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The Holy Trinity of Carpet Cleaning

This is Lucy.

She is a total sh*t.


She won’t stop peeing on the floor.

Now, before you get all, “She’s acting out. There’s something going on there. You should look at yourself for the answer…” lemme stop ya.

There is no pleasing Lucy.

She is a whiney, lazy malcontent by nature. She’s bored at the dog park; She drags a*s on her walks; She wouldn’t chase a frisbee if there was a pork chop tied to it.

Our landlord had a firm “no pets” policy until he met Lucy. He was won over by her complete lack of enthusiasm for tearing up carpet or scratching on doors.

We usually forget she even can bark. We often realize we haven’t seen her all day as her most noticeable attribute is her similarity to a throw rug. (Albeit a smelly one.)

My point? Lucy is like a passive-aggressive poltergeist… she could be anywhere. And may God have mercy on your soul if she’s pissed.

And right now, she’s pissed.

She doesn’t like rain. At all. At all. At all.

I guess it’s because she “came up” dropping deuces on the hard-packed Arizona dirt. Here in PA, the sponge-y, lumpy, soil freaks her out. Especially when it’s wet.

Which — have I mentioned??? — is every day lately.

And although we make sure she gets ample fresh air, plenty of enforced exercise (seriously, the dog is SO lazy), copious potty-time opportunities, and bushels of affection, praise and good-girl-treats, she still decides to sneak off at least once a day to mount her protest against the rain by soiling our carpets.

Umm… yeah. That’s what we’re dealing with.

Note: In the interest of total disclosure, it must be mentioned that the carpets in this house were phenomenally bad when we moved in. In fact, it was the very first thing Dan noticed/mentioned when he did the initial walkthrough (With me on the other end of the phone, of course… What?) two years ago. It was so old and mistreated, it was actually sticky.

Tip: Don’t use that sprinkle-on/vacuum up powder stuff to “clean” your carpet. It only makes matters worse AND gums up your vacuum. Rent a steam cleaner at your local hardware/grocery/big box store.

Unfortunately our carpets are so bad they need more than just the occasional steam clean.

Even when the weather outside pleases Lady Lucy, the stinks and stains of tenants past are deep, deep, deep inside that carpet AND the padding underneath.

So, after 3 Rug Doc rentals, we decided that buying a steam cleaner was a reasonable and wise investment I went bat-sh*t crazy and emptied our savings account because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I’m not going to get all specific about brand/model, etc. — I think that any mid-range or better machine would probably do as well — suffice it to say, I love my steam cleaner!
Thanks to me it, our carpets have gradually transformed from absolutely repulsive to only mildly disgusting. Woo hoo!

But thanks to Lucy, we’re veering toward repulsive again. Boo hoo!

So I whipped out the holy trinity:

A good vacuum: Sure, I’d love one of those awesome high-end numbers… you know, the ones that swivel on a ball and suck up boulders and all that. But for now, we’re content with our mid-range machine. It got great customer reviews on every website I checked — and if I weren’t so lazy, I’d log on & give it 4 stars myself. It’s been worth the extra $60-ish jump from cheapo-range to mid-range models.

Spot cleaning machine: Greatest. Invention. Ever. We get a lot of use out of this little dynamo. We use it not only to clean up after Lucy’s “episodes,” but also to get set-in stains out without having to scrub by hand. All you do is add the water/cleaning solution, push a button and wait. After a few minutes it beeps to signal it’s done. Why everyone doesn’t own one of these is beyond me.

Steam cleaner: This has paid for itself over and over. It’s as easy as using a vacuum and makes such a huge difference. Plus, we don’t have to lug a giant rental machine back & forth from the store anymore.

There’s not a whole lot I can tell you about the process, just clear the room of as much furniture as possible, vacuum well, use the spot cleaner (either a machine or just spray & a rag/plastic brush) on problem areas, then follow up with a good twice-over with the steam cleaner.

Also, keep a window open or something. Different cleaners produce different fumes.

Speaking of which, here is what we use:

I totally will get specific with my endorsement on this step. Lots of “cleaners” are little more than a mild detergent mixed with a TON of perfume.

However, Folex is fantastic. My mom & dad got us a bottle while they were visiting a while back. We used it on an old recliner we got for $15 from the Goodwill (score!) and were blown away by how well it worked.

I don’t know if it technically qualifies as a “green” product, but it is non-flammable, safe for pets & kids, non-irritating to the skin (NOT true of many similar products), VOC/CFC and petroleum free… and doesn’t smell like anything but clean!!!

I went to their website and poked around a little — it’s actually written in plain English! All in all, despite still not totally understanding the science, I was sufficiently reassured that it’s not evil.

AND — you can use it in your steam/spot cleaning machine. Says so right on the label!

But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. So get ready to behold…

Wow. Just… wow.

Look at what the Folex and steam cleaner pulled out of there:


Tip: NEVER EVER EVER leave a bucket of cleaning water OR cleaning chemicals laying around if there is even the most remote, outside chance that a child will happen upon it. Children drown/are poisoned this way FAR too often. Even an inch of water is a very real threat. 

To be extra-cautious, Dan takes Sonia out & about during my steam-cleaning sessions.

But back to business…

I ended up going over the entire room 3 times, allowing drying time in between. I doubt you’ll have to be so thorough. Usually once is enough.

Also, I didn’t exactly follow the steam cleaner’s manufacturer recommendations. I went with the nap, against the nap, diagonal to the nap… I did it all. I really think it helped.

So. Much. Better.

And it smells… like nothing. Lovely.

So, there you go — a quick tutorial on how much of a difference a decent vacuum, some good spot cleaner and the occasional steam clean can make.

I guess Lucy doesn’t have to go to the pound quite yet ;->



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6 thoughts on “The Holy Trinity of Carpet Cleaning

  1. how much did u dilute the solution of folex with water. thank you!

    • Most steam cleaners have “fill” lines you can follow, but if not, follow the mixing instructions on the Folex bottle… 1 part Folex to between 4 & 6 parts warm water. (Depending on how stained/smelly your carpet is.) Best of luck!

  2. Thanks for checking out my blog and directing me to this post! I actually have vacuumed and steam cleaned several times and we sprayed a product called ‘natures miracle’ everywhere and it still stinks!! Time to repeat! I actually have a bottle of the stuff you mention so it will be the next step. I wish our tenant cleaned up after his dog! The dig has died like a year ago and it still stinks that bad. Boo! I look forward to reading other past posts on your blog! I love finding new blogs! Yours looks interesting so far!

  3. Is there some way to refurbish a hard wood floor without sanding the old finish off?

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