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February 2014

Mary's Modern Homemaking

Keep Your Carpet Clean
By Mary Frances

Mary's Modern Homemaking archive


Courtesy of Microsoft Office Clip Art.


Winter has arrived bringing with it rain, cold, ice, and snow. It is a season I am not especially fond of.

Along with animals, humans tend to hibernate somewhat. We stay inside more, and keep the windows closed. Doors open and shut quickly, with people bringing in a lot of "yuck" on their shoes.

The battle is underway

When I can, I crack open a window or two to let in some fresh air and let the smell out. I mop the floors more often and try to get visitors into the habit of removing shoes before entering; I keep three sizes of slippers by the front door. When people enter my house, I let them know the rules and offer up a pair of slippers in exchange for their dirty shoes.

I don't forget about the dog either. He has a towel or two in a basket near the door. He gets his feet wiped and dried before entering. This goes for each and every of the many times he is in and out!

But . . . as hard as I try, things don't always go according to plan, and my floors still manage to accumulate dirt and mud stains.

Most floors are easy to clean. A mop, a bucket of water, and some mild soap will do the trick.

But my poor carpets! They need special treatment.

A good vacuum helps

Day to day, a good vacuum is needed. To find one, I suggest a visit to a vacuum repair shop. They offer a good selection of refurbished models. While some folks might frown at a used appliance, sometimes they are the best choice.

One excellent reason is saving something from the landfill: recycle, reuse, reduce at its finest.

Also, remember that such repair shops only fix good quality vacuums, not the "throw-away" kind most discount stores sell.

The repair person has taken time to thoroughly check the vacuum, so you know it will be in good condition. These machines usually come with a longer warranty or guarantee, too.

And if anything goes wrong or you just want to tune it up, the repair shop is there to help. Regular maintenance is as important to a vacuum as it is to your car.

Make your own carpet freshener

Remember last month when I mentioned recycling some of your unused baking needs? Here's a good tip for reusing that unwanted cornstarch.

In a bowl, mix equal parts cornstarch and baking soda. Gently blend together. Sift 6 to 10 times. This turns it into a very fine, soft talcum-like powder. Then add a fragrance of your choice. I love lavender, so bits of dried flowers go into mine.

Pour into a container of your choice, one that has holes—something like a cheese shaker is best. Then sprinkle the mixture onto your carpet just before vacuuming. This helps carpets look fresher and smell great.


A canning jar topped with netting makes a good shaker.


Exercise for a clean carpet

I like to use my feet—with socks on, of course—and work the carpet freshener into the carpet. Make it into a dance. Who needs a gym membership when you have this? Let sit for 15–20 minutes, and then vacuum.

Dab up the drinks

If liquids are not dealt with as soon as possible, they will soak right down to the padding. Once this happens it is almost impossible to get the stain out and the carpet clean; even a professional carpet cleaning may not be enough.

So as soon as possible after the spill, use a clean, soft, cotton rag to dab at the wet spot.

Treat such things as wine, juice, coffee, and milk as quickly as you can. Remember: do not give them a chance to soak into the padding. These liquids will not only stain but stink.

After dabbing, grab the salt and pour. Be generous. One can never use too much. Let sit until the salt looks as if it has absorbed every bit of liquid. At this point I use a whisk broom and sweep up as much as possible, then I vacuum what is left.


Like magic, wine spilled on a carpet
will soak right into a pile of salt.


Pet stains

For pet stains, do not use ammonia. To your pets, it smells like another animal came along and marked the territory. They will simply re-mark what is theirs.

Instead, as with other liquids, first blot with a clean cotton rag. When you feel as much as possible has been soaked up by the rag, move on to the next step.

In a squeeze bottle, put a drop or two of dish soap and fill with warm water. Gently dab this soapy mixture into the spot. Let dry, and then vacuum. As an alternative, club soda also works well.

Candle wax and gum

What happens when candle wax or gum drops onto your carpet? Well, all is not lost. Try an ice cube wrapped in a cotton dishcloth and gently place it on top of the sticky stuff. Hold there until the wax or gum hardens.

You should be able to gently pull it up with your fingers or a table knife. Any residue can then be rubbed off with the same liquid you mixed up for pet stains.

Another trick that works well on sticky items is peanut butter—but be warned that you will have to remove the smell of the peanut butter.


1-2-3: When a candle drips onto the carpet, apply ice (wrapped in a dishcloth),
and remove the hardened wax.


Carpet care can mean a warmer home

Carpets are expensive. By taking good care of them, you'll have them around longer. Cleaning up messes before they become stains helps not only the carpet but the padding. This keeps odors at bay, and the padding will last longer, which helps keep your home warmer.

And just like a car, your carpet needs regular maintenance. If possible, have it cleaned professionally once a year. Summertime is best for drying out a wet carpet. However, a dry, non-toxic method is becoming popular, which allows you more flexibility in your schedule.

Stay healthy by cleaning your house

Whew! Having gone through all this, who needs a gym? Did you know that vacuuming burns well over 100 calories per hour? So take your time.

Keep healthy by eating right and cleaning the house!


Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.


Mary's Modern Homemaking copyright 2014.
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