How to buy and care for carpet
• Take a sample home. Mike Lamendella of Mr. Carpet Shop at Home in Chicago recommends having the carpet salesman come to your home, which is what his company does. “There is great value in seeing a carpet sample in your home, next to your furniture and wall colors,” he says. “This type of process is less time-consuming because the carpet selection, measuring and ordering can all be done in one home visit.”
• Get what you really want. If you do go to a carpeting store to make a purchase, Jim Rogers of Variety Carpets in Charlotte, N.C., suggests ordering the carpet that you like rather than buying what's in stock. “When you order it in, you know what you're getting, and it’s usually under warranty,” he says.
• Leave your shoes at the door. From the first day you walk on your carpet, take off your shoes at the door and wear house slippers. “The less dirt that is tracked in, the better. This can go miles toward extending the life of your carpet," says Lee Moyer of Pro Flooring of Ohio.
• Do dry-cleaning. Both Moyer and Rogers say customers should never steam clean carpet. “It’s such a radical process,” Moyer says, “that it takes the dirt out and the stain guard out with it. Depending on how well the suds are extracted, any leftover soap can become a dirt magnet — to the point that your carpets can end up worse after the process.” They recommend, if you must clean carpets, to use a dry-cleaning process.
• Blot, don’t rub. Rogers says 90 percent of spills that happen on stain-guarded carpet will come up if you blot (rather than rub) the area with a plain, white cloth.
• Viva vacuuming! The more you vacuum your carpet, the longer it will last, says Rogers. “There’s a flow to carpet — it’s either laying down or standing up,” he explains. “A trick for pulling more dirt out of your carpet with each sweep is to make it ‘stand up’ as you vacuum by going against the grain. This will result in a fuller, fluffier carpet.”