Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thrifty Tip : Non-Toxic and Inexpensive Carpet Cleaning

I have a carpet cleaner, and I love it.  But I don't love the $8+ price tag for carpet shampoo, especially since it doesn't always deliver results, and some people suggest that using carpet shampoo actually leaves your carpet MORE dirty in the long run as it turns the fibers into sticky little dirt magnets.  So, what to do?

This is where plain old, ordinary white vinegar is a shining star yet again.   Add a cup or so of white vinegar to the water tank of your shampooer and clean the carpet like normal.  No, the vinegar smell in the air will not stay around after the carpet is dry, even though you will smell it a bit while you're working.  If you'd like, you can add a teaspoon or two of dish soap, laundry detergent or even your own shampoo, but don't go crazy as you don't want a lot of suds happening.  You can also add your favorite essential oil for scent or for disinfecting.

Other recipes:

Disinfectant Organic Rug Shampoo

Use this recipe to disinfect your rugs from pet accidents or if it is often walked on while people are wearing shoes. This shampoo can be used in any carpet cleaner.
Mix equal parts vinegar and hot water. This amount varies depending on the size of the carpet you're cleaning and how much liquid the rug shampooers "soap" tank holds.
Add five drops of tea tree, lavender, Eucalyptus or thyme essential oils per eight ounces (one cup) of liquid.
Clean your carpets according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Thorough Carpet Cleaning Instructions and Recipes
( - read all the way down the page for more ideas)

There are five phases to getting your carpet really clean and keeping it looking like new.
  1. A thorough vacuum, preferably with a vacuum that has a beater bar to remove as much dirt, dander, and dust as possible
  2. Lightly pre-spray the carpet with my home-made prepared solution then wait 30 minutes
  3. Shampoo the carpet with my carpet shampoo in the machine
  4. Rinse the carpet with my rinse formula
  5. Make sure you have good ventilation to dry your carpet - open all windows and doors to get good air flow. If you carpet takes too long to dry you can end up with mildew and brown stains, so if it's cold turn on the heater.
Recipe for pre-spray: use an enzyme laundry powder and mix to the ratio as for clothes in cold water. This breaks down grease, dirt and dander.
Recipe for carpet shampoo: Palmolive Green dishwashing liquid (or Cussons or similar - but Palmolive is best) and washing soda (aka Lectic Soda; soda ash; sodium carbonate). The mix is 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid and 1/4 cup soda to 3 gallons (about 11 liters) water. This is where the action is and wow can't you see it in the throw out water.

Recipe for rinse: mix 1/4 cup "white" vinegar per gallon of water (3.7 liters). Cheap white vinegar is perfect. This step is very important as it removes any residue and prevents the brown staining that can occur. The browning happens because the carpet has been over wetted and dissolved dirt in the fibers is drawn to the surface again. The vinegar mix is slightly acidic and prevents this from occurring. It also deodorizes the carpet. Worried about the smell? Don't be, it goes as soon as the carpet is dry.

Because I have so much traffic, muddy paws, dogs lying about on the floor, etc. I do my carpets between 2 to 3 times a year. In between I regularly vacuum (twice a week) and to keep the carpets fresh, monthly I give a generous sprinkle of bicarb soda (aka sodium bicarbonate, baking soda) work into the pile with the beater bar (vacuum turned to nozzle) wait 30 minutes then vacuum. Buy generic home brand - it's the same as the more expensive brands. For a nice smell add 20 - 30 drops of you favorite essential oil and work into 500g before sprinkling.

TIP: place cardboard coasters under any wooden legs of table etc., otherwise the wood will almost irreparably stain your carpet.

Oh, by the way, this mix can be used on upholstery too! But as always check in an inconspicuous area first. Happy Carpet Cleaning! (10/20/2008)


  1. I add lemon in my steam cleaner. Steam is often enough to sanitize floors, counter tops, toys, etc, I like the fresh lemony scent that comes with adding some lemon to the water. Filter the juice first though so that any pulp extracted doesn't clog up your system.

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