Best DIY Carpet Cleaners for All Types of Stains (2023)

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Before calling a cleaning service, DIY it with these homemade carpet cleaners to help wipe out tough carpet stains, from red wine to pet urine.

If you’re wondering how to clean carpet stains (or how to clean carpet in general), you’re not alone. No one is perfect. Whether it’s a red wine stain, dirt tracked in from the backyard, or a coffee stain, everyone’s carpet takes a beating once in a while. Here’s how to remove stains of all types.

How to clean carpet stains

This question can be a difficult one. The trick is to know exactly what type of stain you’re dealing with. Cleaning up coffee and cleaning up ink stains are two completely different stories. The good news? Everything you might need to tackle any carpet mess is probably already in your cupboards. In fact, you can clean carpet stains even if you don’t have a carpet cleaner using ordinary products you already have in your cupboard. Read on to learn how to use ordinary products like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and more, as DIY carpet cleaners. Here’s what you need to know.

Before you get started, here are a few quick tips:

  • Act fast. The longer you wait, the harder the stain will be to remove.
  • Blot, don’t rub. Rubbing will spread the particles and embed them deeper into your carpet’s fiber.
  • Perform a spot test. Before you use any stain remover on your carpet, DIY or otherwise, it’s always wise to do a spot test first to make sure no discoloration occurs. The backs of closets or leftover carpet scraps are perfect for this.
  • Less is more. If you saturate your carpet with too much stain remover, it will be difficult to remove. The excess cleaner will attract dirt and eventually result in a dark spot. To prevent this, apply your stain remover to your sponge or cloth, not to the carpet itself. This will allow you to control the amount of cleaner you apply to the stain.
  • Consult the manufacture’s guidelines. Always check the manufacture’s guidelines for your carpet before selecting a stain remover. According to Rochelle Wilkinson, owner of Dirt Detectives Cleaning in Phoenix, Maryland, carpets made of materials like silk or wool are usually not meant to get wet, so liquid stain removers like vinegar might not be an option.

If you don’t want to go the DIY, homemade carpet cleaner route, we can help with that, too. These are the best carpet stain removers, according to professional house cleaners.

Best DIY carpet cleaning solutions

Vinegar carpet cleaner

White vinegar is the superhero of stain removal and it’s one of the best natural carpet cleaners around. Try these different formulas for homemade carpet stain remover to remove a variety of common stains:

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  • Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum.
  • For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture and follow the same instructions as above.
  • For tough, ground-in dirt and other stains, make a paste of 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and rub it into the stain using a dry cloth. Let it set for two days, then vacuum.
  • For paint stains, use a solution of 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons laundry detergent, and two cups water; sponge away the paint before it sets in and rinse with cold water.
  • For fruit and fruit juice stains, mix 1 tablespoon laundry detergent with 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar and combine with two cups of water. Work the solution into the stain and blot.
  • For tea and coffee stains on your carpet, combine equal parts of white vinegar and water and blot the stain.

Ammonia carpet cleaner

Ammonia is a powerful stain remover, but it also gives off an extremely strong odor. If you’re using ammonia to get out carpet stains, be sure to open some windows to make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated. Also, ammonia is a cleaning product you should never mix together with bleach because the fumes are potentially deadly. Ammonia is particularly useful when it comes to neutralizing carpet odors, but you should exercise caution if you own a cat. Cat urine contains ammonia also, and if they smell it on your carpet, they may confuse it with a new litterbox and assume it’s OK to do their business there.

Here’s how to use a homemade ammonia carpet cleaner:

  • Mix together a solution of 1 cup clear ammonia in 1/2 gallon warm water.
  • Apply the solution to the carpet. let it sit for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Take a light-colored cloth or sponge and gently blot the area until the stain is gone.
  • Repeat if needed.

Baking soda carpet cleaner

Out of all homemade carpet cleaners, baking soda is your best choice to quickly clean wet stains like vomit or urine stains from your carpet because it will soak up the fluids and deodorize your carpet at the same time. Also, if you need to get out blood stains, here’s how to remove blood stains from carpet.

