You could be having pets walking around in your home; food crumbs can be seen occasionally on your carpets; the kids bring dirty shoes in the house; people spill coffee over the carpets, and just like everybody else you sometimes cough and sneeze too.
Am I right?
Carpets, like other surfaces, frequently used, are prone to accumulate dirt, germs, bacteria, allergens, etc. This implies that cleaning regularly with a vacuum is not enough as it may not be able to eradicate these contaminants, therefore, the process of sanitizing and disinfection during the cleaning process should not be overlooked.
Many approved EPA disinfectants are used on hard nonporous surfaces which makes it difficult to apply them on carpets that have soft surfaces. The question now is what can be used to sanitize the carpet and how can it be done?
Here’s what you need to do.
How to Sanitize a Carpet (7 Methods)
Method 1: Using Steam Cleaners
Steam cleaners use heat and pressure to force out microorganisms (like bacteria) and also kill them. With a steam cleaner, it also becomes easy to loosen the accumulated dirt and grime which enables you to wipe it away.
White distilled vinegar (With 6% Acetic acid)
1- Remove every unwanted stuff such as pieces of paper, unused nylons, and free up the surface of the carpet for proper sanitization.
2- Clean the carpet by using a vacuum that has a brush attachment and dust trimmer.
3- Using a spray bottle, spray a mixture of vinegar and water in a ratio of one to one (1:1) over all the stains on the carpet.
4- Fill up your steam cleaner, wait for about 5 minutes for the steamer to heat up, and then start cleaning the carpet patch by patch, ensuring that you touch the whole surface.
5- Finally, allow the surface of your carpet to completely air-dry before allowing the kids to play on it.
That was a cakewalk! Here is another one for you.
Method 2: Using Vinegar (without Steam Cleaning)
For those that do not have steam cleaners in their homes, this method could work best. Using vinegar doesn’t imply that you are using a less effective method compared to method 1, but it means you will be using a less expensive method to achieve the same bacteria and dirt-free carpet.
White distilled vinegar (With 6% Acetic acid)
1- Remove all visible grime from the surface of the carpet by using a vacuum.
2- Prepare your sanitizing solution by mixing vinegar and water in an equal ratio followed by the addition of dishwashing soap in a lesser quantity compared to the vinegar and water and mix.
3- Pour a generous quantity of the mixture on the carpet and thoroughly scrub (with a scrubbing brush) the surface. To avoid sogginess and overworking yourself, work your way in sections.
4- After ensuring that you have thoroughly scrubbed the surface, dip a large dry cloth into the water and use it to rinse the surface of the carpet by wiping it.
5- After rinsing, allow the carpet to air dry.
Simple, Isn’t it? Let’s see another method.
METHOD 3: Using a Carpet Extractor
Carpet extractors are undoubtedly on the top when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing carpets. Professionals use these machines. They make the removal of debris, grime, and bacteria so much easier.
There is also hot water carpet extraction which requires heat, but it should not be used on carpets that are sensitive to heat.
1- Clean the carpet surface using a vacuum cleaner, preferably one with a HEPA filter which can trap at least 99% of the allergen on your carpet.
2- Spray an alkaline dishwashing liquid on the surface of the carpet using a spray bottle and make sure it covers the surface completely.
3- Now use your carpet extractor to rinse the surface of your carpet.
4- Allow complete drying.
Tip: If you can’t afford to buy a carpet extractor, try renting it from a local service.
METHOD 4: Commercial Spray
Using a commercial spray is also one of the easiest and safest methods used to sanitize carpets. It contains chemicals that will kill pathogenic microorganisms. This method is also great because it requires less equipment and materials to effectively function.
You may use the EPA website to search for approved disinfecting products.
1- Use a vacuum to clean your carpet off any dirt and debris.
2- Spray the surface of the carpet with enough liquid and ensure that all the surfaces are completely covered
3- Allow the liquid to soak and interact with the microorganisms for about 5-7minutes in order to kill them
4- Vacuum again to eliminate the dead microbes, and rinse with a dry cloth dipped in clean water.
5- Allow air-drying.
Let me show you another unique way……
METHOD 5: Sanitizing with Snow
This method is good for carpets that cannot withstand heat and as strange as using snow to sanitize and clean might sound, it is an effective method that can successfully remove viruses from the surface of your carpet as many microorganisms cannot survive at very low temperatures.
Snow (it has to be snowing for you to use this method)
1- Spread your carpet in the snow.
2- Allow the snow to stay on it for about 15-20minutes
3- Hit the carpet with your stick a few times.
4- Flip it over and repeat the process about 3-4 times.
5- After this, remove the remaining snow and allow it to dry.
Let’s see another method.
Method 6: Using Borax, Baking Soda, and Cornmeal
A few household products can sanitize your carpets really well. Baking soda on its own is known to be an effective cleaning agent for many surfaces. Those surfaces include carpets as well. The addition of borax, cornmeal, and vinegar will increase its effectiveness.
White distilled vinegar (With 6% Acetic acid)
Clean soft cloth
1- Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing an equal quantity of borax and cornmeal with baking soda (Use half of the quantity that you used for borax and cornmeal for the baking soda).
2- Spread the mixture over the whole surface and rub it on the carpet using a soft clean cloth.
3- Allow the mixture to stay on the carpet, preferably overnight.
4- Clean with vinegar or dishwashing liquid the next morning.
5- Allow drying.
