How do you Disinfect a Carpet? Effective Ways to Sanitize a Carpet

A carpet can harbor plenty of germs that makes it unhealthy especially for young kids and pets who spend most of their time on the floor. While steam cleaning is known for killing 99.9% of surface germs, virus and bacteria, the moisture can attract mold or damage a wood floor underneath a carpet.

You can disinfect a carpet without steam cleaner by using an EPA-approved carpet cleaner with disinfecting abilities. Use as directed by the manufacturer and once done, rinse the carpet and let it dry thoroughly.

How to Disinfect a Carpet  – Steps

It is possible to disinfect a carpet without damaging it. Look at the steps below:

1. Room clearance

Remove most items from your carpet including furniture and plant containers to pave way for cleaning. Place a piece of plastic under the leg of heavy furniture and items that cannot be moved to prevent rust and stains from happening on your cleaned carpet. 

2. Vacuuming

Use a vacuum to suck all the small loose debris of soil, dust and dirt from your wall to wall carpet. To also remove allergens and free particles from the air, use a vacuum with HEPA filtration. The High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter is designed to trap 99.97% of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns or larger including pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke.

According to Carpet and Rug Institute, vacuuming should be done as often as possible as it also have a great impact on the air you breathe. They recommend that you:

  • Vacuum daily in high-traffic areas
  • Vacuum twice weekly in medium-traffic areas
  • Vacuum weekly in light-traffic areas
  • Use attachments at carpet edges and above the floor surfaces

3. Apply a carpet cleaner

After vacuuming, use a spray bottle to apply a carpet cleaner that has disinfecting abilities. Most carpet cleaners do not disinfect or sanitize and thus you will have to look for a cleaner that contains a disinfectant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Some sources recommend use of vinegar to sanitize a carpet. While vinegar is not an EPA-recommended disinfectant, it is efficient in killing germs and lifting stains and dirt on surfaces. When used on carpet, a cleaning strength distilled white vinegar can reduce the number of pathogens.

NOTE: Some cleaning products have been reported to discolor or damage carpet fibers. Before you use any product on your carpet or area rug, read and follow the label instructions then test in a small hidden area of the carpet. Let it sit for 5 minutes and blot with a white towel. 

If there is no color transfer or damage to the fibers then proceed to use the product. Spray your cleaner on the carpet and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes or as per the manufacturer’s recommended time.

4. Rinse the carpet

Load the carpet extractor with water or a recommended rinsing solution. The machine will work the cleaning solution into the carpet fiber as it rinse, then vacuums all the solution, soil and water from the pile. It is important to ensure all the water, residue or cleaning solution is drawn from the carpet for faster drying and fresh smell.

Leaving a soap or a cleaner to dry in the carpet fibers can change how your carpet looks and smells. It is thus a great idea to have it rinsed before you dry it.

5. Dry the carpet

A good carpet extractor or vacuum will enhance faster drying of your carpet after cleaning. A damp carpet will easily become dirty when you take back your furniture or walk on it. Further in a few days the carpet will attract mold and mildew and you will end up with a smelly carpet after cleaning.

It is dangerous when mold grow on your carpet. Mold causes persistent allergies and respiratory problems. When suspected, investigated, identified and remove mold from the carpet with immediate effect. Since removing mold on carpet is also a difficult thing, always strive to prevent it by ensuring your carpet is dry all the time.

Disinfecting vs Sanitizing a Carpet

There is no actual way of disinfecting soft surfaces which include carpets, upholstery, mattresses, drapes and curtains among others. It is difficult to completely kill all the germs throughout these surfaces due to their structural construction, texture and even size. However, small carpets and rugs can be disinfected easily in a washer.

Disinfecting destroys 100% of bacteria and germs on hard surfaces such as concrete, wood, tiles, laminate and glass among others. Most EPA-certified disinfectants clearly state their ability to be used on hard, nonporous surfaces. Although you will find products indicating to disinfect soft surfaces – which is simply a sanitizing claim. 

Soft surfaces can only be sanitized to reduce the number of germs and bacteria. Sanitizing destroys only 99.9% of germs on surfaces. The remaining 0.1% are presumed not strong enough to cause harm. Nevertheless, a carpet can be properly cleaned and sanitized to safe levels as discussed.

Does a Steam Cleaner Disinfect a Carpet

Yes, a steam cleaner is one of the best machines to use for sanitizing and disinfecting your carpet or area rug. A steam cleaner blasts a hot steam of water which kills 99.9% of deadly microorganism existing on a surface. If you decide to steam clean your carpet, read and follow the directions on how to use on a carpet.

Some carpets are laid on a hardwood floor which is always sensitive to water. When using a steam cleaner on a carpet with wood underneath, use a low setting of steam to prevent the steam from cooling and pooling on the wood. When exposed, the hardwood floor will warp, twist or decompose.

How to Prevent Germs on a Carpet

Here are expert tips on how to prevent germs on your carpet:

  • Place washable mats outside and inside the doors or entry areas to trap excess soil and bacteria from the soles when someone is entering a home
  • Remove shoes worn outside before walking on carpet to avoid transferring in soil and germs
  • Vacuum several times weekly to capture soil, allergens, and bacteria on your carpet
  • Bathe your pets regularly and housetrain them to avoid pet dander, spraying and transporting of germs to your carpet.
  • Immediately clear spills, clean and thoroughly dry the affected area before bacterial and mold make a meal out of it.

Final Though

Disinfecting your carpet is one important step of keeping your family healthy all the time. The deep cleaning process also keeps your carpet in good shape for long, eliminates musty odor and makes your home a safe place to live. Sanitizing and disinfecting a carpet can be an easy DIY project but for good results you may have to hire a professional service.

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