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Carpet Cleaning at Home: The Top 10 Methods

May 4, 2021

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If you’re searching for carpet cleaning methods at home, you are certainly not without options! Over-the-counter carpet shampoos and inexpensive machines make quick work of removing stubborn dirt and grime, and a few household products you probably already have in the pantry can tackle stubborn carpet stains as well.

The top 10 carpet cleaning methods and materials at home include:

  1. Baking soda paste
  2. White vinegar mixtures
  3. Club soda
  4. Lint rollers
  5. Squeegees
  6. Steam irons
  7. Hydrogen peroxide
  8. Rubbing alcohol
  9. Laundry detergent
  10. Shaving cream

Before you start pulling out the club soda or plug in the steam iron to tackle your home’s carpets, check out a bit more information on the right materials and tools to use for an effective yet gentle clean. You might also note some added tips on choosing between shampoo and steam cleaning and when it’s time to call in the pros!

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Top 10 Carpet Cleaning Methods at Home, Explained

Note some vital details about using these carpet cleaning methods at home and, as always, test your cleaning solutions on a hidden area of the rug before tackling a stain. This will tell you if a certain solution is overly harsh for your carpet fiber type, so you can try a different method for the area needing attention.

Baking soda paste

Baking soda is an excellent product for removing a variety of stains but is especially useful for absorbing oil and grease, including food oils! Scrubbing oily stains with a wet cloth is often ineffective, as oil and water don’t mix so your cloth won’t absorb that greasy residue. In fact, your damp rag might simply spread that stain around and make it worse instead.

cleaning carpet with baking soda

To use baking soda for carpet stains, apply it liberally to a stain and give it time to absorb that residue. Use a damp rag to blot it away, and repeat this process as needed. You can also make a paste of baking soda and water and push this into the stain with a damp rag, and then remove it with a clean cloth.

White vinegar mixtures

Vinegar not only removes dirt and many carpet stains but also “fluffs up” worn carpet fibers. To use white vinegar on your carpet, mix it with equal parts water and add it to a spray bottle. Spray the affected area until it is soaked, and then blot the mixture with a damp rag.

Club soda

Club soda is excellent for lifting stains set deep in carpet fibers, so you can then blot or vacuum away that debris. The carbonation in club soda also helps lift worn and matted fibers. To use on your carpet, simply apply a liberal amount of fresh club soda to the stained area and then blot away debris; once dry, vacuum the spot for maximum results.

Lint rollers

Sometimes vacuum cleaners can only remove so much dirt from carpet fibers, and they will remove even less dirt if they are underpowered or have a clogged filter. Lint rollers are actually excellent for picking up dirt, dust, dried mud, and other debris from carpets and will also fluff up those matted fibers.

lint roller for cleaning carpets


Pet and human hair are notorious for wrapping themselves around carpet fibers so that vacuums and other tools struggle to remove them completely. Squeegees are actually very successful in digging up those hairs along with other lint and debris, as squeegees physically scrape those residues rather than trying to pull them upward! If you have pets or notice your own hair always clinging to carpets even after vacuuming, try a squeegee on the carpet and upholstered furniture.

Steam iron

Steam loosens dirt and debris from carpet fibers while also restoring the nap of those fibers for a clean and fluffy carpet! To use a steam iron on your home’s carpets, set it over a thin cloth such as a handkerchief so it doesn’t burn the material. Let the steam penetrate the fibers, and then use a small brush or damp rag to blot up as much of the stain as possible.

Hydrogen peroxide

Mix together 3/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2 tablespoons dish soap (without lotion), and 2 tablespoons fabric softener. Add this mixture to 1 gallon of warm but not boiling water, and use a spray bottle to squirt this mixture over carpet stains or areas needing cleaning.

Let this mixture saturate, and then use a clean, damp cloth to blot up the stain. If the odor is unpleasant or overpowering, add a few drops of essential oils to the mixture before applying it to your carpets. This mixture can also be added to many carpet shampooing machines for a deep clean.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can bleach carpet fibers easily and leave behind unsightly blotches, but it’s also an excellent choice for removing nail polish, paint, and other coatings! Start by chipping away as much of the polish or paint as possible, using a blunt tool such as a butter knife or even a squeegee.

Next, dab some rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth and blot this over the remaining stain. Rinse it thoroughly once the stain is removed, and be careful you don’t spread the alcohol around while you work. You can even use a cotton swab for small stains and splotches.

Laundry detergent

Laundry detergent is designed to clean wool, cotton, silk, and other materials used to make carpet fibers, so it’s only logical that you can use it to clean your carpet! If adding to a carpet shampooer, use a tablespoon of detergent for every quart of water in the machine.

cleaning carpet with laundry soap

For spot cleaning, dissolve a small amount of detergent in a cup of water and dampen a rag with this mixture, or spray it on a stain. Use another clean, damp rag to blot up the detergent and dirt. Repeat this process as often as needed for a thorough cleaning.

Shaving cream

Shaving cream is an excellent cleanser for everyday dirt, dust, mud, and other unsightly worn spots on carpets. Unlike other cleansers, you will want to apply the shaving cream and then rub it into the carpet vigorously to dissolve dirt and grime.

