear to begin!

    Prep, prep, prep

    First, vacuum the carpet well to remove any loose dirt or debris. Then, prepare both the area you’re cleaning and the equipment you plan to use. That means moving everything off the carpet and filling the carpet shampooer with warm water and cleaning solution. Make sure you do so according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

    Clean the area

    Using the carpet cleaner rental unit, vacuum the carpet. The machine will distribute cleaning solution to sanitize the carpet as you vacuum but pay attention to how saturated the carpet becomes. Oversaturating can lead to mildew and unpleasant odors. To finish, make two to three drying passes over the damp carpet.

    Speed up the drying process

    Do what you can to encourage drying. Open the windows, turn on fans and consider renting additional fans. The more airflow and heat present, the better. Wait at least six hours before returning furniture to the room or walking on the shampooed carpet.

    Talk to your local rental store in advance to see what tips and tricks they have for carpet cleaning. Chances are, they’ll offer you great advice. There’s a high level of knowledge at rental stores that isn’t typically found at big box stores. Search for “carpet cleaner rental near me” using the store locator above to find an available unit in your area. For more cleaning tips, see our Spring Cleaning Guide.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How can I deep clean my carpet at home?

    There are a couple of different ways. You can mix a homemade cleaner, apply it to heavily soiled areas, allow it to dry, then vacuum it away. An easier way might be to rent a carpet cleaning machine, though. Most times you can rent the carpet cleaner, plus buy the cleaning solution, at your local rental store.

    How do you fluff up carpet in high-traffic areas?

    Carpet tends to get compacted, especially under heavy furniture. Luckily, you can revive it using a white lint-free cloth and an iron. To start, wet the cloth and wring out the excess water. Then, plug in the iron and set it to medium heat. Set the cloth on top of the matted carpet and iron the cloth gently. This technique creates steam that fluffs up matted fibers. You can also look into a carpet cleaner rental or steam cleaner rental if you’d rather use a machine.

    Why does my carpet smell worse after shampooing?

    Oftentimes, it’s because the underlay of the carpet is still damp. Make sure to open windows and use fans to dry the carpet immediately after shampooing. The smell should go away on its own within a couple of days.