How to Clean Your Carpet

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on April 08, 2022
5 min read

Keeping your carpet clean can be quite stressful, especially in heavy traffic areas of the house. That’s where germs and other types of dirt can easily gather. Shoes and pets are also common sources of bacteria and stains that get caught up in the carpet fibers. Using carpet shampoo and warm water will usually work on most of these stains. However, to get rid of germs, mold, and dust mites, consider using a steam cleaner.

To effectively clean and disinfect your carpet, you need to have a spot and stain removal kit that may include the following tools:

  • Paper towels to soak up any spills (liquids) on the carpet
  • A dull knife to scrape off harden mud stains
  • A spatula (plastic or wooden) for lifting dirt
  • Solutions to remove stains (oil-based stains, water-based stains, and animal stains)

For tough stains, try different types of solutions to see which is effective on a particular spot. Some of the solutions that you can use to clean your carpet include:

  • Acetone or nail polish remover (without lanolin base)
  • Carpet shampoo
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Alcohol (isopropyl, rubbing, or denatured)
  • Paint remover (without an oil base)
  • Detergent
  • Ammonia solution
  • Vinegar solution

Soda, wine, and juice. You’ll want to act as fast as possible on these ones. Blot the spilled liquid with paper towels. Make a solution using four cups of water, one tablespoon of dish soap, and a quarter cup of white vinegar. Clean with a sponge. Soak the affected area in the mixture for five to ten minutes. Blot again (avoid rubbing) with a clean cotton cloth, and repeat until you get rid of the stain.

Pet poop. First, remove all the solid poop you can. You want to use a spatula or a spackle tool to remove any remaining residue. Soak the affected area with a laundry stain remover or any cleaning product recommended by the carpet manufacturer. Blot the area with a clean wet sponge dipped in a combination of laundry detergent and cold water.

Pet urine. Dry the area using a cloth and spray it with one part white vinegar and one part water. This will help neutralize uric acid (a type of acid found in urine). Add one teaspoon of clear, mild, bleach laundry detergent into four cups of water and apply to the stained area. Rinse using water, and blot the area with a clean cloth to dry. Then repeat this until you get rid of the stain.

Mud. Leave the mud to dry. This will make it easier to remove. Gently vacuum the area to get rid of loose dirt. Soak a clean cloth in a mixture of one cup of lukewarm water and one teaspoon of dish soap. Then apply. Blot this area, and repeat the process until there’s no stain left. Make sure you change cleaning cloths to avoid staining the area again.

Paint. For a wet stain of water-based or latex paint, dampen a white cotton cloth with warm water and blot the affected part. Then repeat until the stain is gone. Using a white cotton cloth is vital to avoid it leaking dye. If the paint is already dry, a carpet cleaner will do the trick.

Oil or grease. In some cases, using a cloth to dab the area with mild dish detergent is enough to remove a grease stain. If that doesn't work, apply some dry-cleaning solvent using a cotton cloth. Blot and rinse the affected area. Consider sprinkling the area with baking soda, and then vacuum if there's any residue left.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your carpet clean:

  1. Do regular carpet maintenance. For regular maintenance, try vacuuming the high traffic areas daily. That way you get rid of the day-to-day dirt. To do proper light vacuuming, make sure to stroke the given area three times — forward, back, and forward again. If your carpet does not see that much traffic, vacuuming two or three times a week may be enough.
  2. Clean up spills before it’s too late. A spill that has been left for a long time may start chemical reactions with the carpet fibers, creating spots or stains that are hard to get rid of. To prevent this, try cleaning up spills immediately.
  3. Professional cleaning. Getting a professional to do the cleaning may help in removing greasy stains that regular vacuuming may not handle. Grease may cause dirt or soil to cling onto the carpet fibers. This makes it a lot harder to remove by vacuuming only. An obvious indicator that your carpet may need professional care is gray or yellow stains on the carpet. Moving your furniture is a good way to reveal color changes caused by soil staining.
  4. Carpet warranty. Try to avoid cleaning practices that might end your carpet’s warranty. Consider only using cleaning solutions and procedures recommended by the carpet manufacturer. Always make sure you read the manufacturer’s cleaning guide before you do any home or professional cleaning.
  5. Select the best cleaning method. Before you decide on the best cleaning method for your carpet, there are a few things you should consider. Take into account factors like cleaning costs, how much time you have, the amount of dirt in the carpet, cleaning energy requirements, and your carpet’s drying time. Some carpet cleaning methods you can choose from are dry powder, shampoo, dry foam, and hot water extraction.

Although no one wants to clean up vomit, sometimes you just have to. If you find yourself in such a situation, this is what to do:

  • First, take out any large solid pieces present.
  • Blot the stain with paper towels, and let them soak up the liquid from your carpet.
  • Sprinkle some baking soda or cornstarch on the stained section, let it absorb moisture for 10 to 15 minutes, and then vacuum.
  • If after vacuuming the stains remain, use a carpet cleaner or a DIY solution (a mixture of dish soap, white vinegar, and warm water).
  • Blot the area with a sponge until the stain comes off, and then dry with a cloth.

Some odors can be quite hard to get rid of, even compelling you to get a carpet cleaner to do the job. After cleaning, apply a high-quality odor neutralizer. Try not to use a steam cleaner to get rid of urine odors. The heat may cause the odor and stain to bond with your carpet’s fibers — making the situation even worse.