Carpets are a great way to add warmth and texture to your home. But carpets are also great at collecting all the dirt, pet hair, and dust that comes into your house on shoes or clothes. That’s why it’s so important to deep clean carpets regularly! To help you out, we’ve compiled some tips for how to deep clean carpet without a machine.
Hiring a professional cleaner or renting a carpet cleaning machine can quickly add up. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of ways for you to deep clean carpet on your own without spending money on expensive machines or hiring professionals.
Many carpet cleaning solutions are laden with chemicals. If you have small children or pets at home, you’ll love the idea of using natural cleaning ingredients you likely already have at home. With a bit of elbow-grease and time you can get your carpets fresh and clean without any harmful chemicals or fancy machines. So let’s roll up our sleeves and dive right in!
Regular carpet maintenance makes cleaning easier
The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly rings true when it comes to carpet cleaning. Learning how to deep clean carpet without a machine is much easier if you regularly maintain carpets to begin with.
1) Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming is one of the best ways you can keep your carpet looking nice and fresh! Not only does this fluff up your carpets (especially in high traffic areas), it also prevents dirt and debris from getting ground into carpets.
2) Spot treat stains right away: If there are any stains in your carpet, try spot treating them before they set in. We’ll share some tips on spot treating stains below.
3) Banish dust mites with a HEPA filter: If you have someone with allergies or asthma at home, it’s especially important to remove any lingering dust mites in carpets. The best way to do this is to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a thicker vacuum bag which prevents dust mites from re-circulating back into the room during vacuuming.¹
Natural cleaning ingredients to help deep clean carpets
Many natural cleaning solutions work surprisingly well at freshening, deodorizing, and removing stains.
Round up the following ingredients:
- White distilled vinegar: Just your average bottle of white vinegar you can pick up at the grocery store works like a charm. Most store-bought vinegar contains 5 percent acetic acid which acts as a natural disinfectant by killing certain types of bacteria and preventing mold growth.² White vinegar helps to remove stains and odors as well as fluff up fabrics (which is why it’s awesome for laundry too). If you’re worried about the smell of vinegar lingering on your carpet, no worries—the smell dissipates when dry.
- Baking soda: Sodium bicarbonate is a natural product that’s mildly abrasive in nature—it’s a great option for scrubbing those dirty carpets clean. It also helps to remove stains by lifting them from porous surfaces like carpet fibers. Baking soda is a natural grease-fighter and deodorizer.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Gentler than bleach, hydrogen peroxide’s oxidizing properties make it an effective stain remover. Plus it won’t remove color like bleach does!
- Liquid Castile soap: Castile soap is a gentle plant-based soap (typically made of olive oil) that lifts dirt and banishes grease. (If you don’t have Castile soap, you could use a liquid dish soap as a substitute.)
- Club soda: While you can add it to your drinks for some added fizz, club soda doubles as an effective cleaner for fresh stains. The carbonated liquid works to lift stains before they have a chance to settle in.
- Essential oils (optional): While choosing to add essential oils is completely optional, a fragrance adds a nice touch to home cleaning solutions. Some essential oils have anti-bacterial or antifungal properties.³ A few good choices include: cedarwood, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, rosemary, and tea tree.
Carpet cleaning supplies
Now let’s gather a few cleaning supplies:
- Large bucket
- Sponge and/or scrub pad
- An empty spray bottle or two
- A stiff-bristled brush, either made of nylon or natural materials. There are specific carpet cleaning brushes you can buy at your hardware store. The bristles should be stiff enough to scrub but gentle enough so as not to damage the carpet.
- Clean cloth (any old, lint-free cotton rags) for blotting up excess water or spills
Tips before you get started…
- Always test a small inconspicuous area of your carpet first when using cleaning solutions. While the cleaning solutions we suggest are natural and are generally safe for most carpets, it’s best to stay on the safe side!
- Some types of carpets such as those with silk or other delicate fibers must be professionally cleaned.
- When removing stains, always dab the area—never rub or scrub. Rubbing or scrubbing only pushes the stain further into the carpet fibers.
- Apply cleaning ingredients sparingly at first and slowly add more as needed. Applying too much baking soda for example can be difficult to completely vacuum up afterward. Too much liquid can warp your carpet, or penetrate your underflooring and cause moisture or mold issues.
- Vacuum before you start your deep clean to remove dust and debris from the carpet fibers.
Spot cleaning and removing fresh stains
The next time you have company over, keep a bottle of club soda nearby. Sure, you can add it to your drinks, but it’s really effective at treating fresh carpet stains.⁴
Time is of the essence when there’s spillage on your carpet: the best way to prevent stains is to take care of any spills right away.
- Clean water
- Club soda
- Old rag or sponge
Tip: Avoid getting your carpet overly wet when applying water and club soda as this may warp the fibers. At worst, this may seep into the underflooring and cause mold issues.
- Apply a bit of water onto the carpet stain. DAB, don’t scrub with a sponge or old rag. Continue to try to absorb as much of the spilled liquid as possible by dabbing.
- Apply the club soda directly onto the stain. Continue to gently blot the stain until it’s removed.
Spot cleaning and removing old stains
Wine or blood stains, spaghetti sauce splashes, or coffee stains are no match for this natural DIY carpet cleaner.
- Baking soda
- White distilled vinegar
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Something to scrub with
Note: Never combine baking soda and vinegar into a single bottle as this causes a chemical reaction (fizzing) and may cause your bottle to explode. This method is effective at cleaning because the baking soda and vinegar are applied one after another directly onto the carpet stain. The chemical reaction helps to remove and lift stains.⁵
- Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the stain.
