We all know that carpets come with a few, specific cleaning requirements that aid in keeping them looking, feeling, and smelling good. Whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting, or a decorative carpet in the middle of your living room, you will soon learn that regular cleaning and maintenance is not just an option, but a necessity in prolonging the life and appearance of the natural fibers.
Too many homeowners make the mistake of waiting until the worst happens (like an inevitable spill on the clean carpets) before they decide to learn about the homemade products used for general cleaning, as well as removing carpet stains. Among these ‘magic potions’ are some extremely effective and economical homemade carpet cleaners that are a lot less harsh (if at all) on your carpet fibers and backing. Best of all, most of these solutions can be made from common household products that one might already have at home (unlike the harsh chemicals you have to buy into a rented carpet cleaning machine or used by professional carpet cleaning services).
Before You Clean Your Carpet
Note that carpets are made from various types of fibers which can be divided into two categories – natural and synthetic fibers. The cleaning method chosen will therefore depend on the type of fiber in question. Although homemade carpet cleaner recipes are usually natural or mild, we advise performing a spot test on an inconspicuous area of the dirty carpet before using it elsewhere.
With that, let’s jump right in the process of learning how to use the best methods, and the appropriate steps for a homemade solution.
Options for DIY Homemade Carpet Cleaners for General Cleaning
With or without visible dust/stains, your own carpet traps particles and contaminants that render it dirty and unsanitary. In fact, a large percentage of allergens in the home are often found in carpets. This is why general cleaning as part of whole carpet maintenance and upkeep is all the more important because you certainly wouldn’t want your kids, or yourself, to be breathing in these impurities.
For general carpet cleaning, we find a natural, non-toxic homemade carpet cleaner to be the best choice. Not only are they effective in cleaning and refreshing carpets, they also ensure that no harsh or harmful chemicals get left behind.
#1 Baking Soda
The simplest way to clean and refresh your carpet and eliminate tough stains is by using baking soda. When given enough time, the powder absorbs musty smells and other bad carpet odors that otherwise tend to linger. For this, you will first need to vacuum the carpet thoroughly, and then sprinkle baking soda over it. Use a soft carpet brush to spread the powder as evenly as possible, and work it into the carpet for a deeper clean. For best results, leave the baking soda to do its job overnight (or, at least an hour if you’re in a pinch), and vacuum the entire carpet the next morning.
Cleaning Minor Stains with Baking Soda
In case you are dealing with visible ground-in dirt, or minor stains, mix equal parts water and distilled white vinegar (you can also add a few drops of colorless essential oil for fragrance), and pour it into a spray bottle with a mist setting. After the baking soda has sat on the carpet for a few hours, spritz the stained area enough to dampen it, and allow the ingredients to react for a few minutes. Then, take a clean, white cloth, and gently dab the area to lift the dirt/stain. If needed, blot the dampened spot with paper towels or a clean, dry (white) towel to absorb excess moisture.
This homemade carpet cleaner can be used for mild carpet stains, as well as for general cleaning and refreshing purposes.
What You’ll Need:
To begin, combine the ingredients below to make natural carpet cleaners:
- 2 parts water
- 1 part distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon equal parts salt (per 1 cup water)
- Few drops of colorless essential oil
Add the above into a spray bottle, and give it a good shake to blend all the cleaning products well. Use the spray bottle to lightly spray the entire carpet or stained area. Allow the fibers to dry completely before vacuuming the carpet. For mild stains, dampen a cloth with the carpet cleaning solution, and blot repeatedly until the stain has lifted in its entirety.
For general spot-cleaning or removing a fresh stain caused by a dirty shoe print, this cleaning paste should be your go-to carpet cleaner. It’s really simple to make, too; all you need is a bowl to combine equal parts vinegar, salt, and borax. This should form a paste, however, if the consistency is too runny/lumpy, you may adjust the amounts as needed.
Now, put on a pair of rubber gloves, and apply the paste to the stain using your fingers to gently work it into the carpet’s natural fibers. Let the paste sit and dry completely for 2-3 hours, then vacuum it up. Observe the area for any remnants of the stain and, if found, dampen a clean cloth with water, and wipe the area using minimal pressure. When the stain has been removed completely, allow the carpet to dry, and vacuum the area one last time.
#4 Baking Soda-Borax-Cornstarch-Cornmeal-Spices
If your carpet requires a dry carpet cleaner solution, or you just prefer not to dampen the material which would be the case in a steam cleaning, cleaning using the following powdered mixture does an excellent job at homemade carpet cleaning, refreshing, and revitalizing carpet fibers.
- Baking soda – 2 cups
- Borax – 1 cup
- Cornstarch – half a cup
- Cornmeal – half a cup
- Dried bay leaves – 2-3
- Cinnamon powder – 1 teaspoon
Put the ingredients above into your food blender and grind them. It’s important to ensure that the bay leaves are finely ground so that it mixes well with the rest of the powders.
When you’ve got the perfect blend, sprinkle the powder over the carpet, and brush it in with the help of a soft cleaning brush or broom. Leave the powder on overnight or for a few hours, at least; vacuum thoroughly thereafter.
Do not allow your kids and/or pets to go near the carpet when there is a cleaner left to sit, especially if borax is being used as it can be dangerous if ingested.
What Are The Best Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solutions? Our Picks Ranked.
When it comes to getting out stains from carpet, the type of stain you are dealing with will dictate the type of carpet cleaner required for effective removal. With that said, there are some homemade carpet cleaners that can be used for different types of dirt, and therefore, are worth learning/saving for when you suddenly need them.
Today, we explain each homemade carpet stain remover for both wet and dry stains. Read on.
