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How to Clean and Remove Stains from Berber Carpet

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​Berber carpets are a popular flooring choice due to their durable loop weave construction, versatile color/fiber option choices and economical cost. When figuring out how to clean berber carpet, this type of rug’s special characteristic should be considered in order to garner the best results.

How to Clean Berber Carpet

Identify Your Berber Carpet Fiber Type

​How to clean berber carpet can be an easy process if the proper steps are taken. The first step in tackling any carpet cleaning is to assess the type of carpet fiber you have. Berber carpet is usually made with one of the following fibers:

  • Olefin/Polyester (PET) fiber: This synthetic type of fiber is best suited for steam cleaning methods as olefin attracts oil and resists water. Olefin is the most economical of all berber carpets and the most stain resistant.
  • Nylon fiber: This type of fiber closely mimics wool, but doesn’t resist water, as well as olefin fiber, does. Nylon berber is best suited for dry cleaning methods.
  • Wool fiber: Wool fiber constructed berber carpets are the most expensive and are best suited for dry cleaning methods. Use caution, as wool is a natural fiber and is very water absorbent.  

We will explore both dry and steam cleaning methods more in-depth shortly. However, before we get into the best way to clean berber carpet, it’s essential to start with proper stain removal techniques.

how to clean berber carpet

Remove Stains First

​There are a variety of both DIY and store-bought methods that are proven and will help aid in the removal of most all  old and new carpet stains. Determining the best approach will largely depend on the type of stain, how quickly it is found and materials available to you at the time of cleaning.

A general rule of thumb in regards to stains on your berber carpet is to never use soaps or detergents. Soap’s residue is sticky and will adhere to the carpet fibers making it much harder to fully remove. With time, dirt will adhere to this and you will end up with additional stains.

Also, special care must be taken when cleaning berber due to its unique weave. Liquids can get trapped if they sink into the bottom of the carpet beyond the looped weave, so be careful of how much liquid you use when spot-treating. The faster you are able to treat stains and remove all the liquid the better.

Cold Water Method

​The cold water method is a great first step in removing fresh stains from your berber carpet. Most general ​stains such as milk and other liquids can be cleaned using this method. Steps to follow are simple:

  1. First BLOT (do NOT rub or scrub) the stain with a dry, clean paper towel or clean cloth. Remove as much of the stain from the carpet fibers as possible by blotting up the liquid. Scrubbing berber carpet can damage the fibers or cause snags in the weave.
  2. Using cold water, gently rub cold water into the stain using a clean cloth. The water will expand the fibers and dilute the stain, essentially “flushing” the stain out of the carpet fibers. As noted above, use water sparingly when “flushing out” the stain as all liquid must be removed from the carpet following stain removal.
  3. Blot stain dry with a clean, dry paper towel or cloth. You may notice the stain color transferring to your blotting towel; this is a good sign as the stain is being “lifted” out of the carpet fibers.
  4. ​Repeat cleaning and blotting steps until stain is gone.
  5. Run the vacuum over the cleaned stain to suck up any remaining moisture from the cold water flush

​Tip: ​Start from the outside of the stain and work towards the middle. This way you won’t be spreading the stain but rather, centralizing and working toward the higher concentration areas of the stain.

Cost: Not a thing – you just need cold water and a clean towel, which you most certainly already have!

Effectiveness: Depending on how quickly the stain is caught and saturation of stain color, this can be a very effective method. Patience in blotting and fully drying the stained area after removal is key!

Vinegar and water cleaning solution

Vinegar and Water Method

If the cold water method doesn’t work in lifting your carpet stain, you can try removing stains with a more robust home DIY cleaning solution made of vinegar and water.

  1. Start by creating a mixture of white vinegar and cold water in a 1:5 ratio (one part vinegar to five parts cold water). This mixture will act as your “cleaning agent.” Test vinegar and water mixture in an inconspicuous area of the carpet (such as a small corner or underneath furniture) to ensure no carpet discoloration occurs.
  2. Before applying your “cleaning agent”, blot stain first with a dry paper or cloth towel to soak up any liquid from the stain.
  3. Follow instructions for cold water stain removal above, using your cleaning agent of vinegar/water mixture in place of cold water.
  4. ​Repeat cleaning and blotting steps until stain is gone.
  5. Run a vacuum over the cleaned area to remove any remaining moisture. Due to the tight weave of berber, making sure to fully dry the stained area is tantamount as any moisture left will attract dirt and make stains “reappear.

