How to Clean a Carpet Without a Carpet Cleaner

Cleaning carpets is tough enough with the help of a machine. But if you don’t have a specialized carpet cleaner on our hands, the task can seem even more daunting. 

Fortunately, cleaning a carpet without a carpet cleaner is a relatively simple task – if you know what you’re doing. 

This guide will walk you through all of the essential topics related to cleaning your carpet without a carpet cleaner:

  • Cleaning tough stains out of your carpet
  • Cleaning simple spills out of your carpet
  • How to preserve your carpet
  • How to set a cleaning schedule
  • Is a carpet cleaner really necessary?
  • Manual vacuums vs. automated vacuums
  • Is it ever too late to clean a carpet?

Cleaning Tough Stains Out of Your Carpet

Many people don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new carpet cleaner. And while it’s hard not to blame budget-minded cleaners for avoiding this expensive piece of machinery, the lack of a carpet cleaner means that tough stains present a bigger problem. Fortunately, you can still tackle the issue manually under most circumstances.

Grease, grass, blood, and colored liquids are often known to be the hardest stains of all. They seep into the fibers of your rug or carpet, practically dying the surface immediately. 

We all know how difficult dyes can be to clean up, but you needn’t worry any longer. There are many household items that you likely already have that’ll get rid of a carpet’s stains immediately.

These cleaning wonder-products include baking soda, essential oils, white vinegar, dish soap, and much more. Each ingredient has a specific purpose, so knowing what caused a particular stain will help you to choose the correct cleaning agent. 

Here are a few tough stain possibilities and some step-by-step advice on how you can treat them properly:

Grease

Grease is a major nuisance when it spills onto your carpet. The fibers soak it up almost instantly, making it a severe problem from the get-go. If you notice a grease spill, use the following steps to prevent it from spreading any further into the fibers:

  1. Mix two drops of dish soap with a cup and a half of water.
  2. Thoroughly stir this mixture to prevent the soap from clumping together when you spray it on the carpet. 
  3. Apply it to the area, being sure to go several inches outwards as well. An even coating will deteriorate the grease that you might not see on top.
  4. Scrub down the area with an abrasive sponge using circular motions to prevent damage to your carpet. You might also have to repeat the process a few times for bigger spills. 
  5. If you happen to notice that the grease starts pooling right when it hits the carpet, grab a few paper towels to soak up as much of it as you can.
  6. After a few scrub and soap cycles, your carpet will look fresh and clean – no trace of grease whatsoever.

Grass

Grass stains are often the toughest stains to get out. They contain natural coloring, or chlorophyll, which is the substance that gives the grass its green color. 

While it looks beautiful in nature, chlorophyll doesn’t look so great when it’s soaked into your carpet. The more that you step on it or rub it with towels, the more the coloring spreads throughout the fabric.

There’s one simple ingredient that almost always rips chlorophyll right out of your carpet: white vinegar. This natural solution is acidic, which quickly removes stains. You’ll also notice that it freshens up the scent, removing the aroma that grass naturally gives off. Nothing’s worse than cleaning a stain while still being able to smell it!

Here’s how you can get rid of grass:

  1. Mix ½ of a cup of white vinegar with ½ of a cup of water. 
  2. Put the solution into a spray bottle for the best application. 
  3. Spray it evenly over the surface, letting it soak in for a few minutes before you wipe it up. 
  4. Use a sponge to push slowly and pull the grass stains away from your carpet. 
  5. That’s all there is to it!

Blood Stains

Removing blood stains is a tricky situation, as the sequence of cleaning steps depends on how fresh the blood is. 

For example, you can clean blood much easier if you notice it right when the accident happens. On the other hand, you might need a little bit more elbow grease if the stain has been sitting for a while.

If you notice a blood stain (whether fresh or dry), follow these steps to clean it:

  1.  Blot the area with a paper towel. Remove as much of the stain as possible, but make sure that you’re not spreading it around. Circular motions and push-pull techniques should be avoided when you’re using paper towels. 
  2. Next, mix a tablespoon of dish soap (preferably clear) with two cups of room-temperature water.
  3. Spray or sprinkle this solution directly onto the stay. It’ll slowly be lifted to the surface of the carpet or rug, making it much easier for you to get it out. 
  4. Take another paper towel, blot the carpet once more, and grab a soft sponge. 
  5. Reapply the solution by evenly spraying it once more. 
  6. Scrub in circular motions with the sponge, and you’ll be all set.

