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5 Easy DIY Recipes to Keep Your Carpets Clean and Fresh

Written by Carol J Alexander

Published on October 12, 2023


5 Easy DIY Recipes to Keep Your Carpets Clean and Fresh

You don't have to use commercial products for fresh, clean carpets. Use ingredients you already have to create non-toxic homemade carpet cleaners for pennies.

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Advances in fiber technology have given us carpets that can take a beating and resist stains, but rugs and carpets still possess a magnetic attraction for dirt and spills that need cleaning. Thankfully, you don't have to use toxic chemicals to keep your carpet as fresh and luxurious as the day it was installed. You can easily create non-toxic homemade carpet cleaners for pennies using ingredients you already have.

Keep reading, and we’ll provide you with a few DIY carpet cleaning recipes that you can use at home.

Find a professional carpet cleaner near you

Do homemade carpet cleaners work?

Feeling doubtful over DIY carpet cleaners? Aaron Christensen, resident cleaning expert and Vice President of growth at Homeaglow, a residential cleaning service in major U.S. cities, says there's no need to be. "Homemade cleaners can be effective carpet stain removers, but you need to act quickly," he says. You can even remove mayonnaise, wine, and grass stains from your carpet if you're quick about it. "The longer a stain sits in your carpet," he says, "the harder it will be to remove and the greater the chance you’ll need a commercial product."

So, let's see what you have already that will work to clean your rugs and carpets. Then, you can follow the directions to make your own carpet cleaner to have on hand for when big messes rear their ugly heads.

Ingredients used in natural carpet cleaners

Print this handy list and post it in a prominent place to remind yourself of mixtures to avoid.

You may already have most of these ingredients in your kitchen or laundry room, but be careful –  just because two cleaning agents are efficient, mixing them doesn't make them more so. In fact, it could make them deadly.

The most volatile cleaner is bleach. "In general, don’t mix bleach with anything except water unless the manufacturing label says otherwise," says Toby Schulz, CEO & co-founder at Maid2Match.

To use the homemade carpet stain removers listed here, you'll need a few spray bottles to dilute and apply the mixtures and a supply of clean cloths. Paper towels are great for blotting, but if you rub with them, they fall apart and make a mess. Finally, use a small brush to work the solutions into the fibers.

  • Dishwashing detergent – Use one without dyes for a light-colored carpet.
  • Distilled white vinegar – Mildly acidic, white vinegar cuts grease and soap, softens carpet fibers, and kills bacteria, mites, and mildew. 
  • Baking soda – On the carpet, baking soda absorbs liquids with their stains and odors.
  • Salt – Salt helps absorb liquid stains like spilled wine before they set. Its granular property makes vacuuming up the mess easy. 
  • Hydrogen peroxide or an oxygen-based cleaner – Typically used to clean wounds, peroxide dissolves blood and grass stains like magic. Use it in place of bleach.

Pro tip

Avoid solutions that contain either bleach or ammonia, especially if you have pets and children in the home. – Oliver Byrne, SMC Premier Group

5 DIY carpet cleaning recipes you can make yourself

Now that you’ve gathered all the necessary supplies and ingredients, you're ready to create your homemade carpet cleaners. So grab your spray bottles and get started.

Feel free to download and print this cheat sheet. Then, tack it inside your cabinet door to keep the recipes handy.

Carpet cleaner for most spills

Have on hand:

  • Baking soda
  • Spray bottle with white vinegar

Oliver Byrne, Managing Director of SMC Premier Group, a commercial cleaning company in the UK, recommends vinegar and baking soda for most light stains. The bubbling action of the acidic vinegar reacting to the alkaline baking soda lifts the stain out of the fibers. To use this dynamic duo to clean your rug or carpet, follow these steps.

  • Use a spatula or knife to gently remove soft solids like food or pet excrement without pushing them into the carpet fibers. For dry solids, use a vacuum.
  • Use paper towels or other soft cloths to blot up all the liquid from a spill. Do not rub.
  • Sprinkle baking soda onto the spot and massage in lightly with a small brush. To prevent damaging the fibers, don't scrub.
  • Spritz the area with vinegar. Wait for it to do its magic. When the bubbling stops, massage again with the brush.
  • Once the baking soda is dry, vacuum thoroughly.

Pro tip

Don't add essential oils to your carpet cleaner. While they may enhance the smell, the oil stains your carpet.

DIY carpet cleaner for greasy spots

Have on hand:

  • Baking soda
  • Clean water

Mix in a spray bottle:

  • ¼ teaspoon translucent liquid dishwashing detergent
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

The oily residue from greasy spills must be removed, or it will remain in the carpet fibers and attract more stain-causing dirt. So, items like mayonnaise, butter, salad dressing, or cheese require a different process. Here are the steps to removing oily spills from your rug or carpet.