#1 Baking Soda
Depending on the severity of the stain, baking soda can be used, or to simply pre-treat the affected area so that it is easier to remove with a follow up carpet cleaner.
Wet carpet stains including biological matter such as blood, urine, pet stains, pet urine, vomit, etc.
Here are the steps to follow when using baking soda to remove fresh carpet stains:
- Put on a pair of rubber gloves, and remove any solid debris by picking it up with paper towels or a dry cloth.
- Soak up as much liquid from the stain using paper towels to blot the area. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing of any kind as this will push the stain further into the carpet, or spread it.
- Cover the stain with an even layer of baking soda; dab it into the carpet with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- Leave it to sit and absorb the liquid and discoloration.
- When the powder is completely dry, vacuum over it thoroughly, and observe the stained area. If needed, use one of the homemade carpet cleaners shared above (for mild stains), or an alternative DIY carpet stain remover (for large or very visible stains).
Household ammonia is commonly used for cleaning due to its ability to break down grime. Often used to treat stains, the product is also preferred for cleaning glass surfaces as it evaporates quickly, thereby reducing the streaks.
First things first; NEVER mix ammonia with bleach as, together, they emit hazardous fumes. Secondly, when using household ammonia for carpet cleaning or other purposes, the space or room should be airy and well-ventilated with all the windows opened. Lastly, ammonia can cause skin and eye irritation so it is important to wear gloves and full-length clothing, as well as protective eyewear in case of accidental splashes.
Common stains, Dry or stubborn stains.
Follow the steps below to clean with a homemade ammonia-water homemade carpet cleaner:
- In a bucket, pour in 2 liters (½ gallon) of mildly warm water, and add 1 cup of ammonia; stir well to combine.
- Dip a clean sponge in the mixture, and squeeze out the excess water. Use this to dab and lift the stain, ensuring to rinse the sponge periodically before dampening it in the solution again.
- Avoid blotting outside the boundary of the stain; instead, start from the outline, and work your way to the middle. It’s also important to avoid saturating the area, however, if this happens, use paper towels to soak up the moisture before continuing the cleaning process.
- If the entire stain has not come out, allow the carpet to dry completely and repeat the steps above.
#3 Dishwashing Liquid-Water as DIY Carpet Cleaners
As simple as it sounds, a soapy solution of regular dish soap and cold water can work without too much trouble. An important factor to remember here is that the faster you act, the more effective this stain remover will be.
Food, oil and greasy stains.
To spot clean or remove stains with dishwashing liquid, follow the instructions below:
- Combine 2 cups of cold water with 2-3 teaspoons of grease-fighting liquid dish detergent.
- After stirring the cold water to create a soapy-sudsy solution, dip and wring a clean cloth in it, and begin dabbing at the stain using minimal pressure.
- As the stain starts to lift from the carpet, switch to a clean side of the cloth, or a fresh one altogether. A good tip is to use paper towels to soak up excess moisture between blotting as this will also help to absorb color from the stain.
- When you are satisfied with the result, rinse off the soapy solution from the carpet using a clean, damp cloth.
- Finish off by blotting the area with paper towels, and allow the carpet to air-dry.
#4 Hydrogen Peroxide-Cream of Tartar/Non-Gel Toothpaste
Due to its mild bleaching properties, hydrogen peroxide is effective in getting out stains from carpets and fabrics. With that said, it can be slightly harsh on natural carpet fibers which is why we advise using the product on synthetic carpets only (after performing a spot test, of course).
Old stains, pet accidents
Follow the simple steps below to remove old, set-in carpet stains using homemade cleaners:
- Purchase 3% hydrogen peroxide, measure a teaspoon of the liquid, and add it to a small bowl. Mix in either a small amount of non-gel toothpaste or cream of tartar. Use a teaspoon to stir and blend the mixture well.
- Using a clean, white cloth, apply the mixture to the old stain, and dab it in repeatedly.
- Fold the cloth and use a clean side to continue blotting the stain until it comes out.
- Grab another clean cloth, dampen it with plain hot water, and gently wipe the area to remove the carpet cleaning solution.
- If needed, repeat the cleaning mixture steps above after the carpet has dried
Important Tips to Keep in Mind:
Whether you’re using a store rented carpet cleaning machine, a homemade carpet cleaner, or a store-bought product, there are a few things you must know that will aid in achieving the best and safest results for a clean carpet. Take a look below:
- Treat stains immediately. The last thing you want is for a carpet stain to sink further into the fabric and set in; this makes it harder to remove. By treating stains as soon as they occur, your chances of getting them out are that much higher.
- Never scrub or rub carpet. Always dab or blot the stain as this helps to lift it while scrubbing or rubbing generally spreads the stain further.
- Avoid direct application. When a cleaning solution is applied directly, it tends to saturate the carpet as opposed to using a cloth or sponge for the application.
- Don’t use excess cleaner. When you overuse a cleaning solution, you end up soaking the carpet which is not only potentially damaging to the fibers, but also makes it harder to remove. Even worse, residue from cleaning solutions attract more dirt and bacteria, leaving you with a darker stain over the course of time.
- Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning carpets. As we mentioned earlier, different types of carpet fibers require specific cleaning methods that ensure safe and effective results. You can find these special cleaning guidelines on care tags or the manufacturer’s website.
Many believe that cleaning a carpet or removing carpet stains is only effective with the use of commercial products. While the severity of the stain, condition of the carpet, and type of carpet fibers in question all dictate the type of cleaning solution required, there are plenty of DIY solutions that effectively clean, freshen up, and revitalize your carpet! Today, we have shared some of the best homemade carpet cleaning solutions out there, including tried and tested natural carpet stain removers. They are as easy to make as they are to use, so we are sure that you will have no trouble in cleaning and maintaining your carpets from here on out!