How to Clean a Carpet Without a Carpet Cleaner

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how to clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner

No matter how hard you try to keep your floors clean, life happens, and your carpet inevitably becomes dirty.

But just because you don’t have a carpet cleaning machine doesn’t mean you can’t clean your carpet. All you need is a little bit of creativity and some standard household supplies.

If you’re ready to get your house cleaner than ever, here’s how to clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner.

An Easy Way to Clean Carpets By Hand

If you’re looking for an easy way to clean carpets by hand, start by thoroughly vacuuming your floors. Next, mix a solution of 1 tablespoon clear dishwashing soap (like Dawn) with four cups of warm water. Now dip a soft-bristled scrub brush into the solution and lightly scrub your carpet. As you clean, blot dry with a towel. When the floor is completely dry, vacuum again.

Ways to Clean a Carpet by Hand

ways to clean carpet by hand

If you don’t have a carpet cleaning machine, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways for you to remove stains and keep your carpets fresh and clean.

Make a Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution

If your carpet is stained or you think it needs a deep cleaning, one of the first things you should do is whip up a homemade carpet cleaning solution.

Make homemade carpet cleaner with clear dish soap:

  • Mix 1 tablespoon clear dish soap with four cups of warm water

Make homemade carpet cleaner with vinegar:

  • Mix ½ cup of white distilled vinegar with 2 cups of warm water 
It’s crucial that you test these in an inconspicuous area before you use either on your carpet. While there most likely won’t be an adverse reaction (especially with the dish soap) depending on your carpet’s materials, these cleaners could cause lightening.

Use a Scrub Brush to Lift Stains

Soft-bristled scrub brushes are great for cleaning carpets. Used dry, they agitate the carpet loosening up ground-in dirt. 

When used with a cleaning solution, the soft-bristled brush can help lift stains. However, it’s vital that you thoroughly vacuum before using the brush and cleaning solution together. If you don’t, you’ll create a muddy mess.

Here’s how to use your scrub brush to clean the carpet:

  • Thoroughly vacuum your carpet **very important**
  • Dip your scrub brush in your cleaning solution
  • Lightly scrub your carpet in small, gentle circular motions
  • Pat dry with a towel

Once you’ve cleaned the entire floor and it’s completely dry, vacuum it again to pick up all the debris you loosened up.

Remove Odors with Baking Soda

If you cleaned your carpet and it still has a bit of a smell, or you’re looking for an easy way to freshen it up, use baking soda.

Here’s what to do:

  • Sprinkle baking soda all over the carpet
  • Allow it to sit for 10+ minutes
  • Vacuum

Spot Treat Stains

If there are stains on your carpet, you can spot treat them before cleaning with your scrub brush. 

The method you should use will depend on what caused the stain. Here’s what you should know:

Pet Stains – After cleaning up the pet mess, blot the area with a paper towel to remove excess urine/moisture. Spray the stain with a solution of half white distilled vinegar and half water. Blot with a paper towel. Sprinkle baking soda over the area, allow it to sit for an hour, and then vacuum.

Coffee Stains – Squirt a couple of drops of clear dish soap directly on the stain and use a rag dampened in cold water to scrub. If the coffee isn’t coming out, switch over to a scrub brush. Wipe with a freshly dampened cloth to remove the soap and stain, allow it to dry.

Blood Stains – Dilute OxiClean as instructed on the package. Apply to the bloodstain and blot until removed.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how to clean a carpet without carpet cleaner

How do you clean carpeted stairs by hand?

To clean your carpeted stairs, first vacuum. Next, dip a soft-bristled scrub brush in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of clear dish soap to 4 cups of water. Start at the top step, gently scrubbing the carpet in a circular motion. Work your way down, blotting each step with a towel after you’ve cleaned it.

When the stairs are fully dry, vacuum them to suck up the dirt you’ve loosened.

Will baking soda and vinegar clean carpet?

Yes, baking soda and vinegar will clean carpet and are an excellent combo for removing lingering pet odors. However, it’s important to dilute your vinegar with water and test in an inconspicuous place before treating visible areas.

Does baking soda remove stains on carpet?

No, baking soda does not remove stains on carpet. However, it does absorb odors, so it’s still an excellent carpet cleaner.


Cleaning a carpet without a carpet cleaner is not complicated. Of course, doing this will take more effort than using a carpet cleaning machine, but you can get a similar result.

All you need to do is vacuum your floor, clean the carpet with a soft-bristled brush, and then vacuum again. If you need to absorb lingering odors, sprinkle your carpet with baking soda and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before sweeping it up.

Photo of author


Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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