How to Clean Carpets Like a Professional

When it comes to carpets there is only so much that your vacuum cleaner can cope with. Unless you are…


When it comes to carpets there is only so much that your vacuum cleaner can cope with. Unless you are in possession of a powerful machine that will suck deep into the pile of your carpet, dirt, grime and dust will inevitably build up over time. Add children and pets into the equation and there are invariably going to be spillages and accidents that stain the carpet. The unfortunate truth is that your standard vacuum cleaner will not be able to cope with the accumulations of dirt and dust that have built up over the years. 


You may not notice it but over the years your carpets will have absorbed many different odours and matter and a good deep clean will make a huge difference. Even the cleanest looking houses will have dirt and debris below the surface. Once you have decided to undertake this yourself and have read this guide on how to clean carpets like a professional you will be amazed at the colour of the liquid that is hoovered up from your carpet after the shampoo and agitating cleaning heads have done their work.

No matter how fastidious your cleaning regime is all carpets will eventually look a little tired and old and appear to be in need of replacement. However, before you give up on your carpets and rush out and spend a significant lot of money on some brand new carpets or consider calling in some professional cleaners for a quotation then consider what you can do yourself. If you follow this article you will learn how to clean carpets like a professional. After this you should be able to actually save yourself money and the resulting deep clean can be quite astonishing, giving your carpets an entirely new lease of life and your entire property will smell so much fresher.

A little known, and often unconsidered fact is that your carpet is by far the largest furnishing in a room. It is also the one that receives the most use. It makes sense, but not many people give much thought about exactly how much dirt is being tracked in every day, whether by pets and children, or just day to day life. While you may not notice it at first, over time the room can look dirty and appear outdated just by the carpet’s condition. Learning how to clean carpets like a professional can not only keep the carpets looking as good as new but will also improve the overall aesthetics of the room.

Professional carpet cleaning prices are not prohibitively expensive when compared to other household expenses and if you are prepared to do this yourself then be aware that this involves quite a lot of work. However, if you follow these steps you will soon know how to clean carpets like a professional and save yourself some money as well.

This article will examine the different types of carpet that are usually purchased and fitted in the UK, as well as some of the additional considerations relating to the different types of fibres and constructions. This should help you learn how to clean carpets like a professional and save you money over time, as well as giving you the satisfaction that doing something yourself can bring.

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What is Included in a Professional Carpet Cleaning?

The following checklist identifies what a typical professional carpet cleaning entails. Obviously, this is not an extensive list and individual companies offerings will differ however it should give you a good feel of what you should be doing to achieve similar results and you will know how to clean carpets like a professional. 

  • Initially the cleaner will vacuum the room with a powerful vacuum cleaner to remove any dust and larger pieces of debris that have accumulated behind and underneath your furniture over the years
  • Once the surface has been cleaned the carpet cleaner will spray a mixture of hot water and shampoo into the carpet
  • The head of the carpet cleaning machine will then be moved across the carpet, this agitates and loosens up debris and dirt deep within the fibres of the carpet, ensuring that years of grime and other particles are removed
  • The carpet cleaner will then use the same machine to vacuum the delightful solution of liquid and dirt which is then disposed of, usually accompanied by an expression of disgust when you see what has been lying beneath your feet for some time
  • Finally there will be an additional rinse using water only followed by a brushing to align the carpet fibres in the same direction and leave your carpet looking as good as new

What are the Benefits of Having my Carpets Cleaned?

The obvious key benefit is that you have clean and fresh carpets throughout your house but there are several additional things that you maybe haven’t considered. 

  • Throughout their lifetime your carpets will absorb a multitude of nastiness. This can include dust mites, bacteria, grease, chemicals, allergens, dead skin, hair and food and drink particles plus many more that are too disgusting to mention
  • Regular vacuuming can help to keep the upper layers of your carpets clean but at some stage that deep, ground in grime will need addressing
  • Carpet cleaning can significantly prolong the life of your carpet
  • Carpet cleaning is proven to improve indoor air quality. Carpets can trap airborne pollutants deep within their fibres. However, eventually those pollutants must be removed in order to protect the carpet and maintain indoor air quality. Indoor air quality is a major issue, especially if you are a sufferer of asthma or allergies 
  • Cleaning your carpets makes carpets easier to maintain. The majority of carpet soiling is made up of dry debris. When carpets are kept thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis, most dry debris can be removed with regular vacuuming 
  • Cleaning your carpets removes spots and stains. As with other soils, spots and stains can attract more soiling. Removing them promptly protects carpeting from damage. The most obvious reason to have your carpet cleaned is to get rid of tough stains. 
  • Carpet cleaning will enhance the appearance of any room. Clean and well maintained carpets will speak volumes about the overall cleanliness of your home
  • Cleaning your carpets removes dust mites and bedbugs that may have found a home in carpets. Carpet provides a very attractive warm and cosy interior for your home. Unfortunately, many tiny bugs like carpeting for the same reasons

Fabric Stain Protection Products

It is also possible to have your carpets treated with a stain protector. This product works by using a thin protective layer which allows the material to repel any dirt, liquid, dust or other substances. This results in leaving the soil sitting on top of your carpet, rather than penetrating into the fibres of the carpet. This product means that your carpet can be well protected from accidental spillages of tea, coffee, red wine, almost anything!!

