Your carpet isn’t outside, subject to the snow and bitter cold, but if you want your carpet to last for years, you have to think about “winterizing” it. With dripping boots and ice melt products sticking to your shoes when you enter, your carpets will get soaked and soiled. Plus, if you have any holiday get-togethers, foot traffic will dirty the carpet and wear it down. If you don’t want to be stuck with a bill totaling thousands for a replacement carpet come spring, get your carpet ready for the winter before the first snow even falls.
A Thorough Cleaning
The best offense is a good defense; in carpet terms, that means starting with a carpet in prime condition before winter begins. Have a professionalcompany thoroughly clean your carpets during the autumn before snow and ice become an issue. A professional has the tools to remove all of the dirt and dust trapped deep in the fibers — dirt you may not even notice until it rises up and gives your carpet a grimy look. Professionals can alsotreat your carpet with a stain-fighter formula that will make it more difficult for the fibers to absorb slush and grime.
Still, some of winter’s harshness is bound to get in your carpets, no matter how hard you try to stop it. After winter is over, get your carpets cleaned professionally again. This way, the winter months won’t cause permanent damage.
The next step in your winter carpet defense is rugs. Buy deep rugs with rubber backing that will absorb the majority of moisture shoes and boots track in.Put one in front of each doorway, even the seldom-used doorways.When you start entertaining for the holidays, some guests may not know what your preferred door is and enter through those rarely used doors.
Place one rug in front of the doorway with another rug to the side for shoes. For even more thorough protection, add a long runner rug leading from the doorway into the home. If you let a group of people into the house at the same time, like during a party, some guests may step inside beyond where that first rug protects before taking off their shoes, so the runner rug will come in handy. You may flinch at your beautiful carpet being covered, but it’ll be worth the protection — and you can put the rugs away in the spring.
A No-Shoe Policy
Ask visitors to take off their shoes in a designated area by the door and leave them to dry on a rug set aside for that purpose. Some people feel uncomfortable removing their shoes at home or in another person’s home, so you may wear indoor-only slippers and offer some to your guests who’d prefer to keep their feet covered. If you host a formal party where women wear heels, some mayfeel silly in slippers in pantyhose-covered or no-sock feet. So, ask that they bring a pair of dry shoes to change into and leave their boots or wet shoes at the door.
Between professional cleaning sessions, continue to keep your carpets free of accumulated dirt, ice melt substances and pet fur by vacuuming weekly. Pay special attention to the areas near the door, and vacuum both the protective rugs and the carpet beneath, as some small dirt may have been kicked below the rug. To freshen up the carpet, sprinkle baking soda liberally across the room. Let the soda sit as long as feasible, preferably overnight. Vacuum up the baking soda after at least ten minutes; the room will smell fresher, and the carpet fibers will be cleaner.
As About.com explains, ice melt products are corrosive substances not only toxic to vegetation, but to pets as well. Don’t let the stuff drag onto your carpets and sit there. Be proactive; protect your carpets, and clean them frequently and thoroughly. Remember that ice melt products are clear and hard to see; they may soak in with the slush on your boots and settle near the bottom of the fibers. Prevent damage to your carpets this winter — and you’ll find the season much more tolerable.
About the Author: Phil Kearny, is a carpet expert and a contributing writer for COIT. Visit COIT Carpet Cleaning to winterize your carpets with the help of trained experts.