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Housekeeping secrets: Caring for your carpet

Housekeeping secrets: Caring for your carpet
We all know that sinking feeling when someone trudges through the room in muddy boots. Here's how to get any stain out of your carpet, without the drama.

Baby your carpet

baby powder carpet
Cooking fumes, cigarette smoke and other smells cling to carpets and make a whole house smell musty.
To freshen up, spread a liberal coat of baby powder over the carpetusing a sieve. Leave the powder in place for a few hours, or overnight, then vacuum it up. 
Bicarbonate of soda will do the same job; with a darker carpet, you may want to throw in a bit of ground cinnamon or nutmeg to sweeten the smell. 

Steam away furniture footprints

how to get rid of furniture footprints
Whenever you move a piece of furniture, indents remain in the carpet, but you can spruce up the crush fibres using an iron and a fork.
Put the iron onto the steam setting and hold it about 0.5cm above the carpet, then fluff out the steamed fibres with the tines of the fork. (Take added care not to melt man-made fibres.)

Choose your rug wisely

choose your rug wisely
It happens all the time: a beautiful rug catches your eye and you pay hard-earned cash for it, imagining how its delightful pale colours will lighten up your living room. You bring it home, put it down and it looks superb.
Unfortunately, the dog and cat are just as drawn to it as you are and like an incredible magnet, it seems to attract your pets at the precise moment they need to throw up a hairball or old bone.
Sound familiar? Remember this the next time you go rug or carpet shopping and plan accordingly. You will still have to clean it, but your stain woes will be much less serious if you don't buy a light-coloured rug.

Peanut butter to the rescue

peanut butter stains in carpet
Peanut butter as a carpet cleanrer? It's a nutty idea, but nutty in a good way. Peanut butter helps remove chewing gum from a carpet. First, heat the area with a hair dryer to loosen the gum. 
Press the area gently with a plastic bag, which shoudl life at least some of the gum. You could also try scraping it up with a plastic spatula. Some gum will remain in the carpet, which is where the peanut butter comes in: the natural oils help the carpet to detach from the gum. 
Rub a small blob of peanut butter into the spot, let it sit for 5 minutes and then wipe it up with a damp cloth. To finish off, dab the spot with warm water mixed with one teaspoon of washing up liquid. 

Inexpensive homemade carpet cleaner

homemade carpet cleaner cheap
Mix one part white vinegar to ten parts hot water, or alternatively 1/2 cup household ammonia in two cups of hot water. 
Use it either in a carpet-cleaning machin or apply with a scrubbing brush and elbow grease. Rinse the cleaned carpet with a damp cloth. To help to dissipate any lingering odours, open the windows, and if necessary, place an oscillating fan in the room. 

Clean up paint spills with vinegar

white vinegar
Don't waste time crying over spilled paint. Instead,spring into action before it sets. 
Mix one and a half teaspoons of vinegar and one and a half teaspoons of laundry detergent into two cups of warm water.
Now sponge away the paint, a task that takes time and lots of elbow grease, and rinse with cold water.
If you're lucky, what might have been an unwelcome and permanent decorating touch will be gone. It's certainly worth a try. 

Beat a rug

beat a rug to clean it
Dust and pet dander collect daily on and in the fibres of rugs, so shake them out the old-fashioned way to get rid of it.
Hang the rug over a rail or taut clothes line and beat it with a tennis racquet or cricket bat. 

Flip an expensive rug

guilty pug
Has your beloved but incontinent dog relieved himself on the priceless Peshawar rug that you inherited from Aunty Anne? There's no need to find a new home for the dog. Scoop up the mess, turn the rug over, place a bucket under the offending spot and pour water repeatedly through the underside of the stain and into the bucket until the spot is gone. 
This will clean the delicate fibres without the need for scrubbing. 

Soda water with a twist

soda water
Every waiter and barman knows how reliable a stain remover soda water can be.
To use it on a stained carpet, pour it on the stain, leave for three minutes and dab it up with a paper towel or sponge. 

Fixes for the three most common stains:

  • Red wine. Liberally pour salt onto the stain and dab with a cloth dipped in soda water. Or blot the spill with a paper towel, pour a little white wine onto the stain and scrub with a damp cloth. If neither method works, mix one teaspoon of washig-up liquid with one cup of warm water and pour a little onto the stain. Blot with a paper towel and repear ith a solution of 1/3 cup white vinegar and 2/3 water.
  • Fruit and fruit juice. Pick up any solid pieces of fruit, then stir one tablespoon liquid laundry detergent and one and a half tablespoons white vinegar into two cups of water. Work the solution into the stain and blot. 
  • Grease or oil. If you've accidentally dropped fried chicken or another greasy food onto a carpet, sprinkle the grease spots liberally with some cornflour, let it sit for everal hours, then vacuum it up. Or, work shaving cream into the stains, let it dry and rub off with a damp, soft cloth.