Doctoring Stained or Worn Carpet Doctoring Stained or Worn Carpet

Because accumulated dust and dirt can grind down its fibers, the simplest way to keep carpet looking new is to avoid walking on it with outdoor shoes or boots and vacuum it at least once a week. Even with such care, however, accidents inevitably happen. Spills and other kinds of stains should be treated immediately, before they have a chance to set into a carpet. The longer we wait, the more work may be required for us to take them out.

If a bloodstain is fresh, repeatedly dabbing it with a cloth wet with cold water can usually remove it. White vinegar often works on wine and food stains without affecting the color of the carpet. Enzyme stain removers, available at pet shops, can treat not only visible blemishes but also the strong odors that animals such as cats can leave behind.

If a stain is resistant to all of these forms of treatment, the only option (short of replacing the whole carpet) may be to cut it out and put a new section in its place. We're fortunate, in these cases, if we have any carpet remnants. For this reason, it's a good idea to keep old carpet stored away after it's replaced by new, and to make sure that the two kinds have matching colors and patterns. Baring that, we can retrieve a scrap piece of the same carpet from a normally unseen area - like the inside of a closet.

Carpet can be cut using a utility knife or a carpet-cutting tool called a cookie cutter (thus named for its appearance). The cutter should be big enough to cut a patch bigger than the damaged area. Press the cookie cutter down and then twist it back and forth in a circular motion to cut a patch out of the replacement scrap and the stained carpet at the same time. Once the hole is made, lay double-sided carpet tape inside, deep enough so that it doesn't extend above the surrounding edges of the good carpet. Then place the patch in the hole and make sure that its pattern blends in with the surrounding carpet. Seam adhesive should then be used to bond the patch and the good carpet together.

Sometimes carpet can, literally, come apart at the seams. In these instances, remove all the old carpet tape under the seam and replace it with either double-sided adhesive tape or heat-activated tape. The strip should be long enough to fill the whole lifted edge. Then fasten both seam edges firmly to the tape. Heat-activated tape is heated with a seam iron (which can be rented) until it becomes sticky, at which point you simply move along with one hand behind the iron, pushing down one edge of the seam and then the other.

Though carpet is subjected to wear and occasional accidents, the damage done is usually not sufficient to warrant replacing it entirely. If we respond quickly to minor accidents and use the right know-how and tools to address the bigger ones, we can treat only a small portion of a carpet and make the whole thing look good as new.


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