Did you know that, with proper care, you can keep using the same carpet for over 10 years? Here’s how to clean a carpet or other soft floor covering using a carpet cleaner alongside other small home appliances.

What’s the difference between a carpet and a rug?

Carpets and rugs are common parts of a home. They’re especially common in high-traffic areas where people might slip (like a long hallway) and in cozier, more private areas of the home (like a bedroom or den).

In general, carpets are fixed in place. They stretch from wall to wall and are professionally installed to be permanent. Carpet runners are similar, but are only used in narrow areas like hallways and staircases. They don’t cover the whole width of a space and are typically installed semi-permanently, sometimes as a DIY project. Occasionally, you can find non-slip staircase runners sold as “stair treads.” Stair treads are fully removable and have the same upkeep as a welcome mat or rug.

Rugs, on the other hand, can be rolled up or moved. They tend to be smaller and are not permanent installations. You might also see these referred to as “area rugs,” as they cover only a certain area and not a whole room.

Are carpets and rugs cleaned the same way?

Carpets, carpet runners, and rugs are cleaned in similar ways—but there can be differences! Carpets and carpet runners are sometimes permanent installations, so they can only be cleaned from the top. Area rugs, on the other hand, can and should be lifted up on a regular basis. Make sure to vacuum and/or mop the floor beneath them on a regular basis and clean your carpet pads as well. If you clean a rug with a wet carpet cleaner, allow the rug to dry in an elevated position if possible so that it can dry from both sides.

How to clean wine stains Hoover

How to clean a stain out of a carpet or rug

Stains are every rug and carpet owner’s worst nightmare, so I recommend keeping a carpet and upholstery cleaner on hand. These handy little appliances are small and affordable, but they’re immensely powerful when it comes to lifting and removing stains. Attack a stain as soon as it happens with powerful suction, hot water, and specialized cleaning solutions using your upholstery cleaner, then rinse thoroughly with the same device to make the stain disappear.

Some stains (especially older ones that have set in already) can be more difficult to remove. If that’s an issue that you run into, try some of my favourite tips for getting them out:

  • Blot, don’t rub. Remove as much of the stain as possible by pressing paper towel into the area again and again.
  • Never bleach your carpets. This will alter their colour and can break down carpet fibres. Instead, use carpet cleaning solution or create a DIY mix of water, vinegar, and dish soap (preferably Dawn).
  • If your pet has had an accident on your carpet, use an enzymatic cleaner to remove it as soon as possible. This is the best way to prevent your pet from marking the same area again. If you can’t get your hands on an enzymatic cleaner, a 1:1 vinegar and water solution will help.
  • To remove blood stains from carpet, use cold water—never hot. Use hydrogen peroxide as your cleaning solution and allow the peroxide to bubble before dabbing it away.
  • Tackle red wine stains with seltzer water and blot to remove. The carbonation helps here to remove the stain, so club soda, sparkling water, and seltzer water will all work the same. (You can even use your SodaStream water to remove a red wine stain!)
How to clean a carpet stain Bissell copy

How to clean mystery stains and smells…

  • DRY: For mystery stains, I recommend using a mixture of warm water and Dawn. Let sit for 5-15 minutes before dabbing away or removing using an upholstery cleaner. If you think the mystery stain might be ink or dye, dab isopropyl alcohol against the stain using a clean white cloth—vodka can also work in a pinch, but isopropyl alcohol is more effective.
  • SMELLY: For mystery smells, use baking soda. Let sit for as long as possible before vacuuming away, including overnight. If the smell remains, shampoo the carpet or rug.
  • GREASY: For mystery oils, use baking soda. If the stain is set in, dampen your baking soda mixture when you apply it, then let it dry overnight before vacuuming away. Re-tackle the area with water and dish soap if the greasy spot is still there.
  • MILDEW: Musty and mildewy smells can be a sign that bacteria is building up in your carpet or rug. Deep clean your carpet as normal using either baking soda, vinegar water, or carpet cleaner to pre-treat the entire area of your carpet or rug. If your area rug still smells funky after it’s dried, leave it outside to dry the next time. If your home’s carpet still smells funky after it’s dried, reach out to a carpet expert—this could be a sign that your home has water damage, especially if you’ve recently experienced a flood or plumbing issue.

How to clean a carpet for regular upkeep

Dust and other household grime is less obvious in a carpet than on regular floors. However, soft floor coverings still need to be cleaned just as often! Vacuuming your carpets and rugs every week helps keep them soft and looking fresh. The process lifts your carpet fibres to prevent matting, but it also removes dirt and oils that would otherwise slowly accumulate.

To refresh your carpets and rugs (especially if they start smelling a little stinky), sprinkle generously with baking soda. Let the baking soda sit and adsorb odours for at least 15 minutes, then slowly vacuum it up on a high-suction setting.

How to maintain your carpets and rugs with deep cleaning

It’s a good idea to deep clean your carpets and rugs annually—even if there aren’t any noticeable stains. Like vacuuming, this helps lift dirt and oils out of your carpet fibres before they can cause matting or staining. Some flooring experts recommend deep cleaning your carpets once a year; others recommend it as often as every three months. A lot of different things can affect this frequency, from family members with allergies to whether or not you wear your shoes in the house.

You can rent or hire a professional carpet cleaner for your deep cleans, but you can also do it yourself at home. Upright carpet cleaners are pushed like vacuum cleaners and will scrub, wash, and extract water from your carpets for you. Note that these are different from wet/dry vacuums: Carpet cleaners are designed for use on soft flooring while wet/dry vacuums are typically made for hard flooring surfaces only.

With a little regular maintenance, it’s easy to extend the life of your carpet or rug so you can enjoy it for as long as possible.

Shop carpet cleaners online at Best Buy today.

Rae Chen
Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at thenotice.net, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.


  1. Thank you for sharing these valuable tips on cleaning stains from carpets and rugs! It’s great to know that having a carpet and upholstery cleaner on hand can be a powerful tool for lifting and removing stains. The emphasis on blotting rather than rubbing, as well as the caution against using bleach, provides important guidelines for stain removal. The specific recommendations for different types of stains, such as using enzymatic cleaner for pet accidents or seltzer water for red wine stains, are highly useful. These tips will surely assist in keeping carpets and rugs clean and looking their best.

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