Three highly rated carpet cleaners weigh in on what homeowners need to know before cleaning home carpets:

  • James Marsh, owner/operator, Top Notch Carpet Cleaning, Portland, Ore.
  • Rick Taylor, president, The Red Carpet Company Inc., Framingham, Mass.
  • Nathan Norman, owner, 1 Year Warranty Carpet Cleaners, Mableton, Ga.

Q: What kinds of carpet are more difficult to clean than others?

Marsh: When you buy a carpet, choose nylon. Acrylic carpets are made from recycled plastic such as soft drink bottles. They’re stain resistant, but traffic patterns will crush the carpet within its first year. Wool carpets wear the best, but they have to be cleaned differently, and in my opinion, it’s not worth the extra cost.

Nathan Norman: Wool carpets are always tricky to clean. If you’re not careful and use the wrong solution, they tend to shrink.

Q: What’s the best product for pet stains?

Taylor: We use a protein-based stain spotter on pet and beverage stains. We use foam to coat and get deep into carpet fibers.

Marsh: I trust Biokleen’s Bac-Out, found in health or high-end grocery stores. It works well on stains from pets or kids who have wet the bed.

Norman: In extreme cases, where the carpet is soaked with urine and it’s gotten into the pad and subfloor, you’re never going to get rid of the odor. The only thing to do is wash the surface, dispose of and replace the pad, treat the subfloor, and clean the surface again.

Q: What are the advantages to hiring a professional rather than renting a carpet cleaner and doing it myself?

Norman: You’re not breaking your back doing it. It might sound easy, but it might take you the whole day to get it done. Professionally cleaned carpets tend to last longer because we don’t use harsh solutions to clean it.

Taylor: Our carpets dry within three to five hours, rather than two or three days.

Q: What other useful carpet care tips can you offer?

Taylor: Red dye found in Kool-Aid and copy machine toner ink are brutal on carpets. The longer the stain sits there, the harder it is to remove it. Most people wait too long. But if you call us before too long, we have had success removing such stains as red wine.

Marsh: Scotchgarding is a waste of time on polyester/plastic carpets, since it can’t penetrate the fibers. It’s a gimmick. Nylons are the only carpets you should Scotchgard.

Norman: Vacuum regularly, especially if you have kids or pets. Make sure you’re using a good vacuum that’s not emitting dust back into the air.

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