Today, most homes have wall-to-wall carpet or large scatter rugs.
Because of their constant use carpets and rugs need to be maintained to ensure they remain in good condition. A general all-purpose stain remover for all carpets can be made by dissolving half-a-cup of pure soap flakes, or pure grated soap, in boiling water. Allow the soap mixture to cool, then whip until it is stiff. Apply to a small area at a time, allow to dry, then remove the residue and wipe with a damp cloth. When the carpet is almost dry, brush up the pile.
To treat grease stains, add eucalyptus oil to a small spray atomiser and spray generously onto the affected area. Wipe away with a clean absorbent cloth. Stubborn or bad grease and oil stains can be removed from woollen carpet with this natural cleaner. Mix sufficient water and kaolin (China clay - available from the chemist or pottery suppliers) to form a thick paste. Spread the kaolin over the soiled areas, leave the paste until it is completely dry (24 to 36 hours), then reduce to a powder with a stiff broom and vacuum up. Rub any faint residue with a rag dipped in natural turpentine, working from the outside to the centre. Natural fibre carpets can be dry-cleaned by substituting Fullers earth (available from chemists) for the kaolin, and then following the same procedure.
For light grease stains, sprinkle generously with talcum powder, cover with a paper towel and hold a hot iron over the top of the paper. Do not press down as this could easily push the grease further into the carpet. The hot iron draws the grease up into the paper. You may have to repeat this procedure a number of times, using a clean piece of paper towel each time, before the stain is completely removed.
Old stains, or stains that have gone unnoticed, can often be removed by rubbing glycerine into them. Leave overnight, then sponge lightly with a solution made by dissolving one tablespoon of powdered borax in one-and-a-half cups of warm water. Work from the outside in and keep mopping up so as not to get the carpet sopping wet.
You can deodorise carpets by sprinkling bicarbonate of soda over them, leaving for an hour or two, and then vacuuming up off the bicarbonate of soda. And to leave your carpets smelling fragrant and fresh, mix some of your favourite aromatic oil, a drop at a time, with the bicarbonate of soda until sufficiently scented. Store in an airtight jar or sealable plastic bag in a dry, dark, cool spot for 24 hours before use. This allows the bicarbonate of soda to fully absorb the fragrant oil. So the next time there's an ugly stain on your carpet, or you just want to give it a fragrant lift, try the natural alternative instead.