After you’ve spent hundreds, and maybe thousands, of dollars on carpeting, you’ll certainly want to prolong its life.

The most important carpet-care practice is regular vacuuming. Another key to carpet life is to clean up spills quickly and get an overall professional cleaning when the carpet becomes visibly dirty. Click here for our advice on hiring carpet and rug cleaners.

It helps to understand the causes and cures of other carpet problems:

  • During the manufacturing process, yarn ends can get buried in the carpet pile and later “sprout” up above the pile level. Use scissors to cut the sprout even with the carpet surface. Don’t pull a high tuft out of the carpet, as you may pull out other fibers as well. You can snip off carpet snags the same way as sprouts, but very large snags may need professional attention.
  • The surface of some types of carpet can develop small balls of fiber known as “pilling.” As with sprouts and snags, you can snip off pilling. If the problem covers a large area, though, call in an expert. Another problem, “fuzzing,” occurs in older loop carpets when fibers break due to wear and tear. Clip excess fuzz, but call your carpet store if fuzzing continues.
  • To prevent spots of pile from becoming crushed or flattened, place rubber or plastic glides, cups, or other special carpet-protector pads underneath heavy furniture. Also, periodically rearranging your furniture helps avoid flattened spots—and changing traffic patterns promotes more even wear. You can often bring crushed pile back up by releasing steam from an iron a few inches above the flattened area, allowing the steam to penetrate the pile, and then brushing briskly.
  • Damp weather and humidity can cause wall-to-wall carpet to buckle or ripple. These problems are usually temporary, but if they don’t disappear soon after the weather becomes drier, you’ll need to have the carpet restretched.
  • Weather can also contribute to problems of static in carpets. If your carpet does not have antistatic protection, if necessary use a humidifier to help control static buildup.
  • Exposure to direct sunlight causes fading, with reds, blues, and dark colors the most susceptible. Closing drapes, blinds, or shades—especially on windows that receive direct sunlight—reduces fading.
  • Foot traffic and vacuuming cause pile fibers to change angles, making the carpet appear shaded. Shading is particularly noticeable on luxurious cut pile carpets, especially plushes in solid colors. Vacuuming the pile in one direction will temporarily fix shading.