Colored Liquids and Food Dye

The final tough carpet stains we’re going to discuss are those from food dye and colored liquids, such as juice or powdered mixed drinks. 

Much like most of the other difficult stains on this list, colored liquids are harder to remove the longer they sit. However, if you can catch them quickly, you can prevent any long-term stains from forming.

Here’s the process:

  1. Dab the area with a paper towel, then sprinkle water all over the stain. 
  2. Repeat this step by blotting the water-soaked dye with another paper towel. If you’re lucky enough, you might be able to get the stain out by simply doing this process a few times. In most cases, you’ll have to take it a step further.
  3. In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of white vinegar, 2 cups of warm water, and a tablespoon of dish soap. Red stains require that you use ammonia rather than vinegar. 
  4. Lightly pour the solution onto the stain, but make sure you don’t soak the carpet thoroughly. 
  5. Scrub it out with a sponge using circular motions.
  6. If you still can’t get the stain removed, try using hydrogen peroxide. 
  7. Pour a tablespoon of it over the stain, making sure that you evenly coat it. 
  8. Let it sit on the carpet for at least an hour, then proceed to blot it down with a damp paper towel. 
  9. Dry it slowly, making sure not to spread the stain anymore.

Cleaning Simple Spills Out of Your Carpet

Simple spills and accidents might seem like a big deal, but in truth, you don’t need a carpet cleaner for them either. A basic manual vacuum will go a long way, which means you can leave the steam cleaners and other high-end gear back at the store. Going over anything dry with a vacuum, ranging from food to dirt, can make the situation go much smoother.

In most scenarios where you’re dealing with kids dragging in mud or pets running around with urine on their feet, you can make everything like-new in a matter of minutes. Start by scrubbing the debris down with warm water and a few paper towels. You can also try a sponge, though it might not remove as much of the stain as necessary.

You should also consider getting your hands on a foaming solution purchased at most stores or online. 

Hydrogen peroxide is a great replacement if you want to use something sitting around at home. Apply it to the stain, let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes, then scrub it down with another round of paper towels until the stain is removed.

How to Preserve a Carpet Longer

Little stains, whether they’re easy or difficult to remove, can build up over time. This might end up causing you severe problems down the road. Many homeowners and landlords have had to remove and replace their carpet simply because they didn’t spot clean and prevent small stains from adding up.

To keep your carpet from needing to be replaced, follow these quick tips:

  • Always vacuum at least once a week. You might not have access to a steam cleaner or commercial carpet cleaners. Still, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be regularly vacuuming. Automated vacuums are an excellent solution for those who find themselves otherwise occupied by work or constant errands.
  • Spot clean any areas of your carpet or rug that seem discolored. You might not notice it, but spills can happen when you least expect it. Even the buildup of pet and human hair can remove the bright, vibrant colors that a new carpet has. Consider scrubbing down your rug whenever it doesn’t look brand new. This is a surefire way to preserve its lifespan.
  • The best way to keep your carpet from getting old and dingy is to stop the problem before it can even occur. Shoes, drinks, food, and other possible sources can be completely avoided. Even if you think you don’t spill or drop crumbs, they can be so small that you might not notice until it builds up!
  • Carpet rakes are some of the most underrated tools when it comes to house cleaning. They’re easy to use, and they work by separating each carpet strand from the next. While it doesn’t loosen up the fibers, it gets in between them all to remove debris that’s locked in there.

Set a Cleaning Schedule

We all love the idea of having a fresh and clean carpet, but it’s not always the easiest thing to achieve. Whether your carpet seems irreversibly damaged, or you simply don’t have enough time in the day, it can be a defeating feeling. 

Don’t worry, though! There’s a quick solution to your carpet cleaning woes.