- Add white vinegar into a spray bottle, undiluted. Spray the white vinegar over the baking soda and the stain. Let it sit for 30–60 minutes to work its magic. Allow it to dry slightly.
- Apply the hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain.
- DAB, don’t scrub the stain with a scrubbing pad or sponge. Add a bit more hydrogen peroxide as needed.
- Vacuum the area.
Your carpet will look brand-new when it’s stain-free!
Spot cleaning grease stains
The cleaning power of dish soap and baking soda is great at banishing grease. Using a liquid dish soap such as Dawn can help remove oily or greasy stains from carpet, while baking soda helps absorb odors and grease.
- 6 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons dish soap
- 5 drops essential oil of your choice
- Empty spray bottle
- Baking soda
- Sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto the grease stain. Let it sit for several minutes.
- Next, combine water, dish soap, and essential oil (optional) in a spray bottle. Spray solution onto the carpet stain and let it sit for 30 minutes. Avoid getting the carpet overly wet as this may warp it.
- Scrub with a stiff brush.
- Wipe clean with water.
Clean area rugs with snow
There are benefits to living in a winter climate and cleaning with snow is one of them! This method works only with small area rugs and with packed snow (not the soft fluffy stuff!).
You’ll need a broom, or something to beat the rug with.
- Roll up your carpet and bring outside to an area with clean, packed snow.
- Place the carpet face-down onto clean snow. Use a broom or stick to beat the back of the carpet to remove dirt and debris.
- Once you’ve completed a pass, move to a fresh patch of snow until carpet is clean.
- Shake off excess snow and hang your area rug to completely dry before placing back in place.
Spruce up old area rugs with vinegar and water
Breathe life into worn-out rugs with a simple water and vinegar hack. Here’s a helpful tip for restoring old rugs.⁶
Before cleaning your area rug, either vacuum first and/or take it outside to shake off any excess dirt.
- A push broom (or similar stiff-bristled brush)
- 1-gallon bucket filled with warm water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Fill a large bucket with 1 gallon (roughly 4 liters) of water.
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar.
- Dip the push broom into the water-vinegar solution and gently brush against the surface of the rug. No rinsing required.
Deep clean your carpet naturally
The same vinegar and water solution can be used for an all-over carpet cleaner.
Note that this solution works best for short-pilled carpets. Please use caution if your carpet is made of silk, wool, or other delicate fibers—always test a small patch first.
It’s best to do this at a time when the entire carpet can dry overnight or for several hours before stepping on it. Remember to apply cleaning solution sparingly to avoid over-saturating your carpet which can lead to mold or moisture issues.
- A push broom (or similar stiff-bristled carpet brush)
- 1-gallon bucket filled with warm water
- 1 cup white vinegar
Preparing your carpet for deep cleaning
The key to a successful cleaning job is in the prep work. This includes picking up any clothes, toys and neglected Lego pieces off the floor, and moving large furniture out of the room.
Do a thorough job vacuuming or sweeping up any dirt and debris from the carpet. The last thing you want to do is rub in any dirt into carpet fibers as you’re deep cleaning!
- Mix water and white vinegar in a large bucket.
- Dip your carpet brush into the solution and gently work into the carpet. Start in the furthest corner of the room, and work your way towards the door or exit. Avoid getting your carpet too wet.
- Run a fan over the carpet to help speed up drying.
Alternative tools for carpet cleaning
- Steam mop: An effective and non-toxic way to deep clean using the power of steam vapor. If you have young kids, or pets, investing in a steam mop could help you keep flooring spic-and-span.
- Manual carpet sweeper: No electricity required for this handy tool. If the sound of loud vacuums scares your pets, or wakes up sleeping children, this might be a handy solution for you. It lifts and collects dust and dirt with rotating brushes. Not as good as a regular vacuuming, but good for quick, in-between jobs.
The takeaway: how to deep clean carpet without a machine
There are many ways to deep clean carpet without a machine—all without the use of harmful chemicals. Handy natural ingredients to use are white vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and hydrogen peroxide. We hope that this post has given you some ideas about how you can get keep your carpets clean, naturally.
For more simple home cleaning tips, check out an article RusticWise is featured in via Inspection Support Network.
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- HealthLink BC, Controlling Dust, Dust Mites, and Other Allergens in Your Home, https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/illnesses-conditions/allergies/controlling-dust-dust-mites-and-other-allergens-your-home. Accessed November 2023.
- Whelan, Corey (08 March 2019), “What Is the pH of Vinegar?“. Healthline. Accessed May 2021.
- David Suzuki (Queen of Green), Two easy all-purpose cleaner recipes, https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/two-easy-all-purpose-cleaner-recipes/. Accessed May 2021.
- Aquamist Carpet Care, The Incredible Power of Club Soda on Carpet Stains, https://www.aquamist.ca/blog/the-incredible-power-of-club-soda-on-carpet-stains/. Accessed May 2021.
- Chemistry Cachet, Easy Homemade Carpet Cleaner (Only 3 Ingredients!) http://chemistrycachet.com/easy-homemade-carpet-cleaner/. Accessed May 2021.
- Reader’s Digest, 95 Household Vinegar Uses You Never Knew About, https://www.rd.com/list/150-household-uses-for-vinegar/. Accessed May 2021.