It's often said that prevention is better than cure. Whether your carpet's your pride and joy or a source of frustration, you probably have a vested interest in limiting the amount of spills and stains which accumulate on it.
Life is messy, particularly when there are young children or pets around, but these ideas will help to limit the damage to the carpets in your home.
Is it worth using carpet protector spray?
Carpet stain protectors add a layer of protection to your carpet to block pores in the fibres. This means that they absorb less liquid or grease following a spill, making the carpets less likely to become discoloured or sticky.
Protector spray often won't be able to prevent a stain entirely, but in most cases it will lessen the damage and make the carpet easier to spot clean.
If your carpet is relatively new, it may have arrived already treated for stain protection. This comes in 2 main types - a brush applied spray which can be carried out on an existing carpet and a "factory applied" treatment which happens during manufacture.
If possible, check the care recommendations from your carpet seller before trying to top up this treatment at home with domestic carpet protection sprays.
In some cases, adding a spay to a carpet in your home may affect its warranty and some manufacturers recommend only adding extra protection several years after a new carpet is installed. There are also some carpet materials, such as polyester, which will not benefit from protection sprays due to the nature of their fibres.
This brings us to…
Materials and Colours
A lot of what might protect your carpet from stains starts with your purchase. The choices you make about colour and material can have a big impact on how well your flooring will stand up against life’s various messes.
What Colour Carpet is the Easiest to Keep Clean?
The colour of your carpet won't affect how much actual bacteria or dust builds up within it, which is why regular deep carpet cleaning is always recommend.
However, if your aim is to make any future stains or discolorations harder to spot, there are a few choices.
Patterned carpets aren't for everyone, but intricate patterns or speckles on your flooring can disguise stains better than block colours or geometric patterns.
Darker colours or colours found in the natural world such as browns, green, golds, and greys are also good at disguising things like dirt and grass stains.
However, be careful when using carpet cleaners on dark colours, as some chemicals may leave a permanent lighter patch. You may also want to avoid black carpets as these actually do make debris such as pet hair very visible.
White carpets famously start to look grimy quickly, but they also open up the option of using bleach to deal with any stains.
What carpet materials stain the least?
Wool carpets can be on the pricier side, but they have a natural resistance to spills from both liquids and oils before they’re even treated. It can be worth investing in this type of carpet in particularly high traffic areas, or layering a wool rug over a less resistant carpet.
Carpets with synthetic fibres such as nylon and polyester will not have the same resistance to any oily messes but they are effective at repelling liquid and day-to-day dirt. This and their relative cheapness makes them a popular choice for pet owners and owners of public buildings.
Aside from stain resistance, you may also need to consider some practical matters about cleaning. For example, longer pile carpets are often harder to extract mess from than short pile.
Why does my carpet stain so easily?
Some carpet materials such as cotton stain easily all-round. Others are particularly susceptible to certain types of spills which may just be more common in your home for one reason or another. To give some examples, polyester and olefin don’t deal well with oil-based spills, acrylic can turn brown after interacting with certain cleaning chemicals, and wool can hold onto mould stains in high humidity.
As mentioned earlier, lighter coloured carpets can also show up dirt more quickly than other options. And carpets generally become less stain resistant as they age and begin to become flattened and worn down.
What can I put on my carpet to prevent stains?
If you’re serious about protecting your carpet, in some cases covering it up can be the best option. This can be as permanent as you want it to be.
Cheap rugs or carpet offcuts can be a lifesaver when you have new pets who are still in the housetraining process. If you have children who like to eat sitting on the floor, giving them a mat or blanket to sit on could save your new carpet from spaghetti sauce. You probably already know about using carpet protector sheets during household renovations, but they can also be handy in those emergency situations where you need to get muddy children indoors out of the rain asap.
For a long-term option, a chosen statement rug can serve many purposes – looking amazing, helping to keep your home warm, and protecting the carpet underneath. Since its smaller, you could even splash out on a more expensive stain-resistant fibre such as wool.
Door mats to wipe your feet on by every external door (not just the front door) can also at least limit the amount of human-carried dirt that makes its way onto your carpet.
Becoming a “no shoes inside” house or even having specific shoes or slippers which are always worn indoors is one way of reducing mud and grass stains.
Food and drink stains are another common problem, which can be reduced by using lap trays under plates when you’re eating away from the table and investing in spill-proof cups and glasses.
You should also make sure to use a sturdy barrier between you and the carpet when using high-stain-risk substances such as oil paints, nail polish, and hot glue. This could be carpet protector sheets as we discussed earlier, an old sheet or towel, or even newspaper.
Getting into good cleaning habits with your carpets can also help if a spill does occur. Carpets harboring dirt or oil have more for the new mess to stick on to, which can make stains harder to completely remove. Aim to vacuum all your carpets at least once per week and have them deep cleaned by a professional every 6-12 months to prevent underlying dirt from building up deep in the fibres.
Oh no! My carpet’s been stained anyway, what do I do?
Option 2 – Get a quote for a professional carpet clean now. While a cleaning company can not guarantee removing all stains, they have specialist equipment and techniques which will give your carpets the best chance, especially if they can get to the stain quickly.