  • Use a spatula or knife to gently remove any solids from the carpet's surface. Pre-treat the area by covering it with baking soda and gently massaging it into the fibers.
  • When dry, use a vacuum to remove the baking soda.
  • Spray the area with the soapy solution and dab in with a clean, white cloth.
  • Next, blot with a clean cloth soaked in fresh water to remove any soap residue.
  • Finally, blot with a clean, dry cloth to absorb all wetness.
  • Once dry, if the stain remains, repeat with the soapy solution and water until the stain is gone.

Pro tip

Always blot a stain on your carpet, as rubbing it will push the stain further into the fibers, making it harder to remove. – Toby Schulz, Maid2Match

Carpet cleaner for stubborn stains

The secret to removing tough stains like wine, grass, coffee, or juice is to get them as soon as possible. The first step is to blot up all liquid with a clean cloth. Once your cloth no longer absorbs moisture, follow these steps offered by Christensen for the type of spill described.

Removing coffee stains

Have on hand:

  • Clean water

Mix in one spray bottle:

  • 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap
  • 2 cups warm water

Mix in a separate spray bottle:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cap of laundry detergent
  • Spray the stain with the dish soap mixture, dab it in, and blot dry with a clean cloth.
  • If the coffee had milk, cream, or sugar, spray the stain with the laundry detergent mixture and blot it in with a clean cloth.
  • Remove any soap residue by blotting the area with a clean cloth soaked in clean water.
  • Finally, blot with a clean, dry cloth to absorb all wetness.

Removing wine stains

Have on hand:

  • Salt
  • Spray bottle with clean water
  • After blotting all the liquid from the area:
  • Spray the stain with water to dilute the remaining wine. Then, blot dry again.
  • Apply a liberal amount of salt over the area and leave for ten minutes.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the salt.
  • If the stain remains, apply a paste of equal parts baking soda and water and massage in. Or try dowsing with club soda.

Removing grass stains

Have on hand:

  • Clean water

Mix in one spray bottle:

  • ½ teaspoon of laundry detergent
  • 2 cups warm water

Mix in a separate spray bottle:

  • Equal parts white vinegar and water
  • Liberally spray the area with the cleaning solution above.
  • Blot the stain repeatedly to remove it and the homemade solution. If the stain persists, spray with the vinegar solution and blot.
  • For persistent stains, repeat both steps.
  • Once the stain is removed, remove all soap residue by blotting the area with a clean cloth soaked in clean water.
  • Finally, blot with a clean, dry cloth to absorb all wetness.

Alternatively, some experts suggest using hydrogen peroxide or an OxiClean-type product on grass stains. But always spot-test this type of solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't remove the color from your carpet.

For more DIY cleaning tips, check out our 5 all-natural homemade cleaning recipes.

More to remember

Pet odors

Do you love your furry friends but not the lingering smell they leave behind? Pet stains and odors in area rugs, carpets, and on upholstery can be a challenge and are "much more difficult to remove with homemade cleaners alone," says Byrne. However, suppose you've caught an accident in the making and followed the above procedure for most spills with no success. In that case, Christensen suggests leaving the baking soda on the spot for 30 minutes to 24 hours before vacuuming.

Pro tip

To routinely maintain your carpet, vacuum at least weekly with a carpet attachment. For high-traffic areas, or if someone has allergies, vacuum more frequently. – Toby Schulz, Maid2Match

Routine maintenance

In addition to the occasional spot cleaning, you need to clean your entire carpet regularly. Of course, the frequency depends on your lifestyle. Singles who are rarely home certainly won't have to clean entire rooms every six months to a year. However, families with several children or people who frequently entertain will find deep cleaning necessary more often.

To deep clean carpets without harsh chemicals, simply follow the manufacturer's instructions to use vinegar in a steam cleaner you own or rent. Vinegar acts as a deodorizing agent that also works in the same way a commercial cleaning product would. "Regular steam cleaning doesn't only remove stains but kills the dust mites, mold, bacteria, and other nasties living in your carpets," says Christensen.

Enjoy floor time without worries

Whether you have babies or not, there's something cozy about spending time on a carpeted floor. When you clean your carpet naturally, without using potentially toxic carpet cleaning solutions, you can stretch out without fear. If you need help cleaning your carpet, let us help you find a commercial cleaning service near you.

Hire a local carpet cleaning service

Written by

Carol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert

Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.