Carpet Cleaning: Lessons from History


Do you beat your rugs and carpets? Or is that an odd question when you think of carpet cleaning?

Not all that long ago, the traditional carpet beater was a standard household appliance. Typically made of wicker or cane – although wire, wood or steel could also be used – the implement consists of an intricately woven head with a strong, flat surface on the end of a long handle. By beating a rug repeatedly with it, dust and dirt are released and the carpet is cleaned. Simple!

In the days before fitted carpets became commonplace and before the invention of mechanical carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners, the only way to clean rugs and carpets was to sweep them with a broom or to take them outside and give them a good beating. Not surprisingly, this was an unpopular and physically demanding task, particularly for big, heavy rugs. However, in the absence of better alternatives, the practice became well established in virtually every home.

Only from the 1960s onwards, when more advanced carpet cleaning devices started to become affordable – anyone remember the Ewbank? – did carpet beating decline.

Interestingly, you can still buy traditional carpet beaters today. Better still, many experts still recommend the occasional beating of rugs as one of the most effective ways to get rid of dust and household debris.

Other good ways of keeping your rugs fresh and clean include:

Regular vacuum cleaning

Bear in mind that suction cleaners are safer than those who have rotating brushes, which may damage the fabric over time. Hoover from the inside out and make sure that carpet fringes don’t get caught up in the vacuum.

Rotate your rug

To even out wear and tear and traffic patterns through the room, rotate the position of the rug periodically to keep it looking younger for longer.

Refresh and deodorise

To keep your rug smelling clean and fresh, you can use a commercial deodoriser such as Febreze, Glade Shake n’ Vac or Neutradol. Alternatively, sprinkle liberally with baking soda and hoover up after 15 minutes (or ideally leave overnight).

Remove stains

Minimise the damage of any stains by acting without delay. Scrape off any solids and blot liquids, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for stain treatment.

Professional carpet cleaning

Have your rugs cleaned professionally every year to remove deep seated dirt and grime that your vacuum cleaner won’t shift.