Top Flooring Maintenance Tips for Carpet and Hardwood

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 10:00 AM

Whether you entertained over the holidays, celebrated a job promotion, let the dogs out and then back in forgetting about their muddy paws, chances are that you may welcome our top flooring maintenance tips.

They'll help you keep your carpet and hardwood floors in tip-top shape and generally make getting the house back to normal easier.

Top Tips for Maintaining Your Carpet and Hardwood Floors

1. Use Welcome and Walk-off Mats in Your Home

Do you use welcome mats at your doors? What about in between the garage and indoors?

Welcome or walk-off mats are a must-have regardless of the type of floors in your home. They represent your first line of flooring maintenance defense because they reduce the amount of dirt and debris that your feet carry into your house. They can also absorb water during wet and snowy weather.

Experts recommend using two types of mats in combination:

  • First, a coarse-textured soil removal mat
  • Next, a water-absorbing mat

You might have one outside your door and the other inside.

2. Clean Your Walk-off Mats Regularly

If you are committed to ensuring that your mats continue to trap soil, you must clean them on a regular basis.

By removing accumulated soil, you prevent the mat from becoming overloaded with dirt and a source of additional grime.

Regularly Vacuum Your Carpet

3. Regularly Vacuum Your Carpet

The vacuum is your best friend when it comes to keeping your carpet clean because the majority of what gets caught is dry soil. Vacuum at least once a week and more frequently if your carpet gets a lot of foot traffic to remove that dry soil and prevent it from working its way deeper into the pile. You can't vacuum your carpet too frequently.

  • Vacuum slowly and consistently
  • Don't ignore corners, crannies, and crevices where dust builds
  • Dust blinds, windowsills, and furniture surfaces first, and then vacuum away any fallen dust.
  • Remember to replace or empty vacuum bags when they are half to two-thirds full to improve the efficacy of the vacuum.

4. Deal with Spots and Spills Immediately 

Whether on carpet, hardwood floors, or any other surface, the best solution to spots and spills is to deal with them immediately.

  • Blot liquids with a dry, white absorbent cloth or plain white paper towels. Don't use printed or colored materials so the ink or dye doesn't transfer to your damp carpet. Continue until the area is barely damp.
  • Food spills may need to be scooped up with a spoon. Solid, dried bits can be vacuumed.
  • Don't scrub or use a brush! Bristles and scrubbing can damage the flooring surface. In the case of carpet, it can result in fraying and texture changes. Blot instead.

This 3:29 minute video demonstrates how to blot a liquid stain from carpet.

Step Two: Treat the Spot or Stain

Next, you want to treat the stain. For carpet, depending on the type of stain, you'll want to use different spot removal solutions. 

>> Download the Carpet & Rug Institute spot solver - Carpet and Rug Care Guide (738 KB)

The solutions include:

  • Dry Cleaning Fluid/Solvent - preferably a nonflammable, spot removal solution. Transfer to the spot with a white absorbent cloth. Don't pour the fluid directly on the carpet as it may destroy the backing.
  • Nail Polish Remover - without conditioners.
  • Detergent Solution - Mix 1/4 teaspoon of a clear (non-bleach, non-lanolin, with no optical brighteners) dishwashing liquid with 1 cup warm water. Allow the detergent solution to remain on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes to lift the stain. It may be necessary to rinse with warm water several times to completely remove residues. 
    • Never use an automatic dishwasher detergent because many contain bleaching solutions that can destroy the carpet color and damage fibers.
    • Never use a laundry detergent of any type, because laundry detergents may contain optical brighteners (fluorescent dyes) that dye the fiber.
  • Warm Water Rinse - This should be used in most cases for rinsing.
  • White Vinegar Solution - Mix 1 cup white vinegar with 1 cup water.
  • Ammonia Solution - Mix 1 tablespoon of household ammonia with a cup of water. Test a hidden area since ammonia, if used improperly, can cause a color change. 
  • Spot Removal Solutions - Some available carpet cleaning solutions may have a pH higher than 10 and/or optical brighteners which may distort the carpet color voiding out manufacturers' warranties. Also, some carpet cleaning solutions may leave a detergent residue causing the carpet to quickly resoil.


