Cleaning carpet tiles is not much different from cleaning one-piece carpet, although there are special tricks to ensuring that your tiles don’t permanently stain. Not only can spills and dirt cause permanent stains, but cleaning incorrectly can also cause tiles to stain, so make sure you approach the task carefully.
1. Attack the Stain ASAP
The longer a stain has to set in, the greater the chances of the stain becoming a permanent fixture on your carpet tiles. You should tackle a stain immediately or, if you don’t find the stain until later, as soon as possible. Even if you find an old, caked-on stain, you may still be able to clean the tiles.
2. Scoop and Blot
Before you try scrubbing the stain or dirt from your carpet tiles, you need to remove as much as the stain/dirt from the area as possible without working it back into the carpet fibers. In order to do this, you should scoop up the excess of the stain with a paper towel. The next step is to cover the stained or dirtied area with cold water. Then take a rag and blot the dirtied area gently.
3. Soaking the Stain
After blotting, use a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar to about 2 gallons of warm water on the stain. You should actually blot the tiniest amount of this mixture on the stain first to make sure that the carpet doesn’t lighten in reaction to the vinegar; however, it shouldn’t cause problems on most carpet surfaces. Pour the mixture over the stain, let it soak for a few minutes and blot the stain again. Let the stain dry (via air or with the assistance of a hair dryer) before you attempt to scrub it.
4. Scrubbing with Baking Soda
You should scrub stained or dirtied carpet tiles only after you’ve scooped and blotted so that you’re nor forcing the dirt further into the fibers. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the dirtied area, grab a scrub brush (with soft bristles) and work the baking soda into the dirtied carpet in circular motions. Allow the baking soda to sit for at least ten minutes; you can even let it sit overnight.
5. Vacuum Away the Baking Soda
Once you’ve allowed the baking soda to soak into the tiles, you can vacuum it away with a regular vacuum. If the stain remains, you may consider steam cleaning the carpet. However, scrubbing baking soda regularly into your carpet can help keep the carpet both clean and fresh-smelling on a regular basis. This is especially important in apartments with pets and/or children.
If you tackle the stain as quickly as possible, you should be able to avoid having to replace the tiles. However, at the very least, carpet tiles are easier to replace than larger areas of carpet, although you may not have spare tiles for the transplant. Before replacing anything, be sure to ask for your landlord’s permission to make structural changes to the apartment.