The very last thing to do as you leave your home to the real estate stylist and your selling agent is to clean those carpets. Naturally, you have the choice of calling in a professional carpet cleaning company. If your carpet is stained or if it’s been over six months since it was last cleaned, we recommend this option. Professionals will probably get the best results. If, on the other hand, you decide to rent a machine and do the carpet cleaning on your own, we have a few suggestions.

Prep Work
Pretreat Stains: The best homemade stain remover we know about is made from white vinegar and baking soda. Mix the two ingredients into a paste, and then work the mixture into the stain using a toothbrush or similar item. Allow the paste to dry, and then vacuum it up.
If you have tougher stains, such as wine or chocolate, use hydrogen peroxide full strength. Pour it on the stain and blot it dry after the fizzing stops.
Old stains may need a second or even third treatment.
Note: Always do a colourfastness tests before you begin. Test the cleaner on a place such as inside a wardrobe where it won’t show.

Vacuum First: Your carpet needs a good vacuuming before you try deep cleaning it. Yes. There will be dirt brought up from deep inside the carpet and the pad, but it will save you time in the long run if you don’t have to empty the vacuum cleaner so often. (It will need a second going over when the carpet is thoroughly dry as well, so don’t pack the vacuum off to your new house just yet.)

Cleaning Solution for Steam Cleaners
You can certainly buy the expensive cleaner sold where you rent your steam cleaning machine, but we have found that good old vinegar works wonderfully well. It cleans and deodorises naturally and it doesn’t leave soap residue on your clean carpet fibres. Not only does the acetic acid in vinegar dissolve stains and dislodge dirt, it’s cheap. Just mix the vinegar and warm water in equal parts in the cleaning solution tank of your steam cleaner.

Just for the record, this isn’t really an exercise in ‘steam cleaning’. Actual steam cleaners are generally truck mounted – the big guns in the cleaning of carpet. The machine you rent at the home improvement store is actually a water extraction method of cleaning carpets. You squirt warm cleaning solution into the carpet fibres, the dirt floats into the fluid, and then you suck it up with the vacuum component of the system.

The reason these machines work so well is that they have the potential to remove all the dirt you’ve dislodged from the fibres. According to the real estate stylist, the secret is to get as much of the liquid out of the carpet as you possibly can – that’s where the dirt is. When you’re finished with the process, the carpet should be slightly damp. If it’s actually wet, go over it with the cleaner as often as necessary until nearly all the dirty water has been extracted.

When your carpets are thoroughly dry, vacuum them a final time. This will pick up all the dirt that was pulled up from the pad, but might have escaped the cleaning machine’s final pass.
Tip: If you notice dents in your carpeting where heavy pieces of furniture were sitting, try putting ice-cubes into those divots. Leave the ice to melt for two to 12 hours. As the ice melts, the water soaks into the fibres and causes them to fluff up to original size and shape.

Whether you clean your carpets on your own or bring in a professional, the object of the game is the same. You want your carpet to be fresh, clean, and odour free. When potential buyers come to inspect your home, they will often buy based on their first impression. If that impression is made on the basis of the scent of musty carpet, you can probably kiss that sale goodbye.

The real estate stylist will have a list of professional carpet cleaners who can take care of just about any carpet problem that presents itself. If the stain or smell cannot be fixed, yank that carpet out and put down new flooring. The condition of floors is too critical a selling point to leave it half-done. Don’t allow a musty, dirty carpet to slow down your sale. Ask your stager to help you find answers to the question of carpeting.

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