In your home's general appearance, well-maintained floors and freshly vacuumed rugs or carpets can spell the difference between so-so and spectacular.
Besides dirt, stains and general wear and tear, a problem common to both floors and carpeting is heavy traffic, especially with kids in the household.
While it may be impractical to ask friends and family to remove their shoes before entering the house, your first line of defense should always be to keep doormats at every entranceway in the house to keep dirt out, and away from floors and carpet.
To help keep both floors and carpeting always appearing fresh and new, follow these additional tips:
Carpet and rug cleaning & maintenance
Always clean up spills immediately to avoid staining.
Give carpets and rugs the once-over with a vacuum daily to avoid build-up of dirt and sand particles which can wear on carpet fibers.
Thoroughly vacuum all rugs and carpets once a week. Change vacuum bags when 1/2 full to avoid drag and increase suction.
Re-arrange furniture periodically in order to avoid traffic patterns.
Rotate area rugs in order to avoid wear in one area.
To prevent colors from fading, avoid long hours of direct sunlight on carpet.
Steam clean carpet (or hire a steam cleaning service) every 12-18 months.
How to get rid of carpet stains and odors
Pet odors, wine stains, blood stains, and other isolated spills can present special problems for homeowners. Here are some tips, tricks, and homemade solutions for keeping stains and odors from permanently ruining carpets and rugs:
The problem of an occasional accident by Kitty or Fido can be solved with a homemade solution of water, vinegar and baking soda.
First, dab up as much of the dog or cat urine as possible. Then apply a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water and saturate the area. Next, pour a generous amount of baking soda and work it into the spot with a soft brush. Once the area is dry, vacuum thoroughly. If there is any hint of odor remaining, repeat the process or the dog or cat may return to the scene of the 'crime.'
Wine stains require immediate action to achieve optimum results. First, dab (do not rub) the stain immediately with a dry cloth or paper towel. Quickly add one of several ingredients that have proven effective at keeping the stain from setting permanently.
These include white wine, club soda, or table salt.
Next, add a tablespoon of carpet shampoo to a cup of hydrogen peroxide (test for color fastness first) and pour into the stain, dabbing with a damp sponge until the wine stain begins to fade. When completely gone, dab the spot with clean water and soak up with paper towels to speed drying.
Again, quick action is necessary to keep stains from forming permanently. If all else fails, deep steam cleaning and other techniques used by carpet cleaning professionals will result in getting rid of most stains and odors from rugs and carpets.
How to keep wood floors clean and scratch-free
Gone are the days when wood floods had to be waxed and buffed to a high finish. Today, most urethane finishes only require light sweeping or damp mopping to maintain the wood's high gloss. Depending upon how heavily trafficked, a urethane finish may stay in tip-top shape for 5-10 years. Here are some more tips for keeping wood floors clean and bright:
When vacuuming, always use a soft brush attachment to keep from scratching the surface.
Wipe up spills and foot tracks right away with a damp mop. Use only mild soap for more stubborn spills. To avoid water stains, never allow water to pool on the floor for any length of time.
To protect the floor during paint jobs, always use new drop clothes to prevent any grit or dirt from scratching the surface.
Place felt padding under furniture legs to further prevent scuff marks and scratches.
More carpet, floor care & cleaning tips around the Web:
Carpet Cleaning Tips and Tricks - Practical tips for keeping carpets clean with discussions on steam cleaning, preventing and getting rid of carpet stains, mold and mildew, and related advice.
How to Remove Every Type of Carpet Stain - Expert guide from This Old House with complete instructions for getting rid of wine, blood stains, gravy, chocolate, ice cream and ink stains, wax, gum, oil spots and more.
Removing Stains from Hardwood Floors - How to remove cigarette burns, white spots and water stains, chewing gum, crayon and wax, with related tips on getting rid of mold and oil stains from hardwood floors..