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Carpet cleaning and maintenance tips for your new home

If you're planning to move into a new place with carpets and rugs, make sure you know how to properly clean and maintain them. Here are some tips for regular upkeep.

Carpets and rugs can make any room feel cozier. They keep your feet warm, they can add some color and style to a space, and they even prevent furniture from scratching the floor. The only downside is keeping them clean. 

Anyone planning to move into a new apartment or home will need to have that age-old debate between carpeting and hardwood floors. Many people choose the latter, because they're easy to maintain; dust and spills can be cleaned up with a broom and a mop. Carpets and rugs, meanwhile, require some extra diligence to keep looking fresh. Yet, the appeal of carpets - and the ever-tasteful rug - is too strong for some to ignore. If you fall into this category, not to worry: Keeping your floor fabrics clean is easily done, so long as you remember to do some upkeep on a regular basis. 

Day-to-day cleaning
Taking care of rugs and carpets is all about not letting messes settle. Dirt that's left to sit can be ground into fabric over time, making it impossible to clean with a regular vacuum cleaner. Spills that are left to dry, meanwhile, will leave stains. Unlike your favorite T-shirt, you can't just throw a rug into the wash. 

As such, you'll want to vacuum your carpets and rugs regularly. Once a week is generally a good policy. However, you'll also want to vacuum immediately after any big messes are made, such as muddy shoe tracks or food spills. Also, if you have house plants, be sure to clean up any dirt that may come with rearranging pots. You'll also want to brush out pet hair, which can get stuck in fabric and resists vacuums. 

Prevention techniques
Chances are, if you're moving into a new place, you probably don't yet have dirty flooring. That means you have an opportunity to set a new standard for keeping your fabrics fresh. Frequent vacuuming before dirt is embedded is the key step to good maintenance. Doing this may make it less essential for you to get regular deep cleans, or at least, minimize the amount of work that would have to go into the job. However, there are also some other methods for avoiding wear and tear in the first place.  

For example, a no-shoes policy is an easy way to help prevent dirty fabric. Designate a shoe spot or cubby at the front of your entrance for guests to put their footwear. If you don't want to do that, at least have a mat at your front door where people can brush their shoes off.   

When it comes to your rugs, Better Homes and Gardens suggests turning them every year. Sun and foot traffic will put strain on the fabric, and actually rotating them 90 or 180 degrees will make wear more even. 

Deep cleaning
Even if you're diligent about your cleaning, you'll still want to a deep clean of your fabrics once a year. You can purchase or even rent your own carpet cleaner, which generally uses steam, but can also be done with more expensive dry extraction cleaners. However, the safest and most convenient choice is a professional. These experts will know exactly what your fabric needs, and will likely have the tools to clean it. As Better Homes and Gardens noted, rugs also come in a variety of textiles, meaning that cleaning them may require more know-how than you have. Not only can they get dirt out, but they'll probably be able to assist with stains and other damage to the fabric, too.

Once you've had a deep clean done, it's no time to start slacking off with your carpet. Keep vacuuming regularly, even if the carpet doesn't always seem to need it. Your diligence will pay off in years' time, when your fabric is still looking nice.

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