Using these products will not cause any changes to the appearance of your carpet, at a lower level the properties of the individual fibres may change but this is not noticeable to the casual observer.

The manufacturers state that the best time to apply this product is either on a brand new carpet or after it has been cleaned and the carpet is still wet so you are presented with an ideal window of opportunity if you are cleaning your carpets. You can usually walk on the treated carpet almost immediately after treatment but it is advised that you wait for the application to dry completely.

Although applying these products may add more costs to your carpet cleaning you should be able to significantly extend the period between subsequent cleans therefore saving more money in the long term. 

Carpet Cleaning Equipment Hire

Generally, the cost of a commercially available carpet cleaner is approximately £25 per day but this will also need collecting, cleaning and you will incur additional costs for shampoo and cleaning products. It can sometimes be more efficient to buy these cleaning solutions from a different source to the location that you are hiring from. Obviously, this is not always the most convenient method so investigate the financial savings beforehand. When booking carpet cleaner hire be sure to check online however as some companies now offer home delivery and collection which makes the whole process so much easier. 

Some of the machines will also have an attachment for working on stubborn stains in isolation without over wetting the carpet. This is especially useful if you are cleaning stair carpets as well.

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Carpet Cleaning Without Hiring Specialist Equipment

If you wish to clean your carpets without hiring a specialist carpet cleaning machine then this will inevitably not produce such a good finish as a machine assisted clean and is very labour intensive however the steps to do this are as follows:

Shampoo Based Cleaning

This is only suitable for short piled carpets, if you’re carpet has a thicker pile then this cleaning method will not have the desired effect. This method requires the use of a soft scrubbing brush and carpet shampoo.

After scrubbing the carpet with the shampoo, have clean cold water in a bucket and repeat the same process to clean up any remaining dirt. During the washing process, ensure you replace the water every time it becomes too dirty. For effective washing, wash in a logical manner, choose to start from one wall side towards the other to avoid leaving some parts out.

Baking Soda Cleaning

As well as being used in a paste for stain removal you can also use baking soda to clean the entire carpet to a certain extent. Simply sprinkle baking soda generously across the whole carpet. Leave this overnight and vacuum up the next day. Although this will not provide the best cleaning solution it will leave your carpets a little cleaner and with a fresh smell.

What are the Different Types of Carpets and Carpet Fibre?

When you are looking how to clean carpets like a professional you will need to consider the types of carpets that you have in your house. This is because natural fibres require far more care and attention when they are being cleaned.

In the UK the most common types of carpet sold are either woven or tufted. The following descriptions should help you to identify the type of carpet that you have in your home:

Tufted carpets are the most common type of carpet as they are significantly cheaper and quicker to make. 

Woven carpets are constructed by weaving backing fabric and pile yarn together. Woven carpets are more durable than tufted carpets but are more expensive. This is a traditional way of making carpets.

There are two types of fibre, natural or synthetic and some carpets utilise a blend of both. The most widely used fibre is wool and this is recognised as the best available solution as it can retain its colour and appearance for years, and is naturally flame resistant.

Synthetic fibre is the most cost effective and practical solution and synthetic fibres are recommended for high traffic rooms and in areas such as the bathroom and landings. These are much more durable and do not require any specialist care during cleaning.

The Actual Clean

So now you know what the experts do then how can you go about it, the following steps will show you how to clean carpets like a professional. At this point we will assume that you have either purchased or hired a carpet cleaner and are ready to go.

Clear the room

You are never going to be able to achieve the desired results if you are constantly working around furniture, or doing the room a bit at a time. There is no doubt that this will be a difficult task but the results are well worth it and the time spent at the beginning will pay huge dividends when you see the final result. Once you have the room totally empty it is time to start the actual work.

If for any reason you cannot get some furniture removed then the best method is to move any bulky items to the centre of the room and treat the outside of the room first.

Also ventilate the room by opening as many windows as possible, this will help the carpets to dry as soon as possible, as will cranking up the central heating.

Initial Vacuum

Using the most powerful vacuum you can get your hands off give the room a thorough cleaning to remove all of the dust and debris that have accumulated behind and underneath your furniture over the years. This will allow the carpet cleaning machine to focus ion the more in-depth grime within the fibres of your carpet.