Build a schedule around your other duties, such as work or school. It might not feel like you have enough time, but you can get away with only 10 minutes a day or even just a short 30-minute session per week, depending on the size of your carpet. 

Taking on small tasks can eventually lead to the clean carpet that you’re searching for.

Here are four steps that you should take to form the perfect carpet cleaning schedule:

  1. Write down all of your prior engagements. This might include your job schedule, college schooling and studies, grocery trips, appointments, and so on. Try to be precise, but adding a buffer zone of 10 minutes on either side is always a good idea. You never know when traffic or other issues could cause a gap.
  2. Find the areas in your schedule that seem a bit porous. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with a 30-minute clean on a day that you only have 45 minutes of free time. Many of us are free on weekends, so it might be a good idea to run through your half-hour carpet cleaning routine early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday to finish it.
  3. Figure out if you want to go with the 10-minute daily cleans or a single 30-minute session. The reason that you can get away with doing less on the 30-minute session is because you should be performing a deep clean. This might stretch out to a full hour in large houses.
  4. Give it a shot and see if scheduling will work for you. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be on the schedule every single day or week. We all have problems that come up, but do your best to stick to the routine. You can also feel free to play around with the session lengths. For example, some people prefer three 15-minute sessions, while others go with just two 20-minute sessions a week. 

When setting any kind of cleaning schedule, It’s all about finding that sweet spot that keeps your carpet fresh without over-exhausting yourself.

Is a Carpet Cleaner Really Necessary?

There’s no doubt that a good carpet cleaner can get almost any job done. They’re efficient, practical, and you can often hire someone else to do it for you. 

However, we don’t all have the budget or the time to fit in a good steam cleaning. You might be worried that your carpet is eventually doomed, but you’d be wrong!

Most ads and commercials that say a carpet cleaner is a necessity would be completely wrong. 

But here’s the truth: you don’t need a carpet cleaner whatsoever. In fact, many homeowners and landlords get away without ever using one a single time! 

All carpets are going to need replacements someday, with or without the use of a carpet cleaner.

However, you can’t just let a carpet sit around and build up debris over time. Even vacuuming weekly or daily won’t prevent it from getting old. 

You need to take additional steps, such as the solutions mentioned in the stain section, to ensure the longevity of your carpets and rugs around the house.

There’s even a nice and easy recipe to freshen up the scent of your carpet and slowly remove odors. Here it is:

  1. Mix two cups of warm water in a spray bottle with 20 to 25 drops of your favorite essential oil. For cleanliness, tea tree oil is a fantastic choice. If you’re going for a better smell instead, try out lavender oil or any citrus essential oil. 
  2. Spray this solution throughout your carpet. 
  3. Vacuum it up within the hour.

The three reasons that a carpet cleaner works so well is that it combines heat, water, and suction. With the above recipe, you’re checking all of the boxes (ensuring that the water is warm or hot). It might take a few additional minutes, but you’ll save yourself money and end up with a much better-smelling carpet!

In short, there’s no reason that you should feel pressed to get your hands on a carpet cleaner, nor should you think that a service is necessary. You can get it all done using the recipes and schedules listed here. In the long run, your carpet will smell, look, and feel better than if you let it go long enough to warrant buying one.

Manual Vacuums vs. Automated Vacuums

Since a carpet cleaner is out of the question, you still have the option of trying out a traditional vacuum. However, you can also get a robotic vacuum, such as the Roomba, to clean your carpet while you’re not able to. 

Both have positives and negatives, so let’s figure out which machine is best for your home.

The Pros of Manual Vacuums

Manual vacuums include both corded and cordless vacuums. Either way, you’re in control of the process. You can see where the dirty spots are better than any robot, which allows you to spot clean much quicker. It also means that you can empty the vacuum as you go along. A packed vacuum bag reduces suction, which can prevent you from achieving optimal performance.

You might also like that a manual vacuum is rarely in the way. It can be stored in a closet, whereas a robotic vacuum might run underneath your feet when you least expect it. Manual vacuums also tend to have stronger suction, a detachable spot cleaner for unreachable areas, and ergonomic handles.

