The Best Homemade Carpet Cleaners

Having carpet in your home can add an elegant, luxurious feel. During the cold winter months, your carpeted floors are likely most appreciated for their warmth and comfort.

However, carpets also tend to become a thriving spot for dirt, dust, crumbs and bacteria — yuck. Leaving bacteria to hang around in the fibers can cause mold to start growing. Then you’ll have a bigger problem on our hands.

Regular vacuuming is the best way to keep dirt at bay, but sometimes your carpet requires a deeper clean. This can be done quickly using a commercial product. However, we like to DIY it with some of the best homemade carpet cleaners.

Table of Contents

    Why Use a Homemade Carpet Cleaner?

    Keeping a carpet clean requires regular vacuuming at the very least, to keep dirt, debris and dust at bay. Then when you need a deeper clean, you can make your own cleaner instead of buying a commercial product.

    Here are a few benefits of using a homemade cleaner:

    1. Affordable

    One of the main reasons to make your own carpet cleaner is to save a few (or many) bucks. True, commercial products can be found at various price points. However, branded products tend to be priced higher.

    Homemade cleaners, on the other hand, often consist of products already in your pantry. Typical ingredients are vinegar and baking soda.

    Besides, a large bottle of vinegar should last longer than a bottle of a commercial product. This will save you money in the long run.

    2. Free of Dangerous Chemicals

    Commercial carpet cleaners can be tricky to use since you have to test them before using them. It’s even tougher if you have a specialized carpet, such as a Persian or shaggy.

    We’ve found that you might need to test multiple products before finding “the one.” This is because of certain chemicals or hidden bleaches that discolor and damage the fibers.

    When you make your own cleaner, however, you know what you put in it. You can make sure that it’s 100 percent free of bleach that could damage your colored carpet.

    3. Better in Family Homes

    If you have children, you know how tricky it can be deep cleaning the house while the kids are home. This is due to obnoxious fumes or residues that linger in the fibers and can harm your children (1).

    Most homemade carpet cleaners, in comparison, are natural and safe to be used around children. Again, you know exactly what goes into the solution, and you can make sure it’s safe.

    4. Allergy-Friendly

    People who struggle with allergies and asthma have a hard time using certain cleaners. It’s worth mentioning that not all “green” products are necessarily safe. So, people with allergies have to be extra cautious about product ingredients when shopping.

    Products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are common triggers for allergies and asthma. They’re also known for causing asthma symptoms in people who don’t usually suffer from respiratory issues (2).

    With homemade products, however, you can choose tolerable ingredients.

    Best Homemade Carpet Cleaners

    After seeing the different reasons why you should make your own carpet cleaner, it’s time to reveal our favorites. Some are natural, while others are carpet shampoo and conditioner dupes.

    Before using a cleaner, consider the color of your carpet and whether there are stains that need treatment. When cleaning colored carpets, you should always do a spot test to avoid discoloration.

    First Steps

    Always start by vacuuming your carpet thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. This will help to make it easier and improve the end results.

    If there are any stains or spills, clean these immediately to prevent them from settling. Use a clean cloth to blot any spills, starting from the edges to avoid spreading.

    Never Rub a Spill

    Your first instinct might be to rub the spill as hard as you can. However, this will do more harm than good. Rubbing a spill will only work it further into the fibers, making it more difficult to remove.
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    Non-Toxic Homemade Spot Cleaner

    If you have young children or furry friends, a non-toxic cleaner is the best choice. This recipe is easy to make, and you most likely have everything already.

    Here’s what you need:

    • Two cups of water.
    • One cup of vinegar.
    • Two teaspoons of salt.
    • 10 to 15 drops of essential oil.

    How to Use

    1. Mix the Ingredients

    Start by mixing water and vinegar — you can do this in a spray bottle for spot treatments. Next, add salt and essential oils and mix well.

    You can use any essential oil you like. The point is to create a pleasant scent in your carpet. If you like citrus, go for lemon or grapefruit. If you want a calming scent, go for lavender.

    Salt is a mildly abrasive cleaner that works effectively at removing stubborn stains. When combined with vinegar, it creates an unstoppable stain-fighter. This mixture works effectively at removing food stains such as grease and even rust (3).

    2. Spray

    Locate the grimiest spots on your carpet and give them several good spritzes of your solution. Allow the cleaner to sit on the carpet for a few moments while the ingredients work their magic.

    3. Scrub

    Get out a carpet brush or any other with stiff bristles and scrub using back and forth motions. Allow the area to dry once you’re done. Then finish off with a vacuum to remove excess solution and particles.

    Homemade Spot Cleaner for Light-Colored Carpets

    Light-colored or white carpets are more prone to stains. Luckily, since there are no patterns or bright colors to worry about, you can use something a bit stronger.

    Here’s what you need:

    • 12 ounces of water.
    • Two ounces of hydrogen peroxide.
    • Five drops of essential oil (preferably lemon).

    How to Use

    1. Mix

    In a spray bottle, combine water and hydrogen peroxide. Add the essential oil and give it a good shake to mix well.

    2. Treat the Spot

    Spray a generous amount of solution directly onto the spot or stain. Allow it to sit for a little while to work.

    Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent alternative to harsh bleach like chlorine. It works effectively at removing stains such as blood (4). The essential oil will add a fresh scent, and the lemon will further help to break up grease.

    3. Scrub

    After the solution has been sitting on the stains, use a soft brush to scrub the area. Keep scrubbing until the stains are gone.

    4. Rinse

    Use a slightly wet or damp cloth to rinse the area. Blot the spot to get rid of the residue left by the stain.

    Simple Spot Cleaner

    If you’ve accidentally spilled fruit juice on your carpet, don’t fret. Try this recipe. Here’s what you need:

    • One teaspoon of dish soap (preferably clear to avoid staining).
    • One cup warm water.

    How to Use

    1. Combine the Ingredients

    Start by mixing water and dish soap in a bucket or container. Give it a good mix to combine well.

    2. Rub

    Dip a sponge in the soapy water and rub the area thoroughly. Try to wring the sponge as much as you can, leaving it moist but not dripping wet.

    Continue rubbing until the stain is gone. If the stains are stubborn or dry, leave the solution to sit for 10 minutes before rubbing.

    3. Remove Excess Water

    Use a clean cloth or towel to blot up excess moisture. You can also use paper towels — just be prepared to use a lot.

    Removing Stains from Colored Carpets

    If you have a dark-colored carpet, you might be feeling a bit lost as to how you can remove a stain. However, this next recipe is perfectly safe and effective on colored fibers.

    Here’s what you need:

    • Salt.
    • Cold water.

    How to Use

    1. Remove Moisture from Stain

    If the stain is still wet, start by blotting it using a cloth or paper towel. Start at the edges and work your way towards the center of the stain. This will prevent the spot from spreading as you’re blotting.

    2. Sprinkle Salt

    Sprinkle a generous amount of salt onto the stain. You can use any type of salt for this — fine grain, such as table salt, is very effective. Leave it to sit for up to five minutes.

    3. Apply Cold Water

    Pour a small amount of cold water onto the salt and scrub using a soft brush. The salt is mildly abrasive and will do most of the work. However, we found that helping it along with a brush creates the best result.

    4. Rinse and Blot Dry

    Pour additional cold water onto the stain and finish off by blotting the area dry. Use a clean cloth or paper towels to remove excess water and salt.

    Easy Gum and Wax Remover

    Removing gum or wax from a carpet doesn’t need to be complicated one bit. These issues are easily removed using ice and a dull tool.

    How to Use

    1. Apply Ice

    Apply an ice pack or bag of frozen peas to the gum or wax. Allow it to sit until the substance is frozen solid.

    Avoid

    Don’t use ice cubes as these will melt and can cause the gum or wax to become even more difficult to remove.
    2. Scrape

    Use a dull tool such as a butter knife or spoon to gently scrape off the gum or wax. If it has left a stain, try blotting it with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on a paper towel. This should lift the stain.

    Heavy-Duty Spot Remover

    If you encounter particularly stubborn stains such as blood, use this recipe. Here’s what you need:

    • Two ounces of ammonia.
    • Two ounces of vinegar.
    • Three gallons of water.
    • One tablespoon of dish soap.

    How to Use

    1. Mix

    In a large bucket, combine water, ammonia, vinegar and dish soap. Give it a slight stir with a spoon to combine well.

    Stay Safe

    Ammonia can create noxious fumes that can harm your lungs, eyes and skin. Protect yourself with gloves, goggles and a plastic apron. Keep the room well-ventilated (5).
    2. Treat the Stains

    Dip a brush or sponge in the solution and wring out excess moisture. Scrub the stains thoroughly until you see them start to disappear.

    You can also pour some of the solution into a spray bottle to make application easier.

    3. Rinse

    Use a clean sponge dipped in water to rinse excess ammonia off of the fibers. Then use a blot and lift motion to get the most out. Finally, dry with a clean cloth or paper towels.

    Homemade Carpet Deodorizer

    Dirt, dust and bacteria can cause a buildup of various odors within the fiber of your carpet. You might notice a musty odor or even sour smell in the carpeted room.

    This method also works wonders on pet accidents such as urine. The two powders will effectively absorb the urine while neutralizing the pungent odor.

    Here’s what you need to make an easy carpet deodorizer:

    • Eight ounces of corn starch.
    • Eight ounces of baking soda.
    • Five crushed bay leaves.

    How to Use

    1. Combine Ingredients

    Start by combining all of the ingredients in a container or bowl. You can also mix them in a shaker to make the application easier. However, the bay leaves need to be fine so as not to clog the holes.

    2. Apply

    Sprinkle the powdery combo in a thin layer on the carpet. Add a little extra on greasy or oily stains. The baking soda and cornstarch will absorb spills and odors while the crushed bay leaves will add a nice scent (6).

    3. Allow to Work

    Leave the powdery solution on the carpet for one to two hours. This will allow the two powders to absorb any odor that might be lingering in your carpet.

    4. Vacuum

    Once the time is up, use a strong vacuum to remove powder and potential stains. The baking soda and cornstarch should have dried out any stains and created a form of crust. This is easily removed with a vacuum.

    Homemade Deep Cleaner for Carpets

    This next method is excellent for when you need to deep clean your carpet. You can do this by hand, or you can use a carpet cleaner for the easiest results.

    Here’s what you need:

    • Two ounces of an all-purpose cleaner, such as Lysol.
    • One tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent.
    • One teaspoon of fabric softener.
    • One scoop of OxiClean.
    • One gallon of hot water.

    How to Use

    1. Combine Ingredients

    Begin mixing all ingredients except for the water in a bucket. Mix well until the powdery OxiClean is fully dissolved. Slowly add the hot water — do this slowly to avoid bubbles.

    The all-purpose cleaner will help to remove stubborn stains such as grease. OxiClean also helps to lift and dissolve dirt and grime stuck to the carpet fibers.

    The fabric softener will add a nice scent to the carpet while calming the fibers, creating a better result.

    2. Add the Cleaner to the Machine

    Get out your carpet cleaner. There are multiple devices to use. An excellent choice is the Hoover PowerDash.

    Add the solution to the tank of the machine and plug it into an outlet.

    Move across the carpet, spraying the solution as you move forward and extracting it when going backward. A carpet cleaner is an excellent tool for deep cleaning carpets since they leave your carpet nearly dry.

    If you don’t have a carpet cleaner, you can rent one from your local home improvement store.

    You can also use this solution by hand — simply dip a soft brush in the solution and work it into the carpet. Rinse with a damp sponge and finish by drying the entire carpet using towels and a fan.

    Cleaning a Carpet Using a Steam Mop

    Steam mops are excellent tools for disinfecting surfaces and removing grime (7). However, this tool is best used on hard surfaces such as tiles and countertops.

    When using a steam mop on carpets, you’ll need a carpet glider. This small piece of plastic will help the mop to glide over the carpet without resistance.

    Before using a steam mop on your carpet, we highly recommend that you check the manual. The steam might discolor or cause damage — this is especially important if you have a Berber carpet.

    One advantage of a steam mop is that it doesn’t require any cleaning solution. All you need to do is fill the water reservoir with tap, distilled or demineralized water.

    A major difference between steam mops and carpet cleaning machines is the amount of moisture left behind. Carpet cleaners will extract most liquids, leaving your carpet nearly dry. However, a steam mop doesn’t have that function — you must, therefore, dry the carpet thoroughly afterward.

    Things to Avoid When Cleaning Carpets

    Although it’s easy to create your own cleaning solution at home, you should still be cautious. Certain ingredients should never be used on carpets to avoid damage. Here are a few things to avoid:

    • Abrasive tools: Stiff brushes or steel wool should never be used on a carpet. While you might feel inclined to scrub as hard as possible when working on a stain, take a breather. Abrasive tools can damage the fibers and leave them damaged.
    • Bleach: If you have colored or dark carpet, refrain from using bleach. The strong chemicals will discolor the fibers and ruin your carpet.
    • Over-wetting: When you’re cleaning your carpet, avoid using too much water. If water soaks into the backing or pad of the carpet, it could shrink (8). Drying the carpet afterward will also become a tremendous job that should be done within 48 hours to avoid mold (9).

    Carpet Cleaning DIY

    Cleaning your carpet is usually done with a quick vacuum session. However, sometimes, it needs a deep clean. Commercial products are effective but can be tricky to use as it can be difficult to know if they’re safe on your carpet.

    By using the best homemade carpet cleaners, you can remove stubborn stains effectively. Some homemade recipes are also perfectly safe to be used in a carpet cleaning machine for an even easier clean.

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