Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (2023)

It's essential to keep carpets cleaned since they take so much abuse from shoes, spills, and pets. Frequent vacuuming, spot cleaning, and deeper cleaning can extend the life of any type of carpet. Allowing dust and soil particles to remain on carpet fibers causes them to look dull and retain odors, and it eventually wears out the carpet backing and fibers. Deep cleaning a carpet removes heavier soil, restores the buoyancy of the fibers, and brightens colors.

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How Often to Clean Carpet

Whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs, regular vacuuming at least once per week is a must—more frequently if you have pets or kids. Spills and stains should be treated as quickly as possible. Consider hiring a professional carpet cleaning company or doing a deeper clean yourself at least twice a year.

Here are steps to take for routine and deep cleaning your carpet and how to clean carpets with difficult stains.

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What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bucket
  • Oscillating fan
  • Scrub brush with stiff nylon bristles
  • Old towels or rags
  • Clothes steamer
  • Steam mop


  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Table salt


Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (7)

How to Do a Routine Carpet Cleaning

  1. Get Rid of Dust and Dirt

    Using a vacuum with strong suction—and using it often—is the best way to clean carpet. However, if you don't have a vacuum, there are other ways to clean carpet, like an old-fashioned broom or carpet sweeper.

    A few tips for your routine cleaning:


    • For the most thorough vacuum job, take the time to move furniture and any other items from the carpet.
    • Set the vacuum to the proper height for your type of carpet to get the strongest suction.
    • Vacuum slowly and go over high-traffic areas several times for the best results.
    • Use a lint roller for quick clean-up of crumbs.
    • Run a rubber-edged squeegee over the carpet to collect pet hair.
    • Freshen and brighten carpet with a liberal sprinkling of baking soda every month. Let it sit for an hour or more to absorb oily stains and odors and then vacuum it away.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (8)

  2. Spot-Clean Stains

    The best time to treat a carpet stain is as quickly as possible. For liquid spills, immediately blot away the moisture with paper towels or a white cloth. Never use a cloth or napkin that might not be colorfast.

    For more solid mud stains or dropped food, use the edge of a credit card or a dull knife to lift away the solids. NEVER rub a stain with solids, because it will push it deeper into the fibers. After the initial clean-up, follow the recommendations on a stain removal chart to remove specific types of stain.

    Here's a quick reference list of the five most frequent and difficult to remove carpet stains:

    1. Pet accidents
    2. Red wine
    3. Coffee spills
    4. Ink stains
    5. Nail polish

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (9)

Ways to Deep Clean Carpet

For do-it-yourselfers, especially those who have pets or small children that soil carpets frequently, there are home carpet cleaners like the Tineco Carpet One Smart Carpet Cleaner that work well to remove soil and stains using liquid carpet shampoo. Or, you can rent a heavy-duty steam cleaner or hire a professional carpet cleaning service. Using a professional cleaning service is easy but can be costly if your carpet needs frequent cleaning.

With some elbow grease, you can also deep clean area carpets and even wall-to-wall carpeting with some simple products and tools you probably have in your pantry.

Clean With Distilled White Vinegar

  1. Vacuum and Treat Visible Stains

    Always begin any cleaning process by spot cleaning stains and then vacuuming the carpet to remove loose soil, dust, dirt, and debris. If you skip this step, you may just be pushing soil around or driving it deeper into the fibers. Removing some stains like oil, tar, and pet accidents will require special treatment. Consult a stain removal chart for the proper cleaners to remove those stains.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (10)

  2. Mix a Vinegar and Water Solution

    In a spray bottle, mix one part of distilled white vinegar and three parts of cold water. You will need to refill the bottle several times if cleaning a wall-to-wall carpet.


    Before beginning the deep-cleaning process, spray the vinegar solution on the carpet in a hidden location to test the colorfastness of the carpet. Do not use the solution if you see any bleeding or change of color.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (11)

  3. Apply the Solution, Wait, and Blot

    Working in a small 3-feet x 3-feet area, spray the vinegar solution onto the carpet until it's very damp. Do not saturate. Follow a grid so you'll know where you have cleaned. If you are cleaning an area rug, take extra precautions to protect the floor beneath the rug from moisture damage.

