Let's be honest, knowing how to clean a carpet isn't at the top of everyone's list... until, that is you spill something on yours or (worse) someone else's. Get it wrong and it could cost you hundreds of pounds.
We've rounded-up eight carpet cleaning myths that could leave you needing to replace your carpet... or invest in some strategically placed rugs. From the old wives' tale that leave you with pink patches to the household cleaner that could damage the fibres, here eight deadly carpet cleaning sins you need to avoid... and eight proper solutions.
1. White wine gets rid of red wine stains
It's the old wives' tale we've all heard of, but try this one at your peril. We put it to the test in an episode of the Real Homes Show and the result was a pinky mess that smelt like a pub (you can watch that in the clip, below). Plus, who wants to waste white wine on their carpet? Not us.
The better solution? Blot the red wine stain until it's as dry as you can make it. Then soak with soda water or carbonated water. Blot again (kitchen roll is a gift for this) until it's as dry as possible. Repeat and blot, repeat and blot. Don't rub! Once you've got as much of the stain lifted as possible (it should be near enough invisible now), you can use a carpet cleaning product, following the manufacturer's instructions. Again, don't scrub as you'll distort the fibres.
2. Salt on a red wine stain will get rid of it
Nope. Just like with white wine it can set the stain and make it worse. Use the tip we've talked about above... and those below.
3. You need water to get rid of stains
Grabbing a wet cloth might seem like an obvious choice, but it can actually do more harm than good. Water can cause the stain to spread and seep deeper into the carpet pile. If you want to avoid permanent marks, blot the stain from outside to in with kitchen towel before applying a carpet mousse or using a carpet cleaner. Trust us, if you've got kids, pets or love entertaining, they're worth the investment.
4. You only need to vacuum once a week
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you actually need to get the vacuum out every day. Yep, you heard that right. To bust the dust and keep the pile standing to attention, you need to have a quick vacuum every day. Save the corded vacuum for a weekly deep clean and invest in the best cordless vacuum cleaner for daily cleans. You'll add years to the life of your carpet. And cleaning counts as exercise, right?
5. You can use bleach on modern carpets
Ok, this is true for some carpets, but it definitely isn't the case across the board. Never, ever use bleach on a wool carpet or you'll end up with pale blotches. If you're not sure what your carpet is made of, make a bleach-water solution and do a tiny patch test in a corner using an old toothbrush. If you don't do this, you risk taking the colour off – not cool.
6. Hair spray will get rid of ink marks
We know you're a smart bunch, but we're going to go back to basics here – hairspray is for hair, not carpets. There are loads of so-called cleaning hacks that claim a spritz of hairspray will get rid of pen or ink stains, but it really won't. In fact, it can damage the carpet fibres and attract dirt. Save it for those flyaways, instead.
7. White vinegar will shift stubborn stains
We love cleaning with white vinegar here at Real Homes HQ, but it's definitely not the first thing you should reach for when tackling carpet stains. Never pour neat white vinegar directly on to a stain as it will just soak in, spread the stain and could damage the fibres. If you've got a stain emergency and nothing else in the house, dilute one tablespoon white vinegar with one tablespoon of baking soda and two cups of warm water.
8. Using a carpet cleaner causes mould and mildew
We get this one: you are adding moisture to your carpet, so it seems like a breeding ground for bugs. But using a carpet cleaner won't cause mould or mildew if you follow the instructions carefully. The water is mixed with a clean fluid that actually works to kill germs and bacteria. All you need to do is let the carpet dry thoroughly before replacing your furniture. Oh, and it won't shrink your carpet either.