How to Clean Household Carpets Yourself

With regular vacuuming, prompt stain treatment and periodic deodorization, you can keep your carpets looking great without having to call in a professional. You can even give them an occasional deep cleaning, without the use of harsh chemicals or hefty carpet cleaning bills.

Child playing on rug
Keep your carpet clean and fresh without professional cleaning bills.

Vacuuming

Vacuuming is the best way to keep your carpet clean, but only if you do it right. The first step is to start with clean filters and bags. Change your bag when it is three-quarters of the way full rather than waiting until it's brimming with dirt. If you have a bagless vacuum, change or wash the filter every three months. To get the vacuum height adjustment right, start at the highest setting. Turn the vacuum on and slowly lower the height setting until you feel it catch the carpet and attempt to move forward on its own.

Vacuum areas with heavy traffic twice a week and all other areas at least once a week. Vacuum slowly, as this gives the vacuum more time to lift away dirt.

Stain Removal

Speed is the key to removing carpet stains. The longer they sit on the carpet, the harder they are to remove. When tackling spills, always remember to blot the area rather than rubbing it, as rubbing spreads the stain. Always use a clean white cloth to attack stains so that your towel doesn't transfer dye to your carpet. Many stains will come out of the carpet with a mix of 4 parts water to 1 part dishwashing liquid. If that doesn't work, try these tried and true stain busters:

  • For greasy or oily stains, lay paper towels on top of the stain and iron using your iron's lowest setting. The stain will transfer to the paper towel. Do the same for wax.
  • Treat wine, coffee and tomato sauce with club soda. Leave the soda sitting on the stain for about 15 minutes to give it time to work.
  • Makeup dropped on carpet will come out with a few drops of makeup remover. Dry-cleaning solvent will do the job too, but may be difficult to find.
  • Remove blood by washing the area with soapy water and then applying hydrogen peroxide. Let the peroxide foam, and then blot it with a towel.
  • Pet accidents are best removed with enzymatic cleaners available at most grocery and pet stores.
  • When all else fails, apply shaving cream to the stain, and let it sit on the stain for 30 minutes. Wipe it away with a mix of 1 part vinegar and 1 part water. This remedy sounds odd, but professional carpet cleaners swear by it.

Odor Control

Your grocery store cleaning aisle is full of powders that claim to pull odors out of your carpet, but many simply mask odors, while others leave behind an overpowering perfume smell. For odor-free carpets with a clean smell rather than an overpowering one, simply sprinkle baking soda on your carpet and let it sit overnight. Vacuum up the baking soda the next morning. This trick is simple and inexpensive but works well.

Deep Cleaning

Even if you're diligent in your carpet care, a deep cleaning is recommended every six months. To do this, you'll need to buy or rent a carpet steamer. If you plan to deep clean your carpets as often as recommended, buying a steamer is the best choice. Choose one that is light and maneuverable. You can fill your steam cleaner with a manufactured carpet shampoo or a homemade solution using 1 cup of vinegar to a gallon of water.