Looking after your carpet is really important because when you remove the dirt that leads to stains, you're preserving the carpet's original texture and increasing its lifespan. Here's a quick breakdown of the essentials of carpet maintenance.
More often than not, soiling occurs when people or pets walk bits of dirt in from outside. Prevention is always better than cure and we recommend keeping doormats in all your entranceways.
Staining occurs from the chemical bonding of a pigment with the carpet fibre and once this bonding has taken place, separating the two is extremely difficult without causing damage to the carpet pile. That's why it's critical to sort out spills and stains as soon as they happen.
General cleaning should be proportional to your carpet's exposure to dirt and we recommend more frequent, lighter cleans over the harsher treatments required if your carpet's cleaned infrequently.
Dry vacuum at least once a week and more often in heavy traffic areas. This will prevent soil embedding in the pile and grinding at the base of the tufts, which wears them out faster.
For loop pile and shagpile carpets:
We recommend a plain suction-type vacuum cleaner. Turbo or revolving brush head attachments may reduce surface frizzing – however over-use can lead to frizzing, especially on loop pile carpets. Beater bar and adjustable revolving brushes should only be used infrequently and on the lightest settings only.
For cut pile carpets (other than shagpile) and combination cut and loop:
All types of cleaner heads can be used but over-use with a revolving brush vacuum head may affect the tailored appearance of your cut pile. We recommend using a plain suction head (avoiding unnecessary pressure, which will flatten the carpet) and occasional grooming with your turbo or revolving brush head.
When necessary, a professional steam clean can remove trapped soil particles and revive the appearance of your carpet. Do not be concerned about the wet cleaning process removing natural oil from your wool carpet – most of this was removed during manufacture as an oily carpet attracts dirt far more quickly. For synthetic carpets, steam cleaning is recommended every two years – a minimum requirement for many carpet warranties.
Spills and stains
Any spills and stains need to be dealt with immediately. You can refer to our stain cleaning guide for advice on specific stains but here are a few quick pointers.
- 'Contain the stain' then blot up any liquids straight away with paper towels.
- Scoop up solids immediately with a knife or spoon – try not to push the substance further into the carpet pile.
- Rub wool carpet when it's wet – ever! This will damage the carpet pile and send the stain deeper.
- Drown the carpet in water or any other liquid.
With liquid stains, we'd recommend the use of our Wet Stain Remover – but again, you must firmly blot up the stain before applying. If you don't have any Wet Stain Remover handy, then the next best thing would be to dilute the area with lukewarm water and re-blot thoroughly using clean, dry paper towels, ensuring you do not rub the stain. You can continue to gently apply water and re-blot. The wool pile will not be damaged by water as long as you don't over-wet the carpet, which may cause watermarks on the surface or damage to the backing.
Most oily or greasy stains can be removed, even after a period of time. We produce a top-selling stain remover for dry stains that’s very effective on oily/greasy spills. However, certain stains may have a chemical reaction with the fibre and can cause irreversible damage.
Every style of carpet comes with its own benefits and characteristics, so here's a quick look at a few common traits you can expect from the carpet you choose.
New carpet can exhibit noticeable light and dark areas, often in strips. This is more likely to occur with plusher pile carpets and is known as crush marks. It's caused by the weight of the carpet in a large roll pressing down on the layers underneath and bending the fibres. Over time, with regular vacuuming and general foot traffic, this effect will diminish, though it can take three to six months or so for the marks to disappear entirely.
As with all natural textiles, wool carpet will fade or change colour over time in areas consistently exposed to sunlight. Light and pastel coloured carpets are the most vulnerable and no carpet is immune.
North or west-facing glass doors or floor-to-ceiling windows are most likely to lead to fading and we'd recommend the glass with effective UV protection. Curtains, blinds and louvres offer the best protection. Laying tiles around the border of the room and insetting the carpet can also provide protection from the strongest sunlight at the edge of a room.
If preventing fading is particularly important to you, our range of quality solution-dyed nylon carpets offers excellent fade resistance.
Fluffing on new carpet
When a carpet is new, balls of fluff may appear on the surface. These are loose bits of fibre left in the pile by the manufacturing process and are a tiny proportion of the fibre in the pile – so it's perfectly safe to vacuum up the fluff. On loop pile carpets, this fluff may appear as frizzing, which you can free up with a strong suction vacuum. Walking in socks or pantyhose on your new carpet can accentuate fluffing because the fibres in the socks or pantyhose can draw these loose fibres to the surface.
Indentations from heavy furniture
A couple of great ways to minimise indentations is by placing cups under the legs of heavy furniture and regularly shifting furniture a few inches one way or another so the pile can bounce back. We recommend the use of protector mats where castor chairs are used.
To revive flattened piles, you can use a warm steam iron over a towel laid on top of the carpet. Hold the steam iron gently to the towel and use the steam button to inject steam but don't press the iron down on the towel as this can leave gloss marks.
Carpet damage by insect attack occurs where food, animal or plant substances are present near a wool carpet. Preventative measures include regular and thorough vacuuming, especially in areas around and under furniture that is not moved frequently, and along skirting boards. All Cavalier Bremworth wool carpet is treated to deter insect damage and we offer a five-year insect-resist warranty. Insect damage is not an issue with synthetic carpets.
A single tuft rising up from the pile surface is called 'sprouting' and in cut pile carpets, it's safe to trim these sprouts with scissors. Avoid pulling the tuft or it could unravel and leave a hole in the carpet. With loop pile carpets, we recommend professional repair, which can be arranged through your carpet dealer.
Tracking vs permanent shading
As the name suggests, 'tracking' is the imprint left by footprints on your carpet. This is more common on plush cut pile surfaces and disappears with vacuuming. Carpet is most prone to tracking in high-traffic areas like doorways and halls, so give them a bit of extra attention when you're vacuuming.
All cut pile carpets, particularly 'plush pile' carpets will develop lighter or darker patches over time. Known as 'shading' or 'watermarking' it's caused by the permanent bending of the carpet pile fibres, which then reflect the light differently.
Shading often becomes apparent six to eight weeks after the carpet is first installed. Shading does not affect the wear or durability of the carpet, it's not a manufacturing defect and brushing or shampooing does not reduce shading. This topic was covered by TVNZ's Fair Go programme in February 2011.