These tips and shortcuts can help you keep your flooring -- from wood to carpet -- looking its best.
Brush on the polyurethane (use the same finish that's already on the floor) with a foam paint pad, and then thin out the edges with a dry brush. Work outward from the center. Where the old surface wasn't sufficiently sanded, some new finish may peel. A water-based finish will dry clear, while an oil-based polyurethane will appear lighter at first but will darken with age. If the floor was stained, you will have to restain the sanded patch before applying polyurethane.
Spills should be attended to as soon as you notice them. Blot up liquid spills with clean white cotton towels or with white paper towels, which allow you to gauge when the stain stops pulling away. Never rub because this will push the spill into the pile and cause fibers to mat.
Mix your own spot-cleaning solution by diluting a few drops of clear (not creamy looking) dishwashing liquid in water. Use about 1/4 teaspoon per quart. Apply to the stain, being careful not to saturate the carpet. Blot gently, then rinse with clean water and blot again.
Clean spills on synthetic carpet promptly using the Carpet Stain Removal Method. If the area discolors, there's probably a sticky spill residue that has trapped soil. Clean by misting the area with warm water and blotting with a clean white cloth.
Clean spills on wool carpet by misting with tepid water and blotting using the Carpet Stain Removal Method. Never use ammonia or any other alkaline cleaner, which can damage wool.
Blot spills promptly; plant fibers such as coir, hemp, jute, raffia, and sisal are less stain-resistant than synthetics or wool, even if treated to be water-repellent. Use the Carpet Stain Removal Method and make sure damp areas dry quickly by using a fan or hair dryer set on low heat.
The sooner you can get to a pet stain, the better. Pet urine left on carpets can permanently alter the dyes in carpet fibers, especially beige ones. Blot fresh stains as soon as you detect them with a clean white cloth. After absorbing as much moisture as possible, apply a solution of 1/4 teaspoon clear dishwashing liquid mixed with 1 cup tepid water; blot with another dry clean towel. Continue alternating with a soapy towel and a clean damp towel until the stain is gone. For stale stains or persistent odor, call a professional carpet cleaner.
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