    Allow the solution to remain on the carpet for five minutes to begin breaking down the soil. Use a microfiber cloth to blot away the solution and the soil. Have a bucket of clean water ready to rinse the microfiber cloth. Change the water frequently as it becomes soiled.

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  4. Allow the Carpet to Air-Dry

    Open doors and windows to increase the airflow in the room or add oscillating fans to speed drying. Do not allow traffic on the carpet until it is fully dry.

    If you must use the room while the carpet is damp, place plastic sheeting or tarps on the traffic pathways to prevent staining.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (13)

Clean With Baking Soda and Salt

  1. Vacuum and Pretreat Stains

    Vacuum or sweep the carpet to remove loose soil and then follow the recommendations on a stain removal chart to remove visible stains.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (14)

  2. Mix Baking Soda and Salt

    In a small bowl or bucket, mix a one-to-one mixture of baking soda and salt. The salt can be table salt or Kosher salt. Fill a spray bottle with cold water.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (15)

  3. Sprinkle, Spritz, and Scrub

    Liberally sprinkle the carpet with the baking soda and salt mixture. You may find it easier to work in a grid pattern starting in a corner and working toward an exit.

    After sprinkling, spritz the area with a spray bottle filled with plain water. The carpet should be very damp, but not sopping wet. Use a scrub brush to work the baking soda deeper into the carpet fibers. Go in one direction and then at a 90-degree angle to help lift the soil.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (16)

  4. Wipe, Dry, and Vacuum

    After scrubbing, use old towels or rags to wipe away the loosened soil. It is fine to leave a bit of baking soda in the fibers. Allow the carpet to air-dry completely. Use a vacuum to remove any remaining baking soda left in the fibers. The carpet should smell fresher and look brighter.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (17)

Clean With Steam

If you have a clothes steamer or steam mop that is usually used on hard-surface floors, they can be used to deep clean carpet, as well.

  1. Vacuum and Pretreat Stains

    Vacuum the carpet to remove loose soil and pretreat stained areas.

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  2. Sprinkle With Baking Soda and Salt and Steam

    Follow the same steps for mixing baking soda and salt. Sprinkle the carpet with the mixture and then use steam, instead of cold water, to dampen the mixture.

    If you are using a clothes steamer, hold the steamer head about six to twelve inches from the carpet. Allow the steam to completely dampen the carpet. Use a scrub brush to work the damp mixture into the fibers.

    If you are using a steam mop, use the microfiber mop head or a carpet attachment to go over the baking soda mixture on the carpet. Again, use the scrub brush to clean the area.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (19)

  3. Blot, Dry, and Vacuum

    Use old towels or microfiber cloths to absorb the loosened soil. Allow the carpet to dry completely and vacuum to remove any residue remaining in the carpet.

    Here's How to Actually Get Your Carpet Clean (and Keep It That Way) (20)

Tips to Keep Carpet Clean Longer

  • Place doormats outside and inside all entrance doors to trap soil.
  • Remove shoes at the door to prevent tracking in dirt.
  • Vacuum several times per week.
  • Treat stains immediately.
  • Change or clean HVAC filters to trap dust particles circulating in the air before they land on the carpet.
  • Keep your vacuum well-maintained and clean so it will function properly.
  • If you have pets, brush and bathe them frequently to protect carpets.


  • How often should carpets be vacuumed?

    Vacuum carpets at least once a week, and if you have kids or pets, up the vacuuming to twice a week.

  • When should carpets be deep cleaned?

    Plan to deep clean your carpets every six months, whether you steam clean it yourself or hire a professional carpet cleaner.

  • What is the average lifespan of a carpet?

    Carpet can last for five to ten years depending on the type and usage of it. If it is in a highly trafficked area, it will not last as long.