  • Blot the area first with a light cloth to soak up the excess moisture.
  • Pour baking soda over the affected area and pat gently with a paper towel.
  • Let the baking soda sit on top of the stain so it can absorb the mixture.
  • After an hour, vacuum up the baking soda
  • If the stain is still there, follow up with a store-bought carpet cleaner one of the other DIY carpet cleaning solutions listed here.

DIY dish detergent carpet cleaner

Dishwashing liquid works wonders in a variety of cleaning situations, including removing carpet stains. It’s hands down one of the best carpet spot cleaners around. Dishwashing liquid can help you remove chocolate stains from carpet, grease and oil stains, turmeric stains, and more.

  • Mix one tablespoon of a liquid dishwashing soap (experts recommend Dawn) with two cups of cold water.
  • Dip a white cloth into the mixture.
  • Gently blot the stain till it is gone.
  • Afterward, blot with cold water to soak up any remaining dishwashing liquid.

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Homemade carpet shampoo

Sometimes, you have to bring in some extra muscle power to remove tough stains from your carpet. This is especially true with smelly pet stains, and old stains that have allowed to set into your carpet. If you have access to a carpet machine-like BISSELL ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Full Size Upright Carpet Cleaner and want to make a homemade carpet shampoo, you can do it with a little help from your laundry room. Simply mix half a cup of liquid laundry detergent like Tide Hygenic Clean, half a cup of a liquid fabric softener like Downy, 3/4 a cup of ammonia, and a gallon of water. It’s safe to use in your carpet cleaning machine as usual.

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Hydrogen peroxide carpet cleaner

Hydrogen peroxide is actually a mild bleach which means it does wonders when it comes to removing stains. Although it’s usually safe to use on carpet, be sure to perform a spot test first, especially with specialty carpets made of natural fibers like silk. Hydrogen peroxide is one of your best options for old, ground-in stains of nearly every variety, and luckily, it’s easy to use. Mix a teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a little cream of tartar or a dab of non-gel toothpaste. blot the paste on the stain with a soft cloth until the stain is gone. Follow up with a damp cloth to make sure any residue from the mixture is gone.

Homemade carpet deodorizer

Now that you know all about home remedy carpet cleaners, you may be wondering what to do if you’re carpet is smelly, but not stained. Your best bet here is baking soda. If you keep a box in your refrigerator to eliminate odors, you probably know how good it is at absorbing foul smells. It will work that same magic on your carpet. Simply sprinkle it on top of the stain and let it sit there as long as possible, even overnight is OK. Afterward, vacuum up the excess baking soda. Repeat if necessary.

P.S.—If you have wax on your carpet, don’t worry! Here’s how to remove candle wax from just about anything, including your carpet.

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What is the best carpet stain remover homemade? ›

For those times when you need a little more stain fighting power, add baking soda to dish washing liquid, white vinegar, and warm water. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and you're ready to go. Or, try this combination of white vinegar, salt, and lavender scented essential oil to clean stains and deodorize.

What type of stains Cannot be removed from carpet? ›

These are 8 of the hardest carpet stains to remove from your carpet.
  • Red Wine. Red wine is a classic stain that many fear, as it's a dark liquid that is notoriously difficult to remove from carpet. ...
  • Pet Urine. ...
  • Vomit. ...
  • Blood. ...
  • Other Coloured Drinks. ...
  • Coffee. ...
  • Ink. ...
  • Cooking Oil.
Mar 18, 2020

What is the best homemade carpet cleaning solution for machines? ›

~DIY carpet cleaner for machines~ I just made a gallon of this carpet cleaner. Add 1/4 cup vinegar, 4 tbsp dish soap, 4 tbsp softener and 1/4 cup peroxide in a measuring cup. Stir it. Then add it to an almost full gallon of warm water.

What is a powerful homemade stain remover? ›

White vinegar is a magical stain remover to have on hand in your laundry room. You can leave your clothes soft and fresh with just three minutes of simple soaking time in distilled white vinegar before adding them to your washing machine. It's safe on fabrics--no artificial chemicals or fabric softeners needed!

What does hydrogen peroxide do to carpet stains? ›

Hydrogen peroxide has many uses, but it is most commonly known as a disinfectant or bleaching agent. When used on carpets and rugs, it can help to remove stains and dirt. Its chemical formula is H₂O₂.

