It doesn’t take long for a carpet to get dirty. Foot traffic takes a toll over time—especially if you’re walking around in shoes. And since indoor/outdoor carpets are exposed to foot traffic and the elements, they can get filthy faster than the average carpet.
“Indoor/outdoor carpets act as filters, trapping dirt and dust,” Glenn Wiseman, Sales Manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services, says. And when you walk on your carpet, you can kick that dust back into the air. That’s not good for you. And all that mess isn’t good for your carpet, either.
To keep your indoor/outdoor carpets in tip-top shape, you’ll need to clean them regularly. And unfortunately, you can’t just toss them in the washing machine.
Properly cleaning an indoor/outdoor carpet involves vacuuming regularly, deep-cleaning periodically, and spot-cleaning as needed. And while all that cleaning may sound intimidating, taking things step-by-step makes the process much easier.
Meet the Expert
- Glenn Wiseman is the Sales Manager at Top Hat Home Comfort Services, an Ottawa-based home maintenance and renovation firm.
- Derek Chiu and Leslie Tam are the co-founders and Directors of UrbanMop, an Ottawa-based cleaning company.
- Emil Perushanov is the owner of Top Cleaners London, a London-based cleaning company.
How Often Should You Clean an Indoor/Outdoor Carpet?
You should clean your indoor/outdoor carpet every week, but you don’t have to deep-clean it every time. Instead, you should vacuum it every week and deep-clean it twice a year.
“If your carpet is in an area with high traffic, then you should vacuum it at least once a week,” Wiseman says. “This can help prevent dirt, dust, and other debris from penetrating the fibers of your carpet—which is what causes stains and damage.”
If you have pets or kids, you should vacuum your carpet more often at twice a week. If your carpet is in a low-traffic area, you can vacuum it less often, like every other week. In addition to weekly vacuuming, you should deep-clean your indoor/outdoor carpet twice a year and spot-clean whenever you notice a spill.
“Carpets should be washed 2–3 times a year,” Emil Perushanov, owner of Top Cleaners London, says. “In addition, you can perform light spot cleaning as needed.” Remember, old stains are tougher to clean than new ones.
Things You’ll Need
- A vacuum
- Dish soap or baking soda
- Spray bottle
- Cleaning brush
- Residential steamer (optional)
How to Clean an Indoor/Outdoor Carpet
Step 1: Shake Off Dirt and Debris
Before vacuuming your carpet, clean up debris that could clog your vacuum. “Collect any hairs or pet hair to prevent them from getting stuck in your vacuum,” Derek Chiu and Leslie Tam, co-founders and Directors of UrbanMop, say.
You can do this by hand, or if the weather is nice and your carpet is sturdy, you can take your carpet outside and shake off the debris.
Step 2: Vacuum the Carpet
“For regular cleaning, a vacuum is always the best tool to extract surface-level dirt,” Chiu and Tam say. So, grab your vacuum and get to work.
Step 3: Spot-Clean Stains
If you notice spills or stains on your carpet, spot-clean them with a DIY cleaning solution. Wiseman recommends mixing warm water, vinegar, and dish soap, and Chiu and Tam recommend using vinegar and baking soda.
No matter which mixture you choose, your next steps are simple. “Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, apply it to the carpet, and scrub it in with a brush,” Wiseman says.
Step 4: Rinse Off the Carpet
After spot-cleaning, rinse your carpet thoroughly. Why? “If there is soap residue, the dirt will just cling to the suds and cause your carpet to get dirty faster,” Wiseman says. He recommends rinsing spot-cleaned areas with water, then blotting those areas dry with a towel.
Step 5: Deep-Clean With a Steam Cleaner
When it’s time to deep-clean your carpet, you have two options: bring in the professionals or use a residential steam cleaner.
Most of our experts recommend hiring professionals. “The professionals will provide a deeper cleaning process than you can do on your own,” Wiseman says.
But if you decide to do it yourself, you can steam your carpets with a residential steam cleaner. Since carpets are dense, they’re great at trapping dirt, debris, and moisture—which can cause persistent stains and mildew. According to Chiu and Tam, a steam cleaner can “extract the dirt and stains from underneath the carpet,” helping you tackle the grime you can’t vacuum or spot-clean.
Make sure your carpet is steaming-friendly. There are different washing requirements when it comes to synthetic, semi-synthetic, and natural fibers, so check the care instructions before investing in a steamer.
Step 6: Let the Carpet Dry
Before putting your carpet back where it belongs, let it dry completely. This will cut down on the condensation that mold and mildew love. Perushanov recommends cleaning your carpet on a sunny day, so you can let it air-dry outside.
Tips to Keep an Indoor/Outdoor Carpet Clean Longer
- Bring your carpet inside when it rains or snows. “This will prevent water damage and mold growth,” Perushanov says.
- Remove your shoes before walking on your carpet—if it lives inside. “Dirt from shoes can stain the carpet,” Chiu and Tam say.
- Keep wipes on-hand, especially if you have pets. “Wipe your dog or cat’s paws after they've been out walking in the snow or mud puddles,” Wiseman says.
- Spot-clean ASAP. “Blot [spills and stains] as quickly as possible with paper towels or an old T-shirt, so liquid doesn't soak into the carpet and padding below,” Wiseman says.
- Buy a stain-resistant carpet. “If you have kids or are prone to spills, try a stain-resistant indoor/outdoor carpet,” Wiseman says. “You can save yourself time and money in the long run.”