How to clean carpet – to get it looking spotless and new

If your carpet’s looking like it’s seen better days, here’s the know-how you need to get it feeling fresh again

Confused about which cleaning method is best for your carpet? Some cleaning solutions can work wonders on one kind of floor and wreak havoc on another. Here at Ideal Home, we thought we'd make it that little bit easier. So whatever your carpet type, check out our top tips on how to keep them ship-shape.

Related: the best vacuum cleaners you can buy – for carpet cleaning and hard floor debris collecting

We've rounded up the essential buys you'll need to keep that carpet of yours looking brand new, and good as ever. Whether you live in a busy household or you own pets – perhaps your carpet is a little old but you are holding out to buy a new one? It's all here.

room with blue wall and striped carpet in dark blue and white

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Laura Edwards)

The essential carpet cleaning kit

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Kitchen roll or clean white cloths
  • Detergent
  • Special stain remover
  • Carpet shampoo

1. Start by vacuuming

Before you whip out the stain removers, you need to rid your carpet of any loose dirt, dust and hair (and fur, too, if you have pets). Don’t just vacuum around furniture, get right under sofas, armchairs and beds – ask for help moving them if necessary – and clear your dining room of chairs so you can move around more easily. Use the various nozzles or heads that come with your vacuum cleaner for a really thorough clean right up to the skirting boards.

2. Tackle the stains

corridor area with red carpet and stairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Now that your carpet is (superficially) clean, it’ll be easier to locate any marks, scuffs or stains. Apply a stain remover, and rub using medium pressure for a few minutes. Don’t use too much force, as you could damage the pile. Wait around an hour for the patch to dry and try again if the stain hasn’t completely vanished. For future stains, always tackle them as soon as they happen. Blot them repeatedly with a cold damp cloth until they disappear – don’t rub or use hot.

3. Time for a deep clean

If you have a pale or neutral-coloured carpet, it’ll really benefit from a deep clean. Either hire a carpet cleaner (try HSS Hire, from £25 per day) or invest in your own machine (check out Bissell’s
wide range of carpet cleaners, priced from £100). When you’ve covered and cleaned the entire floor, make the room a strictly foot traffic-free zone to allow it to dry – anything from two to 24 hours as required – ensuring the room is well ventilated throughout.

4. Freshen it up

room with white table and chair and patterned carpet

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)


Skipped the shampoo? Finish the job by deodorising your carpet. Available in spray or foam form, apply a carpet refresher and leave to dry naturally.

Tip: Instead of carpet shampoo, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on a carpet, leave overnight, sweep up, then vacuum the rest.

How to maintain your carpets

Once you've scrubbed the stains out of your beloved carpet, you'll want to make sure that you keep it looking its best for as long as possible. Here are our favourite tips to do so.

1. Keep the dirt out

entrance area with gumboots doormat and potted plants

(Image credit: TBC)

Place a large doormat at external entrances for people to wipe their feet on before they enter, it will also help reduce the amount of dirt from outside being spread around the house

2. Fit protectors

Frequent movement of furniture can affect the fibres of your carpet, so fit castor protectors or felt pads to the feet of your furniture to limit the extent of the damage.

3. Try it first

living room with white walls fireplace and sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Before using any cleaning or stain-removing product, check the colour fastness of your carpet or upholstery. Simply apply a little of the product to an inconspicuous area – for example, behind the TV or sofa – and allow to dry.

Related: the best upholstery cleaners for use on carpets, curtains, furniture and more

Will you be using any of these methods to clean your carpets? We hope they work just as well for you!