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What are the three 3 most common ways to clean carpet? ›

The Four Most Common Carpet Cleaning Methods
  • Encapsulation. Encapsulation cleaning is one of the newer commonly-used methods, and needs no water to work. ...
  • Steam cleaning. Steam cleaning (or hot water extraction) is a very common method of cleaning carpets. ...
  • Carpet dry cleaning. ...
  • Bonnet cleaning.
Sep 8, 2017

What can I put on my carpet to keep it clean? ›

Cornmeal, Borax, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, rosemary, cinnamon and more are all household items that can help you clean your carpeting and keep it free from mold.

What is the best homemade carpet cleaning solution? ›

  • Baking soda and vinegar is one of the best mixtures for spot-treating messes on a carpet. ...
  • Using a mixture of salt and water can clean recent stains made from spilling wine or dropping food.
Nov 2, 2021

What happens when you put baking soda and vinegar on carpet? ›

Pour a small amount of vinegar on the stain, followed by a sprinkle of baking soda. The vinegar works to saturate and soften up the offending mark while the baking soda does the lifting and deodorizing. Together, they bubble a little and work as a team to lift the stain to the surface.

What is the best carpet cleaning method? ›

Steam cleaning works best for the removal of ingrained dirt and deep stains, and doesn't leave any residue or odors in your carpeting. Especially if you have pets, this is the best method for getting smelly stains out.

What is the cheapest way to deep clean carpet? ›

Natural & Cheapest Way to Clean Carpet At Home!

You can take a stiff brush, spray bottle, detergent, table salt, or some baking soda and dry towels. Add some soap and water solution to a spray bottle. Sprinkle baking soda or salt on the stained areas and spry the water soap mixture on the same area.

How do you deep clean filthy carpet? ›

Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup borax, and 1/4 cup vinegar, then apply this paste to deep stains or heavily soiled sections of carpet. Allow the paste to sit on the carpet for several hours until it dries completely, then vacuum it away.

Will vinegar and water clean carpet? ›

Vinegar removes odors and loosens many food stains from carpet fibers. For cleaning and deodorizing, mix equal parts vinegar and water, then spray the solution onto the stain.

Does vinegar and Dawn clean carpet? ›

You can try a mixture of white vinegar, Dawn dish soap, and water in a spray bottle. Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 tbsp. of Dawn dish soap, and fill with water. Spray area liberally and let soak for 5-10 minutes and then proceed with blotting with a clean, dry towel until stain is removed.

Can I use Dawn in my carpet cleaner? ›

There are times when we run out of stock for our cleaning solutions or homemade carpet cleaning solutions. But you don't have to worry as you can easily use laundry detergent as a carpet cleaner.

What is the best homemade carpet cleaner and deodorizer? ›

Vinegar. Clean the carpet with vinegar to both deodorize and spot clean. Put white or apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle along with some warm water (about one-half to one cup of vinegar for each gallon of water), and spray the area well. After spraying, let the area dry completely.

Can you leave vinegar and baking soda on carpet overnight? ›

This can move along a lot quicker if you use vinegar and baking soda together, but baking soda on the stain by itself on the stain can be effective. Allow the baking soda to neutralise a stain overnight. 8 hours is beneficial but 12 hours is ideal.

Can you leave baking soda on carpet all night? ›

How Long Do You Leave Baking Soda on Carpet? When cleaning your carpet with baking soda, let it sit for at least 15 minutes. The longer the baking soda stays on the rug, the more odor, dirt, and oil it will absorb, for a more thorough clean. Try leaving baking soda on the carpet overnight and vacuuming in the morning.

How long do you let vinegar sit on carpet? ›

How to treat stains with vinegar
  1. Blot the stain with a clean, white cloth – soak up as much liquid as possible.
  2. Add 1 cup of water and ½ cup of vinegar to a spray bottle.
  3. Mist the area until the stain is completely covered.
  4. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Use another clean, white cloth to soak up the vinegar solution.

Why does my carpet still look dirty after cleaning? ›

Carpets that still look dirty or have stains reappear after cleaning is a result of something called wicking. This is due to over wetting the carpet, the backing, and pad which causes them to return back to the surface once dry.

What method does Stanley steemer use to clean carpets? ›

The method we use for carpet cleaning is hot water extraction, commonly referred to as steam cleaning. Stanley Steemer's exclusive hot water extraction method removes the toughest, deepest dirt safely and gently. Hot, soft water and a specially formulated cleaning solution are injected deep within the carpet fibers.

