How to Clean Berber Carpet
Is the Berber carpet you fell in love with starting to look less than perfect? The same unique style characteristics that attracted you to Berber carpet require special techniques when cleaning it. The cleaning techniques are just slight variations to normal cleaning, but they can make a huge difference in how clean your Berber carpet is after it’s all said and done.
Spoiler alert: If you’re here just to find the best vacuum for your Berber carpet, I’ve dedicated an entire article to it (click the linked text to view it).
What you’re going up against
If you want to clean your own Berber carpet, it helps to know what you’re going up against. So what unique features does Berber have that will affect how it comes clean, and more importantly, how you will attempt to clean it? There are a few.
A major factor is the type of fiber the Berber is made of. The more economical Berber carpets are notorious for being made of olefin. Unfortunately, olefin attracts oils making the carpet appear dingy. These oils can come from your skin, residue on your shoes, or from cooking in the kitchen. If you have this problem, it is unlikely you’ll get your carpet clean yourself. Oily olefin carpets are even one of professional carpet cleaners’ biggest headaches. Another common Berber carpet fibers is nylon, and it is much easier to clean—aka you may be able to do it yourself.
A second factor to keep in mind applies to all Berber’s, and that is they have a tight weave. So why does this matter? The unique weave of Berber tends to hold water causing two problems. The first is that if you use too much water to clean your Berber, it can mildew because it won’t dry. The second is a phenomenon called ‘wicking’. Your carpet may appear clean at first, but as it dries, the oils start to reappear. Dry cleaning helps avoid this, and sometimes a second round of cleaning is required for dirtier carpets
Another thing to ask yourself before cleaning Berber carpet is if it’s truly dirty or ruined? In lower-quality Berber carpets (and sometimes higher quality Berber’s), the loops can crush, meaning they flatten down. The way the crushed loops reflect light may make the carpet in these areas look dirty, but in fact, it’s irreparable damage. Take a look at heavily trafficked areas and make sure the carpet is not smashed down, and if it is, know that it may be time to replace your carpet and not waste your time trying to clean it.
So what do you have in your ‘toolbox’ to clean Berber carpet? There are four general categories, and I’ll cover each below: prevention, vacuuming, stain removal, and at-home carpet cleaners.
Preventing your Berber carpet from getting dirty
You clearly don’t intend on getting your Berber carpet dirty but hear me out here. Especially with olefin Berber, preventing your carpet from getting dirty in the first place saves you a lot of trouble. These carpets are usually fairly resistant to spills and other household messes so not a huge worry here. The big problem for Berber is oils, so it helps to have a mat at the entrance of outside doors or garages and try to enforce people taking their shoes off.
Best Vacuum for Berber carpet
The vacuum you choose for your Berber carpet is critical. For one, it goes with the “preventing the carpet from getting dirty in the first place” as described above. More importantly, do not use a vacuum with a rotating brush on Berber. It will snag at the loops and damage the carpet! You need a high suction vacuum that does not have a brush, or has a brush that can be turned off. The good thing about these vacuums is they’re versatile–many can also be used on your hardwood floors. If you’re looking for a new vacuum, it’s worth checking out our page on the best vacuum for Berber. I go into more details on what features you can find and break it down by different budgets.
Berber stain removal
If you see a spill, animal accident, etc happen, time is your best weapon to remove the stain. Follow these steps as quickly as possible: Get out your vacuum and grab some baking soda and a towel. Throw the baking soda on the spill—it does a good job absorbing the liquid without rubbing it into the pad. Then, wait about 20 seconds and vacuum up the baking soda. Repeat this process until the baking soda stops absorbing liquid (you won’t see the powder ball up). After this, you can blot with the towel to try to absorb any extra moisture that’s there.
If you missed the opportunity to absorb the stain or the stain occurs anyway, you now need to remove the stain (let’s hope it’s not red wine). Most stains can be cleaned up with a stain remover like this one that you can pick up through my Amazon affiliate link. It’s a good product, but there are many other good stain cleaners. Also, you can try mixing vinegar and water for a homemade stain cleaner (white vinegar and about a 1 to 5 ratio of vinegar to water)! Always use any cleaner (homemade or not) in a very small area of your carpet first to make sure it doesn’t have any negative effects on your carpet—one I’ve commonly seen is it makes the carpet in that area so much cleaner than the rest of the carpet that it stands out, but there’s also a small risk that they could damage your carpet.
At-home carpet cleaners and rug doctors
I’m not a huge fan of these, but if you want to give your carpet a little touch-up cleaning, they can be useful. If you take this route, keep two important things in mind: don’t use a machine with a brush and don’t use too much water! I really think it’s best to have any carpet and especially Berber cleaned by a professional you trust. You get a deeper clean from a professional, and they should know what they’re doing to reduce the chances of wicking and mildew. With this said, the do-it-yourself carpet cleaners (click to purchase through our Amazon affiliate link) typically do a good job of making the carpet appear cleaner.
Now you’re prepared
Prevention is always the best medicine when it comes to Berber carpet. At the end of the day, you can’t completely protect your carpet, so cleaning is eventually going to be in order.
And if your carpet ever falls prey to the notorious black carpet beetles, we have a guide to help you get rid of them.
Hopefully, these tips help you out, and remember vacuuming even when the carpet doesn’t look dirty helps prevent dirty and other grime from grinding into the carpet. Good luck!