How to Make an Effective Homemade Carpet Cleaner

using baking soda paste on a rug

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 4 hrs - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

Carpets take lots of abuse from shoes, spills, and pets. Whether it is wall-to-wall carpeting or an area rug, it will eventually need to be cleaned. There are dozens of carpet cleaning products on the market and hundreds of professional carpet cleaning services. But with just a few supplies you probably already have, you can clean your carpets yourself with an effective homemade carpet cleaner. Just be prepared to use a bit of elbow grease and some patience while you wait for the carpet to dry.

How Often to Make Homemade Carpet Cleaner

Commercial carpet cleaning products include preservatives and stabilizers to improve their shelf life. Since homemade cleaners don't, it is best to prepare a fresh solution right before each carpet cleaning session whether you are treating a new stain or doing a deep cleaning.

Before You Begin

Before you use any carpet stain remover or cleaner, test it in an inconspicuous spot. Dampen a cloth with the solution and apply it to the carpet. Wait at least eight hours for the area to dry—overnight is better. Check the color of the carpet. Some dyes are not stable and some ingredients can change the color of the fibers, especially dark colors.

If you are using a homemade cleaning solution in a carpet steamer or cleaner, be aware that it may void the warranty of the appliance. Check the manufacturer's user guide or website before you begin. If you have rented the appliance, using a homemade solution can cause issues with the rental agreement, as well.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Plastic bucket or tub
  • 2 Spray bottle
  • 1 Soft-bristled nylon brush
  • 4 Microfiber cloths
  • 1 Vacuum
  • 1 Carpet cleaner
  • Stovetop or microwave
  • Funnel
  • Wooden spoon


  • 1 Distilled water
  • 1 Distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Dishwashing liquid
  • 1 Baking soda
  • 1 Salt
  • 1 Oxygen bleach powder
  • 1 Label


How to Make Homemade Carpet Stain Remover

  1. Mix the Ingredients

    In a spray bottle, mix one cup of distilled water, one cup of distilled white vinegar, and one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Shake well to mix and label the bottle.

  2. Spray the Stain

    Spray the stained area of the carpet with the solution and use a soft-bristled brush to work it into the fibers. Let the solution work for at least 10 minutes to begin breaking apart the stain.


    Try to treat stains as quickly as possible after they happen. Blot away as much liquid as possible when there is a spill. Use a dull knife or spoon to lift away solids that hit the carpet. Never rub because that pushed the stain deeper into the fibers.

  3. Rinse, Blot, and Dry

    Dip a microfiber cloth in cold water and wring until damp. Rinse the soiled area of the carpet. Keep moving to a clean side of the cloth as the stain is transferred.

    Blot the area with a dry cloth until no more liquid is transferred. You can also place a dry towel under a heavy object like books to help absorb the moisture more quickly.

    Allow the area to air-dry. Do not walk on the area until it is dry. This can take up to 24 hours.

using carpet deodorizer
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Make Homemade Carpet Freshener

Create a dry mixture that can be used to freshen, deodorize, and brighten carpets.

  1. Mix the Ingredients

    In a bowl or bucket, mix equal amounts of baking soda and table salt. To clean a 5 x 7 carpet, you will need at least one cup of each. Mix more for wall-to-wall carpeting.

    Fill a spray bottle with distilled water.

  2. Treat Stains and Vacuum

    Treat any visible stains with a stain remover and vacuum the carpet well to remove loose soil.

  3. Sprinkle, Spray, and Scrub

    Evenly sprinkle the baking soda mixture over the carpet. Working in a grid so you don't miss any areas, lightly spray the dry mixture with water. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the mixture into the carpet fibers.

  4. Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the damp mixture to remain on the carpet until it has air-dried. This can take up to eight hours. Vacuum away the loose soil and odors.

How to Make a Homemade Carpet-Cleaning Solution

using a steam cleaner on a carpet
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 
  1. Heat Water

    Heat enough distilled water on the stovetop or in the microwave to nearly fill the water reservoir of your carpet cleaner (around one gallon). The water should be very hot but not boiling.

  2. Mix Cleaning Ingredients

    In a plastic bucket, mix one-half cup of distilled white vinegar, one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, and one-fourth cup of powdered oxygen bleach. Add the hot water and stir to mix.

  3. Fill the Carpet Cleaner

    Using a funnel, pour the cleaning mixture into the carpet cleaner. You do not need to dilute the solution. If you are cleaning a very large area, mix additional batches as needed.

  4. Operate the Carpet Cleaner

    Follow the manufacturer's directions for operating the carpet cleaner. Work slowly and pay attention to stained and high-traffic areas.

  5. Air-Dry the Carpet

    Allow the carpet to air-dry. Do not walk on the carpet until it is completely dry. Add a circulating fan to speed drying and place plastic down in walkways if you must use the room.

Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
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