​Tip: Vinegar can be replaced with club soda, should you not have white vinegar available. You don’t need to dilute club soda as you do with vinegar, but do make sure you use all liquids sparingly on berber. Fully dry the area following treatment so no liquid remains trapped in the berber carpet fibers.

Cost: Minimal. White vinegar is usually around a few bucks if you don’t already have in some your pantry.

​Effectiveness: Similar to the cold water method, if caught early enough, this can be quite effective in removing stains.

Baking Soda Method

The baking soda method is a good method to use for any smelly pet-related carpet stains and/or greasy stains (eg: butter, olive oil, blood). Baking soda not only sops up grease but is also PH balancing, so it’s a great choice to neutralize not-so-fresh odors.

  1. Blot up as much of the stain as possible using a clean, dry paper or cloth towel.Again, do NOT rub the stain as this will drive the stain deeper into the carpet fibers and potentially snag or damage the carpet fibers.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda over entire stain so it is covered. The baking soda will get slightly damp and ball up as it absorbs the stain.
  3. Allow the baking soda to sit on the stain for at least 20 seconds. Do not let baking soda sit for too long on the stain, as you want to avoid the stain sinking into the bottom of the carpet and into the carpet fibers
  4. Vacuum up baking soda.
  5. Repeat steps TWO through FOUR until the baking soda doesn’t ball up and the stain is gone.

​Tip: Sprinkle a little all over your carpet before a general vacuum to revitalize and deodorize any carpet smell. This is an especially popular method for any households with pets!

Cost: Minimal as you can find baking soda almost anywhere and for cheap!

Effectiveness: Most effective for liquid or greasy stains as the dry baking soda is the most gentle method for a berber carpet’s weave. Oil stains are a berber carpet’s biggest enemy, so tend to this stain using this natural product as quickly as possible for the best outcome!

Stain Removal Product

Certain stains, such as tough-to-remove or older stains, might need more robust measures beyond DIY solutions. Store-bought carpet stain removers such as Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Carpet Odor Eliminator Plus are a great choice and widely popular in its effectiveness. Be sure to follow specific product instructions carefully for best results.

Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Carpet Odor Eliminator Plus...
  • Eliminates Odors & Releases Pet Hair and Dirt
  • Vacuum Booster - Helps vacuums lift up to 25% more dirt
  • Leaves behind a pleasant fragrance for long lasting freshness
  • Excellent on pet accidents, dirt and debris

A few additional points to keep in mind when using this method:

  • ​Test cleaning solution in a small, unnoticeable area of the carpet first to make sure it doesn’t discolor or burn the carpet fibers.
  • ​Avoid the temptation of overly saturating the stain with any liquid cleaning solutions. Less is better and repeat the process as many times as necessary to fully remove the stain.
  • ​Make sure to dry the stain entirely so that no moisture is left behind to seep into the carpet fibers and weave.
  • After cleaning, you might notice the recently cleaned stained area is brighter than the surrounding areas. This is normal and will likely lessen in appearance within a few days.
  • If not, might be time for a deep, all over clean of your berber carpet! See below for tips on how to generally clean your berber carpet.

Cost: Varies depending on the product purchased.

Effectiveness: Store-bought carpet cleaning solutions can be the most effective method out of all these methods, especially for tough or older stains.

Vacuum after Removing Stains

Following any stain removal, vacuuming is essential for the longevity of your carpet’s cleanliness. Vacuum the stain thoroughly using with slow, steady movements. Avoid being overly rough, where you can risk damaging the carpet’s weave caused by excessive friction or drag.  

Additionally, be sure to not use a vacuum with a brush roller or beater bar attachments as this can lead to snags or damaging the carpet’s weave. High suction vacuums or vacuum designed for laminate flooring are two great choices as they will be the best for removing dirt without ruining berber’s signature weave.

A vacuum cleaner going over berber carpet

Finally, due to berber carpet’s tight weave, any moisture leftover after stain removal can “sit” on top carpet fibers. Moisture will attract dirt and result in additional staining and/or mold/mildew issues. Therefore, it is always best to dry vacuum immediately following any stain removal and ensure the carpet fibers are fully dry.

How to Steam Clean Berber Carpet

​Steam cleaning berber carpet is an especially effective cleaning method and is best following a stain removal spot treatment. Steam cleaning works by using hot water (steam) and high powered suction to remove deeply embedded dirt from carpet fibers. Rug Doctor machines are quite popular and well known and can be rented for a small price.

