Ahhh, carpets. Many experts say that carpeting is the worst type of flooring you can have in your house because it can harbor all sorts of germs and bacteria that hardwood floors or ceramic tiles don’t. But I must admit, on a cold winter’s morning, when a 3 a.m. trip to the bathroom draws me out from under the covers, there is nothing like stepping onto a warm, fuzzy carpet instead of a chilly, hard floor.

Lucky for us carpet lovers, there is research that shows carpeting can be good for your health, but only when it is maintained with an “aggressive vacuuming schedule.”

Yikes. Suffice it to say that it’s important to clean your carpet regularly, but how do you clean your carpet without using harsh chemicals?

Firstly, it’s important to track in as little dirt as possible to the carpeted areas of your home. If people generally wear shoes in your house, try to get them to take them off before they enter the carpeted bedrooms and hallway. Or better yet, have all the members of your home check their shoes at the door – this will prevent a whole host of bacteria from ending up in your house.

Once you’ve established that routine, it’s important to vacuum all areas of your carpet at least once a week with a good-quality HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) vacuum cleaner. A "HEPA" filter removes 99.97 percent of particulates 0.3 micrometers or larger in size.

Then, once a year, have your carpets steam cleaned. Make sure the pros you call in use just hot water (no chemicals). If you want to do it yourself, you can rent a steam cleaner from a home improvement warehouse store. When that’s all done, you’ll have to stay off your carpets for at least a few hours to let them dry fully. (Also if you’re doing it yourself, test out a small area first since getting the carpets too wet will delay drying and foster mold growth.) Regular maintenance like this will go a long way in keeping your carpets looking bright and clean.

But what about tough-to-clean stains?

I have personal experience with this one – my daughter went through a phase of taking off her own diaper to poop (yay) … on the floor (boo). If we didn’t catch her in time, then we were stuck with a huge stain on the floor. No amount of baby wipes seemed to do the trick, so we needed a natural way to get rid of the stain. With little babies running around, we didn’t want to use store-bought cleaners laden with toxic chemicals.

Instead, we sprinkled a little bit of baking soda on the stain, let it sit for a few hours and then dabbed it clean with some very hot water. Voila! Stain all gone! Remember to dab, not rub, because you can break down the fibers of the carpet and set the stain in even more, making it more difficult to remove. You can also try spraying some vinegar and water solution on the stain. Like the baking soda trick, it’s the method that counts with this one, so be sure to do your research first. Happy cleaning! 

Related stories on MNN: