How to Clean Carpet without Using a Carpet Cleaner

​Whether you have a small stain or want to clean your entire carpet, you don’t need an expensive carpet cleaner from the store, and you don't need to hire a professional. There are great products that you have in your pantry that will erase stains, clean carpets and deodorize smells.

​How to Clean Carpet Without Carpet Cleaner

Not only can you do it yourself, but by cleaning your carpet without hiring a carpet cleaner, you control the chemicals and substances that you use. Cleaning your carpet the natural way not only avoids needing a professional carpet cleaner, but keeps your home healthy.

You can also avoid renting the large carpet cleaning machines for small stains by taking the time to do it yourself. With hard work, natural products, and a simple ​inexpensive vacuum, you can learn how to clean carpet without carpet cleaner.

​Cleaning the Carpet

​​Big, industrial carpet cleaners are very good at removing dirt, debris, and stains from the carpet, but they don't always do it in the safest of ways. Many times professionals use high powered chemicals that work well, but leave you wondering what is in your carpets.

Learning how to clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner is a great choice for a chemical free home. Even the toughest stains can be cleaned without harsh chemicals or extensive scrubbing.

As with most cleaners you put on your carpet, it is always a good idea to test a small area before you apply on a larger spot. This will ensure your choice cleaner does not discolor your carpet.

Even when you are using natural products, it is always a good idea to wear gloves for protection. This will keep your hands clean from any bacteria on the floor.

​1. Remove Debris

The first step in carpet cleaning is to remove anything from the top of the surface. Whether you just need to vacuum up small debris or if there is a larger mess sitting on the top, this needs to be picked or scraped off. 

Without picking up the debris first, you're actually going to end up grinding it deeper into the carpet.

When you clean the surface level of carpets, then that allows the carpet cleaning solution to penetrate into the carpet fibers. 

​2. Pick Your Cleaner

Vinegar is by far one of the most referenced and used natural products when it comes to carpet cleaning. To cut down on the acidity in vinegar you will want to dilute it 50/50 with water.

You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to lessen the vinegar smell. By adding a citrus based essential oil it will double as a smell deterrent to keep pets from using your carpet as their restroom.

Related: ​How to Select a Top End Vacuum for Pet Hair

Vinegar is also a popular choice for dried messes. Spray a good amount of the mixture on the area. The water will re-hydrate the dried stain while the vinegar works to break down the dirt.

Dawn dish soap is also something you can add to a vinegar mixture or use it alone by adding a few drops to warm water. The suds will penetrate into your carpet and break down the dirt or stains.

​3. Don't Scrub

While you should always blot instead of scrub, with Dawn you can use your gloved hands to gently massage the mixture into the fibers. This will agitate the suds and help get them deeper into the carpet.

When you use liquid cleaners to clean carpet without shampooer, then it is best to use a spray bottle. This will allow you to control how much liquid gets on the carpet. You will want to dampen the stain, not completely soak it.

​4. Always Dry

When you use too much water then you run the risk of soaking the carpet and carpet pad below it. Once that happens it is very difficult to dry the lower layers and it becomes a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

It is also important to make sure that you dry your carpet in between treatments. Overloading sprays will make it harder for the carpet to dry. You can sprinkle a little baking soda over damp areas to help speed up the drying.

There is no best method for how to clean carpets without a carpet cleaner - only the best method for your unique situation. You will need to find the best fit for each stain that you encounter. You also may need to repeat the method two or three times in order to get your carpets clean overall.

​Removing the Stains

​How to clean carpet without carpet cleaner starts with cleaning the carpet, and then moves on to tackling the stains.

​Once your carpet cleaning efforts are no longer making ​helping the stains or spots, then it is time to start stain treatment. Most cleaning efforts will lighten a stain, but a final stain removal treatment is needed to restore your carpet.

The following stain treatment products will help you learn how to clean carpet without a shampooer. If you can catch stains and treat them in time then you eliminate having to rent a large machine to clean your carpets.

​For Bold Stains

For bold color stains, you can grab a bottle of club soda. This is a great stain fighter for red wine or coffee spills.

To use, pour club soda onto a cloth and blot the area. If you pour the club soda directly onto the stain then you run the risk of over saturating the area and causing a risk for mold and mildew.

Club soda is primarily used with fresh spills and stains, when it comes to older stains then it won’t help much. For older stains you will want to use another product that can rehydrate and break down the enzymes.

For lighter stains, shaving cream is a miracle cleaner that you can spray on and leave. It does not cause discoloring, nor will it leave a greasy area to clean up after. You should let the shaving cream sit for twenty to thirty minutes, then you can blot it up with a damp paper towel. 

club soda clean carpets

​For Lighter Stains

You can also use the bubbling power of baking soda plus vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain, then spray the baking soda with a water and vinegar mixture. As the two start to react, place a towel over the area and apply pressure.

This will push the cleaner deeper into the fibers instead of allowing it to bubble on the surface.

If you have lighter colored carpets then you can use hydrogen peroxide. It can discolor darker carpets, so test a spot if you are unsure. For the hydrogen peroxide you will want to spray the area and let it sit. After fifteen minutes you can blot it up with a damp cloth.

​For Sanitizing Stains

For stains that also need sanitizing you can use vodka. A cheap brand will work just as well. Vodka is a triple threat cleaner that will absorb odors, fight stains and kill any lingering bacteria.

These natural products lend a huge helping hand when it comes to knowing how to clean carpet without carpet cleaner. They are cheap to keep on hand and will work just as hard as brand name carpet cleaning solutions.

​Deodorizing the Area

You've got a clean carpet, and you've removed all of the stains. Chances are you might have some areas that still have a residual smell, and you will want to deodorize the area.

While adding essential oils to cleaning mixtures may refresh carpets, it may not always be the best option. When you are deodorizing your carpet, then you want something that will absorb the odor, not just mask it.

baking soda vinegar clean carpet

Baking soda is a cheap and safe product to use for this task. This powder is a natural odor eliminator. Most of the carpet deodorizers you can buy start with the base baking soda ingredient before adding other chemicals and smells.

Using baking soda is also a great option for people who have allergies to overwhelming smells. Baking soda will leave the carpet refreshed without adding a perfume-like strong smell.

To use, you will liberally sprinkle the baking soda over your carpet. Then use a broom to lightly sweep the baking soda. This will distribute the powder a little more evenly around the area.

Let the baking soda sit at least an hour. For stubborn odors you can leave it out overnight and vacuum it up the next morning. Do at least two rounds with the vacuum to make sure that you get it all up.

It is also important to make sure your vacuum has HEPA filtration​ so that the baking soda won’t blow out into the air. The HEPA filter helps fight allergens by trapping dust, dirt and small particles in the vacuum and not allowing them to go back out into the open air once vacuumed up.

If you want more of a deodorizer with a smell then you can add essential oils to the baking soda. Simply add a few drops of your choice oil to a jar of baking soda and mix it well.

Cornstarch or borax works just as well as baking soda for killing carpet odor. Sprinkle it on the carpet and let it sit for fifteen minutes before you vacuum it up.


These natural methods are a great option to help your wallet and to keep your home green. While chemical based cleaner may promise quick results, when you opt for a chemical free cleaner you know what is going into your carpet.

Now that you know how to clean carpet without carpet cleaner, the next time you have a spill you can walk to the pantry with confidence. And, when you want to give your carpet a deep clean, you need to call a professional in to do the job. 

About the Author Allen Michael

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.

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