When your carpet needs a good clean, there are plenty of ways to give it a bit more sparkle. However, if your carpet is cleaned improperly or without the right precautions, it could end up looking even worse than before. Especially when a carpet is older or made out of more sensitive material, cleaning with the wrong method or solution could result in disaster. If you’re concerned about the longevity of your carpet, here are a few common issues along with carpet cleaning tips to help you avoid disaster.

Using Too Much Liquid

When you’re cleaning your carpet at home, it can be hard to figure out exactly how much cleaner to use. Especially when it comes to larger carpet, the amount of cleaner prescribed isn’t always exactly straightforward. For this reason, many homeowners prefer to trust their larger carpets to a dry cleaning carpet service like American Chem-Dry, which doesn’t use liquid at all in their process. If you’re determined to do it at home, however, make sure you’re not over-soaking your carpet or using way more liquid than you’ll need. Using too much may result in your carpet looking even worse than before.

Using Too Much Alkaline

Many carpet cleaning solutions employ some amount of alkaline. Alkaline is a high-acidity agent that can be used effectively in cleaning fabrics. However, if too much alkaline is used, it can result in a number of problems and greater damage to the carpet. Using too much alkaline has been known to produce color bleeding, browning all around, and leaving a sticky residue that’s unpleasant to smell and hard to remove. Many professional carpet cleaning services will assess your rug before mixing alkaline with another cleaning solution in order to get the best results. If you’re using a basic home cleaner, just be sure to check the alkaline levels and make sure it’s fabric-friendly.

Sticky Residue from Chemicals

As with alkaline residue, many chemicals in carpet cleaning fluids have a tendency to stay past their welcome. This can also happen as a result of using too much cleaner, which then oozes up to the surface and remains in a sticky, hard-to-remove form. Not only is this not ideal for a newly-cleaned carpet, it allows for a film to grow on the surface of the rug, attracting dirt and all kinds of residue to its surface. After shampooing or spot treating your carpet, always make sure you’ve been thorough. A failure to do this could result in an even dirtier carpet than before.

Bad Brushing

Not all carpets are created equal. This means that the more you know about your carpets. For instance, its thickness and resistance to brushing–the better you’ll be able to properly clean it. When certain carpets are cleaned with too stiff a brush, it can create an unpleasant visual effect, pull the individual strands of yarn in different directions and create a clumping or “shadow” effect. To avoid this, using softer brushes is recommended, as well as going gently and thoroughly over your rug in continuous up and down strokes.

Vacuum Set Too High or Low

Vacuuming can also be a huge culprit when it comes to carpet cleaning. Giving your rug a simple once-over with your vacuum every week might seem harmless, but it actually has the potential to cause damage if the vacuum head is set either too high up or too low down. If the vacuum setting is too high, it will miss the carpet altogether, only just grazing the surface. If it’s too low, it could cause damage to the base of the rug and push dirt down even further into the rug’s firmament. Always check your vacuum setting before trying to clean your rug.

Furniture Contact Stains

When homeowners wash a rug by hand, they often forget to do the appropriate amount of maintenance. This means keeping furniture where it is, spot treating without blocking off the area, or simply being careless and wetting the carpet too much. This can result in stains and bleed from contact with household furniture that is prematurely placed on a not-yet-dry carpet. Many furniture materials will bleed on contact, and the effect is even worse for objects with a metal base, where rust can develop. To avoid this, make sure your rug is fully and completely dry before moving furniture back into the room.