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Homemade Carpet Shampoo

What is the best homemade carpet cleaner to use to clean dirt and pet urine on the carpets?

Terri from Ponder, TX


Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I used Era laundry detergent. It works great. (04/11/2008)

By cece

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

Thanks Cece. I found out that what you can actually do is fill up the container with hot water and add 2 tsps of vinegar and 1 tbsp of laundry detergent. I used my laundry detergent that was XTRA with softness of Escape that has Lavender and Sweet Vanilla in it. I got the best clean carpet. It smells good, as well. My dog didn't like, it so now she doesn't go on my carpet any more due to the smell of vinegar. Thanks to all for the great help. Terri



By Terri

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

Clean out tank with hot water after using vinegar. I just bought my second steam cleaner. My last carpet cleaner developed horrible drips that could not be fixed / replaced. I've been using vinegar and hot water for years, but didn't think about the damage the vinegar would do when leaving a bit of it left over in the "soap" tank. (with 3 kids I pull out my carpet cleaner A LOT - and usually left whatever was leftover in the "soap" tank - ready to use with the next stain) Now I wash out all three tanks with hot tap water very well, so as to not let it eat away at the rubber bearings.

Does it work? Vinegar and Hot water: Better than any thing I have tried in 16 years. (04/13/2008)

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I have used scrubbing bubbles bathroom cleaner on fresh (still wet) Kool Aid stains. The foam brings it up nicely and you can kinda scrape it off and repeat until no more comes up; or if you get most of it the first time, blotting with a terry cloth towel or paper towel works, too. This is also great for Kool Aid and sometimes tea rings on laminated surfaces.


Also, on pet stains, if it's fresh enough, spraying the spot with plain water and blotting until nearly dry and then caking baking soda on it works great. Just vacuum the baking soda up when it's dry. I wouldn't recommend this with anything but a bagger vacuum or a Dyson because baking soda gets into the filters in a regular bagless and as it breaks down releases the odor every time you vacuum.

So, if you notice a stale, musky odor whenever you run your bagless, you may need to change the filter. Also, you can take a slightly dampened (vinegar works) toothbrush or rag (well wrung out) and scrub the suction path. Rinse the hose and dirt catcher in mild soap and water (I use baby shampoo) and then vinegar and water-to get rid of the soap residue, it will more effectively deodorize your bagless. (04/14/2008)


By DianaL00

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I have a Bissell Quicksteamer that quit dispensing the cleaning fluid after using water and vinegar in it for a couple of months. The repair man told me that vinegar actually gums things up in the carpet machines. So, at least with the Quicksteamer, vinegar and water alone are not a good idea. I am going to try Simple green. (05/21/2008)

By Heather F

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

OK, so I have a mechanic husband, a 2 and a 5 year old, and a beagle. I have tried every carpet cleaner on the planet. The one thing that always does an amazing job is called Purple Power, it's 5 dollars for about 1/2 gallon at the Walmart.

I rent a Rug Doctor and use the Purple Power and it is like night and day, the water comes out black! The reason this works so well is that Purple Power is an engine degreaser! I know that sounds bad, but I have a beige carpet and I have been using this stuff for 7 years and have never had any negative reactions to my carpet. It works well and leaves no stain, because of the color it is amazing!


Remember if it will strip the grease off an old engine it will clean anything! I can't describe it it is just awesome! I use about 1 cup on really heavily soiled spots, and high traffic areas, I mix the 1 cup in with the water, about 1-2 gallons. And I have never had any problems with the carpet machine and there are no bubbles. I tried the vinegar thing, but again my husband is a mechanic. This stuff is amazing! Just give it a try and you will see! Promise. (06/14/2008)

By Ray

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I actually just found this site trying to find something to clean my carpet with. I Just finished scrubbing it on my hands and knees with a scrub bush and a bucket of water and Purex laundry detergent, and it came out just like new. The carpet is a light beige and it looked so dirty and now it looks almost like I just laid it down brand new. (08/10/2008)


By Kristen

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I live in a Senior apartment building and have been cleaning the carpets about 3 years now with rented machines. I was buying the Rug Doctor Cleaning solutions which were about $20.00 a gallon. I went to 99 cent store and bought Awesome Brand Oxygen Powder. Mixed 2 scoops with each tank and the carpets come out beautiful. For spot treatment I dissolved 3 scoops Oxy Clean with 1 quart very hot water, let cool and poured it into a 1 quart sprayer, such as an old Windex bottle. Before I steamed cleaned the carpets, I just pre treated each spot with a few squirts then did the whole carpet with the Rug Doctor. Carpets are like brand new. (09/08/2008)

By Jerry

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I have been using steam cleaning (hot water extraction) machines for over 30 years on various carpets and tried numerous commercial carpet shampoos, but I now have my own formula that works better than anything I have tried, and it's cheap. Firstly, this method IS NOT suitable for woolen carpets, they will shrink. I have also hired professionals - steam cleaners and dry-cleaners and still my method brings up the carpet the best.


I have three dogs, three cats and three kids (and their mates) that wander in and out all day, so my carpet needs regular care as I like it to look good and smell good. In fact, my carpet has outlasted my neighbors' carpets whose homes were built at the same time, and they don't even have animals inside! My carpet is 15 years old and still looks great.

