Carpets create a cozy home environment, reduce noise, and make a comfortable space for your family to relax and play. However, carpets also present challenges. If you have kids or pets, or carpeted rooms that are heavily used, you’ll inevitably have messes to clean up. And if they’re not cleaned up quickly, a spilled drink or pet accident can destroy sections of your carpet or leave an unsightly permanent stain.
Even under ideal circumstances, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of vacuuming your carpet weekly. The good news is that while you can find many carpet cleaning products in today’s market, you also have the option to make your own chemical-free carpet cleaner at home.
This handy guide covers the different types of common store-brand cleaners available, and also introduces you to some of the best carpet cleaner solutions you can make from common ingredients found in your home. Best of all, they’re ideal as a spot cleaner or all-around carpet stain remover.
Store-Bought Carpet Cleaning Products
The market is full of carpet cleaning products, but the three most common forms you’ll find are carpet cleaner sprays, carpet spot cleaners, and carpet cleaner powders. Each comes with its own set of benefits as both a spot cleaner and an area cleaner.
Carpet Cleaner Spray
Sprays are the most typical type of carpet cleaner and are a convenient and useful solution when working with large areas. They’re also a good remedy for cleaning up recently made messes. While you’ll find dozens of brands at your local market, some of the best carpet cleaner sprays are specially formulated to address specific stain issues such as pet urine, wine, and others. Simply spray the affected area generously, rub or blot gently according to the manufacturer’s directions, and vacuum.
Quick tip: Before spraying large areas of your carpet, always perform a spot test in a hidden area to check for any color changes.
Carpet Spot Cleaner
Spot cleaners come in aerosol cans or sprays and are designed for use on stubborn spots. A carpet spot cleaner makes an excellent carpet stain remover because it can be targeted to a small, specific stained area, as opposed to a spray that covers larger areas. As with sprays, some spot cleaners are formulated to treat certain stains, so for ideal results, it pays to select a spot cleaner made for the type of stain you want to remove.
Carpet Cleaner Powder
A carpet cleaner powder is an effective way to refresh and deodorize as you clean. Powders contain ingredients that attach to dirt, hair, and stains, and then carry them away with your vacuum’s suction power.
When you use a powder, you sprinkle it lightly across your carpet and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Once it sinks in, you simply vacuum away the powder, revealing a bright, clean carpet. Some powders also work with a solution that you spray on the carpet first, to loosen stains.
DIY Carpet Cleaning Ideas
Many popular store-bought carpet cleaning products will deliver results, but keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a spotless carpet. Using water, baking soda, vinegar, and other ingredients you likely already have at home, you can make your own carpet cleaning products that rival any store-bought cleaner—for a fraction of the cost and without harmful chemicals.
Below is a recipe for a popular carpet stain remover that only takes a few minutes to make:
- 1 gallon of hot water
- 1 ½ cups of distilled white vinegar
- ¼ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent
- 5–7 drops of lemon essential oil for a pleasant smell (optional)
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use it as a spot cleaner or all-over carpet cleaner spray for treating larger areas. Looking for additional inexpensive ideas for carpet cleaning? Try these tried-and-true remedies:
Club soda is one of the most effective carpet cleaning products you’ll find. It’s great as a carpet spot cleaner and also makes an excellent pre-treatment before your regular weekly vacuuming or prior to using a carpet cleaning machine. Simply pour a bit of this fizzy solution over your carpet, scrub gently, and then wait a few minutes for the potion to do its magic.
When mixed with other at-home agents, white vinegar is a good carpet stain remover for light stains. Mix two tablespoons of salt with a half-cup of white vinegar. Or try mixing one part borax with one part salt and four parts vinegar. For either solution, mix well and then apply to your carpet stain. Consider using a toothbrush to work the mixture into the stain. Let the carpet dry, and then vacuum. Another popular remedy combines three-quarters of an ounce of laundry detergent with a half-ounce of vinegar and two cups of water. Pour the solution over the stain, then gently blot it out.
Baking soda is one of the best spot carpet cleaner solutions for removing pet urine. Generously pour it over the stain, rub it in with a towel, and then let it sit for an hour or two. You can also add a bit of hot water to the stained area by lightly spritzing it with a spray bottle. The longer you allow the baking soda to sit, the more effective it will clean. Then simply vacuum up the baking soda. Added bonus: Baking soda also helps eliminate nasty odors and disinfect your carpet as it cleans.
Salt for Red Wine Stains
Ordinary table salt works wonders as a carpet spot cleaner for red wine stains. First, if you have some white wine on hand, pour a little on the stain to dilute the color, or use vinegar if you don’t have any white wine. Then moisten the area with water, generously apply the salt, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Vacuum the carpet to lift away the stain.
Quick tip: Depending on the severity of the stain, you may need to repeat this process a couple of times to completely remove all traces of the red wine.
This little powder is a very good spot cleaner for ink stains. Make a thick paste by combining the cornstarch with a bit of milk. Apply it to the ink stain and when it’s dry, vacuum the area thoroughly.
Ice Cubes for Stuck Gum
Gum stuck in your carpet can be a major problem. But if the gum is still fresh, try this: Pour some ice cubes into a Ziploc bag and place it over the gum. Once the gum has hardened, carefully remove it with a small knife, using a scraping motion to lift it away.
Shaving cream contains soap, stearic acid, and lanolin, all of which are great agents that can lift stains out of carpet fibers. Shaving cream is perfect for oil and grease stains—simply apply it, rub it in with a wet sponge, and wipe clean.
Once you have determined which of these products or DIY ideas offers you the best carpet cleaner solution for your needs, be sure to check out our guide to neutralizing odors in carpeting for more helpful tips!
Invest in a First American Home Warranty Plan
As you can see, maintaining your carpet and keeping it stain-free is easier when you know which carpet cleaning products to use. Yet even the most diligent maintenance may not be enough to keep the appliances and home systems you rely on every day from unexpectedly breaking down. That’s why many homeowners invest in home warranty coverage. First American home warranty plans cover many major home appliances and systems that you use every day. Learn more about what our home warranties cover and get a home warranty quote.
The contents of this article are provided for general guidance only. First American Home Warranty does not assume any responsibility for losses or damages as a result of using this information.