Is it better to clean carpet with hot or cold water? ›

Also, the hotter the water, the more you're going to flash off the active ingredients. You're going to put the active ingredients in the air and not on the floor.” With cold water, the cleaning chemicals stay where they belong — in the carpet — which is better for users' lungs, as well as for cleaning.

Does baking soda deep clean carpet? ›

TLDR: Baking soda can be used to clean carpet because it is a powerful alkaline solution that when combined with acid produces dioxide gases. These oxidized gases are highly effective at removing stains from carpet and other materials with ease.

What is the easiest and fastest way to clean carpet? ›

In a bowl or small bucket, mix one part white vinegar with three parts water. Dip the bristles of the scrub brush into the solution and rub them into the carpet. Massage them into the fibers well (without fully saturating the carpet) and follow up with a cloth to help blot excess moisture.

What is the most effective method for cleaning badly soiled carpet? ›

Baking soda is an excellent choice for cleaning heavily soiled carpet, 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.

How do you make old carpet look new? ›

3 Quick Tips for Refreshing Your Old Carpet
  1. Get rid of indentations left by furniture. You can do with this with the help of ice and a stiff brush. ...
  2. Clean your carpet with baking soda and vinegar. Simple and inexpensive, this old-fashioned trick works wonders to revive dilapidated carpet pile. ...
  3. Hire a professional.

How do you clean and deodorize carpet? ›

Need a Home Remedy for Freshening Carpets?
  1. Mix ½ cup of baking soda with 30 drops of essential oil.
  2. Pour this mixture into something that resembles an old spice container (any mixing container that has holes in the lid will work).
  3. Let the mixture sit overnight for 24 hours.
  4. Sprinkle the mixture lightly over the carpet.
Sep 3, 2016

How many times do you have to shampoo carpet until water is clear? ›

It's not unusual for DIY carpet cleaners to need eight or even 10 passes on a carpet before the water runs clear. This is especially true when: It has been a long time since your carpet was last deep-cleaned.

How often should carpets be cleaned? ›

People wonder, “How often should you shampoo carpets?” and “Do carpet cleaners get stains out?” Professionals recommend having someone professionally clean your carpets every 12 to 18 months to remove dirt. Between professional carpet cleanings, you should be maintaining your household's cleanliness.

How do you make homemade carpet shampoo? ›

  1. 2 Tbsp liquid Tide laundry detergent.
  2. 1/4 cup LA's Totally Awesome cleaner.
  3. 1 scoop Oxiclean (3 tbsp)
  4. 1 teaspoon Downy fabric softener optional.
  5. 1 gallon hot water.

Can you leave vinegar on carpet overnight? ›

Saturate the stain with white vinegar. Sprinkle dry baking soda over the area, making sure to cover the whole patch. You should begin to hear a fizzing sound which means the reaction is working. Wait until the vinegar has completely dried - preferably overnight.

How long do you leave baking soda on carpet before vacuuming? ›

Those with deep-pile carpeting may need to work the powder using a broom or bristle brush. Allow the baking soda to sit at least 30 minutes, but overnight is the best choice for seriously dirty carpets or heavy odors. Run a vacuum across treated areas once or twice to remove the baking soda.

How long do you leave hydrogen peroxide on carpet? ›

Spray the hydrogen peroxide cleaner all over the stain. Make sure that you cover the whole stain. All the carpet fibers must be drenched in peroxide cleaner. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.

Does baking soda and peroxide clean carpet? ›

Carpet fibers are one of the most difficult surfaces to clean. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can penetrate deep into the fibers to remove dirt, grime, and stains.

Can you mix vinegar and Dawn for cleaning? ›

To make the solution is simple and easy on the wallet! Pour equal parts of vinegar and Dawn into a spray bottle. Gently shake, then spray liberally onto the surface to be cleaned. I have found the best results is when I use it to clean chrome shower and sink fixtures.

