If you have carpeted floors, you’ve likely heard plenty of tips and tricks for how to keep your carpet clean. What you may not have heard is that some of those shortcuts can actually be more harmful than helpful in the long run. Be careful not to fall into a carpet cleaning routine that might cause complications down the line.

Are You Waiting Too Long?

Cleaning Carpet

It’s best to treat your carpet immediately after pet stains or a spill. Over time, more moisture could become trapped in the carpet, and the resulting stain will be harder to remove. When treating, use a cloth or paper towel to blot the stain gently from the outside in rather than using a scrubbing motion; vigorous scrubbing can fray carpet fibers, wearing the carpet down. The same is true of vacuuming too roughly—slower vacuuming motions will remove residue more thoroughly and are easier on the material of the carpet.

In addition to removing stains as quickly as possible, it’s important not to let your carpet go too long without being cleaned. Leaving your carpet dirty for an extended period of time causes more dirt particles to become trapped in its fibers. Not only can these particles fray your carpet, but they can also become disturbed by footsteps and hang in the air, causing your indoor air quality to suffer. It’s best to vacuum at least once per week—more often if there are pets, children, or particularly high-traffic areas in your home—and have your carpet deep cleaned at least once every six months to a year.

Are You Making It Worse?

Steam Cleaning Carpet

Not cleaning your carpet correctly can leave it even dirtier in the short term and can shorten its life or leave it damaged in the long term. Using a dry-extraction method—sprinkling a cleaning powder on the carpet, then vacuuming—won’t leave your carpet damp, which can happen when a carpet is steam cleaned, but residue from the powder can build up in the carpet over time if you don’t vacuum properly.

Steam cleaning is another way to get the dirt out of a carpet. However, steam cleaning a carpet incorrectly could cause shrinkage, and leaving a carpet too wet from an improper steam cleaning could invite the growth of mold and bacteria.  Additionally, a rented steam cleaner that doesn’t work properly could damage your carpet by leaving behind excess cleaning solution.

In order to ensure that your carpet stays as clean as possible, it’s best to address issues as soon as you notice them and to hire a professional to deep clean your carpet on a regular basis. Don’t wait—the sooner you can nip a carpet issue in the bud, the better, and many Best Pick-certified carpet cleaning companies are available to help.

Click Here to View Your Local Best Pick® Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Contractors

Sources: Apartment Therapy; Better Homes and Gardens; Cleaning & Maintenance Management; The Huffington Post.