How to Deep Clean Carpet

Wall to wall carpeting in a room

John Keeble / Getty Images 

Overview
  • Working Time: 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 10 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Whether you have wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs, they take lots of abuse from shoes, spills, and pets. Eventually, they will need to be deep cleaned to remove heavy soil, restore the buoyancy of the fibers, and brighten the color.

Most professional carpet cleaning services use a combination of detergents and steam to deep clean carpet or, you can rent a heavy-duty steam cleaner. Both are particularly efficient if you have wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the home but can be costly.

There are ways to deep clean area carpets and even wall-to-wall carpeting with some simple products and tools you probably have in your pantry.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bucket
  • Oscillating fan
  • Scrub brush with stiff nylon bristles
  • Old towels or rags
  • Clothes steamer
  • Steam mop

Materials

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Table salt

Instructions

How to Deep Clean Carpet With Distilled White Vinegar

  1. Remove Loose Soil

    Always begin any cleaning process by vacuuming the carpet to remove loose soil, dust, dirt, and debris. If you skip this step, you may just be pushing soil around or driving it deeper into the fibers.

    Tip

    If the carpet is small enough, you can take it outside and use a broom to remove loose soil. A stiff-bristled broom is best. If your broom bristles seem "floppy", tighten them up by using several rubber bands around the bristles to make them stiffer.

  2. Pretreat Stains

    Removing some stains like oil, tar, and pet accidents will require special treatment. Consult a stain removal chart for the proper cleaners to remove those stains.

  3. Mix a Vinegar and Water Solution

    In a spray bottle, mix one-part distilled white vinegar and three-parts cold water.

    Warning

    Before beginning the deep cleaning process, spray the vinegar solution on the carpet in a hidden location to test the colorfastness of the carpet. Do not use the solution if you see any bleeding or change of color.

  4. Apply the Solution

    Working in a small 3' x 3' area, spray the vinegar solution onto the carpet until it's very damp. Do not saturate. If you are cleaning an area rug on a hardwood floor, take extra precautions to protect the wood floor from moisture damage.

  5. Wait and Blot

    Allow the solution to remain on the carpet for five minutes to begin breaking down the soil. Use a microfiber cloth to blot away the solution and the soil. Have a bucket of clean water ready to rinse the microfiber cloth. Change the water frequently as it becomes soiled.

  6. Allow the Carpet to Air-Dry

    Open doors and windows to increase the airflow in the room or add oscillating fans to speed drying. Do not allow traffic on the carpet until it is fully dry.

    If you must use the room while the carpet is damp, place plastic sheeting or tarps on the traffic pathways to prevent staining.

How to Deep Clean Carpet With Baking Soda and Salt

  1. Vacuum to Remove Loose Soil

    Vacuum or sweep the carpet to remove loose soil.

  2. Pretreat Carpet Stains

    Follow the recommendations on a stain removal chart to remove specific types of stains.

  3. Mix Baking Soda and Salt

    In a small bowl or bucket, mix a one-to-one mixture of baking soda and salt. The salt can be table salt or Kosher salt. Fill a spray bottle with cold water.

  4. Sprinkle and Spritz

    Liberally sprinkle the carpet with the baking soda and salt mixture. You may find it easier to work in a grid pattern starting in a corner and working toward an exit.

    After sprinkling, spritz the area with plain water. The carpet should be very damp, but not sopping wet.

  5. Scrub to Work in the Baking Soda

    Use a scrub brush to work the baking soda deeper into the carpet fibers. Go in one direction and then at a 90-degree angle to help lift the soil.

  6. Wipe With Old Towels

    After scrubbing, use old towels or rags to wipe away the loosened soil. It is fine to leave a bit of the baking soda residue in the fibers.

  7. Air-Dry the Carpet and Vacuum

    Allow the carpet to air-dry completely. Use a vacuum to remove any remaining baking soda left in the fibers. The carpet should smell fresher and look brighter.

How to Deep Clean Carpet With Steam

If you have a clothes steamer or steam mop that is usually used on hard-surface floors, they can be used to deep clean carpet as well.

  1. Vacuum and Pretreat Stains

    Vacuum the carpet to remove loose soil and pretreat stained areas.

  2. Use Baking Soda Mixture Method

    Follow the same steps for mixing baking soda and salt. Sprinkle the carpet with the mixture and then use steam, instead of cold water, to dampen the mixture.

  3. Steam the Carpet

    If you are using a clothes steamer, hold the steamer head about six to twelve inches from the carpet. Allow the steam to completely dampen the carpet. Use a scrub brush to work the damp mixture into the fibers.

    If you are using a steam mop, use the microfiber mop head or a carpet attachment to go over the baking soda mixture on the carpet. Again, use the scrub brush to clean the area.

  4. Absorb the Loosened Soil

    Use old towels or microfiber cloths to absorb the loosened soil. Allow the carpet to dry completely and vacuum to remove any residue remaining in the carpet.