Help me clean my floors!
August 16, 2010 11:43 AM   Subscribe

My roommate and her dogs are finally moving out. Now how do I rehabilitate the floors in my house?

My roommate is a slob. In addition, she has two huskies that shed and are only nominally housebroken. The second she's gone I want to do the best I can to bring my floors back.

1. The carpet in her bedroom and the hallway. It was installed three years ago. It's medium grey, medium pile, no pattern, 100% nylon. It was pretty cheap, but that's not the point. There are several stains due to dog accidents (urine and vomit), cat accidents (vomit), general dirt, food and drink spills, and lip liner.

Should I rent a steam cleaner and do it myself, or hire professionals?

If I hire professionals, do I choose a steam cleaner or a Chem-Dry type service? Should I try to get the stains out myself before they come over or let them do it?

There is no urine odor now (thank god for Nature's Miracle) but I worry that there might be one after a steam cleaning. Should I spray the entire carpet with NM and then steam clean?

I want the carpet as good as new (like it is in MY bedroom) and I'm willing to pay a bit and/or work damn hard to get it there.

2. The hardwood floor in my living/dining room. It's old. It's stained. It's worn. There are bleached out spots due to dog accidents. And the finish is nearly gone at the back door.

I have no illusions that I can get the hardwood looking nice again. But I'd like to improve its appearance at least a little bit. Is there a DIY product that I can use that might help beyond a good mopping and liberal use of floor wax? Renting a sander/buffer is out of the question.
posted by elsietheeel to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
IMHO, not knowing your roommate situation, I'd let her handle setting up the cleaning since she's (hopefully) the one that will pay for it.
posted by k8t at 11:51 AM on August 16, 2010

I would rip the carpet out and replace it, frankly. With that kind of abuse (urine, vomit, dirt, food and drink) I think that will ultimately be the cheapest option.
posted by kate blank at 11:54 AM on August 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I probably shouldn't have called her a roommate, as I own the house and she was renting a room.

Strike roommate, replace with tenant.

I would prefer to take care of all the arrangements myself.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:55 AM on August 16, 2010

Response by poster: Replacing the carpet is not an option at this point. My future is very much up in the air and I cannot afford to replace it right now, nor do I want to if I plan on moving in the next two years. I just want it to look halfway decent for the time being.

Going back to my question. DIY or hire pros? Steam clean or Chem-Dry? And so on...
posted by elsietheeel at 11:59 AM on August 16, 2010

I am a land-lord, and deal with this often enough.
Besides re-surfacing the floor and getting new carpet, it will never be as good as new.

The first thing, obviously, is to clean like all hell. Get down and dirty, and really clean. Wipe the wall down, clean the fan blades, replace the AC filters, clean the vents faces. Clean everywhere that dog hair might have accumulated.

Next, professional steam-cleaning on carpets can go a long way. I am often surprised at how well this works. It really can bring life back to the carpet. And, it is often not too expensive. I have a guy that, if I move the furniture (or it is empty), he will do a room for $25.

Then, get some type of hard wood cleaner, like murhpy's oil. And get down on your knees and really buff the hard wood floor.

Good luck.
posted by Flood at 12:10 PM on August 16, 2010

Best answer: Speaking as a pet owner and a house owner, I will say that professional steam cleaning beats the do-it-yourself kind hands down. I wouldn't even bother with trying to do it yourself.
posted by elmay at 1:11 PM on August 16, 2010

Best answer: When we moved out of our last place we had professional house cleaners come in and then scrubbed the carpets (we had a cat puke stain issue). Then we hired professional cleaners and the difference between what we did and how they made the carpet look so, so much better than it used to was drastic. We did not do the chem dry option, by the way, and our carpets were dry within 6 hours. (I do live in a dry climate though so YMMV.)

In terms of whether or not you should pretreat--it depends on the package you get, and what you need to do is often on the carpet cleaner's website. There are some packages where they do all the pre-treating for you, some where they recommend you do it.

There are often a handful of carpet cleaning coupons in the value-pack mailers if you want to save money.
posted by Kimberly at 1:30 PM on August 16, 2010

You hire a professional and have her pay for it, either explicitly or via her deposit.
posted by rhizome at 2:13 PM on August 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm going to suggest replacing the carpet but with a twist. Replace it with used carpet. I know that sounds crazy but people often replace carpet more for the change than the wear, and a big house will likely have rooms that saw little or no use (dining room, guest bedroom, etc). Installing carpet isn't really difficult so much as hard work and careful measuring. The library or Home Depot has a book on how to it. If you post on Craigsilst you can probably find someone who'll give you carpet for free as long as you haul it away. You might also have success calling local carpet shops until you find someone sympathetic. Rent a truck or a bring a friend with a truck, invite some handy friends over (ply them with beer and pizza!) and have a carpet laying party.

In your position I'd rather put the work in myself to replace the carpet with something better than to pay to have it cleaned with disappointing results.
posted by 6550 at 3:38 PM on August 16, 2010

Response by poster: Okay, she moved out last weekend (thank you baby Jesus!) and I decided to tackle it myself and see if I could make a difference at all before calling in the professionals.

I used Resolve Pet Stain Instant Eraser on the pet related spots, Shout on the food related spots, and Goo Gone on the makeup related spots. Then I used Resolve High Traffic Pet Odor foam on the entire carpet and scrubbed it in with a deck brush. It took me a couple hours and some elbow grease.

Believe it or not, the carpet looks great. I think I'll still have pros come in about six months and do that room and my room, but it's clean enough for me to live with and there is no smell.

I haven't got to the hardwood yet, but I've got a floor cleaner as well as a floor polish that I'm hoping will work.

Thanks again!
posted by elsietheeel at 9:07 AM on September 4, 2010

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