Laundry Detergent as Carpet Cleaner

I am cleaning my carpets today, I ran out of store bought carpet cleaner, and I wanted get done. I knew if I left home to get more cleaner, I wouldn't want to go back to cleaning the carpet, so, I started looking around the house to see what I could use. I decided on my brand of laundry soap, Arm and Hammer with stain fighter, the scent was Clean Meadow.


I filled an empty one gallon milk jug 3/4 full with hot tap water, put one cap full of the laundry soap in it, and slowly finished filling the jug. I put the mixture in the fill tank of my carpet cleaner and tried it out.

It worked great, just as good as the store bought cleaner and made the carpet smell like a spring meadow. I won't be spending money on anymore pricey carpet cleaner, I will use my laundry soap, works just as good and it doesn't sud up anymore than what I was using.

By Jennifer from Peru, IN

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June 10, 20132 found this helpful
Top Comment

I use the clear Arm and Hammer HE kind in my carpet cleaner! It's awesome and I have white carpet, so I don't get the whole residue thing, if that was the case wouldn't my clothes be filled with residue?

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April 9, 20170 found this helpful

Do you rinse the carpet?

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December 9, 20172 found this helpful

I'm with you on the Arm and Hammer HE -- using the carpet cleaning pro's technique of spraying it on then using the water & vinegar rinse. (He recommends Tide, but I have found Arm & Hammer powder, which has enzymes (NOT in the liquid), to be more effective than Tide.


Arm & Hammer is making some great products, these days.)

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December 11, 20171 found this helpful

I previously commented about using Arm & Hammer detergent. I should have noted that the one I use is NOT the one with Oxi... additive. Check the contents and look for enzymes. I think that's what makes the difference in our laundry.

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November 9, 20190 found this helpful

No. Fresh water is used in the rinse cycle of your washing machine to wash away any remaining soap, thereby preventing residue buildup. You can do the same with carpets, by making a second pass over them with only water.

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May 3, 20116 found this helpful

Oh please do not ever use laundry detergent on your carpet! These kinds of products cause extreme residue buildup on your carpet and it will attract dirt twice as fast! Carpet cleaning solutions have chemicals in them to prevent buildup. Also, never use those carpet deodorizer powders.


The powder settles into the backing of the carpet and makes the fibers go flat, just like if you didn't wash your hair. I love being thrifty, but carpet is a big investment and should be cared for properly. 18 years experience in the floor covering industry!

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March 30, 201621 found this helpful
Top Comment

I've been cleaning carpets professionally and have been certified with several organizations, for 30 years. And I can tell you unequivocally that utilizing powdered Tide laundry detergent, as a pre spray for carpet cleaning, is excellent, and more cost-efficient then professional powdered pre-spray detergent.

The key with carpet cleaning is to pre spray the areas and utilize no detergent at all within your machine. Go to Lowe's or Home Depot and get yourself a 2-gallon garden sprayer - mix 4 ounces of Tide laundry detergent with two gallons of hot water in the sprayer and prespray all of your carpet and traffic Lanes.


Follow that with steam extraction using only hot water and an eighth cup of white vinegar per 2 gal of hot water. This acidic solution will completely rinse out the tide prespray leaving no residue.

I can also tell you with much experience that most professional cleaners will load your carpet with detergent. They add these detergents to their steam extraction solution, then don't rinse them thoroughly with a clear water or acidic rinse. And just like home carpet cleaning machine manufacturers, professional carpet cleaners rely on that build up and quick soiling so you call them or buy products more often. Use my method and your carpets will stay cleaner five times longer

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December 26, 20163 found this helpful
Top Comment

If you use an acid rinse laundry detergent is a safe and effective carpet cleaner on all carpet.

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April 2, 20170 found this helpful

BS! My clothes are clean with no residue!

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April 8, 20171 found this helpful

You are correct... but the key to clothes with no build-up is that your washing machine goes through a rinse. So, while it is ok to use this.. do what the other poster stated and do a vinegar rinse after shampooing.


Yes, you will have the vinegar smell for a short bit, but it fades and you are left with a very clean, deodorized and carpet with a lot less build-up that if not done.

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December 11, 20173 found this helpful

THANK YOU for the tip! We have not shampooed our carpets for about 15 - 20 years. (I know, I know... won't happen again.) I followed your instructions, with the exception that I used Arm & Hammer "Powerfully Clean Naturally Fresh / Alpine Clean" powder. (Not the "Oxi" version. The one I used has enzymes.) I have had better results with A&H than with Tide in our laundry, so I figured I'd at least give it a try on the carpet. (Might be a well-water thing.)


There is one section of our living room carpet that is high traffic AND was our Lab's favorite sleeping spot for over 15 years. A few other cleaning attempts (followed by countless rinses) had little effect on the brown spot on our light grayish blue carpet. I hit the spot with the laundry detergent solution (about 50% stronger than your suggestion) and let it stand for about an hour. After extracting it and about five or six more rinses, the spot is almost gone!