Are there stains that are impossible to remove? ›

The short answer is unfortunately no, not all stains can be removed, and here are three reasons why. The longer a stain is left untreated, the less likely it is to be removed.

How do you remove set in stains? ›

  1. Apply white vinegar to the area, let it soak in for a couple minutes.
  2. Pour salt onto the stained area, then work it in with your fingers.
  3. Put the garment in the sun and let it air dry.
  4. Wash as usual.
  5. Check to see if the stain's gone, repeat the steps if not.
Dec 1, 2019

How do you get old stains out? ›

Douse the stain with white vinegar, then apply a paste made of equal parts baking soda and vinegar. If this doesn't work, immerse the item overnight in a bucket of water containing a few tablespoons of detergent and vinegar. Rinse and wash the following morning.

Does vinegar and dawn clean carpet? ›

Use 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 tbsp. of Dawn dish soap, and fill with water. Spray area liberally and let soak for 5-10 minutes and then proceed with blotting with a clean, dry towel until stain is removed. Some carpet stain removal products can be of great benefit for combating many types of carpet stains.

What is the number one rule of stain removal? ›

1. Act quickly – scrape off solids with a blunt knife and blot liquid with absorbent paper. Never spot-clean any stain with hot or warm water as it can set the stain.

Does peroxide and Dawn remove stains? ›

Hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing liquid is one of the best stain removers around. Nurses have long known that this is the magic solution to getting rid of blood stains, and you can also use it on stains like mustard, ketchup, and even red wine. Scrub until the stain is gone, then launder as usual.

How do you remove unknown set in stains? ›

Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent with enzymes with 1 cup of water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar and stir. Use a Dobie All Purpose Cleaning Pad to apply the detergent-vinegar mixture to your unidentified stain. Blot with the pad until the stain is gone.

How do you remove old carpet stains naturally? ›

Make a paste using equal parts vinegar and baking soda, and then mix the paste with warm water to create a paint-like consistency. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the paste onto the stain. Then, use warm water to clean the area with a cloth or sponge.

Which chemical is used to remove tough stains? ›

10 Powerful Stain Removal Products You Should Always Have On Hand
  • Chlorine Bleach and Color-Safe Bleach. ...
  • Color Remover. ...
  • Dry-Cleaning Fluid or Petroleum-Base Pretreatment Solvent. ...
  • Mild Dishwashing Detergent. ...
  • Nonsudsing Household Ammonia. ...
  • Paint Remover. ...
  • Petroleum Jelly. ...
  • Prewash Spot Removers.
Jun 17, 2022

How can I make my own carpet cleaning solution? ›

For synthetic carpets: Mix ¼ teaspoon of a translucent liquid dishwashing detergent, such as Dawn or Joy, into one cup of lukewarm water. For natural fiber carpets: Mix one teaspoon of translucent liquid dishwashing detergent, such as Dawn or Joy, into 1 cup of lukewarm water.

What are the five types of stain removal? ›

Learn the stain removal techniques for presoaking, scraping, freezing, sponging, and tamping.
  • Presoaking. Presoaking is a useful and effective treatment for washable articles that are grayed, yellowed, or heavily stained. ...
  • Scraping. ...
  • Freezing. ...
  • Sponging. ...
  • Tamping.

What stains are permanent? ›

Below are common stains that can highly cause “permanent” stain and suggestions how to remove / lighten the mark.
  • Watermark. Watermarks are often seen on soft furnishings like carpet, sofa and mattress after flooding or caused by leaking air conditioner. ...
  • Red Wine Stain. ...
  • Curry Stain.

What are the 4 chemicals that you use in removing stains? ›

Some of the most common active ingredients in stain removers include ammonia, bleach, enzymes and d-limonene.

Will Dawn remove set in stains? ›

Turns out the solution to these stubborn stains has been right in front of my face this entire time: It's Dawn Dish Soap.

Will vinegar and baking soda ruin carpet? ›

Baking soda will help freshen up both appearance and smell, and it doesn't contain any harmful chemicals – so you can feel good about your own well-being, your carpets, and the environment. And, if combined with another natural cleaning agent, vinegar, it can take care of even the toughest stains out there.

