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The Dirty Work of Parenthood

The Parent 'HoodI have spent the last three days scrubbing stains out of carpet.

It started with a spill Friday night. You know how it goes – you clean up one spot, and then you realize just how dirty the floor is around the newly-cleaned spot. While my son watched hobbits, dwarves, elves, and wizards hike the mountains of Middle Earth, I spot-cleaned one place and then spotted another and scrubbed it. And so on.

Saturday morning, I woke up determined to clean the entire family room carpet. It needed it in the worst way. We live there. The kids and their friends wander in and out year round, tracking mud, leaves, dirt, and who-knows-what else despite my efforts to check the shoes at the door. We also have a dog. I’ve been too easy on them eating in the family room, too.

So, after breakfast, I spot-cleaned my high traffic area (a photo of it should be in the dictionary as an illustration of high traffic). Then I hauled my carpet cleaning attachment out of the basement and hooked it up to my vacuum cleaner. I had forgotten how quickly it dispenses liquid onto carpet, and how poorly it suctions it back out. After an hour of wrestling with it, I only had 1/4 of the carpet shampooed and it was much too wet. My husband brought me his Shop-Vac to try to get more water up. It worked much better, but it was tedious work. I spent another hour on my hands and knees with a hose and 5-inch wide attachment, trying to get the carpet damp instead of wet.

The good news is that while I was crawling around on a 10-foot square damp space of carpet, my husband was helping the kids purge a whole ton of miscellaneous garbage from their rooms. This is why I tackle huge projects like this on Saturdays.

To make a long story short, my carpet-cleaning vacuum didn’t clean the carpet very well. I hunted around for a carpet steamer — I didn’t need soap, just hot water and a good suction — but couldn’t find one for rent. We left fans running all night Saturday night, but the floor was still somewhat damp Sunday morning. After church Sunday, my husband took me to get my very own carpet shampooer. (If you’re curious, I got this one – BISSELL ProHeat 2X Deep Cleaner – at Costco) Between that the red chaise lounge he got me Saturday, I told him I’m set for Christmas.

I took a couple of hours Sunday afternoon to finally finish that family room carpet. I don’t even want to admit how nasty the water was that I pulled out of the carpet that day. You guys. It must be the combination of having a dog who must go out whether it’s rainy and muddy or not, and having three kids with all their friends. But this was the second deep cleaning I had done in as many days, and the carpet still had that much dirt in it. I’m so embarrassed.

So today, instead of doing the mountain of laundry bursting out of my kids’ closets, I cleaned both kids’ bedrooms and the living room. I’m pleased to say that the water coming out of those carpets was more like tea and less like mud. Even better, the carpets are already dry and I’ve put the furniture back, all between the time the older kids left for school and the time they returned. Besides lunch with my daughter and a quick run for a full-size bottle of carpet shampoo, I didn’t get anything else done today, but I still feel like it was time well spent.

I’ve decided I need to do my family room carpet at least once a month, and the rest of the house twice a year. We’ll see if I keep that resolution. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who makes resolutions any time of the year!)

How often do you deep clean your house? How many kids/pets/mess-makers do you have? Have any embarrassing cleaning stories for me? Confess in the comments!


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