Basement Carpet Cleaning
There are several reasons why a carpeted basement is an attractive option for your home. The most obvious one of these is that it provides a warm, comfortable covering for what was previously a cold floor. If you’ve converted your basement from a utility or storage room to a room your family will regularly use, the first step is usually to install a carpet. Carpet covers a multitude of sins so that unsightly stain or uneven floor can be made all right with carpet.
Choosing a basement carpet is slightly more complex than the rest of your home. Usually, you will require some sort of underlay that can withstand moisture. The padding level also helps to keep the cold basement floor warm and toasty.
Despite the benefits, carpeting your basement comes with a certain amount of risk. Carpet absorbs moisture and can become moldy or mildewed if the dampness is not adequately removed. A bare basement floor is easy to mop, sweep, and vacuum, in a way not true of a carpeted basement.
If your basement gets flooded, or you have a spill, knowing how to clean your carpet (or who to call to get it cleaned)
can be crucial in ensuring your basement remains usable and mold-free.
This guide will walk you through all the steps required to keep your basement carpet fresh and dry.
Why you might need to clean it
No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to keep a carpet spotless, particularly in a room that you intend you use frequently. Most often, converted basements are spaces for hosting and for relaxing, meaning that they get a lot of use.
This means that your carpets will inevitably get dirty. The reason you install the carpet is, therefore, the reason you need to clean them!
The most common reasons for a basement requiring cleaning are:
The first room to get flooded in a home when high levels of precipiation put pressure on a home is the basement, owing to its position below (or partially below) ground.
This pressure can force cracks in the home’s foundation and moisture then seeps into those cracks. You will need to learn how to dry wet carpet. This, along with other causes for wet basements, are mapped out on our basement flooding page.
As with most carpets, basement carpets are susceptible to dirt being tracked in on the bottom of people’s shoes, especially if there is a direct entrance from outside in the basement.
Mud and oil are the most common things to be tracked into carpets and can be some of the hardest to remove.
This problem is exacerbated when carpets are light-colored, so if this is a likely issue for you, then keep that in mind when choosing your basement carpet.
Basements are commonly used as recreation rooms, meaning they are a place for watching TV, playing games, or general horseplay. All these mean that there is a likelihood of spilled drinks or food.
Spills and stains can sink deep into carpets (and may actually be deep enough not to be visible) meaning that it takes a lot of work – and potentially a professional clean – to remove.
Pets have no respect for a carpet other than the warmth it provides them. Pets will eat food, slobber, and generally dirty up a carpet.
If you have a dog or a cat, then you will almost certainly need to have your carpet cleaned more frequently than those who don’t. If you do have a pet, then a plain, light-colored carpet may be more difficult to maintain.
What do the professional carpet cleaners do?
Put simply, most carpet cleaners will use industrial-level machinery and chemicals to clean your carpets, to a degree you wouldn’t be able to achieve yourself.
This may mean removing deeply set-in stains, or simply to get your carpets back to a level of freshness they were when you first moved in. Either way, they will be able to advise on the best possible way to get your carpets clean.
The key factors that influence how a carpet is cleaned are:
The amount of soiling
The length of the carpet pile
The color of the carpet
And when it comes to drying, the temperature inside and outside your basement.
Again, depending on the above factors, most professional companies will take between one and two hours to clean most expanses of carpet. There are a couple of things you can do in advance of the carpet cleaner arriving, all of which will speed up the process and help you to keep your bill down.
The first thing to do is tidy up, and give the space a clean with a vacuum cleaner. This will remove dust, fluff, and other debris which may block the filters in the carpet cleaners’ machinery.
In addition, you can move small items of furniture to allow them access to the full extent of the space. Most carpet cleaners will move the furniture themselves, although to speed up the process, you can always do this in advance of their arrival.
Some cleaners will use a hot water extraction process (aka steam cleaning) to clean your carpet. This is regarded across the industry as one of the best methods of cleaning a carpet. If you have a more complex stain, they may use chemicals as well, although it’s likely they will remove the chemicals through steam cleaning.
In some cases, steam cleaning may bring additional dirt to the surface, so don’t worry if your carpet looks dirtier midway through the process.
You should, however, make sure you are happy with the scope and extent of the clean before the professionals leave your home – a second call out can be very expensive, especially if it is for something they could have fixed the first time.
If you have a removable carpet that only takes up part of your basement floor, the carpet cleaning company may roll up the carpet and take it with them to their warehouse.
This way they can use tools that speed up the process and keep the chemicals out of your home.
