10 Cheap, Easy Carpet Cleaning Solutions

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Father playing with his child
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

If you have an active household, the celebrations, the pitter-patter of little feet and an animal or two can really take a toll on your clean carpets. Different types of cleaning solutions are needed to tackle different kinds of stains, from spilled wine and food to muddy shoes and dirty paws.

But keeping a cupboard full of store-bought carpet cleaners and stain removers can quickly take a big bite out of your budget.

Fear not. If you want to clean carpets cheaply, you can do so with simple carpet cleaning solutions you can make at home. You very likely have products already on hand that can tackle most common types of stains from greasy chicken and chocolate to those darling dirty feet.

Homemade cleaners

Senior mean doing housework and cleaning kitchen
Lucigerma / Shutterstock.com

The following homemade cleaners effectively remove carpet stains or pre-treat traffic areas before cleaning carpets.

Using these simple solutions sometimes requires a little more time and patience to completely remove a stain. They may not work as fast as some store-bought products, but they do work and can save you tons of money, while keeping your carpets showroom new.

The next time you are faced with a stain, first determine whether your carpet is synthetic (nylon, acrylic or polyester) or a natural fiber (wool, cotton). Some cleaning solutions are better suited to specific types of stains on certain types of fiber content in the carpet.

Second, determine what type of stain you have, such as oily or greasy food, pet urine, ink or just plain dirt. Read through these homemade cleaning products and determine which one is right for the job. Using the wrong product on the wrong stain or fiber can set the stain and make it more difficult to remove.

If you are unsure what you are treating, start with the first (and cheapest) vinegar spray solution and move down the list in order.

1. Vinegar spray

White vinegar and cleaning brush and sponge
Pat_Hastings / Shutterstock.com

Mix 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar with 1/4 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray or dab the stain using a clean cloth. Wait five to 15 minutes and then press (don’t rub) with a clean cloth to remove the stain. Repeat as needed.

Works on any type of carpet fiber and any kind of stain, including organic, food and pet stains as well as grease, dyes and hard-to-remove stains (such as ketchup, mustard and wine).

2. Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar
focal point / Shutterstock.com

Sprinkle stain with baking soda. Pour a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and warm water onto the stain. Wait five to 15 minutes and then press with a clean cloth to remove the stain. Repeat as needed.

Works on synthetic fibers (nylon, acrylic, polyester) and organic, food and pet stains.

3. Vinegar and steam

Carpet stain
New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Try the other vinegar solutions first, since heat can set a stain. Put a solution of one part white distilled vinegar and two parts water onto the stain. Wait five to 15 minutes.

Place a clean cloth over the stain and then hold an iron on steam setting over the cloth. Steam several minutes. Repeat with a clean cloth until carpet is dry. Repeat entire process as needed until stain is gone.

Works on synthetic fibers and hard-to-remove stains from grease or dyes and other tough stains including blood, ketchup, mustard and wine.

4. Detergent spray

Dish soap
William Hager / Shutterstock.com

Mix 1 teaspoon of translucent liquid dishwashing detergent, such as Dawn or Joy, into 1 cup of lukewarm water.

Works on natural (wool, cotton) carpet fibers and some organic, food and pet stains.

5. Baking soda, vinegar and soap

Spot cleaning carpet
Dragon Images / Shutterstock.com

Sprinkle stain with baking soda, and wait 10 minutes. Vacuum. Mix 1 tablespoon dish soap, 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar and 2 cups warm water. Pour mixture on stain and blot until the stain disappears.

Works on natural carpet fibers and some organic, food and pet stains.

6. Ammonia spray

A hand with cleaning gloves squeezing a spray bottle
Sergio Rojo / Shutterstock.com

Mix 1 tablespoon of clear household ammonia with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.

Works on natural carpet fibers and hard-to-remove stains.

7. Ammonia and steam

A clothes iron gives off steam
Himchenko.E / Shutterstock.com

Soak the stain with one part ammonia, one part HOT water. Cover with a rag. Iron on steam setting. Repeat as needed.

Works on synthetic fibers and hard-to-remove stains.

8. Baking soda and peroxide

Baking soda
Geo-grafika / Shutterstock.com

Hydrogen peroxide can bleach some fibers, so test on a small, inconspicuous area before using.

Sprinkle stain with baking soda. Pour solution of 1/2 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 teaspoon eco-friendly dish liquid. Work into stain. Try to avoid scrubbing, as this can damage the fibers in carpet. Let stand 15 minutes. Vacuum.

Works on any type of carpet fiber and some common stains, including organic, food and pet stains.

9. Isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol being used as a disinfectant
MBLifestyle / Shutterstock.com

This is the best remover for ink stains, but try the vinegar spray first. If that doesn’t work, use isopropyl alcohol (70%-90%, the higher the percentage, the faster it will work). Dab alcohol on the ink stain using a clean cloth.

Important: Do not rub or scrub or the spot may spread; just dab (press and lift). Let the solution stand for a few minutes and then blot with a clean rag. Repeat as needed. When the stain is gone, dab with clean water and blot dry.

Works on any type of carpet fiber or hard-to-remove stain, especially ink.

10. All-purpose carpet cleaning solution

Carpet cleaner
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Use the following solution in the tank of a carpet cleaning machine to clean and refresh any type of carpet. Rent a carpet cleaner at retailers such as hardware stores, pet stores, grocery stores and drug stores.

For a 1-gallon tank: Put 1 tablespoon baking soda in the container followed by 1/3 cup white distilled vinegar, HOT water to the fill line, and 1 tablespoon laundry detergent or Borax.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.