What does vinegar and baking soda do to carpet? ›

Pour a small amount of vinegar on the stain, followed by a sprinkle of baking soda. The vinegar works to saturate and soften up the offending mark while the baking soda does the lifting and deodorizing. Together, they bubble a little and work as a team to lift the stain to the surface.

Will white vinegar and baking soda stain carpet? ›

We are often asked if baking soda will stain carpet. We have never found that bicarb or baking soda (the same thing) to ever stain carpet. Some are also concerned that the vinegar will bleach carpet. There is little risk of this happening, even with woollen carpets.

How do I make my carpet look new? ›

Baking soda is the go-to solution for bringing your carpet back to life. Not only does it clean, it also kills bacteria, refreshes the pile and removes odours. Apply plenty of baking soda to completely cover your carpet then use a stiff brush to work it in, rubbing it in different directions.

What chemicals do professionals use to clean carpets? ›

Chemicals Used In Carpet Cleaning
  • Citafresh: Citafresh is a very popular cleaning agent for heavily soiled, greasy carpets that have accumulated a great deal of dirt over a period of time. ...
  • OdoBan: ...
  • Sensation Carpet Spotter: ...
  • Grease Release Spotter:
Feb 20, 2016

Can professional carpet cleaners remove old stains? ›

Professional carpet cleaners, on the other hand, have the equipment, specialty products and know-how that will allow them to get deep under the carpet's surface. This will allow them to provide a deep clean that will remove or reduce most stains, regardless of how long they've been in your carpet.

Do it yourself carpet cleaning vs professional? ›

It is in the best of your interest to hire a professional carpet cleaning service merely because of their experience. This helps them to do a much better job than you can do it yourself. Further, their equipment has more extraction power than anything available to you.

How do you deep clean carpet without a machine? ›

In a bowl or small bucket, mix one part white vinegar with three parts water. Dip the bristles of the scrub brush into the solution and rub them into the carpet. Massage them into the fibers well (without fully saturating the carpet) and follow up with a cloth to help blot excess moisture.

Does vinegar and baking soda remove old stains from carpet? ›

One of the most effective methods you can use to remove old stains from carpet is a combination of baking soda and vinegar. Old stains can ruin the appearance and inherent value of your carpet like no other.

Can you put vinegar and Dawn in carpet cleaner? ›

It's a simple ratio of about one part dish soap and one part hydrogen peroxide (say, a tablespoon or so of each) to four parts vinegar. She pours all three into the carpet shampooer, filling it the rest of the way with warm water, then uses the machine as she normally would.

Does white vinegar and baking soda remove stains from carpet? ›

Method 1: Using white vinegar and baking soda. A combination of white vinegar and baking soda is an excellent cleaning agent for various stubborn old stains such as wine spills, blood stains, coffee stains, and fat stains.

How long can vinegar and baking soda sit on carpet? ›

This can move along a lot quicker if you use vinegar and baking soda together, but baking soda on the stain by itself on the stain can be effective. Allow the baking soda to neutralise a stain overnight. 8 hours is beneficial but 12 hours is ideal.

Can I mix vinegar baking soda and Dawn? ›

Mix 1 to 2/3 cups baking soda, ½ cup castile soap or other quality liquid dish detergent, ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Stir till dissolved. Spray on scum and mildew; scrub with scrubby sponge.

What is the best homemade cleaning solution? ›

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner With Essential Oils
  • 3/4 cup water.
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol.
  • 5 to 10 drops peppermint, lemon, or orange essential oil.
  • 1 squirt natural dish soap.
  • 16-ounce spray bottle.
Aug 31, 2022

Can white vinegar ruin carpet? ›

Carpets made of wool, silk and other natural fibers can be rather delicate, and don't take too well to excessive exposure to very acidic products. Using vinegar on these types of carpet can permanently damage the fibers and ruin your carpet.

Does baking soda remove old stains from carpet? ›

TLDR: Baking soda can be used to clean carpet because it is a powerful alkaline solution that when combined with acid produces dioxide gases. These oxidized gases are highly effective at removing stains from carpet and other materials with ease.


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