Stain Removal

Before you start the machine then take a look around and if there are any stains that need pre- treating or high traffic areas then consider using some of the commercially available pre treatments. There are various types available but the most common include spot and stain remover, high traffic area, odour remover and urine eliminators for the pet owners. Once you have followed the instructions on the containers then you will be ready to let the carpet cleaning machine do its stuff.

There are several alternatives to commercial stain removers and we will explore some of these here.

As with all stain removal products please ensure that you test these on a discreet area of your carpet before applying in any larger areas.

Shaving Cream Stain Remover

One of the best carpet cleaners for general stains is ordinary shaving foam. This has remarkable stain removal qualities and will remove almost any type of stain. The use of this cannot be simpler, just apply the shaving foam directly to the stain and leave for thirty minutes. Once this time has elapsed simply blot the shaving foam up with a clean dry white cloth. To finish off spray the area with a mix of half white vinegar and half water before wiping this solution away with a cloth.

Baking Soda Stain Remover

For this stain removing solution you will need the following:

  • Small spray bottle
  • 1 teaspoon dish washing liquid
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 250ml warm water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Clean absorbent towel
  • Clean sponge

Gather the ingredients listed above and prepare to make your carpet cleaner. Along with being an amazing concoction, vinegar and baking soda demonstrate some remarkable exhibitions when they are combined. Because vinegar is an acid, and baking soda is alkaline, when the two mix together, they create carbon dioxide, which results in lots and lots of cleaning bubbles. 

Add the dish washing liquid to the spray bottle along with the vinegar, and then top up with the warm water. Now the most important, and fun part, working over a sink, with the top of the spray bottle close at hand, add the baking soda, and then quickly screw on the top of the spray bottle before the reaction has time to complete.

Vacuum the affected area and then wipe gently with the abrasive nylon side of a sponge.

Spray the soiled area generously with the carpet cleaner, and then gently rub and dab with the towel. Even on this initial application you should start to see cleaning results right away.

Continue blotting and wiping with the towel to absorb the solution and this should completely remove the stain.

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Using the Carpet Cleaner

Most commercially available carpet cleaners have 2 main tanks, the first contains the cleaning solution and the second one is the recovery tank that contains all of the dirt and muck that has been removed from your carpets fibres. Your first step is to mix the shampoo with the required amount of water, this should usually be hot tap water, unless you are cleaning wool based carpets, if this is the case then use lukewarm water. At this point you should pay strict attention to the manufacturer’s instructions as all machines, although mostly similar, they all have their own little quirks.

Once you have the machine fully loaded then let the machine do its stuff. The majority of machines will have 2 switches, one for the main suction and the second for the spraying of the cleaning solution. Be sure to have this spray button pressed in at all times apart from when you reach the end of the carpet before turning around, this will avoid you over wetting the carpet. The best method would be to do this in regular lines, each time overlapping the previous line slightly. 

As you are moving the machine across your carpet the head of the machine will agitate the carpet and loosen up debris and dirt deep within the fibres of the carpet, ensuring that years of grime and other particles are removed. Keep an eye on the recovery tank, you will be amazed, and a little disgusted at the colour of the water that comes from the carpets that you previously thought were already clean! 

Finally perform an additional rinse using water only followed by a brushing to align the carpet fibres in the same direction and this will leave your carpet looking as good as new.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Carpet Cleaning

Will my Carpets be wet After Cleaning?

Your carpets will retain a little moisture but will not be soaking. An unavoidable side effect of carpet cleaning is some moisture but crank up the heating and this will soon disappear. Carpets should be able to be walked on and not noticeably wet.

How Often Should I Clean my Carpets?

There are many factors that need to be considered before this question can be answered. It is dependent on the age and condition of the carpet as well as whether or not you have children or pets making a mess. Under normal circumstances once a year is a very good, unless there are people with allergies, asthma or other breathing-related conditions in the home. In this instance medical professionals recommend that carpets are professionally cleaned every three to six months for those with allergies.

Can I Clean the Stairs With a Carpet Cleaning Machine?

Obviously, these machines are very heavy with a large cleaning head and are generally for larger rooms. If you are intending to clean your stairs then be sure to hire a carpet cleaning machine with an integral hand cleaning tool. This replicates the functionality of the larger unit but avoids having to manoeuvre the machine up and down each step individually.


If you have got this far then you should be a little more aware of how to clean carpets like a professional. You should now be able to completely rejuvenate the carpets in your property and begin to reap all of the benefits that clean carpets will bring. More importantly having undertaken the first cleaning you will not only be more familiar with the actual equipment but you will have to perform this less often, especially if you have added fabric protection whilst cleaning.

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