Colorfast carpet will not bleed, fade, or change when you are cleaning it or removing stains. You should pretest your carpet to determine whether it is colorfast so you will know which cleaning treatment is right for your carpet.
Here's how to pretest your carpet to find out if it is colorfast:
- Find a carpet scrap or “hidden” spot, such as carpet in a closet – and vacuum the carpet.
- Dampen a cloth with the cleaner or stain remover you want to use.
- Lay the cloth on the carpet for an hour, and then blot the damp area with a dry white cloth.
- If the cloth is stained with carpet dyes, test another cleaning product until you find one that does not make the carpet sample bleed.
If you have light-color carpets and/or a house full of kids or pets, you might want to buy your own professional-style carpet cleaner designed for home use. Home cleaners can save you money over the long term, compared to hiring a pro several times a year. Keep in mind, however, that the unit you buy may not be as powerful as professional models are.
Most home carpet cleaning systems are water extraction units that are also known as steam cleaners. They work by injecting a solution into the carpet pile, then pulling the dirty solution back into the machine. To avoid the hassle of dragging a hose around the house, consider a model that does not require a clean-water hookup. Also, choose the most powerful machine you can afford to make the process as easy as possible. Be careful not to get the carpets overly wet when using a steam cleaner. This can damage the carpet backing, causing shrinkage, discoloration and odor.
Home cleaning systems that use a dry extraction method are available, as well. The cleaning process is different, as you spread a dry absorbent substance over the carpet being cleaned. Then, you vacuum it with the cleaning machine. Although dry extractors usually work better than steam cleaners, the machines and chemicals are more expensive than steamers and wet extraction solutions.
Another option is to rent a professional-quality steam cleaner from a grocery store or rental center because of the additional power. With rental fees and the price of cleaning solutions (shampoo, defoamer, spot removers, odor removers, and more), the cost of a rental machine can quickly add up. But it may be a better value if your carpets don't show dirt, your kids are grown, or you don’t have pets.
When you hire professionals, you'll get to choose between steam cleaning and dry extraction cleaning. Each method -- if handled by a qualified pro -- will do wonders for dirty carpets. Not only do professionals have far more powerful equipment than you're likely to buy or rent, they have far more experience removing stains. Prices may vary widely for essentially the same service, so shop carefully.