It’s fairly common knowledge that residential carpet should be professionally cleaned at least once per year. But that doesn’t mean you should leave it at that. Whether you rent or own your home, there are things you can do to maintain your carpet. Here are three things you can do to keep your carpet looking great between professional cleanings.

Regular Vacuuming

One of the great things about carpet is that is does a really good job cleaning off the bottom of your shoes, and hides that soil within the carpet pile. Unfortunately, that’s also one of the bad things about it. Gritty soil that is trapped in the carpet pile causes an abrasive effect on the fiber as traffic moves through carpeted areas. This literally scratches the fibers and results in unnecessary carpet wear.

In addition to soil from shoes, carpet is also very susceptible to airborne dust particles. In traffic areas, this will have the same effect as foot born soil. In other areas, it rests on top of the carpet causing it to appear dull over time.

Regular thorough vacuuming will reduce the effects of these problems. Thorough means six passes over an area with the vacuum cleaner – forward and back three times. In traffic areas, you should vacuum at least twice a week – more if you have a lot of foot traffic. Non-traffic areas should be vacuumed weekly.

Track-Off Rugs

Where possible, place a small rug on the floor just before a carpeted area begins. This will remove a lot of foot born soil that would otherwise end up on the carpet itself. Avoid placing a rug directly onto the carpet – especially a rug that is backed. This will create abrasion as traffic flows, and damage the carpet fibers. Of course, these rugs should be cleaned regularly for maximum effectiveness and appearance. Most throw rugs are machine washable so this shouldn’t pose any problems.

Cleaning Up Spills

No matter how careful you are, spills are bound to happen. When they do, it’s important to clean them up immediately to prevent, or at least minimize, the possibility of staining the carpet. When cleaning up spills, it’s very important to do so properly to avoid permanent stains or other damage to the carpet.

First, clean up as much excess liquid as possible with a clean sponge or white paper towels. Actually, grouting sponges work very well and they’re inexpensive. When sopping up excess liquid, use a blotting action. Never rub or scrub. Rubbing or scrubbing will cause the tips of the carpet fibers to fray, and that cannot be reversed.

Once you have the excess liquid removed, clean the rest of the spot with a clean sponge using cool water and a gentle detergent. Again, use a blotting action rather than rubbing or scrubbing. This will require lots of patience, but the end result will be worth it.

By properly maintaining your carpet, you may think you can postpone your annual professional carpet cleaning. That would be a mistake. Maintaining your carpet as described here cannot replace the annual deep cleaning that only a professional can do properly.