Can I use Pine Sol to clean my carpet? ›

Give Original Pine-Sol a try to help clean carpet stains and more. Rub in a splash of Original Pine-Sol® where needed. You can spot-treat grease or heavy dirt marks, or use all-around for a refresh. If you're not sure your carpet is colorfast, be sure to test an inconspicuous area first.

What soap can I use to shampoo my carpet? ›

Instructions. Mix clear dish soap with warm water in a small bucket. If the stain is fresh, use a rag or a paper towel to blot up (don't rub, which can press the stain deeper into the fibers of your carpet) as much excess liquid as possible. Pour the soap and water mixture onto the stain.

Do you put baking soda on wet or dry carpet? ›

It's really straightforward – all you need to do is sprinkle a generous among of baking soda over your wet carpet and let it sit. The baking soda not only absorbs moisture, but it'll also absorb any nasty odours.

How do you make high traffic carpet look new? ›

You can remove virtually any type of high traffic stain from your carpet by using a combination of water, vinegar, and baking soda. This method is less harmful than most commercial carpet cleaning processes and is much more affordable.

Why do people sprinkle baking soda on carpet? ›

Why Use Baking Soda On Your Carpet. Baking soda is a proven odor absorber, plus it's cheap and all-natural. “Baking soda's particles go deep down into the carpet, past the point you can't even see, all the way to the base to absorb and neutralize odors.

Can I put a towel over baking soda on carpet? ›

Treat Food and Drink Stains

Liberally sprinkle the stained area with baking soda. Wet a paper towel or old cloth with water, wring so it is not dripping, and place it over the baking soda. Let the towel in place for several hours or overnight. Vacuum away the baking soda.

Can I leave baking soda on carpet for 24 hours? ›

The longer you can allow the baking soda to sit, the better it can work to absorb odors—if you can afford to leave it on the carpet for a few hours or even overnight, you'll really reap the benefits. But you can still use the mixture for a quick 15-minute application and enjoy the smell and a little deodorizing boost.

Is distilled vinegar the same as White Vinegar? ›

White vinegar, also known as distilled vinegar or spirit vinegar, is made by fermenting grain alcohol (ethanol) which then turns into acetic acid. Water is then added to the vinegar, so white vinegar is made of five to ten percent acetic acid and ninety to ninety-five percent water.

What are the 3 cleaning methods? ›

The three most common cleaning and sanitising methods used in commercial kitchens are:
  • Manual.
  • Mechanical.
  • Clean-in-place.
Mar 18, 2020

What are the 3 main components of cleaning? ›

Cleaning is often achieved with detergent, water and agitation, with the visible dirt and detergent then rinsed and removed with clean water. Detergents are chemicals that remove dirt and grease, however detergents do not kill bacteria and other microorganisms.

What are the two basics of cleaning? ›

There are two basic principals in all cleaning; pH and physical removal. Physical removal is one of the best microbial decontamination processes. It lessens the numbers of pathogens from all surfaces as well as removes the food sources that aide in their growth.

Do you dust or vacuum first when cleaning? ›

When doing your thorough cleaning, dust the room before vacuuming so you can vacuum up the particles that float into the air as you work and settle on the floor.

What is the first step in cleaning a bathroom? ›

First, clear the floor of all items, such as baskets, towels, toilet plungers, etc. Second, sweep up any dust that collected on the floor, especially in the corners. Third, use a vacuum to remove any remaining debris. Fourth, mix warm water and an all-purpose cleaner in a bucket, and mop the floor.

What is the golden rule of housekeeping? ›

Clean from the top down

Don't fight gravity when you clean. You'll lose. Working from high to low almost always works better in cleaning situations. When you're cleaning the entire house, start on the top floor and work your way down to avoid tracking through rooms you have already cleaned.

What is the simplest cleaner of all? ›

  1. WATER: Water is the simplest cleaning agent and some form of dirt will be dissolved by it, but. ...
  2. DETERGENT: Detergents are those cleaning agents, which contain significant quantities of a group of. ...
  3. ABRASIVES. ...

What is a commonly used homemade cleaner? ›

All-Purpose Cleaner

Simply mix half a cup of white vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda into half a gallon of water. You're done! The vinegar scent can be off-putting so you may consider adding lemon juice for a more citrus-y scent.


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