15 tips to clean a dirty carpet without damaging it

Real dust nests (and dust mites!), carpets require regular maintenance to stay like new… or almost. If for you, carpet maintenance is more of a chore than anything else, come and discover the grandma’s tips we’ve unearthed to clean your carpets thoroughly, easily and efficiently with everyday products. Here are 15 tips to clean a dirty carpet without damaging it in order to keep it longer.

Make a mixture of dishwashing liquid and white vinegar to stain a carpet

The followers of the ecological and economic cleaning know it well: the white vinegar is the miracle remedy of the house, and its uses are multiple to cleanse, deodorize or still detach! That’s why if your favorite rug is dirty or stained with grease, don’t panic, and take out your bottle of white vinegar from your kitchen cupboards:

  • Start by pouring white vinegar on a clean cloth and rubbing the stain;
  • Leave for 15 minutes;
  • Next, use a mixture of water and dishwashing liquid that you have previously whipped into a foam with an electric mixer or whisk. Rub this mixture on the carpet with a brush, then rinse with clean water;
  • Wipe the carpet with a clean cloth and let dry before admiring the result!
dishwashing liquid and white vinegar to stain a carpet

Vacuum regularly to clean a rug

So you don’t have to go through major carpet cleanings every six months, know that carpet care is an everyday affair!  Especially if you have pets or family members who are allergic to dust and dust mites… Remember, the more regularly you maintain your carpets, the less difficulty you will have in catching stains and removing embedded dust. We show you how to remove pet hair from your carpets and clothes.

To do this, nothing very complicated: vacuum your carpet twice a week in “brushing” mode, this will do the job. Be careful though: if your carpet is old and/or very fragile, avoid the brush mode to avoid damaging it; vacuum gently instead.

Good to know: there is an ideal motion to vacuum your rug effectively! Vacuum from your feet to the edge of the carpet.

vacuum regularly to clean a carpet

Infusion of potato peels to renovate your carpet

Good news: if you can’t afford to hire a professional to renovate your carpet and make it look like new, you can do it yourself with an effective and 100% natural grandma’s trick that doesn’t require any chemicals! Indeed, you probably already have in your kitchen an ingredient that can help you clean a rug and make it look great again, since it is… the potato.

To renovate an old carpet or clean a very dirty one with one of the world’s favorite vegetables, start by concocting a concentrated infusion of potato peels, then rub your carpet with a sponge soaked in your preparation. Leave for a few hours, then rinse with clear water and a sponge. Finally, let your rug dry, avoiding traffic.


A mixture of soda water and baking soda to revive the colors of a rug

With time and clumsiness, your carpet has lost its beautiful original color and a few stains have crept in here and there? To recover it, there’s no need to go to the supermarket and buy expensive products and miracle stain removers: once again, you probably have everything you need in your kitchen! That’s right: you can use everyday products like soda water and baking soda to stain and brighten up your carpet. Here’s how to clean a carpet without washing it:

  • Soak your carpet in soda water with a sponge, then scrub it gently with a brush;
  • Let it dry for at least 30 minutes, then sprinkle baking soda all over your carpet;
  • Once the baking soda is dry, vacuum it up and enjoy the result: your rug will be as good as new!
baking soda

Shaving foam to clean a stained carpet

As surprising as it may seem, shaving foam is a great ally for stain removal. Indeed, shaving foam has absorbent capacities: it is therefore possible to use it as a stain removal foam by applying it in a thick layer on the carpet surface, at the level of the stains. To do this:

  • Apply the shaving foam to the damaged areas of the rug;
  • Leave the foam on for at least an hour (overnight if the stain is deep-rooted);
  • Rub vigorously with a sponge;
  • Rinse with clean water.

To stain a carpet with shaving foam, you can also leave the foam on overnight and then vacuum the next morning.

Tip: before testing shaving cream as a stain remover, always test the product on a corner of your carpet to make sure it won’t get damaged!

shaving foam to clean a stained carpet

Cleaning a carpet with soapy water

Soapy water is a good way to clean a not too dirty carpet. Rub a small amount of soap on a sponge moistened with warm water, lather up and gently rub the dirty area of the rug. Then rinse with clean water while rubbing with a damp cloth. Let dry. Your carpet will be restored to its original color and cleanliness. If you don’t have soap, you can use dishwashing liquid, which also works.

cleaning a carpet with soapy water

Remove stains with black soap

Just like white vinegar and baking soda, black soap is one of those ecological and economical household products that we should all have in our kitchen cupboards, because it can be very useful for cleaning and maintaining your home. Nothing better than black soap to clean your carpet thoroughly.

For example, if your carpet is stained and you don’t know how to remove it, you can dilute one tablespoon of black soap in 2 liters of warm water. Apply the mixture to the stained areas of the carpet with a sponge, and use a stiff brush to remove the stains.

Let it dry and vacuum to remove dust, chunks and other residues created by the stain remover. Look at the result: your carpet stains are a distant memory!


