As winter looms, many of us start to yearn for the comfort and warmth of carpet underfoot. But what should you buy? Here, we answer the tuft questions.
It's a durable natural material with a luxurious feel. Plus, it repels liquid spills and dirt due to the structure of the fibres. However, because wool can't be treated for stain resistance, spills need to be cleaned immediately. Over time, watch out for pilling in lower-quality wool carpets.
Tip You can buy hard-wearing wool-blend carpets, which are mixed with other materials.
One of the most popular options when it comes to carpets because advances in technology mean this synthetic material is more colourfast and stain resistant than ever. Colour is added to fibres during the production process – rather than the end – which means you can usually remove stains with a bleach-based cleaning product without ruining the colour.
Tip Hard-wearing nylon is well-suited to areas such as hallways, which get a lot of foot traffic.
Made from synthetic materials, polypropylene is often the most affordable carpet option, and one of the most durable fibres, resisting liquid stains and mildew. However, it feels rougher, wears out faster and marks up more than other products.
Tip Choose a loop pile – it won't flatten as quickly as a cut pile.
One of the most common blends is wool and nylon. At the higher end of the spectrum you will get carpets with 80 per cent wool, 20 per cent nylon. Blends are durable because individual threads are woven into the backing in contrast to tufted carpets, which are stitched.
Tip Cheaper 50/50 blends of wool and nylon often use a lower-quality wool, which pills quicker.
If you treat your carpet well, it can last for up to 10 years. To maintain the new-carpet look, vacuum at least once a week to remove dirt, which acts as an abrasion on the pile fibres. It's more hygienic, too. Spills should be mopped up immediately. How you do this will depend on the type of carpet and the nature of the spillage, eg, oil, water, wine. It's best to check with your manufacturer or a carpet cleaner.
Tip It's advisable to steam clean your carpets every two years.
Recommended by manufacturers. The carpet is vacuumed and sprayed with a chemical, followed by a high-pressure spray of hot water to release dirt, which is then vacuumed out with any excess water. Depending on the size of the carpet area, the process takes about three to eight hours.
Tip Ask anyone quoting a job if they have public liability insurance to cover damages that may occur while they're in your home.
While the process is called “dry” cleaning, some water is used to remove surface dirt. The process is faster drying than steam cleaning, but not as effective. One of the most common forms of dry cleaning is bonnet cleaning. This involves vacuuming the carpet, applying a cleaning product to a pad, which rubs the carpet and transfers dirt back onto the pad before vacuuming the carpet again.
Tip Use this method for high-traffic areas in addition to, rather than replacing, steam cleaning.
DIY carpet cleaning
Carpet cleaning machines that can be hired from supermarkets work on the steam, or hot-water extraction, method.
Tip Be careful not to over-wet your carpets as it can promote the growth of mould and stain the carpet's colour