How to Clean a Carpet Without a Vacuum

Woman sweeping blue striped carpet

 ShotShare/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

When it's time to clean a carpeted room or even a large area rug, most of us turn to an upright or canister vacuum. But not everyone has a vacuum — even a handheld one — or the vacuum is broken or the baby is asleep and you don't want to make noise.

Whatever the reason, there are ways to remove dust and debris from carpets without a vacuum. The one you choose will depend on whether your carpet is wall-to-wall or too large to remove from the floor easily.

If you have stains on the carpet, follow these tips to spot clean and remove the specific type of stains. Most of the tips recommend a final vacuuming after the stain is removed, but you can follow one of these methods instead.

  • 01 of 07

    Broom and Dustpan

    Person sweeping carpet with broom and dustpan

    Light Field Studios/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

    A broom, dustpan, and a bit of elbow grease will remove dirt and debris from carpets. The broom must have stiff bristles like Libman's Precision Angle Broom to effectively loosen and lift away the dirt from the carpet pile. You can use a small dustpan or one with a handle to reduce the need to bend.

    Start at one end or corner of the carpet and work toward the other end to avoid missing areas. Use short, quick strokes. If debris begins to pile up, sweep it into the dustpan before you reach the end of the job.


    When using a broom and dustpan to clean a carpet, plan on dusting after the carpet is cleaned. Using a broom will cause dust to float freely in the air and you'll need to dust furniture and shelves as a final task.

  • 02 of 07

    Carpet Sweeper

    Woman using a Bissell Carpet Sweeper on a white carpet

    Courtesy of Bissell

    Your grandmother may have used a carpet sweeper but you can still purchase a manual carpet sweeper today at a much lower cost than a vacuum. Carpet sweepers do not require electricity, there are no settings to deal with, and they are simple enough that a child can use one.

    Operated with the same motions you would use with an automatic vacuum, the sweepers of today use two or more electrostatic rollers that travel over the carpet picking up dust, pet hair, and debris. The collected dirt drops into the attached bin until you empty it over a trash can. Most sweepers can be used on carpet and hard surface floors.

  • 03 of 07

    Carpet and Rug Beater

    Smiling woman beating carpet with beater

    Birgid Allig/ Corbis/ Getty Images Plus

    If you can take your carpet or rug outside and hang it over a clothesline, porch railing, fence, or even heavy furniture, a carpet and rug beater will remove an amazing amount of dirt. Often made of rattan, a rug beater has a sturdy handle and a wide paddle at the end. Start at the top of the carpet and take out all of your frustrations as you see the dust fly away. Be sure to beat both sides of the carpet for the cleanest results.

    You can also use the rug beater to fluff and remove dust from upholstered furniture cushions.


    If you have an old tennis racket, put it to use as a carpet beater. It will work great and you might improve your backhand swing.

  • 04 of 07

    Stiff-bristled Scrub Brush

    Woman wearing yellow rubber gloves cleaning carpets with brush

    Twenty Seven/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

    Using a stiff-bristled scrub brush will remove dust and debris effectively. Once again, it is best if the carpet is moved outside and hung over a sturdy support. Start at the top and methodically work your way down the surface of the carpet pile using short, quick strokes. Clean away hair and debris from the brush often while you are cleaning the carpet.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Carpet Sticky Roller

    White floor sticky roller on gray carpet

    Sung Su Han/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

    Just like a clothing lint roller or a piece of sticky packing tape wrapped around your hand works great to pull lint and hair away from clothes, so does a carpet sticky roller. The long handle makes cleaning easier than on your hands and knees and the wide roller has sheets that can be peeled off and tossed as they become coated with dirt. The rollers are particularly great at capturing pet hair from carpets and upholstery.


    Don't leave a carpet lint roller on the carpet for long periods (hours or days). The sticky substance on the roller might leave a residue on the fibers where it is resting.

  • 06 of 07


    Young woman shaking striped rug outside window

    Amdersen Ross/ Cultura/ Getty Images

    For small carpets and rugs, an open door or window and a good shaking will work wonders to remove dust and dirt. After shaking, beat the rug on a sturdy railing to help loosen even more dirt.

  • 07 of 07

    Wash the Rug

    Woman loading clothes into a washer.

    RUNSTUDIO/ Moment/ Getty Images

    Unless your rug has a tag that clearly states it is dry clean or spot clean only, most throw rugs can be washed, even those with a rubber backing.

    A front-loading washer or top-loading washer without a center agitator works best for rugs to prevent damage during the final spin. If the rug is too large for your washer, visit a laundromat where the machines have more capacity for big items.