How to clean carpets with or without a carpet cleaner

A cylinder carpet cleaner being used to clean the carpet
A cylinder carpet cleaner being used to clean the carpet (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Be it red wine spills, dirty shoes or food stains, you’ll need to know how to clean carpets with or without a carpet cleaner. Over time, our carpets are subject to all sorts of dirt, dust, and trapping allergens. This is especially the case if you have young children or pets running around the home. Alongside using one of the best vacuum cleaners or the best robot vacuums, it’s also important to know how to clean carpets to remove stains, and make it look brand new again. 

Luckily, you don’t need to hire a professional or rent or buy a carpet cleaner. All it takes are a few household products, and a little time and patience to tackle your carpets. So if your high or low-piled floors look worse for wear, here’s how to clean carpets in just three easy ways.

How to clean carpets without a carpet cleaner

Before you start cleaning your carpets, always test on a small section first. It’s advisable to wait for a few hours to make sure there’s no reaction to the fibers or any discoloration. You don’t want to cause damage to your entire carpets. Also, open your windows or doors to improve ventilation, and allow the carpets to dry quickly.  

1. Prep your carpets

Spot treating carpet

Spot treating carpet (Image credit: Shutterstock)

First, vacuum the carpet to remove any loose dirt or debris on the surface. If you have obvious marks, spot treat the strain with a 50/50 solution of  washing up liquid and white vinegar. Put into a clean spray bottle and spray onto the area, leaving to soak in for five minutes. Then gently blot the stain out with a microfiber cloth until it’s removed. Leave to dry. 

If you’re dealing with red wine stains, check out how to remove red wine stains from carpet without ruining it.  

2. Sprinkle baking soda onto carpet

baking soda in a spoon

baking soda in a spoon (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Once the area is dry from stain treatments, sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda over the carpet. Leave the soda on for about 30 minutes, or if you want a more effective clean, you can leave on overnight. Baking soda is a great natural ingredient that cleans and deodorizes at the same time. But if you don’t have any at hand, you can use powdered carpet cleaner like this Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Formula Dry Carpet Cleaner ($18 (opens in new tab), Amazon (opens in new tab)) instead.

If you want to know about the powers of baking soda, check out these 10 things you didn’t know you could clean with baking soda.  

3. Vacuum up the baking soda 

Vacuuming carpet

Vacuuming carpet (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Then, simply vacuum up the baking soda or powder until there are no traces left on the carpet. This will leave your carpets deep cleaned and refreshed. What's more there will be no unpleasant odors, which is handy if you have pets in the home.     

How to clean carpets with a carpet cleaner

Before you begin using your carpet cleaner, always follow the instructions on the manual. This will tell you the right type of detergent, amount to use and whether you should use warm or cold water. All models vary so be sure to check. 

1.  Fill cleaner with water and detergent 

BISSELL TurboClean DualPro Pet Carpet Cleaner

BISSELL TurboClean DualPro Pet Carpet Cleaner (Image credit: Bissell)

First, vacuum the carpets thoroughly to remove any loose dirt or debris. Next, fill the clean water tank with warm water and a cleaning solution. Most carpet cleaners come with their recommended solution. Never use dish soap, as this will become too soapy, and may damage your cleaner.

In addition, if you have wool carpets, choose a WoolSafe cleaning solution that is more gentle for the fabric.

2. Run the cleaner over your carpets 

A cylinder carpet cleaner being used to clean the carpet

A cylinder carpet cleaner being used to clean the carpet (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Turn on your carpet cleaner and slowly move the brush forward onto the carpet,while holding down the trigger. Then release the trigger and pull the cleaner backwards over the spot you’ve cleaned. As you pull backwards on your carpet cleaner, it will suck all the grime into the dirty water tank, keeping it separate from the clean water. Try not to soak the carpet when cleaning, and never go over the same area twice.  

3. Leave carpet to completely dry 

Dark grey rug in living room

Dark grey rug in living room (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Finally, leave your carpets to fully dry. Bear in mind, this process will take much longer to dry than the baking soda method, but leave your windows open to help the process. After you’ve cleaned your carpets, empty out the water tanks in your carpet cleaner and store for the next time.  

How often should you clean your carpet? 

Experts recommend deep cleaning your carpets and rugs at least twice a year. Although if you have young children or pets, cleaning every quarter would be beneficial. Of course, you’ll still need to regularly vacuum when cleaning every room in your home to reduce daily dust and grime.  


Got more than just wine stains to remove? Well, here's how to remove oil stains from clothes without ruining them. And learn how to clean a leather couch to remove everyday stains. Also take a look at the 11 things you didn't know you could clean with toothpaste. And if you're looking to upgrade your vacuum cleaner, these are 5 things to look out for before buying a Dyson vacuum cleaner. You can also read about how to clean a stainless steel pan and make it gleam.

Cynthia Lawrence
Homes Writer

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 


Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.


With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!