A single misstep when cleaning carpets has the potential to turn once-soft flooring into a stiff, crunchy mess. Add in the fact that some carpet fibers naturally stiffen as they dry no matter how thoroughly you clean, which makes the chances of plush carpets turning brittle increase. No matter what the cause is, you don't have to deal with matted, stiff fibers between your toes. Fix any mistakes you made during cleaning and use the experience to better hone your carpet-cleaning skills. But if your carpets are crunchy after hiring a professional, contact the company to request a resolution.
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Lack of Extraction
Residential carpet cleaning units use suction to remove dirt and detergent. Working too quickly only allows the shampooer or extractor to remove the soapy, dirt-laden water from the surface of the carpet, leaving behind a residue at its base. Once dry, the deposits rise to the surface, causing the fibers to stiffen and clump together. Outside of the unwelcome crunchiness, excess detergent attracts and clings to dirt. Eliminate the residue by re-cleaning the carpets, filling the shampooer's or extractor's tank with plain water treated with a neutralizing rinse. Mix the product, available online or through select retailers, according to manufacturer directions and based on the appliance's tank size. In the future, only make one pass with the shampoo and take your time to thoroughly remove the solution from the carpet. This takes anywhere from 1 second per 1-foot section or longer to work each section until water stops entering the machine.
Wrong Soap or Detergent
The wrong carpet shampoo or failing to follow manufacturer directions when diluting the product also causes crunchy carpets. Select and use shampoos intended specifically for carpet, preferably the brand recommended by the manufacturer of your flooring. Adding more soap than recommended won't get your carpets cleaner; in fact, it's usually safe to start with half to three-quarters of the recommended amount. When you're done, dilute a neutralizing rinse with water according to manufacturer directions and pour it in a spray bottle. Spritz the carpet evenly while it's still wet and let it dry.
Water-Sensitive Rug Fibers
Some fibers, especially those made from natural materials, habitually stiffen when exposed to moisture, even if you or a professional shampooed the carpets thoroughly and with the right type and amount of soap. Rake the carpets with a carpet groomer to break up clumps gently and then vacuum to remove any residual dirt or residue. Check the care directions provided by the carpet manufacturer to ensure that the flooring can be cleaned with water-based products. If it can, repeat the raking and vacuuming process after each cleaning, once the carpet is dry to fluff the pile. If water-based products aren't advised, hire a professional for deep cleaning or use a dry-foam product.
Shampooing more than necessary risks residue buildup in the carpet. Hire a professional to remove all traces of old shampoo and then stick to a less stringent at-home shampooing schedule. Vacuum several times a week and clean spills immediately to minimize the need for deep cleaning. Shampoo with a hot water extractor and low-residue carpet soap every 12 to 18 months for clean, non-crunchy flooring. If you vacuum less frequently or have pets or young children, your carpets may require more frequent deep cleaning, typically two to four times a year.
- Mrs Clean: How To Deep Clean / Shampoo your Oriental Rugs
- RealEstate.com: (Spring) Cleaning Your Carpets: Methods, Tips and Tricks
- Bridgepoint Systems: Green Balance Neutralizing Rinse
- Housekeeping Channel: How Often Should I Get My Carpets Cleaned?
- The Family Handyman: Carpet Cleaning Tips for Long Lasting Carpet
Amanda Bell spent six years working as an interior designer and project coordinator before becoming a professional writer in 2010. She has published thousands of articles for various websites and clients, specializing in home renovation, DIY projects, gardening and travel. Bell studied English composition and literature at the University of Boston and the University of Maryland.