Time For Carpet Cleaning
There are no substitutes for a good "all-over" carpet cleaning treatment when you have been abusing your precious soft furnishings for more than a year. Dirt, grime and dust mistes may not be visible (well, at least not all the time) but it doesn't mean that your carpet is in pristine condition. Even the darker colours bear the signs of long use and the lask of proper professional maintenance. Even if you had Scotchgard applied during the last clean, even if you have been following exactly manufacturers' guidelines and blotting all stains immediately upon their appearance, that would hardly be a reliable dirt stopper due to the wearability of the product. Especially on high traffic areas like corridors, entrance halls etc.
No matter how hard you try to keep the carpet in good condition through regular vacuuming and manual removal of larger dirt particles, there comes a time when you simply give up because either the look of it is no longer to your liking or the smell and feel of the fibres screams loudly: 'Clean me, clean me'.
Sometimes this is because you are having holiday company or moving out of the house, but the end result is always the same, you'll have to make the decision as to whether or not to have the steam cleaning done professionally or to do it yourself.
Hire a Professional Or Do It Yourself?
There are pros and cons to both sides. Having the work done professionally can be costly, and if you get a less than reputable company in your house the result can be ruined padding and floors, stained carpet and all hope lost of getting your damage deposit back if you are a renter. The up side is that if you hire a good professional, your carpet will be left healthy, look almost like new and come with a guarantee that you can hold onto.
Doing the Clean Yourself
If you choose to shampoo carpets yourself, you could save a lot of money - if you know what you are doing, how to do it and if you do not believe in magic. Otherwise, renting a portable carpet extractor machine which you don't know how to work, can damage the carpet and soak the floor, and you will be out of cash and still have a less than attractive carpet.
If you choose to do it yourself, do a little research as to the different chemicals used by the professionals and keep the kids out of the house for the night afterward. Didn't know that one did you? Some commercial products can contain chemicals which can hurt the kid's lungs and cause mold to develop in the carpet if it isn't suctioned or dried properly. You can look for chemical names on the container such as solvents and mildewcides, but any of these chemicals can irritate the tissue in the lungs or cause asthmatics to have a reaction. Best to keep everyone out until the carpet is completely dry and use a mask while you are treating it.
Use fans to speed drying or open the window/switch the central heating on. Professionals use big industrial fans which work well but are expensive for the average person to afford. Another thought is that the kind of carpet cleaners which can be rented at the local hardware store (Rug Doctor etc.) are a roulette as to whether or not the guy before you cleaned it properly before returning it. You can't be sure that they did, even though there is an added cost if they returned it dirty. You may end up spreading around someone else's carpet dirt instead of removing your own.
Hiring a Professional
The bottom line in treating carpets is that given all the downsides to the process, you may be better off hiring a professional to do the job, but make sure that you ask questions about the types of chemicals that they use. If they are reluctant to discuss this, find someone else, a reputable carpet cleaning company will be able to answer all of your questions to your satisfaction.