The Cons of Manual Vacuums

There are a few obvious downsides to owning a manual vacuum, such as the fact that you have to do the cleaning yourself. You might also dislike the bulky size of it, nor the issue of it being much heavier than automated vacuums. Manual vacuums can get jammed quickly as well due to the small suction area at the mouth of the machine.

One of the biggest cons of manual vacuums is noise. They tend to be disruptively loud, causing everyone in the house to be forced to listen. If you’re in an apartment, then your neighbors know when you’re cleaning the carpet. Combined with an occasional wall bump, it’s quite the annoyance for some people.

The Pros of Automated Vacuums

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of automated vacuums is in the name: they’re automated! 

Not having to do any of the work yourself is a huge benefit. There’s a small amount of manual work that goes into owning a robotic vacuum, but we’ll get into the details in the cons section.

Another nice part about owning an automated vacuum is that they tend to be much smaller than their manual counterparts. Due to the smaller size and a compact motor, these machines are also very quiet. A light hum is generally the most you’ll ever hear from a self-powered vacuum. There’s also no cord that you have to deal with.

The Cons of Automated Vacuums

A common issue that people have with automated vacuums was already briefly mentioned. They tend to get in the way when you’re not thinking about it. Walking in from a hard day of work to suddenly get rammed by a speeding circular robot vacuum is not necessarily the most exciting thing to happen.

The unmentioned manual work that goes into robotic vacuums is that they can’t empty themselves. They’re much smaller, meaning they have to be cleaned more often than manual vacuums. 

This means that they lose suction quicker, in addition to their charging needs. While some models know when it’s time to hook themselves up to a charger, others simply stop in their tracks until you hook them up.

As you can see, both manual and automated vacuums have fantastic pros and not-so-nice cons. It’s up to you to decide which one you want to go with. 

People who work all day tend to enjoy the convenience of a self-powered vacuum. At the same time, weekends still offer a great time frame to use a manual vacuum. 

Is It Ever Too Late to Clean a Carpet?

Yes and no. 

Many people are too concerned even to try a carpet cleaning session. Why waste your time if the carpet is far overdue for a replacement? 

Here’s a quick answer: You can save yourself tons of money by putting in an hour of hard work. Cleaning a carpet and freshening it up can add years onto its life.

Get a few friends or family members, and see what you can do to clean up the carpet. A deep clean might even require up to four hours, but it’s still worth the possible thousands of dollars that it costs to replace large carpeted areas. Before you jump on the task, you’re going to need some supplies.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup of borax
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar
  • A bowl and a mixing spoon

Mixing these ingredients will create a thick paste, which is what you need to spot clean stubborn patches of a carpet. 

Here’s the cleaning process:

  1. Thinly apply the mixture onto any area that needs extra attention.
  2. Let it sit for at least three to four hours.
  3. Follow this up by spraying water lightly over the dried paste. Feel free to add the 20 drops of essential oils, as mentioned before. This will add a nice aroma to the carpet to mask the powerful smell of vinegar. Most essential oils also have some sort of antibacterial properties that’ll assist the deep clean.
  4. Finally, vacuum the entire room to remove the wet paste. This will take a bit of elbow grease and extra effort compared to regular vacuuming since it’s going to pull everything out at once.
  5. Go over the trouble areas multiple times if you need to.

The unfortunate truth is that every carpet has an expiration date. You can’t make it last for decades on end without experiencing serious troubles. 

If your carpet has patches missing, wild fraying fibers all over the place, or exposed roots, there’s not much that you can do. Replacing a carpet should always be the last choice on your list, so don’t give up until you’ve exhausted all available resources.

Final Thoughts

You can learn how to clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner rather easily. All you need is a choice set of supplies and ingredients, as listed throughout the article. 

Many of them, such as vinegar, essential oils, and of course water, are all household items that you likely already have onboard.

Remember that the primary component you need is something abrasive or corrosive to debris, such as dish soap for grease or hydrogen peroxide for dyes. You’ll also need something to loosen up the debris, so a liquid is always essential. It’s much simpler than you might imagine!

Carpet cleaners are certainly a useful tool, but not all of us have access to one. Using the simple steps provided here, you’re now fully equipped to finish the task without spending another dollar. 

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