One little tip for anyone else thinking of trying this (and everyone should!): make sure you have a sprayer capable of putting down a heavy spray. My pathetic sprayer barely manages more than a mist. I'll be making a trip to Lowes to get a sprayer with a heavy fan-spray nozzle. I can hardly wait to see what other carpets I can restore with your method! (Crazy, eh?) Thanks, again!

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April 17, 20180 found this helpful

Please correct me if I am wrong... I have 3 small house dogs. I have heard that things like ammonia and vinegar will attract dogs to urinate in the area that those smells are coming from. Is there any truth to this?

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May 1, 20180 found this helpful

Thanks for your post I am going to start using Shaklee cleaning products for cleaning carpets, they are safe and biodegradable and out clean the chemical cleaners they are made from food and have the same things that the chemical companies like enzymes surfacants and oxygen.

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June 7, 20180 found this helpful

This worked great! Thank you!

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July 28, 20180 found this helpful

It is fine to use laundry soap. I have for years and it's way better cleaning then any carpet cleaner product

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October 4, 20180 found this helpful

So whats the problem with vinegar then? I have a carpet that was pretty ruined by the previous tenants dog. I placed a medium to heavy spray of vinegar thoughtout the condo and cleaned it up with a bit of detergent and hot water and came back beautiful and no more kennel smell in the condo now. Also, saved me $2,000 it would have cost me to replace the carpet in the place.

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March 25, 20190 found this helpful

Hey there- can i ask you a question?

Im a little newer in this carpet cleaning thing
I have a hot water (mytee heater) estraction system- (naamco 400psi dual motor) with 50 hoses.

I prespray my soap solution using the machines pump and an in-line sprayer...

Id like to switch to laundry detergent-

do you have any advice for me?

My machine REALLY doesnt like dealing with foam in the recovery tank- it just defaults to sucking the overflow protection float up over and over-
Of course- no mainstream cleaning supply co. Is giving ke any positive feedback- not when they can sell me a 30-40 dollar bottle of something in their shelf....

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July 13, 20190 found this helpful

Actually white vinegar removes smells, I used to sprinkle it on my rugs where the dogs tend to sleep, they dont like the smell and its harmless to them. I have used this for over 40 years to deter pups from returning to certain areas.

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October 17, 20190 found this helpful

What about using comet instead of tide powder.?

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August 2, 20200 found this helpful

100% accurate! I am also formally trained with professionally experience. It is all about oils and PH. Generally alkaline to clean (cut oil) and acidic to rinse (to remove "soap" residue). However there are exceptions where neutral PH or slightly acidic is necessary because of material or more effective what is being removed. For the most part plain old dirt gets "stuck" on carpet because of oil, body oil, cooking oil, oil from soles of shoes etc. The alkaline detergent breaks the bond to the carpet fibre and suspends the dirt in solution. The fresh or slightly acidic rinse flushes it away (extraction). Stains are a different matter as they involve natural or synthetic dyes that can be reduced in colour using different techniques, hydrogen peroxide is our best friend on this one but must be used carefully. Stain removal is another topic all together.

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May 3, 20111 found this helpful

I think it's all soap of one kind or another.
Whatever works...

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June 3, 20160 found this helpful

I've done it before . Was thinking about doing it again. It's always better if you shampoo your rug...
Then go over it with a clear water rinse . I've even added a small amount of downy in the rinse water . Made the carpet softer, more anti static and it smelled good. Does it build up. Have no clue. Gets cleaned twice a year.

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December 11, 20172 found this helpful

Yes, it will build up. I do the laundry in our house and I've overdone it with fabric softener in the washing machine (I wanted REALLY soft bath towels) and could actually feel an almost waxy film. My wife insists that I not use softeners on her cleaning rags because the softener leaves visible (on shiny surfaces) residue when they have been rinsed with softener. I'm sure it sticks to carpeting, too.

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July 27, 20181 found this helpful

It will look good initially but the residue may cause rapid recoiling

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June 19, 20190 found this helpful

You have no idea how much your post helped me today. I ran out of the carpet shampoo in the middle of the cleaning. I was too tired to change and take my car out if garage to Canadian tire. However, I decided to walk to the ocean and dollar store near to my house. None of them carry the carpet shampoo cleaner. I was so frustrated. I was standing in the ocean and thinking about what to do. Suddenly it triggered me to check on google of laundry detergent can be used. BINGO. I came across this thread and tips. I am so excited. I am going to finish the pending cleaning. I will try to leave feedback.
Thank you again for the tips and for making my day.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 267 Posts
June 20, 20190 found this helpful

I hope it works well for you. :)

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July 8, 20200 found this helpful

Very good advice and definitely a dollar saver. I modified it a bit as I was worried that the mix would be too strong. I went with 1 capful (about a cup) in 2 gallons of hot water, mixing exactly as you sugested (2/3 of the water, add liquid laundry detergent, add remaining 1/3 water). Very low suds and worked wonderfully. Thank you!

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July 10, 20210 found this helpful

I used Ecos free and clear laundry detergent in my shampooer with really hot tap water. Works very well. I have kind of thick shaggy carpet that gets a bit musty from humidity in the New England summers. Today was low humidity day and carpet is dry and smell free now.

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December 23, 20210 found this helpful

A capful from the milk jug cap right?

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