How to clean berber carpet with a rug doctor is an easy to follow method, but make sure to follow any manufacturer instructions, and use slow, intentional movements across the carpet. Go slower than you think necessary to increase effectiveness, and remove as much water as possible from carpet fibers.

When finished, make sure to dry carpet thoroughly, running a vacuum over one final time; turn on fans or open windows to shorten drying time. This ensures that no moisture is left in the carpet fibers. Any remaining moisture could result in unwanted odor, mildew or mold.  

​Tip: This method is best used for olefin as this synthetic fiber resists water. While olefin is the most stain resistant of all Berber carpet fibers, any water left “sitting” on the surface of the fiber will attract dirt, or worse, lead to less-than-pleasant smells.

How to Dry Clean Berber Carpet

Another, and sometimes more preferred method for resolving the question of “how do you clean berber carpet” is by dry cleaning. This method involves sprinkling dry powder, which will pull dirt or stains to the surface so you can vacuum up.

For this method, vacuum stain first, removing as much of the stain as possible from the carpet before applying the dry powder. Read instructions on the product’s label and make sure to test in a small area first for any negative effects on your carpet.

Next, sprinkle the powder onto the stain and work into the carpet using your HANDS.  Do not use a brush or brush attachment, as some products suggest, as a brush will rip or snag the carpet weave. Leave on as recommended then vacuum up all powder.  Repeat as needed until stain is gone.

Tip: Dry cleaning is best recommended for berber carpet with nylon or wool fibers.

Since these fibers absorb water better than their synthetic counterpart olefin, dry cleaning is a more effective and safer method, where you don’t run the risk of using too much water.

How to Prevent Stains on Your Berber Carpet

While cleaning and maintaining your berber carpet may seem daunting, the best defense against dirt and stains to your berber carpet is in preventative measures. A number one rule for berber carpet maintenance is frequent vacuuming.

Frequent vacuuming can capture dirt on the surface of the carpet weave and before it makes it way down into the bottom of the carpet. Ground-in dirt in a berber carpet is terribly difficult to remove, so best to keep up with frequent vacuuming!

Close up of berber carpet

Beyond frequent vacuuming, here are some additional tips and ideas to help keep your berber carpet clean and looking like new:

  • ​Place a mat or rubber boot box by all entrances to contain shoes that potentially will track in dirt or moisture.
  • ​While we cannot avoid accidents, they do occur. Clean up spills fast! The quicker you are able to remove a stain the better chance you have of it coming out completely.

​Tip: ​Older stains that have had time to seep into the carpet fiber, or beyond the loop weave and deeply into the carpet are much harder to remove.

  • Add a throw rug on top of berber carpet in high traffic areas. This will help prevent crushing or ripping of the berber carpet’s weave due to frequent walking traffic.
  • ​Encourage all family members and guests to remove their shoes after entering your house or before entering carpeted rooms.

​Tip: ​​Similarly, try and avoid wearing high heels or shoes that have rugged soles that can potentially stick or snag in the carpets weave (eg: soccer cleats, rubber soles with extra grip) around the berber carpet.  

  • Limit food and drinks (particularly messy or highly saturated pigments, like wine, cola or spaghetti sauce) around carpets.
  • ​Due to fiber and weave of berber, oil is your biggest enemy, so best to keep oils away from your berber carpets. Your beloved oil diffuser is better suited up and away from potential mishap accidents, such as a nearby room with hardwood floors, concrete flooring, or hard to reach (and secure) shelves. Better to be safe than sorry!
  • Teach children in your home how to maintain cleanliness of carpets. This includes removing shoes, washing hands and being careful with certain toys around the berber carpet.

​Tip: ​​​While chores are not particularly fun at any age, try and make a fun game out of vacuuming for your kids – help them get in on the carpet maintenance.

  • ​Keep nails/claws on any household pets trimmed or filed so as to reduce the likelihood of snags on the carpet loops.
  • ​Avoid using vacuums with roller brushes or a beater bar as they can pull, tug, fuzz or fray the carpet’s looped weave.

​Tip: ​​​​High suction vacuums are best for this type of carpet.

  • ​If you are wondering how to clean heavily soiled berber carpet, are unsure how to treat a specific stain or if the stain is persistent, it might be best to hire a professional.  

​Tip: ​While upfront costs are more expensive than any DIY method, it could save you in the long run.


​Berber carpets, when well maintained will last for years! With frequent upkeep and quick attention to stains as soon as they occur, you can reduce the need for deep cleaning and stain removing methods. While accidents do happen, be sure to follow these tips for the best possible outcome and so you can enjoy your berber carpet for years to come!

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.