DIY Cleaning, Maintenance

The Best DIY Carpet Cleaning Solutions


I cleaned my own carpets last week and my dear husband is ever so grateful I’m done. I felt like a 5th grade science experiment with 5’x5′ patches of wet carpet around the TV room figuring out which one worked the best. Between the “Are you done yet? It’s loud” and the “Don’t step there, it’s wet! Use the path!” I have come to a few definitive conclusions. First, carpet cleaning is much easier if you’re home alone, second, cleaning your carpets at the same time you’re having your kitchen sprayed for pests probably isn’t the best idea and third, most of the carpet cleaning solutions worked well.

I tested out three different homemade carpet cleaning solutions and was quite please with two of them. With boiling water, I tested oxi clean, my homemade laundry detergent and a water/vinegar mixture. The tank on the carpet cleaning machine I used was about a half gallon and I had to add the soap directly into the tank.

First up is the oxi clean and I’ll let you see for yourself how much dirt it picked up.

Oxi Clean Carpet Cleaning Solution
You can see there is a little bit in the cup and I used about that much.


For my carpets, this is pretty good since I vacuum 1-2 times a week and this room has low foot traffic. We also take our shoes off, which helps to keep the dirt out. The water started of as a watered down milky color from the oxi clean. I used about a teaspoon of oxi clean and could almost immediately tell that it made a difference in my carpets. As you can see in the pictures, my carpets are a light speckled beige color and I felt like they were a bit dingy. But after the oxi clean, they looked brighter and cleaner. I did follow the application of oxi clean with a water/vinegar rinse to make sure I completely removed any residue.

Next vinegar.

Sorry, no picture of the vinegar, I forgot.

Poor vinegar, this is the only time it has really let me down. I was completely rooting for vinegar to do well but this one fell short of picking up as much dirt as the other solutions. While vinegar is good at cutting through grease and soap scum, it is not very good at removing dirt from a furry situation. I used about 1/4 cup of vinegar in the half gallon tank. Sadly, I do not recommend using just vinegar to clean your carpets, only as a rinsing solution.

Lastly, laundry detergent.

Laundry Detergent Carpet Cleaning Solution
The pre-tablet form. 🙂


This solution started out almost the same milky color as the oxi clean. I was quite please with this solution and saw immediate results. The laundry detergent has three ingredients, Fels Naptha bar, washing soda and borax and I used less than 1/2 a teaspoon since I use a full tablespoon for laundry. The soap in the detergent did a wonderful job pulling the dirt out and the borax helped to really brighten the carpet. The washing soda essentially makes the water wetter enabling the other two ingredients to work better. I also followed with a vinegar rinse to remove any leftover laundry detergent.

Side note: I know that some of you do not like borax as it is potentially toxic, but it is only toxic in large quantities, which I did not use and I rinsed as well as I could. If you are worried about leftover borax, there might be half a spec which won’t kill you, but it’s up to you.

Side note #2: I am sure that you could also get great results from a commercial laundry detergent but I would advise to only use a drop or two since it is designed for 10+ gallons of water not one or half a gallon.

I really loved the oxi clean and the laundry detergent to clean my carpets but out of the two I would reach for the oxi clean first. Oxi clean should be safe on any color carpet, but if you’re worried, test it in an inconspicuous spot first. I know that commercial carpet cleaning solutions work well because they are specifically “designed” for carpet but using a homemade solutions saves you money from not having to buy another cleaning solution.

Happy Cleaning!

Have you made your own carpet cleaner before?