If you've ever rented a carpet cleaning machine, soaked your rug with carpet shampoo or paid a professional carpet cleaner to come to your home, carpet care might be a household task you dread. Relax – keeping carpets clean and fresh doesn't have to be an ordeal. With a few simple carpet cleaning hacks (and minimal elbow grease), you can remove stains, dirt and odors in 10 minutes or less.
A caveat: Most carpet cleaning tips are safe for use on most types of carpet but check care instructions and/or spot test any cleaning solutions on a hidden patch of carpet before using them in visible areas.
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1. Deodorize With DIY Carpet Freshener
When something stinks and you're pretty sure it's the carpet, grab a box of baking soda. It's a key ingredient in many commercial carpet fresheners. Dust the carpet with a thin, even layer of baking soda. The baking soda will absorb odor molecules. When you vacuum away the powder, bad smells should go with it. To help disguise any lingering odors, mix 10 to 20 drops of essential oils into a cup of baking soda to make a scented carpet freshener.
This cleaning strategy doesn't require much hands-on time, but the baking soda needs time to work. Sprinkle it on before going to bed and vacuum it up in the morning (unless you have cats, in which case you'll wake up to baking soda everywhere).
2. Swap a Stiff Broom for a Vacuum
Sometimes, it's not worth the hassle of hauling out your vacuum cleaner just to clean one carpet. If you're just dealing with a little dried mud, food crumbs or other solid debris, use a stiff-bristle broom to brush everything into a small pile and into a dustpan. A worn broom might not have stiff-enough bristles for this to work effectively. Try wrapping a large rubber band around the bristles to give them more stability.
3. Fluff a Matted Rug With Ice
Ice is the perfect DIY solution for repairing dents or matted areas in a carpet. Simply place a few large ice chips or cubes onto any depressed patches of carpet and let them melt. Matted carpet fibers should start to lift as the ice slowly melts into them. If dents remain once the ice has melted, use a utensil or paper clip to gently lift the fibers.
4. Squeegee Pet Hair
Sharing your home with a furry animal essentially resigns you to a lifetime of finding pet hair everywhere. By the time your pet's fur has been pressed into your carpet, even a powerful vacuum cleaner might not be able to budge it. (Have the people from Velcro studied the incredible adhesive properties of pet hair?) Pick up a rubber squeegee for a few bucks from a home improvement store or Amazon and scrape off all that stubborn fur.
5. Use Vinegar to Clean, Fluff and Deodorize
Is there anything white vinegar can't clean? Well, yes – but vinegar is generally safe for use on carpets, and it can serve multiple functions. Combine one part vinegar with two parts warm water in a spray bottle to make a simple stain remover. The same solution can also help deodorize a smelly carpet or lift matted carpet fibers.
6. Use a Lint Roller
Curling your toes into a shag rug is fun. Cleaning all of a shag rug's nooks and crannies is less fun. Dust, pet hair and debris can accumulate in shag carpets and can trigger allergies, so these carpets need routine maintenance. Running a lint roller over the rug lets you collect a lot of that stuff quickly so you don't need to vacuum as frequently.
7. Spot-Treat Stains With Shaving Cream
The same product that helps you get silky, smooth skin can also work as a carpet cleaning solution. Dampen a soiled area of carpet and work plain white shaving cream (not gel) into the carpet fibers with a brush or your fingers. Let it sit for a few minutes, gently wipe away any residual cream and blot the area with a damp cloth or damp paper towels.
8. Remove Stains With Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a key ingredient in oxygen bleach, and its stain removal properties can make it a useful carpet cleaner. Apply a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts dish soap to a stain, rub it in with your fingers and let it sit for a few minutes. Blot at the stain with a damp cloth or damp paper towels.
Be cautious so you don't discolor your rug. It should be safe to use on colorfast carpet but always do a spot test with hydrogen peroxide.
9. Iron Away Stains
Your trusty clothes iron can be a surprisingly useful carpet stain remover. Use it in combination with white vinegar to lift away stubborn stains. Spray the stained area with a vinegar cleaning solution. Let it soak in for a few minutes while your iron heats up. Cover the stain with a damp, light-colored dish towel or cloth napkin. With the iron on its highest steam setting, run it over the stain a few times. Hopefully, the stain will transfer to the towel and leave your carpet clean.
10. Rearrange the Room
Sometimes, the best way to protect your carpets is to move them. If you're constantly looking for carpet cleaning hacks because your carpet constantly looks dirty, consider making a change. Shift the rug so it's out of the path of foot traffic or if you notice uneven discoloration caused by part of the carpet being in direct sunlight every day. Cover high-traffic areas of carpeting with washable area rugs.