How often you should
clean your carpets?

Some professionals exaggerate (A LOT!) when talking about how often you should clean your carpet. Take a look at the real frequencies certifying entities recommend!

How often you should clean your carpets for perfect results? Thumbnail

Table of contents

Introduction

If you've ever wondered how often you should clean your carpets, you're in the right place. Many carpet cleaners will tell you to clean your carpets way more often than you should. Why? Because they make money that way!

Think about it... Rug Cleaners have a lot of work in the spring, because that's when most people choose to clean their carpets. However, the winter months are low season and finding clients is not as easy as in high season.

What do they do then? They simply talk good people into cleaning their carpets more often than they should. It could be the case that someone has to clean their carpets every month to maintain their carpet in "looking-like-new" conditions. But that's usually not the case.

So... how often should you clean your carpet?

The IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) is a non-profit organization that has tested all the Carpet Cleaning Methods. They recommend different cleaning frequencies depending on how much a carpet is used. We're going to look at the different scenarios so you can identify which one matches your carpet use best.

If you're looking for a quick answer, let me say this: As an absolute minimum, you should at least vacuum once a week and deep clean your carpet once every 1,5 years.

Keep reading to find out if you need to clean more!

Industry's Official Cleaning Frequencies

The IICRC published back in 2015 the cleaning standars for carpet cleaning companies all over the country. That report was called the IICRC S100. In that report there are 4 different cleaning frequencies recommended depending on how dirty the carpet is. For each one of those scenarios the IICRC recommends a vacuum frequency and a deep clean frequency.

Before we begin, keep in mind a couple of things:

1. We'll be covering residential uses only.

2. Both vacuum cleaning and deep cleaning can be done by yourself. You might not need a professional. Just the right equipment. We'll talk more about this on the section Can you Deep Clean your carpet yourself?

Let's take a look at each one of the scenarios.

EDIT! A lot of you guys were asking us through our Ask an Expert section a lot of interesting questions about whether or not your carpet has low traffic (light soil carpet, using IICRC terminology), medium traffic (medium soil carpet), moderate traffic (heavy soil carpet) or heavy traffic (extreme conditions).

So we decided to help out creating our own calculator to help you know exactly what type of cleaning you're dealing with. That being said, here's the calculator:

Carpet Traffic Calculator

How many adults live in your home?

How many children live in your home?

Children under 13:
Children 14-18:

How many pets live in your home?

Small Pet:
Large Pet:

Do you entertain or have grandchildren?

How often do you vacuum thoroughly?

How often do you have your carpets professionally cleaned? (or steam cleaned?)

How big is your home?

Low Traffic Medium Traffic Moderate Traffic High Traffic

I really hope this calculator makes it easier to follow this guide!

1. Light Soil

Light soil is described as the type of home where only adults live. In light soil not much daily cleaning has to be made (except for spots that might occur every now and then). You should vacuum once a week and deep clean your carpet once a year.

Although the IICRC says you could go up to 18 months without deep cleaning your carpet, I would only recommend waiting so long for vacation homes or any type of house that's only inhabited in certain moments of the year.

How often you should clean your carpets - light soil

2. Medium Soil

Medium soil is described as families with children and/or elderly (and no pets). Not only these carpets get dirtier than the "light soil" carpets, but they also have to be cleaned more often due to health reasons.

Medium soil carpet owners should vacuum their carpets once or twice per week and deep clean every 6 to 12 months depending on whether or not someone in the family has allergies, how much time do the children spend on the carpet, etc.

How often you should clean your carpets - medium soil

3. Heavy Soil

Most of the people who have their carpets cleaned by a professional regularly fall under this category. The most typical example are families with pets and/or smokers in the house.

In this scenario, you should vacuum 2 to 4 times per week and deep clean your carpet at least once every six months. Although you may have to clean it more often depending on the time of the year and where you live.

How often you should clean your carpets - heavy soil

4. Extreme Conditions

The fact that this scenario is called "extreme conditions" isn't very helpful, because a lot more people fall under this category than you might think. Large families or families with multiple pets almost always need to vacuum daily and deep clean every 2 or 3 months.

