17 Jan How to clean carpet
If you don’t have a carpet cleaner and you want to know how to clean carpet without one then there are several different options to consider such as baking soda that doesn’t involve spending a packet.
Some alternative methods for cleaning carpet are worth a go and some such as mopping your carpet should be avoided.
If your carpet has seen better days and it needs a refresh there are a number of different ways you can tackle the problem.
Anything from getting down on your hands and knees and giving it a good scrub to biting the bullet and splashing out on a carpet cleaner can make a difference.
It just depends on how much effort you want to put in and whether you want your carpet to come up like new after you have finished the job or if you are happy with a bit of a refresh instead.
Let’s dig into the pros and cons of the various methods.
How to clean a carpet on your hands and knees
Carpet is made of woven fibre and whether it is natural or synthetic you need to find a way to lift the dirt out of the carpet.
The most difficult part about getting your carpet clean if you choose to give it a scrub yourself is absorbing all the dirt.
You can certainly partially replicate a carpet cleaner that you plug into the wall by adding some carpet cleaning solution to a bucket and dipping in a hard-bristled brush.
The first stage is to agitate all of the fibres on the carpet and let the cleaning solution penetrate each fibre so that the ingrained dirt becomes loosened.
The carpet needs to be wet but not soaking wet. A bit more than damp but not squidgy to the touch.
It’s very important to soak up all the dirt as you go and that is the challenging part if you choose to hand-clean your carpet.
Don’t make the mistake of cleaning the whole carpet in one go with the brush and cleaning solution and then trying to soak up the dirt.
If you do that then the dirt will have a chance to settle back into the fibres of the carpet and may not come out.
Spilt the carpet up into sections in your mind (say 3 or 4 sections depending on how big it is)
Once you have scrubbed section one go onto section two and then once you have finished section two go back to section one and soak up all the dirt before it has a chance to dry or settle back in.
The hard part is finding something absorbent enough to soak in the dirt from the carpet.
Old bath towels or kitchen tea towels are two things you will have readily available around the house.
Sit them on top the section of the wet carpet that has already been scrubbed and push down whilst giving it another gentle scrub.
That way you will get the wet dirt soaked up into the towel and make sure you end up with a clean carpet instead of just spreading the dirt around.
Cleaning your carpet yourself with a brush, water and cleaning solution will make a difference and your carpet will look better than it did before you started, but you won’t be able to get all of the dirt out.
Whatever method you choose to soak up the dirt, you will leave some dirt behind.
And depending on your situation that may work just fine. Perhaps you are renting somewhere and you just want to make the carpet look good for the period of your tenancy or you may be thinking about replacing the carpets in 6-12 months and you want to bring them back to life until then.
It will work but it’s not great but it will save you money over buying a carpet cleaner.
Using a carpet cleaner to clean your carpets
By far the best way to clean your carpet is with a carpet cleaner that has been made specifically for the job.
The hard part is finding one that represents good value for money because it’s easy to buy one that cost hundreds of pounds more than a different one and you get the same results from both.
Carpet cleaners used to cost a fortune but now you can get your hands on one for the price of a half-decent vacuum cleaner or you can rent one if it’s just a one-off job.
If you go down the road of buying one then its probably going to last you at least 5-10 years because it’s not something you get out every week or every month.
Unlike all the other methods, the great thing about carpet cleaners is that they will clean your carpet and suck up all the dirt all at the same time.
A hard bristled brush will rotate quickly while the water and cleaning solution is pumped into the carpet.
At the same time, the dirty water will be sucked up and goes into a separate tank ready for you to throw down the sink.
If you are not up for the hard labour of getting down on your hands and knees then a carpet cleaner may be cheaper than you thought.
Here are the best ones we could find:
Can you mop carpet?
Some websites suggest that you can clean your carpet with a mop. We can confirm that’s definitely a bad idea.
Mops are specifically made for cleaning hard floors, not carpet and have either a sponge type head or the traditional ones have fibre that absorbs the dirt.
If you take a mop to your carpet then all that will happen is that you will make it wet and push the dirt around the carpet without actually cleaning anything.
You will probably make it worse because you may loosen the dirt from some of the fibres but you won’t be able to suck any of it up and therefore you’ll probably spread the dirt to other parts of the carpet.
What about a steam mop? Perhaps your home has a combination of hard flooring and carpets and you already have a steam mop and wonder whether you can steam clean your carpets.
Some steam mops come with a plastic covering to go over the head of the mop and it is suggested that you can then run it over your carpet to give them a clean.
We have tried a few of those and while it’s nowhere near as bad as trying to mop your carpet with a manual mop it doesn’t really work either.
The best you are going to get is a bit of a refresh if you steam your carpet with a steam mop or steam cleaner.
It may work as a bit of a deodoriser and get rid of some unwanted smells but it’s not going to clean.
Never try and clean your carpet with a mop whether it is a traditional manual mop and bucket or it’s a steam mop.
Here are some steam mops to consider (but not for cleaning carpet):
Can you use baking soda to clean carpet?
There is often confusion when it comes to cleaning carpet with baking soda.
Baking soda is well known as a cleaner but more specifically works best on hard items such as sinks, counters, ovens, fridges, tiles, microwaves, stainless steel and more.
Baking soda is not the best idea to actually clean your carpet but it will work well if you want to remove the unwanted smell from the carpet.
Baking soda is a natural deodoriser so if you are looking for a quick or temporary solution for the carpet then this is the way to go.
You can get rid of things like smoke or the scent of dogs or cats that have been walking and lying on the carpet for years since the last clean was done (if ever).
There are several reasons to give baking soda a go first.
It’s cheap. if you haven’t already got some in your cupboard then you can buy a packet from the supermarket for about £2.
You don’t have to get the carpet wet. All the other methods for carpet cleaning involve wet cleaning and that takes a lot of time and effort.
It’s quick. The preparation time is about 10 minutes. Here’s what you need to do.
The biggest mistake is to just sprinkle the baking soda straight from the packet because it won’t be fine enough and you won’t get total coverage of the carpet.
Get a sieve and fill it with baking soda from the packet and then sprinkle it onto the carpet about 30 cm from the surface.
Tap the sieve in the same way as if you were covering a cake with icing sugar to get it as fine as possible.
Do this just before you go to bed because you want to leave it overnight to give it a good chance to absorb all the nasty smells and you don’t want people walking all over it.
In the morning give it a really good hoover with your vacuum cleaner and you will be amazed at the difference it makes.
It’s not going to smell of a fresh summer day but it will smell of nothing which is going to be a lot better than the musty, nasty scent that was coming from it before you gave it the baking soda treatment.