How much does it cost?
The cost of cleaning is directly contingent upon the damage.
As a general rule, however, you can use the following as a guideline:
In some cases, your insurance will cover the costs. Although you may need to use their preferred provider. In all instances, be sure to get a quote from at least three different companies, and check all licenses in advance of work starting.
How to maintain a basement carpet
Below are some tips for keeping your basement carpet in good shape for as long as possible and extending the time between professional cleanings.
What to know when installing
Here are some things to consider before and during installing carpet in your basement, which are designed to prevent a carpet from getting damaged in the first place.
Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting
You will need to place a hard surface material on some areas of your basement floor (potentially all of it). Determining how much moisture is transmitted through the basement will help guide you in this. If in doubt, have a professional check and install the carpet for you.
CHOOSE SYNTHETIC CARPETING
Materials like wool are very absorbent, which in the case of water leakage can leave them waterlogged and prone to mold growth. Instead, opt for synthetic materials when choosing your basement carpeting.
Use a dehumidifier regularly. This will help keep the interior humidity low. The ideal level is under 60%.
Monitor and maintain appliances
There are appliances that are commonly found in basements, that if not properly maintained, could leak into the basement and onto the carpet.
Water heaters leak for a range of reasons including excess pressure in pipes, loose connections that need tightening, and faulty valves. Be sure to monitor your water heater regularly or get it checked if you suspect issues.
If your washing machine is located near carpeting, check that it is draining and functioning properly to avoid leaks onto the carpet.
How to remove stains on your carpet
If you do spill on your carpet, there are some home remedies you can use to clean up in a professional manner. Obviously, the best option is to not spill on the carpet, but if that’s not often possible, so the following tips will help prevent permanent staining.
The most instinctive reaction when you spill something on the carpet is to use ‘elbow grease’ to clean it. However, rubbing back and forth will cause the stain to spread and may increase the binding to deeper fabrics. This will increase the chances of permanent discoloration.
Rubbing may also cause the fibers of the carpet to break down. Instead, blot the stain from the outside inwards, which will prevent the stain from spreading further.
Use shaving cream
One surprising ‘hack’ is to use shaving cream to remove a stain. Simply spray the cream directly onto the stain and wait for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, blot the shaving cream (and the stain away). You may need to clean the area with club soda to finish off the clean.
Clean your carpet regularly
Use a steam cleaner to regularly clean your carpet. This will help it stay fresh, removing things like soil, oil, and grease. On average, you should aim to deep clean your carpet every six months.
Remove wax with an iron
If you spill a candle and the wax becomes embedded into the carpet, you can remove the wax using an iron. Place kitchen roll over the wax and then run the hot iron over the kitchen roll. The wax will melt from the carpet and be absorbed into the kitchen roll. Keep the iron moving so as not to burn the kitchen roll or melting the carpet.
Use hydrogen peroxide to blot out blood on white carpets
If you spill blood on the carpet, use a detergent-water mix first to loosen it up. Then apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain. This will form a foam, which you can dab with a towel to remove. This method is best used on white carpets because hydrogen peroxide could leave behind a white stain itself.
Use club soda
Place club soda on a cloth and use the blotting technique identified above to remove a stain. You can also add white vinegar and club soda in equal amounts to a sprayer and spray on the stain.
After 10-15 minutes the stain will have loosened up enough to be removed. If the stain is not fully removed, repeat the process until it is. Then wash the carpet with warm water, brush the carpet fibers in their natural direction and lay towels on the area until the spot has dried.
Remove gum with ice cubes
If you tread gum into the carpet, freeze it with ice cubes from the freezer. Once it is solid, use nail scissors to cut the carpet as close as possible to the gum.
If you’re turning your basement into a recreation or family room, the first step is usually to replace the cold, damp floor with a warm, inviting carpet.
However, the additional usage increases the risk of spills, and the nature of basements means flooding is a relatively common problem. Given this, there is always the risk of a carpet becoming damaged in a way not true of other parts of your home.
However, the three steps to take are firstly, to avoid the structural causes of flooding and water damage; secondly, to keep the carpet clean and well-maintained yourself, using home remedies; finally, if the worst does happen, to hire professionals to come and clean up all the damage.
That way, your basement remains a room you want to use, and that you and your family can enjoy.
Sources and Further Reading
- https://homeguide.com/costs/ carpet-cleaning-prices#:~:targetText=The%20average%20cost%20of%20carpet,cost%20between%20%24300%20to%20%24600.