Can I Clean Carpet with Laundry Detergent

Can I Clean Carpet with Laundry Detergent

Just the other day, I was cleaning my carpets at home and when I was halfway done, I ran out of the store-bought carpet cleaner. I knew if I had to make a trip to the store to buy more cleaner, I definitely couldn’t finish cleaning the carpet. You all know how easy it is to lose motivation when you are interrupted in the middle of doing something. So, I decided to look around the house to see if I could find anything to use instead. In the end, I settled for the laundry detergent.

There are times when professional carpet cleaning products are too expensive or you just cannot access them when you need them, like in my case above. What do you do? Can you use laundry detergent to clean your carpet? And can you make your own cleaning solution at home? 

In short, yes, you can use laundry detergent to clean your carpets. It would work just as well as the store-bought cleaner. What’s more, it will leave your carpet smelling just as clean. You can also make your own carpet cleaning solutions. Read on for more insight into this.

How Do You Use Laundry Detergent in a Steam Cleaner?

Steam cleaners like this are powerful cleaning tools. They work similarly to a vacuum cleaner but with steam and added cleaning solution, they can remove stains and the kind of dirt that a vacuum cleaner alone cannot. Therefore, if you need to clean your carpets and don’t have any store-bought solution to hand, you can simply substitute it with laundry detergent.

This is how to use laundry detergent on your steam cleaner:

Step 1

Pour water into the steam cleaner up to the fill line. You can use a quart jar, a gallon jar or a container that will help you keep track of how much water you have put in the unit.

Step 2

For every quart of water put in the steam cleaner, add one tablespoon of laundry detergent.

Step 3

Turn on the steam cleaner and let it heat for some minutes. You can then clean the carpet as you usually do. As you clean, check the water reservoir and keep refilling with laundry detergent and clean water as needed.

However, you have to be very cautious when using laundry detergents on your carpets. Laundry detergent is meant to be rinsed thoroughly while immersed in water. This may not be possible when cleaning carpets, and it can lead to mold buildup. So, you have to be careful with your proportions when measuring the detergent you use to avoid creating too much foam on your carpet.

Can You Make Your Own Carpet Cleaning Solution?

As already mentioned, sometimes professional carpet cleaning products can be a bit expensive. You can make your own cleaners to use with your steam cleaner or whatever cleaning tool that you have to hand.

There are two big benefits to making your own cleaning solution. First, you will save money because the ingredients needed are less costly when compared to commercial cleaners. Second, you will maintain a healthy home by using natural ingredients as opposed to chemical-based ingredients.

Homemade carpet cleaners do a great job of stain removal and treating high-traffic areas. You can use a number of recipes; if one doesn’t do the trick, you can just move on to the next. Here are some home recipes to try for a carpet cleaning solution:

Carpet cleaner and conditioner – Combining a carpet cleaner with conditioner is almost similar to using a commercial cleaner. It will leave the carpet smelling fresh, clean, and soft. To make this solution, you simply mix laundry liquid, an all-purpose liquid cleaner, Oxiclean, fabric softener, and hot water together in a bucket.

Aromatic non-toxic cleaner – If you have kids or pets, it may be ideal to come up with non-toxic cleaners. To make one, simply mix white vinegar, water, salt, and some essential oils such as pine, lemon, or lavender.

Window cleaner – Window cleaners are no longer just useful for windows; you can also make a carpet cleaner with them! Simply take a window cleaner of your choice and mix it with an equal proportion of water.

Ammonia-based cleaners – Ammonia cleaners are more effective than typical cleaners. However, you have to be careful when handling them because they are corrosive and can cause damage to the eyes, skin, lungs, and even certain materials. To make some, you will need to mix some liquid dish detergent, ammonia, vinegar, and water together in a bucket.

Lemon and peroxide cleaner – Hydrogen peroxide makes for a powerful cleaner while lemon creates a unique and pleasant smell. A combination of the two can make one of the best homemade carpet cleaners. To make this, mix hydrogen peroxide, water, and lemon essential oil together in a bucket.

