Do-It-Yourself Carpet Cleaning...You Really Can!

I've been talking for at least a year now (ok, fine, 2 years) about renting a carpet cleaner from Lowe's. We have a condo that is a little over 1000 square feet (80% which is covered in white carpet). Since we enjoy having indoor plants, dirty shoes, food, and a saltwater fish tank, our carpet takes a beating. We also have a black cat...well, black kitty and white carpet don't go together...ESPECIALLY since our cat likes to go on a puke-fest a couple times a year. He also uses the breaks between puke-fests to barf too. Arg! I could write about the 3 diagnoses we got on this cat (all from the same Dr. in the same week), but the point of this post is to convince you what a beautiful thing it is to clean your own carpet!
Like I said, I kept blowing hot air about how I was gonna rent this machine and get the job done...last nite I was having a pity party about the fact that Tim was out in Nebraska. We all know that the best way to end a pity party is to start a BIG project.
I drove over to Lowe's and talked to the lady at the service desk. The first thing she told me was that "It's EASY!" She was in fact correct. They have 2 different sized machines for rental. The smaller is $20 and the larger one $26 for a 24 hour rental. I would have rented the smaller machine to save $6, but only the larger was available.
In addition to choosing your machine, you pick which kind of cleaning solution you want to use. They have 2 types. I chose the one that had some oxygenating effect (since I'm a fan of oxyclean). They sell like 3 different sizes of each type...I picked the largest since my carpet was HORRID!!!
You also have the option of renting what they call a Hand Tool...it connects to the machine so that you can clean upholstery or, in my case, stairs (all 32 of them!. This was an additional $3.
For the machine, cleaning fluid, and hand tool, i was set back about $51.
So, I came home with all my loot and reviewed the directions pamphlet. It really did look easy. Once I put Lorelai to bed, I got started.
The Wide Track machine that I rented has a 3 1/2 gallon capacity. I filled it up with the proper ratio of hot water and chemical and got to work on the dirtiest areas (because I knew I'd want to go over them more than once). I made my way through the TV room, office, hallway, part of the bedroom, and 1/2 of the stairs.
At first, I wasn't sure if it was making much difference...but I proceeded to cover the dirtiest areas 2, 3, even 4 times (the directions say not to go over the areas that much...well...I have a bit of a "Tim the Tool Man Taylor" syndrome).
Honestly, it made a HUGE difference! I'm so happy with the results, I'll definitely be cleaning my carpet myself again. Even if I could have hired a company to do it for the same price, I really don't think they would have taken the time to cover the worst areas multiple times.
I really wish I had taken before and after pics. That thought occurred to me as I was cleaning the last 3 steps. Shoot. Let's put it this way: my bottom staircase looked like we were running a coal mine down there. The area by the TV was definitely suffering from the fact that we do a lot of eating there. The carpet was originally white...but it was looking tan! There was a large dark gray stain at the top of the stairs that I had tried cleaning with 2 different carpet sprays- no help. There really were spots in our carpet that I thought were permanently ruined!
But, now...the carpet is white again! I want to be like one of those models on the carpet ads...you know, the ones in cocktail dresses caressing their carpet while they sip a glass of red wine. Hmm...maybe later.
Here are some tips and tricks if you want to clean your carpet too:
1. The actual act of the cleaning is a one person job, but you may want some help moving the furniture and dragging the machine in and out of the car (or up the stairs as in my case). The large machine, which I rented, probably weighs close to 50 lbs once it's full. If you do it all yourself, 2 Advil does the trick.
2. I chose to do the bulk of my cleaning at night so that it would be dry by the time Lorelai got up...this was great.
3. If you don't own at least 2 fans, borrow some. BEFORE you cover areas more than twice, you really want to get them somewhat dry...again, the directions really recommend you don't cover areas more than twice, but it worked for me.
4. Berber carpet is a little different...pay attention to the directions if you have it.
5. Don't be in a rush to put furniture back...lots of items have metal feet or screws in the bottom...you don't want rust on your carpet!
6. I found this time of year to be perfect for this job...not too hot that i couldn't leave the windows open while I worked, but not so cool that I couldn't crank the air up to help with the drying.
7. Cranking up the ceiling fans really helped things dry.
8. If you have trouble lifting/dragging heavy things, you might want to stick with the smaller machine.
9. The even though I have a small place, I'm glad I got the bigger machine...I didn't have to refill it as often.
10. Don't worry about moving ALL your furniture. If you aren't planning on re-arranging things anytime soon, just do the main drag.
11. Pulling the machine backward while pushing the button does the cleaning...if you are planning on re-doing some areas, you can also go back over your work WITHOUT pushing in the button...this will help suck up some of the excess cleaning fluid
12. The bottle of cleaner (the largest) I bought said it would cover 900-1800 square feet. Well, my place is only a little over 1000 square feet (and I didn't clean all of it since I left all the big furniture in its place), but since I added the upper amount of what they recommended AND went over some areas multiple times, I used about 4/5 of the bottle...be aware of that.
Any questions? Ask! Obviously I'm errily excited about this since I wrote such a long blog about it!


Candy said...

wow. Admirable. I just close my eyes as I walk pass the stains, and pray some day we can do away with all carpet:-) Cute header pic!!

Elle said...

We've talked about doing this, but I wasn't sure how it would work. After reading your post I'm ready to give it a try.

stickymama said...

Inspiring! Especially since, yuck, let's just say my dog has had some "digestive issues" lately. Then there's the leaky popsicles, bottles, shoe goo...

fcelp said...

Thanks Becca...

Cleaning carpet can be such a dreadful experience, but I think we can do it with your helpful tips.

I just hope my carpet cleaning experience is as smooth as yours.