Stain-resistant doesn't mean care-free. You still need to clean up any spills right away, just as you would if you had a hard-surfaced floor. Good care helps your wall-to-wall carpet weather well over the years.
But of course, few things last forever. Stain-resistant carpet is no exception. Eventually, the protective chemical coating wears out. Read the manufacturer's instructions for care and follow them diligently so that your flooring lasts a long time. And remember, some chemicals, like bleaching agents, can wear down your carpeting's stain-resistant coating, so make sure to keep them out of contact with your floor. There are some substances that can permanently harm or discolor even stain-resistant carpeting, including strong chemicals, acne medication and yellow mustard, so manufacturers recommended you try to keep these culprits at a safe distance.
Health risks are another consideration. Did you know that carpet is home to more microorganisms than any other kind of flooring? The fibers it's made of trap allergens like mold and bacteria. It also ensnares airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted as gases from thousands of things -- such as toxic stain-resistant treatments, pesticides dragged in on the bottoms of your shoes and cleaning supplies -- some of which pose short- or long-term health risks.
Some examples of common complaints related to being exposed to carpet containing VOCs include headaches, nausea, chills and fever, and burning eyes, nose or sinuses.
Your body isn't the only thing that can suffer from stain-resistant carpeting. Carpet manufactured today is made mostly with a synthetic mix of petroleum and chemicals. Ninety-eight percent of synthetic carpeting contains an ingredient that takes more than a century to biodegrade [source: Graham]. Our landfills certainly experience the harmful effects of carpeting well after we're finished with it.
Despite these drawbacks, stain-resistant carpet may be a nice addition to your home if you want to prevent permanent spots on your floors. If you're ready to consider installing stain-resistant carpet, or if you just need a few tips for caring for your current carpet, click to the next page for some great links and resources.