Allow the cream to settle for several minutes so that it can pull up as much dirt as possible while also fluffing up those carpet fibers. You can then use a fresh, damp cloth to remove the cream and trapped dirt, and then vacuum the area for a complete clean.

Cleaning a Heavily Soiled Carpet

Baking soda is an excellent choice for cleaning heavily soiled carpets, as it absorbs mud, grease, and other unsightly residues. To use baking soda over your entire carpet, sprinkle it heavily along the surface and then grind or push it into the fibers using a fresh, dry sponge mop.

Let the baking soda sit for several minutes so it can absorb as much dirt and grime as possible. Change the filter and bag, or empty the canister of your vacuum and then vacuum the area several times, to pull up as much dirt as possible.

cleaning carpet

If baking soda doesn’t remove as much dirt and debris as needed, it’s time to call in the professionals! A deep steam clean or shampooing can remove tough stains and ground-in dirt while also “fluffing up” those carpet fibers, getting rid of worn areas and unsightly spots. Professionals can also apply odor neutralizers so your carpet looks and smells like new!

Will Baking Soda and Vinegar Clean Carpet?

When mixed together, baking soda and vinegar create a foaming action that can be useful in many household applications. For example, you might use baking soda and vinegar to clear clogged drains and plumbing pipes or to dislodge items from the kitchen garbage disposal.

Baking soda and vinegar can be used together to clean carpets, but this mixture can often be “overkill” or not needed for removing dirt and restoring carpet naps. Instead, try baking soda on its own for stubborn stains and then a steam iron for any matted carpet. This is often enough to provide a thorough cleaning and to restore carpet appearance.

Shampoo vs. Steam Cleaning Carpets

carpet cleaning

There are pros and cons to both steam cleaning and carpet shampooing, and each is used for different cleaning needs. Note those pros and cons and why one cleaning method might be recommended over the other so you know which is best for your home.

When to choose carpet shampooing

Carpet shampooing uses specialty foam detergents designed to lift dirt from fibers, as well as scrub brushes that help pull dirt and other debris away from carpet materials. Shampooing is typically used on especially filthy or soiled carpets and to remove deep stains that might go all the way to the carpet backing.

The downside of carpet shampooing is that some harsh cleansers and oversized brushes can be damaging to carpets, and the shampoo will leave a sticky residue behind if not rinsed properly. The carpet will also typically stay damp for 24 to 48 hours after shampooing.

In some cases, that dampness can risk mold or mildew growth, especially underneath carpets where water is then trapped. Shampooing might also be bothersome to some people with allergies or other sensitivities.

When to choose carpet steam cleaning

While steam cleaning is not as effective on thick, caked-on dirt, it does provide a thorough cleaning for carpets and area rugs. Heat and steam both loosen dirt while also killing mold spores and odor-causing chemicals. Steam also restores carpet naps and provides a hygienic clean without bothersome odors and chemicals.

Steam cleaning might sound as if it would leave carpets even damper than shampooing; however, steam cleaning uses only a small amount of water, so carpets are far less damp to begin with and dry more quickly than when shampooed. Steam is also safer on delicate fabrics that might get matted down with harsh shampoos and cleaning equipment.

carpet steam cleaning home equipment

One consideration to steam cleaning is that hot steam is dangerous, and this carpet cleaning method can cause injury when done incorrectly, so it’s best to leave this work to the pros. Steam also doesn’t remove as much dirt and debris as shampooing, so it is not always recommended for heavily soiled carpets and certain stains.

Does Cleaning Damage Carpets?

If you’re asking, does cleaning damage carpets, the answer is both yes and no! Improper cleaning methods, including harsh detergents and oversized scrub brushes, can damage carpets and especially delicate silk fabrics. Insufficient extraction also leaves behind water that can risk mold and mildew growth, as said.

Not rinsing or extracting shampoo properly can also leave behind a sticky residue that attracts more dirt and debris. In turn, your carpets might start to look dirty sooner rather than later if you don’t remove all traces of shampoo when cleaning rugs and carpeting.

With all that being said, note that proper cleaning with the right tools and cleansers actually protects carpets and can prolong their lifespan! Dirt, mud, thick dust, oil and grease, and other residues tamp down carpet fibers; if not removed completely, those fibers might get ruined so that nothing will restore their nap.

Regular carpet cleaning also reduces the risk of discoloration and fading, while steam cleaning removes damaging mold spores so that they cannot spread along the carpet backing. Regular carpet cleaning is also better for your and your family, as it removes irritating pollen and dust as well as pet hair and dander, insect droppings, bothersome chemicals, and other debris for improved indoor air quality!

carpet cleaning


To ensure proper, safe cleaning of your home’s carpets, invest in regular, professional cleaning. A professional carpet cleaning company will choose the best cleaning methods, detergents, and tools for a deep clean that is also safe and gentle on carpets. Professional carpet cleaners will also ensure proper extraction, leaving behind no extra water so that your home’s carpets dry quickly without mold and mildew growth.

AmeriBest Carpet Cleaning is happy to provide this information about carpet cleaning methods at home, and hopefully, you found it helpful. If you need professional carpet, area rug, and upholstery cleaning, trust our trained and skilled CT carpet cleaning contractors to get the job done right! We offer FREE quotes and convenient appointments, so call us today to get started with rug cleaning, upholstery cleaning, commercial carpet cleaning, or other expert service you need to have done.

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