How Long Will This Carpet Last?

We are frequently asked “How long will this carpet last?”

Assuming you are looking at a range of carpets that fit your needs the only realistic reply to this question is “Basically, for as long as you take proper care of it”.

I grew up next to a household of seven children who lived in a two story 3 bedroom house with only one staircase leading to the 2 upstairs bedrooms. The carpet they bought when they moved in was, for its day, a very good well-constructed frieze (in this day and age we’d call it a heavy twist) made of this relatively new fiber called “Nylon”. 7 days a week 7 kids ranging in age from 12 to 2 crawled, ran, slid and fell up and down those stairs. There was only one path from the kitchen thru the living room to the stairs to the bedrooms upstairs. 27 years later I was called in to replace that carpet; not because it was worn out or over soiled but the women of the house had decided that she couldn’t stand the color anymore.

I was amazed that that same carpet I had grown up on (her youngest were identical twins my age and let’s just say we saw the back end of a spoon frequently) was still there. I asked “How did this last so long??” Turns out she vacuumed the traffic areas twice a week and had the carpet professionally cleaned once a year. Also, when inevitably spills occurred she learned that flushing the spill/stain prevented a permanent mark.  All on her own this women had figured out how to protect her investment.

There are three things you can do to maximize the life of your carpet:

Vacuum

Vacuuming may be the single most important action you can take to maintain and add years of life to your carpet. Think of it this way, anything with hair, fur or any type of exterior fibers can and will over time accumulate grit and particles. As those grit and particles are rubbed or agitated against the fibers the fibers begin to lose both their shape and luster. This does not mean your carpet is unclean or unhealthy since most of these particles are microscopic in size and inert to boot. However they do over time saw away at your carpets fibers.  How can you remove these agitated particles before they do real harm?? Vacuum and we mean vacuum often.  Vacuum heavily trafficked areas most often, don’t worry as much about under the couch.

Please Note:  With the advent of today’s new soft carpet fibers (Shaw’s Anso Caress,  Mohawk’s Smart Strand made with Dupont Sorona, WearDated Embrace, Invista’s Stainmaster TruSoft, et al) not only is vacuuming even more important to maintain the “Like New” look of your carpet  but what type of vacuum you use with these new fibers has become an issue as well. Soft carpet manufacture’s now link their warranties to your care and maintenance as in are you using the proper type of vacuum with that new soft fiber you purchased.  It is important that you take the time to read the manufacturers recommendations as to make and model of vacuum you buy and use in order not to void your warranty. After all if you bought a cashmere sweater you would not maintain and clean it the same way you do your cotton t-shirt. Please see the attached PDF for a variety manufacturer’s recommendations regarding vacuuming and vacuums for many new soft fibers.

Professional Cleaning

By professionally cleaning we mean Hot Water Extraction. By Hot Water Extraction we mean steam clean. Never ever “Shampoo” your carpet as the residue detergent (and there is always residue) will act as both a magnet and adhesive for all the particles mentioned from above. Think of it this way shampooing requires a detergent. Overuse of the detergent, even by professionals, is both likely and common; the residue detergent, as it dries, acts like a magnetic glue by attracting and adhering all the particles to the very fibers you just cleaned. Microscopically every time you walk on your carpet these little saws gnaw away at those fiber bundles …Not good. Hot Water extraction uses heat and pressure to both loosen and float and so remove all the particles from the base of your carpets fibers. Why is this good? Because by removing the particles you give the fibers a chance to return to their original shape and position; no residue, no soapy film, carpet looks new…this is a good thing.

Please Note: Manufacturers will not honor any warranty claim unless you prove to them that the carpet has been professionally cleaned (using, you guessed it, Hot Water Extraction) every 12 to 18 months. For example Shaw Ind.’s warranty reads “professional” cleaning is required every 24 months minimally – Mohawk’s reads every 12-18 months.

Also, IICRC certifications are required and the use of CRI-SOA equipment and cleaning products (don’t worry your cleaner knows what this stuff is). Basically this means that these companies want to know that the carpet was cleaned by a professional not the local rented Rug Doctor.

Their viewpoint, and it is a valid one, is if you didn’t change your oil in your car but once a year no auto manufacturer would honor their warranty after the engine seized up from dirty and sludgy lubricant.  Please have your carpet cleaned within your particular manufacturer’s warranty time frame…Not for Olson’s sake but for yours in order to maximize the life of this beautiful and expensive investment in your home.

Flush Spots (Spot Cleaning)

A “spot” is defined as a localized area of contaminant. In most homes the contaminants range from Kool Aid to Pizza. The key to removing and eliminating any evidence of that particular ooops is very simple.

  1. Don’t Panic.
  2. Use paper towels or even an old t-shirt to remove all excess ooops from the area but do so in a manner in which you do not in any way put pressure on that area. In other words Do Not Press the goop deeper into the carpet!
  3. Finally it’s time to ….Flush! Flush! Flush! Did we mention FLUSH?  We want you to float all the goop that has made its way to the base of your carpet to the top so you can gently sop it up with white paper towels or a white cloth. Why white? Because white will not transmit any color onto your carpet and at the same time will allow you to easily see how much goop you are removing and still need to remove. Don’t worry about your carpet getting wet as it will quickly dry and spring back. Water applied in this small of an area for this purpose will not harm your carpet.

Understand that almost all (and by almost I mean 90+%) carpets sold to the home today have either a built in or topical treatment designed to resist staining. Please note the word RESIST…There is no such thing as a stain proof carpet. Resist means giving the owner time to react before the stain chemically bonds with the yarns and so is irreversible.

Hopefully this diatribe has helped and we promise if you enact these three maintenance steps your carpet will last until you can’t stand the color anymore.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful problem to have?

Ps.  When it comes to noticeable and or catastrophic damage caused by animal urine this can be a very complicated process. It’s best to leave the neutralization and extraction up to the professional carpet cleaning company with certified training in this area. There is even a difference between treating contamination between Dogs vs. Cats or even Male vs. Female. Retail store pet urine damage products are virtually useless and can even cause the urine stain to “set” and the carpet to prematurely delaminate (start to soften and begin to come apart)due to over saturation.  After all “If a little is good, then a lot is better”, Right? Nope.

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