There are five phases to getting your carpet really clean and keeping it looking like new.

  1. A thorough vacuum, preferably with a vacuum that has a beater bar to remove as much dirt, dander, and dust as possible
  2. Lightly pre-spray the carpet with my home-made prepared solution then wait 30 minutes
  3. Shampoo the carpet with my carpet shampoo in the machine
  4. Rinse the carpet with my rinse formula
  5. Make sure you have good ventilation to dry your carpet - open all windows and doors to get good air flow. If you carpet takes too long to dry you can end up with mildew and brown stains, so if it's cold turn on the heater.

Recipe for pre-spray: use an enzyme laundry powder and mix to the ratio as for clothes in cold water. This breaks down grease, dirt and dander.

Recipe for carpet shampoo: Palmolive Green dishwashing liquid (or Cussons or similar - but Palmolive is best) and washing soda (aka Lectic Soda; soda ash; sodium carbonate). The mix is 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid and 1/4 cup soda to 3 gallons (about 11 liters) water. This is where the action is and wow can't you see it in the throw out water.

Recipe for rinse: mix 1/4 cup "white" vinegar per gallon of water (3.7 liters). Cheap white vinegar is perfect. This step is very important as it removes any residue and prevents the brown staining that can occur. The browning happens because the carpet has been over wetted and dissolved dirt in the fibers is drawn to the surface again. The vinegar mix is slightly acidic and prevents this from occurring. It also deodorizes the carpet. Worried about the smell? Don't be, it goes as soon as the carpet is dry.

Because I have so much traffic, muddy paws, dogs lying about on the floor, etc. I do my carpets between 2 to 3 times a year. In between I regularly vacuum (twice a week) and to keep the carpets fresh, monthly I give a generous sprinkle of bicarb soda (aka sodium bicarbonate, baking soda) work into the pile with the beater bar (vacuum turned to nozzle) wait 30 minutes then vacuum. Buy generic home brand - it's the same as the more expensive brands. For a nice smell add 20 - 30 drops of you favorite essential oil and work into 500g before sprinkling.

TIP: place cardboard coasters under any wooden legs of table etc., otherwise the wood will almost irreparably stain your carpet.

Oh, by the way, this mix can be used on upholstery too! But as always check in an
inconspicuous area first.

Happy Carpet Cleaning! (10/20/2008)

By Sally

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I've read with interest all the posts about homemade carpet cleaning solutions, but none have had alcohol in them like mine. I got this recipe from a friend, have used the solution for 15 years, and would not even try another it works so well. I clean my carpet only when needed and I have always had beige berber carpet. If you are concerned about the alcohol, you can test for color-fastness based on your carpet color. As always, be mindful if your carpets are natural or synthetic material to avoid shrinkage.

Always use good air circulation when cleaning your carpets, this is not only safer for humans and pets, but helps to dry the carpet faster. The alcohol helps to rapidly evaporate the moisture remaining in the carpet. The small amount of dish detergent acts as a surfactant to make the water, vinegar, and ammonia solution "wetter" which helps the amazing cleaning results.

I have used this solution in a spray bottle for spotting, my Hoover Carpet Cleaner, and even rented a professional system for heavier jobs. All methods have worked so much better than the professional company I made the mistake of hiring once in a pinch. It took me two cleanings with my recipe to get their sticky solution out of my carpets.


  • 1 pint rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tablespoon ammonia
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent

Add enough water to make 1 gallon of solution.

For pre-spotting, put in spray bottle and apply 30 minutes before using other machine equipment. (11/01/2008)

By Denise

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

Homemade cleaners are a great idea to save money but remember that this is science. In the recipes that have both ammonia and white vinegar you aren't accomplishing much cleaning, because ammonia is an alkaline and vinegar is an acid so they cancel each other out. You can use baking soda (a mild alkaline) with vinegar as a mild drain cleaner because of the fizzing action it produces. And alcohol (which is a polar molecule) can be used with a tiny bit of ammonia and water (45%, 10%, 45%) to make a great window cleaner.

A good book to refer to "Home Comforts" by Cheryl Mendelson which includes lots of science about cleaning. Just be careful what you mix together. (11/13/2008)

By theblackhen

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

I just used some Mr. Clean with Febreeze. I put 1/4 cup in my shampooer (Bissell) with 1/2 cup water and it worked great and smells great! I just dispensed it with the hot water and the shampooer did the rest. No soapy residue.


By pets mom

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

For spot cleaning I use orange hand cleaner as it is a grease remover. The stuff is amazing. Someone else on here mentioned they use Purple Power, which is the same idea (grease remover). Anyhow, the vinegar and water works great as an all over treatment. (12/14/2008)

By Cindyjo

Homemade Carpet Shampoo

Wow, has the old standby really been forgotten? The item used for decades to get wine stains out of clothing and carpets has been club soda people! Pour it on, let it fizz it up, dab and repeat. That's what grandmother used NOT vinegar. Yes, vinegar is a great rinse but how do you use it if it ruins the carpet cleaners? (01/24/2009)

By Leila

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