Maintaining clean carpets can be one of the most stressful aspects of rental living. Not only are they one of the most examined and fined amenities during move-out inspections, but they can also be easily worn and damaged through simple day-to-day living. Luckily, there are some easy and inexpensive steps you can take to protect your carpets. Use these six tips for keeping your carpets clean and minimizing the risk of stains and fines.
Document Existing Issues
Prior to moving in, be sure to note any existing stains, damage, or general wear-and-tear on the carpeting. Be sure to examine the entire unit, including closets and storage nooks, and document what you find both in writing and in pictures. Beyond visible stains, if you suspect prior tenants had small children and/or pets, request that the carpets be inspected with a black light for other hard-to-see stains. This move-in inspection will be the only proof of damages you didn’t cause, so be as detailed and thorough as possible.
Protect High-Traffic Areas
Accidents aside, general day-to-day living will cause visible wear-and-tear on carpeting. This is especially true in high-traffic areas like entryways, hallways, and common thoroughfares throughout the rental. Thankfully, you can control how worn these areas become. First, reduce the amount of dirt that is brought in by making the entire place a shoe-free zone. Keep a shoe organizer by the front door for the entire household, and ask guests to remove their shoes before entering as well. Also, consider laying down inexpensive runners or mats in the high-traffic areas. Not only will they protect the carpeting underneath, but will add a decorative punch to your space.
Protect Carpets During High-Risk Situations
When you anticipate potential spills or damage, do what you can to protect the carpet. Example situations include painting the room (or doing any other messy DIY projects), parties, and any spaces dedicated to kid and/or pet play. For DIY projects, use inexpensive plastic tarps and good tape to protect every area of exposed carpet. Even if you are a tidy painter, it’s best to protect against accidental spills or rogue splatters because paint is very difficult to remove from carpet. For parties and play spaces, consider laying down large area rugs over the wall-to-wall carpet. These rugs can be pricey though, so search thrift stores, online retail sites, and home improvement store sales for inexpensive options that won’t bust your budget.
Practice Good Carpet Maintenance
One of the keys to keeping carpets clean and looking good at all times is to practice regular maintenance. Stock your apartment with some basic carpet-cleaning supplies and establish (and stick to) a good cleaning routine. At a minimum, keep carpet-specific spot remover, rags, and a good vacuum on hand. If the situation and budget allow, an at-home steam cleaner and carpet deodorizer are valuable additions.
Vacuum your carpets (at least) weekly to prevent dust, dirt, food, and pet hair from getting worked too deeply into the fibers, making them impossible to remove even for professionals. Spot treat stains as soon as they occur with carpet-specific products, and steam clean at least annually to eliminate hard-to-remove stains and smells.
Don’t like to use smelly chemicals in your home? Check out these 4 natural carpet cleaning solutions!
Professionally Clean Your Carpets Regularly
Many rental agencies will require a professional carpet cleaning prior to vacating the unit. However, even with professional supplies and equipment, some issues are impossible to eliminate if they have been there for a while. If you plan to live in your rental for longer than a year, consider having an annual professional cleaning to get out stubborn stains and reduce the appearance of general wear-and-tear. Some rental agencies will provide a complimentary carpet cleaning as part of your lease renewal (just ask!). If a professional cleaning isn’t in the budget, rent a professional-grade steamer to do the job yourself for a fraction of the cost!
A Note on Pets
If you have a pet, keeping your rental carpets clean may be an even bigger challenge. First and foremost, ensure that pets are allowed in your rental and get clarification if a black-light inspection will be performed at the end of your tenancy. Second, make sure pets are fully house-trained before allowing them free roam of the entire unit. Lastly, practice good and regular maintenance to deal with hair, dander, odors, and other issues. If accidents do occur, use pet-specific products or consider hiring a professional to deal with them properly.
Maintaining the look and cleanliness of rental carpets can indeed be a difficult and stressful task. Without proper diligence, you can face hefty fines if stains and considerable wear-and-tear are evident. To keep your carpets in great shape, practice preventative living (shoes off, rugs down) and timely maintenance (spot treat stains, conduct regular cleanings). By employing these simple tips, your rugs will be in great shape for your tenancy, as well as that of the next renters!
Worried about getting your security deposit back? These quick tips will ensure you do!