Method 7: Using Dishwashing Soap & Baking Soda
This is also a powerful homemade detergent cleaner.
1- Vacuum dirt and dust away from the carpet.
2- Soak the part you want to disinfect with water by sprinkling water on that part of the rug/carpet. Alternately you might want to cover your whole carpet.
3- Mix soap and the baking soda together and make sure it bubbles before you stop.
4- Using this solution, gently scrub the rug thoroughly with a soft-bristled brush. Let the fibers be only damp and not heavily soaked.
5- Now rinse the soapy solution away with warm water and a clean cloth.
6- Air dry by using a fan, or opening your windows, or spreading outside.
7- To restore the softness of fibers, vacuum the carpet once and you are done.
Bonus Method 8: Sanitizing Carpets in a Washing Machine
1- First off, pick up your carpet and head to your garage to give it a good shake to loosen the dirt and debris.
2- Vacuum it up to remove the loosened dirt.
3- If it is a small carpet then your standard washing machine will handle it but if it is a large one, then you might want to go to a self-service laundry facility to get your carpet cleaned.
4- Read the instructions of your carpet’s manufacturer for the temperature guidelines for washing and, on your machine, select the maximum temperature allowed.
5- Add Lysol Laundry Sanitizer, or chlorine bleach to the tray.
6- After the carpet is washed, air dry if it has a rubber backing. If not, then simply machine dry it on high heat.
How to Disinfect a Wool Carpet?
Dry Rug shampoos are effective in disinfecting and sanitizing wool Rugs to avoid saturation with water which could be caused by liquid disinfectants and sanitizers.
Dry rug shampoo / Wool carpet shampoo
Water / pre-mist solution
1- Spray water or a pre-mist solution on your carpet using a spray bottle.
2- Sprinkle your dry rug shampoo or wool carpet shampoo on the rug.
3- Gently brush the carpet to let the powder get into the fibers and leave it to stay for the time recommended on the label.
4- Vacuum it thoroughly and you have your disinfected wool carpet.
Are Sanitizing and Disinfecting the Same?
No, they are not!
Disinfecting kills or inactivates 100% of the germs from the surfaces while Sanitizing can only kill 99.99% of them. This leaves behind the possibility of that 0.1% of the germs (which can be in thousands) to multiply and re-invade your carpets.
There are 2 kinds of surfaces: Hard Surfaces and Soft Porous surfaces. Hard surfaces are easy to disinfect as they allow the disinfectant to remain on the surface and let the solution do its work.
While soft surfaces such as carpets, curtains, mattresses, couches, etc soak the solution thereby not allowing it to remain for the required dwell time. Therefore, the germs do not get 100% eliminated.
It does not mean that your whole sanitizing efforts are worthless. Sanitizing will reduce the possibility of you getting infected to almost the level of disinfection but with a little risk.
Why Regular Carpet Cleaning and Sanitizing is Important?
Sanitizing and disinfecting your carpet occasionally is not enough to prevent the build-up of bacteria and dust that can lead to allergic reactions and illnesses, incorporating a routine process is also important.
Vacuuming can be done daily, twice a week, weekly and so on depending on the rate at which the carpet is exposed to contaminants. If you live in an area with a hospital nearby or a polluted area, increase the frequency of your cleaning.
If you have an infant at home, you must clean the carpets and floors regularly. Kids are prone to catching diseases.
It is important to clean the carpet regularly because accumulated dirt can cause reduced durability of the carpet and also expose you and your family to disease and allergic reactions.
General Tips to Keep Your Carpet Clean
1- Use a Doormat
The importance of doormats in sanitation and the overall hygiene of your home cannot be overestimated. Instead of your carpets carrying all the germs and debris, your doormats would have caught most of them.
Also, it is also important to remove your shoes outside and encourage other members of your family to do so.
This will help reduce the germs stuck to the soles from spreading all over your carpets.
2- Remove Chewing Gum by Freezing
Just in case you happen to step on chewing gum on the streets and unknowingly use the same shoes to step on your carpet, this procedure will help you.
A- Place two or three ice cubes on the gum and allow the gum to freeze.
B- Use a spoon or fork to pull it out.
3- Heat Hardened Wax
Wax that is a result of burning candles can also be a source of dirty carpets. It can easily be removed by these steps:
A- Place a white cloth over the iron
B- Place the iron on top of the wax until it melts.
C- You can now scrape the melted wax with a spoon or fork.
4- Clean those Stains
Other home products that can be used in cleaning carpets include hydrogen peroxide which is a good dissolver of stains, shaving creams are also known to have the ability to remove any kind of stain.
Dishwashing soaps also help to easily remove greasy stains.
5- Choose the Correct Vacuum
There are a dozen different models out there. Some work on low pile rugs and not on others, while many models do not work on low pile carpets.
Some have HEPA filters, some do not. Some are heavy while others are light. So choose wisely.
Also, there is a proper method to vacuuming which is to empty the tank to ensure that all the debris, microorganisms, and dirt get trapped in the vacuum.
6- Yearly Cleaning
At least once every year, make sure to get your carpet deep cleaned by a professional service in your area. If you want to avoid the expenses, consider investing in a professional carpet cleaner.
This initial investment will save you money later on and your machine will last for years.
Alternately, you may choose a good quality cheaper carpet cleaner.
These methods not only sanitize your carpet but also clean it. All of these are tested and effective. It is important to maintain a timely cleaning and sanitizing schedule so that you avoid health problems.