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?


12 Responses to The Best DIY Carpet Cleaning Solutions

  1. Zelda Behr says:

    Great to know i don’t need to buy an expensive carpet cleaner!

  2. Emily says:

    Really good to know! My husband cleans the carpets 2x a year for me. My shag carpet is the hardest to get clean though.

    • I’m so glad you liked it. After you husband cleans your carpet, you ought to consider putting carpet protector on it to help keep it cleaner for longer; you can buy some at Home Depot.

  3. Petunia Evans says:

    I have three younger kids and so our carpets have a hard time staying clean. I had no idea that I could use oxi clean on my carpets. I’ll definitely be sure to try that out in my home this week. I’m also surprised to hear how much laundry detergent helped with your carpet cleaning. I really appreciate these tips, thank you!

  4. Sally says:

    Great info.The vinegar result is interesting – I thought it would have done a better result!

  5. South Florida Girl says:

    Oxiclean has always been a miracle worker! I know some affordable companies that clean carpets, so when I have a large area to clean or a bad stain, I usually turn to them. That’s just when I don’t have the time or energy to do it myself but honestly these are some really great tips that can save money down the line, so I am glad I came across this article! Especially when we are talking about spot cleaning. I have kids too so nothing is safe in my house!! I am sure other moms know exactly what I am talking about. This is why we can’t have anything nice! Hah! Hoping to take some of your DIY carpet cleaning tips and test them out next time! Do you know of any good eco-friendly or green cleaning solutions? I always prefer to use brands that are environmentally safe vs. the harsh chemicals. Sometimes this isn’t possible though because the results just aren’t as effective. Enjoyed the read!

  6. Carole says:

    When you rinse your carpet with vinegar and water, what ratio do you use?

  7. jackie says:

    I used 1 – 3 ratio vinegar to water to clean old nasty smell out of carpet – berber. Now it smells like vinegar. How do I get that new smell out? It’s been days now, I thought it would dissipate on its own, but here we are. It’s still quite strong. Also, I am ready to ditch the old professional carpet cleaning solution – any recommendations on how to use it up? Hate to throw it out if there is a good use for it!
    Thanks for your site and help!

  8. Mike says:

    Awesome carpet Cleaning guide. I’m falling in love with your blog. 🙂

  9. Catherine says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us, it really helped me a lot. I would recommend your site to everyone I know and I am hoping that you would also do the same to our site. Thank you and more power.

  10. Linda says:

    What kind of machine are you using to clean your carpets with? My LR carpet is bad. Shedding haired dog, dirty paws. Spots all over carpet from accidents, where I have cleaned. This is driving me nuts. Can’t afford to replace with hardwoods just yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.