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How to Deep Clean Carpet Without a Machine — And the Best Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solutions

You don't need to rent any expensive equipment. 


Figuring out how to deep clean a carpet may feel like a daunting task, especially if you want to do it without a machine. Renting those clunky steam cleaners can get pricey over time — and calling in the pros to get the job done will cost even more. Luckily, there’s no need to shell out cash or simply live with all the gunk, stains, and debris that get stuck in the fibers. You can deep clean a carpet yourself with a few clever tips!

The only machine you really need is your regular old vacuum. Combined with a few things you probably already have in your pantry (like baking soda, white vinegar, and salt), you’ll even be able to get old stains out of your carpet with ease. We’re talking wine, coffee, dirt, mud, pasta sauce, and more — all distant memories after following the expert tips we’ve rounded up for you below. (Want a rug you can toss in the washing machine? Check out our story on how to wash a Ruggable rug.)

Small stain on carpet
Courtesy of: Ali Fields of Cut Cut Craft

How can I deep clean my carpet without a machine?

Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer at Pro Housekeepers, offers up a method that uses a vacuum cleaner plus baking soda or dish soap. We love this method because you only need one ingredient that you most definitely already have in your kitchen.

Cleaners needed: Baking soda or dish soap

Tools needed: Old toothbrush, brush, clean rag or towel, and bucket

How to deep clean a carpet without a machine:

  1. Get a bucket of warm water and your preferred cleaning tool ready.
  2. Vacuum the entire area you wish to clean to get rid of dirt and dust.
  3. If using baking soda, sprinkle the stain until completely covered. If using dish soap, measure the stain’s size, and use 1 tablespoon per 6 to 8 inches of stain.
  4. Swoosh it around until you see bubbles.
  5. Using an old brush, toothbrush, rag, or towel, gently scrub the stain with warm water.
  6. Do not completely soak the floor, just make it wet enough to scrub away the dirt/stain.
  7. Turn on any fans, or open nearby windows to allow carpet to air dry.
  8. Once dry, vacuum again.
hand scrubbing sponge to show how to deep clean carpet
Getty Images

How do you deep clean a carpet by hand?

Blogger Ali Fields says she relies on her grandmother’s carpet cleaning wisdom. This old school technique requires a few more ingredients than the one above, but it doesn’t only work for spot-cleaning stains. If you have a large enough brush, it’s easy to do an entire room.

Cleaners needed: 

  • A mixture of water and dish soap
  • Some table salt (sea salt, kosher salt — it’s all fine!)
  • Some baking soda

Tools needed:

  • A stiff-bristled scrubbing brush (the largest you have — rubber works best) and a spray bottle
  • A few old rags or terry cloth towels (Using an old shirt you’ve been meaning to get rid of also works)

How to deep clean carpet by hand:

  1. Start by mixing up a tiny bit of soap (1/8 teaspoon, though you can just eyeball a small amount) with the water in the spray bottle. Don’t shake it excessively, but let it mix.
  2. Sprinkle the baking soda and table salt over the area you want to deep clean; you don’t need to cover it completely.
  3. Spray the mixture of soapy water lightly over the same area. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Brush the carpet in one direction with your brush. This will accumulate hair and debris for you to pick up easily.
  5. If there’s still hair/dirt, move 90 degrees from the original direction and start again.
  6. Press the towels into the carpet, letting them saturate with water.
  7. After the area is mostly dry, empty the soapy mix from your spray bottle, fill it with regular tap water, and lightly spray the carpet once more.
  8. Again, press the cloth towels into the carpet. Fields says if she’s cleaning a small area, she’ll put a few heavy items on top of the cloths and let them sit for a while.

Fields says this method is completely safe to use around children and pets. Plus, instead of smelling like heavy detergents, the carpets will smell like nothing at all!

coffee spill needing deep clean on carpet
Getty Images

What is the best homemade carpet cleaning solution?

As you may have noticed in the methods above, you don’t have to invest in heavy duty carpet cleaners to give the fibers a good scrub. They often come with harsh chemicals that can be irritating to sensitive skin. Using gentle options like dish soap, baking soda, salt, and regular water all work great.

Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid, shares a couple more carpet cleaning solutions you probably already have hanging around you house: 

  • Vinegar: Stir one tablespoon of dish soap into one quart of warm water, then add 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar. This is a good overall cleaner. Be sure to test the solution on a small, inconspicuous spot on your carpet before applying it to the stain.
  • Club soda: Club soda works as a cleanser when it is spritzed on carpet. It’s great for removing blood and wine stains. Apply a small amount of soda on the stain, then using a dry cloth or a paper towel, blot the surface until the stain is lifted. Rub rather than scrub the carpet fibers.

Related:  How to Remove Chocolate Stains From Every Surface in Your Home  

The Best Natural Carpet Cleaner

Grabbing a bottle of Castile liquid soap is another amazing way to naturally deep clean your carpet. Dean Davies, a professional carpet- and rug-cleaning technician at Fantastic Services, tells us, “This soap is suitable because it is nontoxic, yet it is powerful enough to remove dirt and other debris.” (Psst: Other uses for Castile soap include keeping yourself, your pets, and your plants clean, too!)

You can wash the carpet using a mixture of warm water and a few drops of Castile soap. Using a clean cloth, scrub the carpet with the solution, and blot the surface using a dry towel to soak up as much water as possible.

snow on doormat
Getty Images

Can you clean a rug with snow?

Yes, cleaning with snow is an option during the winter months! As it turns out, the icy white precipitation is actually one of nature’s best cleansers. Who knew?

This cleaning hack works best on smaller rugs that are handmade or antique wool, but you can also clean larger, heavier rugs if you have a few helping hands. Use dry, freshly fallen powdery snow for the best results.

Here’s how to deep clean carpet with snow in five easy steps:

  1. Take your rug outside and shake it to release as much dirt as possible. Let it sit for about 30 minutes so it acclimates to a lower temperature.
  2. Pile three to five inches of snow on top of the rug, using a broom to evenly distribute the snow.
  3. Beat the snowy rug using the flat side of the broom. Ammonia in the snow will react with the cold air causing the dirt hidden deep in the rug to solidify.
  4. Let the snow rest on the rug for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, flip it over and repeat steps 1 through 3 with the other side. 
  5. Remove as much excess snow as you can before hanging the rug up for 20 to 30 minutes. The snow will eventually evaporate without leaving the carpet wet. 

Looking to tackle more cleaning tasks? Check out this article on how to clean cast iron (even when it gets rusty) and how to clean white shoes so that they sparkle again.

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