A good carpet is rarely cheap. But if you take care of it, there’s no reason why it can’t give you several years of faithful service. But if you have children in your home, looking after a carpet is a real challenge.
When it comes to buying carpets, spending a little more for quality and longevity is usually the best option. Buying something cheaper might save you money today, but you may have to replace it quicker than you’d like. But what happens when you spend a small fortune on a luxury floor covering and realise your toddler will do everything possible to ruin it?
If you take preventative measures from the day your carpet is laid, you should be able to prolong its life. Once a carpet is dirty, stained or greasy, cleaning it is difficult. But if you can stop it getting dirty in the first place, cleaning will involve little more than regular vacuuming and a steam clean every couple of years.
Use chair mats
What do you do if the main area of your home is carpeted? Stop your child from ever eating there? Perhaps your dining room is carpeted? Do you really want to restrict your young child to the kitchen table when everyone else eats in the dining room?
The solution is simple, and it’s pretty much fool-proof. Place a chair or splat mat underneath your child when he or she eats. There are some very good products designed for this exact purpose. But you can use any mat that can be wiped down and kept odour-free.
Every time your child sits down for a snack or a meal, slide the mat under the chair to catch the inevitable spillages that ensue. Wipe it down with an antibacterial spray after every use, dry it thoroughly, and store it away.
Use spill-proof cups
There are few things in the average family home that can do as much damage to a carpet as blackcurrant juice. In fact, any type of juice has the potential to cause permanent staining — even if you clean up the mess straight away. This is why you need to stop all spillages from happening.
You’ll be glad to know that the solution is very simply — use spill-proof cups at all times. Sometimes referred to as “sippy cups,” these simple drinking vessels come with two handles and a spout that keeps liquids inside. A tightly-fitted lid ensures that drink always stays inside, even if the cup is thrown across the room.
Get onto popular parenting forums and websites, and search for customer reviews and testimonials about the spill-proof cups on the market today. Buy two or three to see which works best for you. But test each one first in your kitchen. Leave them upside down and filled with liquid overnight, and check for leakages in the morning. Also, try dropping each cup to check that the lid remains firmly in place.
Use carpet protectors
The last thing any parent wants to do is restrict access to a large area of their home. But at the same time, you probably want to protect your expensive carpet from grubby hands and little accidents. One thing you can do is pay for a carpet protection system.
Both manufacturers and professional cleaners can apply a carpet protector that provides resistance from stains, dirt, grease and almost every type of spillage you can imagine. These protective compounds cover each fibre in a protective coating — which is almost impervious to liquids and grease. While this is a more expensive option, it’s far cheaper than replacing your carpet every couple of years.
Protect high-traffic areas
The chances are your children will have their favourite places for play and mischief. But if any of these places are carpeted, you might need to add a protective barrier between little hands and feet and your cherished floor covering.
Assess your home and identify high-traffic zones or areas in which your children spend a lot of time. Protect your carpet with a strategically positioned mat, runner or rug. Look for something cheap yet attractive, as you know it’s going to take a lot of punishment.
One idea is to use remnants from your carpet as protective coverings. They’re exactly the same as the carpet underneath, and they’d probably only end up being thrown away.
Impose strict shoe rules
If there’s mud or water outside, you can guarantee a small child will find it — and then stand in it. This is why it’s always best to impose a no-shoe rule in your home. Make sure you and your children remove your shoes at the door.
It’s also a good idea to place a strong welcome mat at each entrance. This encourages kids to wipe their feet, just in case they forget to take their shoes off. A robust mat will also trap a lot of dirt and mud that would otherwise end up on your carpet.
And don’t forget to provide shoe storage facilities at each entrance. If there’s a visual reminder of where shoes are meant to go, your children are far more likely to comply with your rules.
Have a shower curtain ready
Having a luxurious carpet in your family home is great, and it’s a good idea to protect it wherever possible. But the last thing you want is to leave large areas of your home out of bounds for play and activities. Perhaps you want to sit in your living room with a cup of coffee while your child plays on the floor. If you have a shower curtain ready, this is something you can do whenever you want.
Whether your child wants to draw, paint or play with Plasticine, they can sit on the floor and have fun if you lay down a shower curtain first. A standard curtain covers a very large amount of floor, so you can be reasonably confident that your carpet won’t be in any immediate danger. Once playtime is over, throw the shower curtain in the washing machine — ready for the next time it’s needed.
Create emergency cleaning stations in every room
If you have children, you’ll already know that spills and messes are inevitable. And no amount of planning and preventative measures will every prevent all messy accidents in a family home. This is why it’s always best to be prepared for the worst.
The faster you act to clean up messes, the greater the chance of preventing stains on your carpets. Set up an emergency carpet cleaning station in every room. Include paper towels, microfibre cloths, stain removal agents, brushes and anything else you think can help. Also, make a solution of vinegar and water, and pour it into a spray bottle. Alcohol is also good at removing stains. And some bicarbonate of soda will soak up grease and excess moisture, as well as unwanted odours.
Stock up on cleaning tools
If you’re determined to keep your carpets in showroom condition, you’ll need the right tools for the job. A powerful, bagless vacuum cleaner is a must. Use it at least once a day, even if you’re not convinced your carpets need it. You never know what’s lurking deep within the pile. Choose the best vacuum cleaner for homes with children, as it should come with a range of features and tools that make cleaning up messes a lot easier.
It’s also a good idea to have a steam mop or handheld steam cleaner available. Steam cuts through dirt, grease and grime. It also kills 99.9% of harmful bacteria. And, most importantly, it doesn’t require complementary cleaning agents — which is very important in a family home.
Prepare for the worst and take as many preventative measures as you can. With a little planning, you can protect your carpets from the very worst your children throw at it.