upper view of family of three lying on carpet

If you hate your carpet because it’s old, stained and bordering on disgusting, I have great news. There are steps you can take that will have you falling in love all over again.

upper view of family of three lying on carpet

Years ago when we remodeled our California home, we replaced some of the carpet with hardwood. What a revelation.

Now I could see the dirt and dust and, honestly, I couldn’t believe what accumulated in such a short time on those wood floors.

Of course I never saw it on the carpet but I know it was there all along. What a wakeup call it was to see the old carpet removed, rolled up and hauled away.

Here’s what we need to know and never forget: Regardless the color, brand or style—carpet hides dirt. This is not a good thing.

On the one hand, I love carpet for the warm, cozy way it can make a room feel, especially a bedroom. But the thought of what’s in it gives me a slightly creepy feeling. I used to think that occasional vacuuming was sufficient. Now I know better.

Still, even with its ability to harbor and hide all kinds of dirt and grime, I’m not ready to give up carpet in my home completely! Even if I did, you can be sure that soon I would be shopping for area rugs. So what’s the difference? Carpet is carpet and all of it gets skanky, gross and ugly if not well cared for.  

And what about those stains? On my wood floors, I wipe up spills instantly. But stains or spills on the carpet? I used to turn a blind eye. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way. And while I may not vacuum daily, but I can promise you there are no stains in my carpet and no dirty paths either.

Vacuum Regularly

As often as you sweep, mop and or dust your hard surface floor—that’s how often you should be vacuuming the carpet. Just because you can’t see the dirt, dust, debris, footprints, crumbs and hair doesn’t mean it’s not there! Allowing any of that to burrow down into the carpet pile is going to turn your carpet into a disgusting situation.

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You need  a vacuum that uses super strong suction to remove dirt, dust and grime quickly and easily. Weekly vacuuming is not too often. Twice a week—much better. Daily vacuuming of heavy traffic areas? Even better.

Treat Spots Immediately

Sugary liquids, sticky food, grease, mud, pet urine and excrement—these are the bane of beautiful carpet.

If you don’t want to hate your carpet you’ll pick up and remove spills and then deep clean the area as soon as possible after it occurs.

Allowed to remain for any period of time, spots become stains and stains will be difficult, if not impossible, to remove. I use, rely on and highly recommend Spot Shot, available online, some supermarkets and stores like Home Depot and Lowes for routine spot treament and stain removal. It is fabulous!

Wash Frequently

At least once every three months, wash (shampoo, steam clean) your carpet. Investing in your own carpet cleaning machine would be a wise choice. The machine will pay for itself the first time you use it instead of calling in the pros.

You won’t find a better machine that Hoover SteamVac. I’ve had mine for at least a dozen years and it’s working as hard now as it did when it was new.

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I use my Hoover in a very unconventional way, which you can learn here. Hint: I don’t use soap or shampoo—only super hot water. As long as I treat any spills immediately and wash it often, that’s all it takes to keep carpet looking great.

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If It’s Been a Long Time

If it’s been so long you can’t remember when you last cleaned your carpet, and/or it is really, horribly, embarrassingly dirty and smelly—cleaning it with hot water alone is not going to cut it. You need to add a high-quality, commercial grade carpet shampoo product to your cleaning machine. Or make it yourself.

DIY Carpet Shampoo Solution: 1 cup Oxiclean Stain Fighter (NOT Oxiclean Detergent), 1 cup Febreeze, and 1 cup white vinegar. Pour ingredients into carpet cleaning machine adding hot water to the fill line.This will not only clean your carpets it will also deodorize. It will smell slightly of vinegar until the carpet is dry. Be sure to test spot with the solution just to be safe, however this should be safe for all carpets.


If after deep cleaning, your carpet is still not smelling sweet and fresh—with lingering undertones of pet urine—it’s time to bring out the big gun Nok-Out.

(NOTE: Clean the carpet first—clean it as best you can even if that takes several repeats. Then adhere to the following protocol from our friends at Nok-Out)

Nok-Out has a pH of 8.5, and works best in an alkaline environment. If acidic cleaning products such as vinegar have been used previously, you must neutralize that acid by spraying club soda or a mild baking soda solution (1 teaspoon baking soda to 2 cups water) to the carpet using a spray bottle before applying Nok-Out to the area. Allow this solution to dry before continuing the odor removal procedures.

This step will neutralize any acids left behind by other cleaners on your carpet and allow Nok-Out to work most efficiently and effectively.

When using Nok-Out in a carpet-cleaning machine, add 1 to 2 cups to the reservoir, then add enough water to total one gallon (128 ounces).

Push the carpet shampooer forward while spraying, but do not vacuum up the cleaning fluid yet. Spray the entire carpet first, and wait for  10 to 20 minutes to allow Nok-Out to penetrate deeply and oxidize into the fibers of the carpet, as well as the matting, the pad, and floor substrate underneath.

After the waiting time has passed, begin the extracting process by pulling the carpet cleaning machine backwards. This pulls all liquid back into the cleaning tank. Dry quickly by using overhead ceiling fans, floor fans, turning the ac/heating fan to “On” and or opening windows.

If a second application should be necessary, simply repeat this procedure. Again, allow the carpet to dry quickly.

One Last Thing

If you are getting ready to replace your carpet, don’t select a color because you think it will “hide the dirt.” No! You want a color that will point out every bit of dirt, every spill and every stain.

You want to see those things so you can immediately take steps to clean them up, in the same way you care for your beautiful wood, laminate and tile floors. 

You are not alone if you have come to hate the carpet in your home, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It might take a few go-rounds with vacuuming, stain-removing and deep cleaning, but if you are diligent, you and your carpet just might fall in love all over again!

CAUTION: Always test clean/treat carpet in an out-of-the-way, inconspicuous spot (like inside a closet) first. 

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