5. Follow Spot Cleaning Directions 

Don't ignore directions when it comes to dealing with spots and spills. As you noticed in the video above, it takes a lot of effort to blot out a stain.

  • Follow product directions carefully - including the care guidelines you received when you purchased your carpet.
  • More cleaning solution is not better.
  • Stronger concentrations of a solution are not better.
  • Apply a small amount of the cleaner to a white cloth and work it in gently, from the edges to the center.
  • Blot; don’t scrub.
  • Be patient; you may need to do this several times to remove the spot.
  • After the spot is gone, blot the area with clear water once or more to remove any remaining product.

6. Dealing with Classic Holiday Carpet Stains

Here's how you would deal with two classic holiday stains based on the CRI Carpet and Rug Care Guide.

Removing Red Wine Stains from Carpet 

Step 1 - Start with a detergent solution

Step 2 - Use a white vinegar solution

Step 3 - Use an ammonia solution

Step 4 - Use a warm water rinse

Step 5 - Use a spot removal kit

Step 6 - Call a professional

Removing Candle Wax from Carpet

Step 1 - Freeze the wax by placing a metal pan filled with ice on top of it for 10 minutes. Break the wax with something blunt (e.g., a knife handle). Vacuum up the pieces.

Step 2 - Use nail polish remover

Step 3 - Use dry cleaning fluid

Step 4 - Call a professional 

Hardwood Maintenance Tips

7. Hardwood Maintenance Tips

When it comes to hardwood floors, ongoing maintenance is as important as it is for carpeted floors. In addition to interior and exterior doormats, consider using area rugs in front of the kitchen sink and in high-traffic areas.

Similarly, consider vacuuming, sweeping or dust mopping your floor at least once a week, and more if needed. Avoid beater bars on the vacuum.

Wipe up spills and tracked dirt immediately.

Finally, never clean or wet mop your hardwood floors with water for fear of permanently damaging the floor.

8. Prevent Scratching Your Hardwood Floors

Unlike carpeted floors, hardwood floors are susceptible to scratching. Here are ways for minimizing scratches:

  • Keep your pet's nails trimmed.
  • Avoid walking on your floors with heel tabs, spike, or stiletto-heeled shoes.
  • Inspect shoes so you don't carry in rocks and gravel in the soles.
  • Avoid rolling or sliding heavy objects directly on the floor.
  • Add protective casters or felt pads to furniture legs.
  • Replace hard, narrow furniture rollers or casters with wide rubber ones or wide, flat glides.
  • Beware of using cleaning products such as ammonia-based cleaners, vinegar, and abrasive cleaning soaps not approved by the flooring manufacturer. These can pit or etch the floor finish.

9. Hardwood Flooring Quick Fix Spot-cleaning Tips

Here are some quick fix tips for hardwood-specific spots.

Spots Caused by Food/Water/Animals

  • Apply the approved hardwood flooring cleaner to a clean soft cloth.
  • Rub the area to remove the stain or spot.
  • For more stubborn spots, you may need to clean with a cloth dampened with odorless mineral spirits.

Grease/Lipstick/Crayon/Ink Spots/Rubber Heel Marks

  • Apply the approved hardwood flooring cleaner to a clean soft cloth. 
  • Rub the area to remove the stain or spot. 
  • If the stain remains, rub with a cloth dampened with odorless mineral spirits.

Chewing Gum/Candle Wax

  • Apply a sealed plastic bag filled with ice on top of the deposit.
  • Wait until the deposit becomes brittle enough to crumble off.
  • After the deposit has been removed, clean the entire area with the approved hardwood flooring cleaner.

Vacuum your carpet and rugs regularly

What Questions Do You Have About These Top Flooring Maintenance Tips for Carpet and Hardwood?

If there's a question we missed about maintaining floors, please don't hesitate to let us know.

Whenever you purchase flooring from Floor Decor Design Center, you can count on receiving maintenance instructions specific to the floor you selected. 

We hope you'll visit one of our two showroom locations in Middletown or Orange to learn firsthand about the different products available.   

We look forward to helping you.

Thanks for reading,

Janine & Michael

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Note: We originally published this article on 01/02/2019, and have updated it.

Michael Phoenix, Floor Decor Design Center

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