Cleaning a carpet with a steam cleaner

It’s true that we don’t think about it right away, but the steam cleaner is an effective tool that can clean your carpet without using detergent. Moreover, it will be useful to clean many other different surfaces. To clean a carpet with a steam cleaner, you just have to:

  • Fill the tank with clean water and wait for the machine to raise the water temperature to 120°C. Steam is a formidable enemy of stains because the fine hot particles will penetrate deep into the carpet fibers and loosen the residues stuck to the pile;
  • With the brush tip of the steam cleaner, you can loosen the dirt and clean the carpet thoroughly;
  • Make a few passes over the entire surface of the carpet, avoiding walking on it to avoid adding dust;
  • Rinse with clear water and a damp cloth;
  • Let dry and then vacuum your rug one last time to remove dry residue and dust clinging to the water.

And there you have it, your carpet is beautiful again!

Cleaning a carpet with a steam cleaner

Cleaning a carpet with an iron

It’s an unusual method, but it works for tough stains. With your iron, a clear cloth and white vinegar (again), you will be armed to remove any type of stain.

To do this:

  • Set your steam iron on the highest setting and let it heat up thoroughly for several minutes if necessary. The goal will be to sear the rug (like a good meat);
  • Meanwhile, in a small container, prepare a mixture of 1 part white household vinegar and 2 parts water;
  • Spray this mixture on the stain, starting with the edges to prevent it from spreading on contact with the liquid;
  • Cover the entire area with a damp cloth, preferably light colored. This will allow you to see if the stain is transferring well to your cloth;
  • Go over the cloth with your iron using back and forth motions for about 10 seconds, no more. This would not burn your beautiful carpet that you are trying to recover!
  • The stain should transfer to the fabric, you will see it because the light-colored linen will take on the stain’s color. If this is not enough, repeat this action by applying another part of the cloth or your towel.
  • However, be careful with the composition of your rug. Some materials cannot withstand high temperatures and may be damaged. This is particularly true of cotton or polyester.
Cleaning a carpet with an iron

Cleaning a carpet with mineral spirits

For dark and black carpets, mineral spirits are a good solution for cleaning and staining your favorite rug.

Simply scrub the stained area with a brush soaked in mineral spirits and let the product dry. Then simply vacuum the area. The stain will have turned to dust and will magically disappear.

Cleaning a carpet with mineral spirits

Clean your carpet at the dry cleaner

If it is really dirty or if you are afraid of damaging your beautiful rug with these grandmotherly tricks, you always have the option of having your carpet professionally cleaned. This will be more expensive but it has the advantage of transferring the responsibility to the store you entrusted your carpet to.

The dry cleaner will either apply detergents or one of those old-fashioned tricks to wash your carpet. It will be returned to you packed and clean. And all you have to do is make sure you don’t get any new stains. For that, grandma’s tip is to cover it with a transparent plastic that matches the sofa.

Cleaning a carpet : how to proceed ?

For small recent stains, clean your rug with a sponge soaked in dishwashing liquid. Don’t hesitate to vacuum regularly (every 2-3 days) to maintain it properly, especially if you have pets. This regular maintenance of your carpet will prevent further damage when it becomes stained.

Some special care to be respected

  • To clean a shaggy, long-fibered or shaggy carpet, avoid strong brushing that will tend to damage the pile or detach it from the rug. Also avoid heavy water and steam cleaning, which can over-wet the pile and make it difficult to dry and lose its softness. Opt for dry cleaning instead.
  • Some carpet cleaners are not suitable for wool carpets. Before using them, consult the product packaging and read all the manufacturer’s recommendations. Wool carpets can be cleaned by rubbing with a cloth soaked in soapy water and vinegar or ammonia, but test on a hidden area before applying it all over.
  • To clean a silk carpet, simply use soapy water. But if the carpet has a very high sentimental value or if you have doubts, contact a professional anyway. It would be a shame to take any chances.

Which products to use ?

The household products you should always have on hand to clean a rug properly are: baking soda, soda water, black soap and dishwashing liquid. These products are gentle enough not to damage your carpet during cleaning. The warm water will act as a catalyst to improve the cleaning process and make it faster most of the time. The key is to use these products sparingly, as carpets are delicate objects. Also, avoid rubbing too hard to avoid damaging the rug fibers.

The secret to not having to clean a carpet: regular maintenance

It is important to maintain your rug regularly to avoid future disasters. Vacuum your carpet every day or two to remove dust and small crumbs, especially if the carpet is located under the dining room or living room table. Before cleaning, you can vacuum the carpet for maximum efficiency (the products will wash the fibers and not the crumbs on top).

In the end, don’t hesitate to take your rug to the dry cleaners or to a professional cleaner to make it look like new, especially if it is valuable to you! The pros have increased cleaning capabilities with dedicated machines (like dry cleaning) that will take care of your carpet.