How often you should clean your carpets - extreme conditions soil

Influencing Factors

As you've just seen the IICRC's recommendations are very broad. There's a big difference in having to deep clean your carpet every 6 months (the lower end of the spectrum) and every 3 moths (the higher end of the sprectrum).

So... what will it be? 6 months or 3 months? How can you decide? You can decide taking into account these factors:

1. Allergies

If someone in you home has allergies, then it's advised to both vacuum and deep clean your carpet on the higher end of the spectrum.

Even if you can't see it, carpets trap a lot of particles that you (or someone in your house) might be allergic to. Vacuuming regularly helps reduce the daily impact because you remove the top layer of soil. And deep cleaning helps too because it's almost like starting from scratch.

If you live with babies or small kids, it's a good idea to vacuum and deep clean closer to the higher end of the spectrum. Especially if there are family members who are also allergic.

2. Pets

It will depend on the type of pet you own. Some dogs and cats species are extremely harmful to your carpet, while other might not be as harmful. Even within the same species, there can be a big difference between different dogs or cats. There could also be a difference depending on the type of the year.

Ask your veterinary for more information, but keep in mind that pet odor is the number one reason why carpets are replaced before they should.

3. Children

The more time children spend indoors, the more you'll have to vacuum and deep clean your carpet. This is especially true for babies under 12 months. They spend a lot of time closer to the carpet and they could be suffering the carpet's bad odor, long before the adults notice.

4. Shoes

Do you allow people to wear their outsite shoes in your home? If so, you're probably bringing way more soil than someone who takes her/his shoes off when they get home.

5. Carpet Color

Light colors should be cleaned more frequently. Not because they get dirtier, but because it's easier to notice it.

Can you Deep Clean your carpet yourself?

Everybody knows that you can vacuum your carpet yourself. You don't need a professional to do so for you. But... can you deep clean your carpet yourself?

Yes! Deep cleaning is just a way of calling the Steam Cleaning Method (we wrote a post on the different cleaning methods here). And you can absolutely DIY!

You just need the right equipment. Check our post on the best carpet steam cleaners of 2020 to find out which steamer is right for you. With the right steamer, you can save a lot of money by cleaning your carpet yourself.

And if you'd like to buy a vacuum or robot, check our vacuum buying guide and our robot buying guide for more information. You can save so much time with a vacuum robot! You won't be disappointed!

When should you call the pros?

Although you can clean your carpets yourself 99% of the time, there's a couple of exceptions to the rule:

1. Warranty. If your carpet is brand new you might want to call a professional. Why? Because the warranty won't cover you unless it's cleaned by a professional every couple of months.

Check your warranty to make sure the frequency with which you should have your carpet cleaned. And also, don't forget to save a receipt! You'll have to hand those over in case you have any issues with your carpet.

2. You didn't clean it yourself regularly. If you haven't cleaned your carpet for a very long time, you should call a professional. I've seen the best carpet steamers clean a carpet that hadn't been cleaned in years, but there's no guarantee that you'll be able to clean it yourself.

Hire a professional and buy a steam cleaner to maintain your carpet from then on. It will be so worth it!

If you really want to find a professional to help you do this for you, check the best professionals in your city section of our website. We analyze and rank the best carpet cleaners in the USA.

Conclusion

The IICRC has set the industry standars when it comes carpet cleaning frequencies. Depending on how a carpet is used, these are the vacuuming and deep cleaning frequencies:

How often you should clean your carpets - extreme conditions soil

Remember that a professional isn't always necessary! You can deep clean yourself if you own the right equipment.

Tony Gonzalez Picture

By Tony Gonzalez

Carpet Cleaning and Installation

I'm Tony and I consider myself a carpet cleaning expert! I've tried the 5 most common professional cleaning methods myself, and I've reviewed thousands of carpet cleaning & installation companies. I'm currently exploring the DIY Cleaning and Installation world. It's not that hard and it's a lot of fun!

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Tony Gonzalez Picture

Tony Gonzalez

Carpet Cleaning and Installation

I'm Tony and I consider myself a carpet cleaning expert! I've tried the 5 most common professional cleaning methods myself, and I've reviewed thousands of carpet cleaning & installation companies. I'm currently exploring the DIY Cleaning and Installation world. It's not that hard and it's a lot of fun!

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