Because One Day You Might Need It….
How to Keep Your Warranty for Your Carpets and Rugs
Did you know that if you do not clean your carpets at the right time and in the right way, you can lose your warranty altogether? In fact, the first thing a manufacturer will ask you, when you open a claim, is “Do you have proof of maintenance?”
It’s sad and true.
But fear not. In this short article, you will discover the essentials for how to care for your carpets and rugs to meet the rules of your manufacturer’s warranty. And you might just extend the life of your carpet along the way.
FOUR KEYS TO CARING FOR YOUR CARPET
For all soft surface flooring, there are four key elements for proper care. All of which have to do with keeping them clean, and reducing wear and tear:
- High quality, resilient carpet pad
- Cleaning Products designed for your specific flooring
- Cleaning Tools that remove debris, without damaging your carpet
- The right cleaning methods at the right time, and on the right schedule
HIGH QUALITY RESILIENT CARPET PAD
When installing new carpet, it can be tempting to try to reuse your old carpet pad as a way to save money. But resist the urge!
Old pads are like old elephants. They have a long memory. They remember the wear patterns from your previous carpet, and they remember where all the spills happened. Eventually both the wear patterns and the old stains will work their way from your pad into your new carpet. And you will again see the sags and spots you’d hoped were gone forever.
So invest in a top notch pad. We recommend a stain-resistant, warranty-compliant version with a rubber base. My favorite is Arcadia ™ by LP Flooring.
QUALITY CLEANING PRODUCTS: How to Choose the Right Product for Your Carpet
If there’s one place you shouldn’t skimp, it is on your cleaning supplies. Choose the wrong product, especially when spot cleaning, and you could wind up with large white spots in the middle of your rug. Or worse.
A good rule of thumb when choosing a carpet cleaner comes from one of our flooring experts at Floortex Design:
“When choosing cleaning products for your fine carpets, never use anything you can buy at the grocery store.
Those products may contain bleaches or harsh chemicals that damage your carpet and lift its color.”
~ Hector Luevano
Managing director, Floortex Design of San Francisco
Regardless of where you buy your cleaning supplies, read the labels carefully to be sure the cleaner is designed specifically for your soft surface floors – whether it is nylon, olefin, polypropylene, silk, wool or wool blend, etc. Capture and Host are two of our favorite cleaning products, designed for fine carpets, especially wool.
[Pro Tip: Choose your cleaning products carefully. Read labels. And spot test in an out-of-the-way spot (such as behind the sofa) before you use on your flooring.]
CLEANING TOOLS THAT WON’T DAMAGE YOUR CARPET: Vacuums, Rakes, Sweepers
When you choose your tools, it’s best to have a few options. For quick cleans ups, carpet sweepers and electric brooms are useful. They can pick up crumbs and soil before they fall between the fibers and into your base.
For regular cleaning, it is no surprise that your vacuum is the tool of choice. And for most carpet types, a simple upright version with a manually-adjustable beater bar or rotating brush works perfectly. But check to be sure your brush is soft and slightly pliable. If it is too stiff, it can scrape the carpet fibers, causing fuzzing and pile distortion. Which can shorten the life of your carpet.
In fact, harsh beaters and brushes can be so damaging that some mills will void your warranty, if you use them. So beware of Dyson, Oreck, Shark vacuums, or virtually any brand of robot. They may offer powerful cleaning, but the trade off may not be worth it.
For carpet with thick loop pile construction such as Berber or shag, and all silk and wool products – use a SUCTION-ONLY vacuum or a vacuum with an adjustable brush that lifts away from the carpet so it does not agitate the pile. Unique Carpets, one of the top wool carpet mills, recommends Sanitaire upright models, due to its manually adjustable head and soft brushes www.sanitairecommercial.com.
To find a vacuum that is right for you, we recommend you review this list of vacuums certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval/Green Label Vacuum Cleaner Program.
[Pro Tip: Ask your sales consultant if there are any vacuum models they recommend, or that you should stay away from, according to your particular carpet’s warranty terms.]
[Pro Tip: To ensure you have adjusted the vacuum’s beater bar to the correct height, place a piece of paper on top of the carpet and adjust the brush until it only lightly touches the paper. This will ensure it lifts surface dirt, without damaging the carpet]
THE RIGHT METHODS AT THE RIGHT TIME: How and When to Clean Your Carpet
Everything your mother told you was true, at least when it comes to carpet and rug cleaning. There’s no such thing as cleaning them too often. Vacuuming regularly will keep the fibers from matting, and it removes damaging dust and grime before it can penetrate. To make things simple and efficient, here are two quick tips from Shaw Floors.
- For heavy traffic areas – vacuum the carpet traffic lanes daily and the entire area twice weekly
- For light traffic areas – vacuum the traffic lanes twice weekly and the entire area once weekly
[Pro Tip: Vacuum slowly, as if you are taking a stroll in springtime. That will give the vacuum the time it needs to lift the debris from beneath the surface. This is especially important when you are using a suction-only vacuum.]
Spot cleaning is best done as soon as you notice a spot or spill. And the process is much the same, whether natural fiber or synthetic. Blot quickly, beginning from the outside and working in to prevent the stain’s spread. When a spot cleaner is needed, follow these simple steps.
- Blot – Blot up spill right away, starting from the outside and working in
- Test – Before using a new cleaner, test it first in an out of the way spot
- Spray – Spray the product on the stain, using no more than is needed
- No Residue – Blot well so no residue is left on the carpet to attract dirt and grime
- Cover – Cover with a dye-free cloth, if any dampness remains
Though spill treatment is basically the same for all carpet, there are a few things you should remember.
In general, natural products have different care needs than synthetics. But that doesn’t mean naturals are fragile. Wool, the most sought-after natural fiber, is much less likely to stain than its synthetic cousins. Like your hair, wool is resistant to most staining liquids. Also like your hair, spills can be whisked away with a little blotting and a small amount of water (if needed).
Wool is heat sensitive, however, meaning hot things can open the wool’s protective layer, allowing the stain to spill into the carpet. So be very careful with hot coffee, tea, and the like. When you do need a spot cleaner, use only products designed for wools, silks, and other natural products.
Polyproplene, also known as indoor outdoor carpet, is a bit of a maverick among synthetics. It is very hardy and resilient, so cleaning is simple. “It can literally be taken outside and hosed off if it is an area rug,” reports Mary Lippert, flooring design consultant, Floortex Design of San Rafael.
For all other synthetics carpet, follow the steps listed above and read the instructions on the cleaner’s package.
[Pro Tip: After blotting up a spill, cover the area with a color-free paper towel or cloth. This allows the area to fully dry, while protecting it from foot traffic that may grind additional dirt into the damp spot.]
Even when you keep your carpets vacuumed and well maintained, smoke, dust, cooking grease, pet fur and more accumulates on your carpet’s fibers. Over time, it will dull the pigment and affect its texture and suppleness. That’s why most warranties require deep cleaning every 12-18 months.
When you do deep clean, be sure to use a professional cleaning service. It will meet the conditions of your warranty AND extend the life of your carpet.
For more information about how to care for your soft surface floors and how to meet your warranty requirements, call or visit one of our showrooms.