Basic powder cleaner– Powder carpet cleaners are mostly used for greasy stains and spills. You can make one at home using some baking powder, cornstarch, crushed bay leaves, and crushed dried potpourri.

Borax and baking soda– A mixture of borax powder and baking soda makes for a powerful and effect cleaner and deodorizer. You simply need to mix some baking soda, borax, dried herbs or flowers, and essential oil together in a bowl.

How Do You Clean the Carpet?

Now that you have your homemade carpet cleaner or laundry solution, how do you go about cleaning your carpet? You can either clean the carpet by hand using a shampooer.

Cleaning the carpet by hand

Step 1

Once your solution is ready, transfer it into a spray bottle or shaker, which you will use to apply a thin and even layer of your cleaner to the carpet. Shake the bottle well just to be sure the ingredients mix properly.

Step 2

You need to do a spot test of your cleaner before applying it widely on the carpet to be sure that it will not damage your carpet. Pick an inconspicuous part of the carpet such as those areas hidden beneath furniture. Sprinkle some cleaner on a small section of it and give it at least 24 hours. You can then check if there is any discoloration, fading, or any other damage. Proceed to use your cleaner if there is no damage whatsoever on the test spot.

Step 3

If there are marks or spots on the carpet, sprinkle the cleaner on them. If you are cleaning the entire carpet, divide it into three to four sections and do one at a time to ensure the entire carpet is covered. Start with the farthest end as you proceed towards the door to avoid being trapped.

Step 4

Allow the cleaner to soak in for about 10 minutes. This is to allow the liquid laundry detergents to soak in and the powder cleaners to absorb stains and odors.

Step 5

You can now use a carpet brush to scrub the spots with the cleaner or the entire carpet if you are cleaning the whole carpet. Scrubbing will help push the detergent or cleaner deeper into the carpet and loosen the debris and dirt that is lodged in the carpet fibers.

After thoroughly scrubbing the carpet, give it at least 30 minutes to let the liquid cleaners dry. Vacuum the carpet thoroughly once the liquid has dried up and the stains and smells have been absorbed.

Cleaning the carpet using a shampooer

Just like in the method above, you should do a spot test first to ensure that your cleaner that will not damage your carpet.

Fill your shampooer’s reservoir with your laundry detergent, homemade solution, or whatever cleaner you are using. If your shampooer has separate holders for clean water and the cleaning solution, be sure to fill both accordingly.

Turn on the shampooer and start cleaning the carpet from the farthest end.

Let the carpet rest for at least 24 hours to give it sufficient time to soak in and dry.

Once the carpet is fully dry, you can go ahead and vacuum it.

What Items Should You Never Use For Cleaning Your Carpets

Your carpet is an expensive investment. As such, you’ll want to take proper care of it to ensure it doesn’t get damaged. Above, we have discussed the different alternatives to consider when you cannot access or afford store-bought carpet cleaners. While you may have several options, there are certain things you should avoid, as they will damage your carpet. 

These include:


Bleach is a good whitener for things such as dirty socks. However, it should never be used on carpets. While it is a great stain remover, bleach actually strips the color from fabric. Avoid tackling carpet stains using bleach unless you no longer care about your carpet.

White Wine

White wine can be used to remove red wine stains. However, it is not a good option for carpet stains. Avoid it and instead use the other stain removal methods explored above, which will be more effective.

Abrasive Cleansers

Most people assume that it is fine to scrub thoroughly to make things even cleaner. Unfortunately for carpets, using rigorous methods such as abrasive cleansers will only cause the carpet to fray and tear.

Related questions

What are some different carpet-cleaning techniques?

You can clean your carpet using various techniques such as shampooing, dry cleaning, foam cleaning, bonnet cleaning, and hot water extraction.

Can you deep clean a carpet?

You can deep clean a carpet and save yourself the hassle of renting carpet cleaning equipment. However, you have to take precautions to ensure the carpet dries fully to avoid mold buildup.