How to Clean Carpet Without a Steam Cleaner Machine

You don't need to rent any expensive equipment. 


Buying or renting a machine to deep clean a carpet is not the only way to get the stubborn stains out. If your house has carpet — plus kids or pets — then you need to know how to clean carpet without a steam cleaner. Because let’s face it, mud and red fruit punch are not a good combination, especially if you want to keep your floors looking clean.

If you have a mess to clean up but you don’t want to run to the store for a steam cleaner, you can definitely deep clean your carpet without a machine. The good news is, if you have a vacuum, you can get the job done.

But the tricks behind knowing how to clean carpet stains are not necessarily common knowledge. That’s why we asked the experts to answer one very important concern people commonly have: how do you deep clean carpet the best way possible? The answers differ a bit, so read on to find out which one works best with what you already have in your pantry and what you are trying to achieve.

Small stain on carpet
Courtesy of: Ali Fields of Cut Cut Craft

How to Get Stains Out of a Carpet Without a Steam Cleaner

Jennifer Rodriguez, chief hygiene officer at Pro Housekeepers, knows a thing or two about how to clean a carpet without a steam cleaner. She offers up this method that uses a vacuum cleaner plus baking soda or dish soap. We love this method because you only need one ingredient that you most definitely already have in your kitchen.

Cleaners needed: Baking soda or dish soap
Tools needed: Old toothbrush, brush, clean rag or towel, and bucket

Here are Rodriguez’s steps for how to clean a carpet without a steam cleaner:

  1. Get a bucket of warm water and your preferred cleaning tool ready.
  2. Vacuum the entire area you wish to clean to get rid of dirt and dust.
  3. If using baking soda, sprinkle the stain until completely covered. If using dish soap, measure the stain’s size, and use 1 tablespoon per 6 to 8 inches of stain.
  4. Swoosh it around until you see bubbles.
  5. Using an old brush, toothbrush, rag, or towel, gently scrub the stain with warm water.
  6. Do not completely soak the floor, just make it wet enough to scrub away the dirt/stain.
  7. Turn on any fans, or open nearby windows to allow carpet to air dry.
  8. Once dry, vacuum again.
hand scrubbing sponge on dirty carpet
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How to Clean a Large Carpet By Hand

DIY blogger Ali Fields says when she needs to remember how to deep clean carpet by hand, she trusts her grandmother’s wisdom. This technique requires a few more ingredients than the one above, but it doesn’t only work for spot-cleaning stains. If you have a large enough brush, it’s easy to do an entire room.

Cleaners needed:

  • A mixture of water and some detergent
  • Some table salt (sea salt, kosher salt — it’s all fine!)
  • Some baking soda

Tools needed:

  • A stiff-bristled scrubbing brush (the largest you have — rubber works best) and a spray bottle.
  • A few old rags or terry cloth towels. (Using an old shirt you’ve been meaning to get rid of also works.)

Here’s how to deep clean carpet by hand:

  1. Start by mixing up a tiny bit of soap (1/8 teaspoon, though you can just eyeball a small amount) with the water in the spray bottle. Don’t shake it excessively, but let it mix.
  2. Sprinkle the baking soda and table salt over the area you want to deep clean; you don’t need to cover it completely.
  3. Spray the mixture of soapy water lightly over the same area. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Brush the carpet in one direction with your brush. This will accumulate hair and debris for you to pick up easily.
  5. If there’s still hair/dirt, move 90 degrees from the original direction and start again.
  6. Press the towels into the carpet, letting them saturate with water.
  7. After the area is mostly dry, empty the soapy mix from your spray bottle, fill it with regular tap water, and lightly spray the carpet once more.
  8. Again, press the cloth towels into the carpet. Fields says if she’s cleaning a small area, she’ll put a few heavy items on top of the cloths and let them sit for a while.

Fields says this method is completely safe to use with children and pets. Plus, instead of smelling like heavy detergents and must (as would happen when you use a carpet cleaner), the carpets will smell like nothing at all!

coffee spill on rug
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The Best Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution

The chemicals and cleaning products used to deep clean a carpet can sometimes be too strong for people who have sensitivities to certain ingredients. So you might be wondering what is the best natural carpet cleaner? The ones above can work, but Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid, says if you want to avoid harsh chemicals, these are the best ways to deep clean carpet naturally:

  • Vinegar, dish soap, and water. Stir one tablespoon of dish soap into one quart of warm water, then add 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar. This is a good overall cleaner. Be sure to test the solution on a small, inconspicuous spot on your carpet before applying it to the stain.
  • Club soda. Club soda works as a cleanser when it is spritzed on carpet. It’s great for removing blood and wine stains. Apply a small amount of soda on the stain, then using a dry cloth or a paper towel, blot the surface until the stain is lifted. Rub rather than scrub the carpet fibers.

The Best Natural Carpet Cleaner

Often, the dirt or debris is not deep enough to warrant a heavy-duty cleaning. In these cases, Dean Davies, a professional carpet- and rug-cleaning technician at Fantastic Services, offers this answer to how to deep your carpet naturally.

You can wash the carpet using a mixture of warm water and a few drops of liquid soap, such as Castile soap. This soap is suitable because it is nontoxic, yet it is powerful enough to remove dirt and other debris,” he says. Using a clean cloth, scrub the carpet with the solution, and blot the surface using a dry towel to soak up as much water as possible.

snow on doormat
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How to Clean a Thick Area Rug With Snow

Yes, cleaning with snow is an option during the winter months. As it turns out, the icy white precipitation that is the bane of our existence come February is actually one of nature’s best cleansers.

This cleaning hack works best on smaller rugs that are handmade or antique wool, but you can also clean larger, heavier rugs if you have a few helping hands. Use dry, powdery snow for the best results.

Here’s how to deep clean carpet with snow in five easy steps:

  1. Take your rug outside and shake it to release as much dirt as possible. Let it sit for about 30 minutes so it acclimates to a lower temperature.
  2. Pile three to five inches of snow on top of the rug, using a broom to evenly distribute to snow.
  3. Beat the snowy rug using the flat side of the broom. Ammonia in the snow will react with the cold air causing the dirt hidden deep in the rug to solidify.
  4. Let the snow rest on the rug for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, flip it over and repeat steps 1 through 3 with the other side. 
  5. Remove as much excess snow as you can before hanging the rug up for 20 to 30 minutes. The snow will eventually evaporate without leaving the carpet wet. 

Looking to tackle more cleaning tasks? Check out this article on how to clean cast iron (even when it gets rusty) and how to clean white shoes so that they sparkle again.

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