How to Clean Carpet

Rose Morrison

Feb 12, 2023


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Carpets add warmth and softness to a space, cushioning your feet and turning your whole floor into comfortable seating. However, if you live with carpet, you know how quickly it can get soiled and stained. Dirty feet, nail polish and accidents with your morning coffee can turn your beautiful flooring into a spotted mess. 

Fortunately, there’s a way to get almost anything out of your carpet. With simple ingredients from your kitchen, you can soak up stains and eliminate odors so your carpet smells as fresh as it looks. Read on to learn how to clean your carpet on a budget and in spite of tough stains. 

3 Ways to Clean Carpets

Although some people hire professional carpet cleaners, that can get expensive quickly. According to Home Guide, this service usually costs between $25 to $70 per room. Hiring professionals to clean carpets across your whole house could cost between $175 and $600, depending on your home’s square feet and how much carpet you have. 

Some homeowners invest in professional carpet cleaning machines instead. You can purchase or rent deep cleaning vacuums, steamers and floor dryers from several reputable companies. Models with the best performance cost between $29.99 and $34.99 for 24-hour rentals. If you need to deep clean on a budget, renting professional machines can be a good option. 

However, you can also clean your carpets practically for free by using just a few simple ingredients from your kitchen. Most homemade carpet cleaners rely on ingredients like baking soda, white vinegar, dish soap, rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. These cleaners are non-toxic and can remove smells as well as unsightly stains. 

Regardless of the approach you choose, it’s important to remember that cleaning carpets is a circular process. If stains or dirt don’t lift out on your first try, you should retreat the area until they do. In most cases, blotting works much better than scrubbing, which can damage your carpet or work the stain in deeper.

How to Clean Carpet 101

Although it’s under your feet, your carpets are the largest air filter in your home. They trap dirt, dust mites, pollen and even fungus. One of the best ways to improve the air quality in your home and tidy up is to deep clean your carpets once every six to twelve months. You’ll know it’s time when you notice that your flooring looks dull and vacuuming isn’t doing it anymore. 

For a quick refresh, you can sprinkle baking soda across the whole floor to soak up oil and reduce odor. Then, mix a tiny bit of soap into a full spray bottle and spritz your way across the floor. After the baking soda has dried, thoroughly vacuum. You may want to re-spritz clean water across the room and then soak it up with a towel to ensure there’s no detergent left in the carpet.

Before you deep-clean, you should always thoroughly vacuum to remove loose soil and debris. You can also use this time to identify any stains and pick up jewelry or other small articles you don’t want to vacuum up. Using a stiff brush, brush in a single direction to pull stubborn lint and pet hair out of the carpet. 

It will be much easier to deep-clean your carpet if you are intentional about caring for it every day. For example, you can lay down rugs by entrances for wiping muddy feet, put shoe storage right by the door and vacuum thoroughly several times a week. To keep carpets fresh, it’s also essential to treat stains as soon as possible. 

How to Get Tough Stains Out

Many homeowners drop nail polish or spill coffee on their carpet. Fortunately, that feeling of panic rising in your chest doesn’t have to be the end of the story! There are many effective homemade cleaning solutions you can make to remove stains so your carpet looks brand new. 

The sooner you can remove a stain, the easier it will be to get it out. Before you apply a cleaning solution, always use a paper towel or old rag to blot as much of the staining agent out of the carpet as possible. Avoid rubbing or pushing hard since this could make the stain worse. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the five most common carpet stains, along with homemade cleaning solutions and instructions for how to treat them. 

  1. Nail Polish

Although spilling brightly-colored nail polish on a light rug may feel like the end of the world, it’s actually fairly easy to remove. All you need to treat this stain is acetone and some paper towels or old rags. Because acetone is harsh, it’s a good idea to wear gloves during this process. 

Using a paper towel, carefully blot any fresh nail polish off the carpet. Then, pour some acetone onto the stain and let sit for several minutes. If the polish stain is old, you may need to soak it for longer. Use a rag to soak up the acetone and polish. Don’t rub. You may need to repeat this several times to completely remove the polish. 

  1. Hair Dye

The whole point of hair dye is to permanently stain. Although this works out well for your hair, it’s not so great if you get some dye on your carpet during the process. Thankfully, there are several tried-and-true methods for completely removing this stain from carpets and rugs. As always, start by blotting out any excess dye. 

Next, mix together one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of dish soap, a splash of rubbing alcohol and two cups of water. Spritz the solution on the hair dye or apply it through soaking with a wet cloth. Then, use a dry rag to soak up the solution and the stain. Rinse and repeat until the stain is gone. 

  1. Grease

Grease can cause a dark, slippery stain on carpet. Fortunately, there are several quick fixes for removing it quickly. The easiest way to lift grease out of carpet is with WD-40. Although this may feel counterintuitive, this product will lift the liquid out of your carpet so you can wipe it off. 

You can also use a combination of denatured alcohol and dish soap to soak grease out of carpet. Apply baking soda afterward and use a wet/dry shop vac to speed up the drying process. To protect your flooring, keep scrubbing motions to a minimum. 

  1. Coffee

Coffee spills are a fact of life. Thankfully, however, you don’t have to live with the stains. Create a solution with white vinegar, water and dish soap and soak your carpet to remove coffee stains. Use a paper towel or rag to blot the stain and solution out of the carpet. 

If the stain still isn’t coming out, try making a paste out of baking soda and water and applying it over the affected area. After the baking soda dries, vacuum it off to see the results. You may need to apply these treatments several times to completely clean your carpet. 

  1. Pet Spills

As apartment pet fees attest, the animals you love can do a number on your home. If your pet has had an accident inside, never fear – there’s a homemade cleaning solution to treat those stains too. For this stain, you’ll need white vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. 

Start by soaking up any excess liquid. Next, dilute the vinegar and apply it to the stained area. This will help with color and odor. Blot the carpet dry and then add baking soda. Spritz some hydrogen peroxide on top. This will continue to soak up the stain and eliminate the smell. After the baking soda is dry, vacuum it off the carpet. 

Refresh Your Flooring This Spring

Clean carpet brings a sense of freshness to your whole home. It improves indoor air quality and shows that you take care of your belongings. Although carpets can quickly get stained and dirty with everyday use, cleaning them is easy and takes only a few simple ingredients. Aim to deep clean your carpet every six to twelve months to prolong its life and keep it in good condition. 

If your carpets have gotten stained with coffee, nail polish or pet spills, don’t panic. You can create cleaning solutions with ingredients from the dollar store that will effectively remove these stains and leave your carpet as good as new. With a little time and effort, your carpet will be as clean and fresh as the spring wind. 

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