Whether you only have one rug in the living room or live with wall-to-wall carpeting, clean carpets are essential for keeping your home looking bright and fresh. Not only are carpets great for your home aesthetic, but they keep a room warm in cold weather, are extremely comfortable to lay on, and create a cozy atmosphere perfect for lounging or entertaining guests. The only downside? They’re difficult to keep clean!

Any carpet owner knows how difficult it is to keep the carpeting clean, especially if you have children or pets in your house. Carpet stains are commonplace and nearly unavoidable, but if not cleaned right away, can leave a permanent mark on an otherwise beautiful carpet, ruining the look of your spotless floor.

The good news is that it’s possible to keep your carpets looking clean for longer. How quickly your carpets get dirty has a lot to do with the daily habits of the people in your household, as well as how often you clean in your house. Simple things such as your vacuuming methods may have a big impact on the cleanliness of your carpets. To keep your carpet looking and smelling its best, we’ve compiled a list of easy tips to help you tread more carefully:

  1. Get an Indoor and Outdoor Doormat

Did you know that a LOT of the dirt and dust that’s in your home is tracked indoors through the bottom of your shoes? Dust is probably a carpet owner’s worst enemy, as dusty carpet is noticeable from a mile away. To keep the carpet clean, practice some preventive maintenance: put a doormat both inside and outside your entryway for you and guests to wipe your shoes on when you come in. The first doormat will be for wiping your shoes on, while the second one inside is for taking your shoes off without making a mess.

  1. Implement a “No Shoes” Policy

One of the best ways to keep your carpet clean is to prevent dirt and dust from getting on it in the first place. As mentioned, dirt from the bottom of your shoes is probably the top culprit for causing dirty carpets, so be proactive about removing your shoes indoors. You don’t want to walk all over your pristine carpets only to realize that you had mud on your soles the whole time!

Implement a “No Shoes” policy for everyone in the household—including guests. This won’t just keep your carpet clean, but it will also keep your carpet from getting damaged. Shoes can literally grind dirt into the carpet fibers, resulting in matting and damaging a perfectly good carpet.  If some people may be uncomfortable with the idea of walking barefoot around the house, you can leave a drawer of socks or indoor slippers by the entryway as an alternative.

  1. Vacuum Routinely

Vacuuming is a great way to keep a carpet clean, as it lifts the dirt out of the deeper fibers of the rug, de-clogging the carpet and keeping the colors from deteriorating. Not just that, but vacuuming your carpet also has great benefits in terms of keeping the indoor air clean, as dirty carpets have a tendency to hold in all sorts of allergens and bacteria in them.

However, the way you vacuum matters. For a carpet, you should go over each spot frequently, moving the vacuum in different directions to get all the debris out. You’ll also want to vacuum at most twice a week, as too much vacuuming may have negative consequences on your carpet. The constant back and forth movement on your carpeting might wear it out too quickly.

Lastly, if you want your carpet to not only look clean, but smell clean too, you can sprinkle some baking soda onto the carpet before you vacuum. Leave the baking soda there for a couple of minutes, as it’ll absorb any foul odors in the carpet. Then, vacuum as normal.

  1. Treat Stains Immediately

The situation: you’re lounging on the carpet, perhaps enjoying a glass of wine after a long work day, when suddenly you knock over your glass! If you were in the middle of a relaxing moment, chances are you don’t want to stress over a stain and will get to cleaning it once you’re in the mood.

Don’t do this! The longer a stain has to set in, the more difficult it will be to remove, and the more damage it’ll wreak on your carpet. This is especially true for food stains—the most common type of stain to have on a carpet. To make sure your carpeting lasts as long as possible, be diligent about stain removal and try to clean up stains immediately.

  1. Deep Clean Your Carpets

While vacuuming twice a week is a good way to keep your carpet clean, most vacuums won’t pull out the dirt that’s deeply embedded into the fibers of your carpet. Instead, opt for a professional cleaning service to deep clean your carpets at least once or twice a year. Professional cleaners have industrial strength machines with stronger suction, able to remove every speck of dirt and debris from your carpet. Not only that, but most likely they’ll also steam clean, condition, and deodorize your carpet, leaving it looking fresh and brand-new.