If you have kids or pets, you know the struggle is real when it comes to keeping your carpet clean! Whether it’s muddy paw prints or sugary drinks, your carpet is under constant attack. No matter how careful you are, there are always new stains! If you really want to be frightened by your dirty carpet, take a look under that couch that hasn’t moved in 3 years. You probably forgot that was once the color of your carpet.

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Today we are going to explore some ways you can take care of carpet stains and bring that old dingy carpet back to life. Let’s start with some DIY options. If you are past the point of DIY, skip this section and scroll down the page to the “Professional Carpet Cleaning” section of this article.

DIY Carpet Cleaning and Stain Removal

DIY Carpet Cleaning - Stain Removal
Home owner removing a carpet stain with carpet cleaning solution and a sponge.

Before I give you all of my secret tips for DIY carpet cleaning, let’s take care of the legal stuff! Check with your carpet manufacturer for approved carpet cleaning methods. If you are unsure of a particular DIY carpet cleaning method, consult with a carpet cleaning professional. Finally, before putting any solutions or chemicals on your carpet, test how your carpet will respond to the chemicals by trying it in an inconspicuous area of the room.

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How to Clean Mud Stains from Carpet

Instead of rushing to clean a mud stain, allow it to dry. Allowing the mud to dry, will prevent the stain from spreading and being pushed deeper into the fibers. Once the area has dried, vacuum to remove as much dirt as possible. Next, apply a carpet cleaning solution to a clean, light-colored cloth. Gently blot the stain with the towel and carpet cleaning solution. Fight the urge to scrub the stain! Continue blotting the stain until the carpet is clean. Finally, use a clean towel to blot the area dry.

How to Clean Potting Soil from Carpet

Potting soil is easier to clean from carpet than mud because it tends to be looser and not as compressed. Most potting soil contains perlite, a volcanic glass with a high water content that aids in water retention and keeps the soil from becoming dense and compacted. To clean potting soil from carpet, let the soil dry overnight. Once dry, use a butter knife to loosen the soil. Vacuum the area to remove the dirt. Next, we are going to blot the stained area just as we did when cleaning mud stains. Finally, use a dry towel to blot the area dry.

How to Clean Grease Stains from Carpet

I’m excited to share my tips for getting grease stains out of carpet!

Removing Grease Stains From Carpet With Shaving Cream

If you have never tried shaving cream on grease stains, you are going to be surprised at how well it works! First, loosen the glob of grease with an old butter knife, then blot the stain with a clean cloth. Carefully work the shaving cream into the stained area with your fingertips (I use Barbasol). Let it soak in for a minute or two. Then apply several layers of paper towels and weigh them down with a stack of books. After several hours remove the books and paper towels.

Removing Grease Stains From Carpet With Solvent-based Cleaners

If you have a solvent-based cleaner in your home, try sprinkling baking soda over the grease stain, let the baking soda sit for 15 minutes. Then use a sponge or cloth to apply the solvent-based cleaner and lift the stain.

Removing Grease Stains From Carpet With Dawn Dishwashing Liquid

If the stain remains after you’ve tried shaving cream or a solvent-based cleaner, try applying a little Dawn dishwashing liquid to the area and rinse with cold water.

How to Clean Pet Urine From Carpet

If you have pets in your home, you know that accidents do happen. Here is a “green” recipe to remove the stains and odor from pet urine in carpet: First, make sure to grab some paper towels as soon as you notice the “accident” and while the carpet is still wet. Place paper towels over the spot and push down with your foot to absorb as much of the urine as possible. Next, pour 2 cups vinegar and 4 tablespoons of baking soda into 2 cups of warm water. Pour into a spray bottle and spritz over the stain. Let sit for 10 minutes, then blot up with a clean cloth. For heavy stains, sprinkle baking soda over the spot and let sit for 5 minutes before cleaning with the solution.

How to Clean Red Wine From Carpets

One of the most frequent questions about stain removal that I get from homeowners is how to clean red wine out of carpets. Here are two tips for removing red wine.

Removing Red Wine From Carpet Using Baking Soda

  • Blot the stained area with a clean white cloth to soak up as much of the wine as possible.
  • Pour a small amount of cold water directly onto the stain to help dilute the remaining red wine, and continue blotting with a fresh white cloth until no more stain will transfer to the cloth.
  • Mix three parts water to one part baking soda and apply it to the stain with a fresh cloth.
  • When this has dried into a paste, vacuum the area, going back and forth several times in all directions.

Removing Red Wine From Carpet Using Vinegar

  • Blot the stain with a white cloth until no more of it will transfer to the cloth as described in tip #1.
  • Mix 2 cups of warm water, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of Dawn dish detergent in a small bowl.
  • Dip a sponge in the solution and apply directly to the stained area.
  • Continue blotting with the sponge until the stain is gone.

How To Remove Odors From Carpet

Most carpet odors can be removed by using products that you probably have on hand in your home. Here are my tips for removing common odors from carpeting.

Removing General Odors From Carpets, Including The Odors From Pet Urine

  • Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the affected areas of your carpet.
  • For odors that have penetrated beneath the surface, work some of the baking soda into your carpet with a hand broom.
  • Let sit at least 24 hours. If you need to walk on the area, place a sheet over the area and tape in place.
  • Brush as much of the baking soda as you can into a dustpan with your hand broom.
  • If the odor persists, mix equal parts of vinegar and warm water together and pour into a spray bottle.
  • Spray a liberal amount of the mixture onto the affected area and blot it into the carpet with a clean cloth.
  • Let sit for 15 minutes, then bloth the area with clean water.
  • Use a paper towel to soak up as much of the water as possible.
  • Allow to air dry.

The odor from cat urine is particularly difficult to remove. If the above process does not remove the odor from cat urine, you can purchase an enzymatic pet urine cleaner online or from your local pet supply store and follow the directions on the container. One highly-rated pet odor enzyme cleaner is Emmy’s Best Powerful Pet Odor Remover (4.3 stars out of 5, 519 reviews-see reviews)

How to Remove Smoke Odors From Carpet

Smoke odors in carpets can be very difficult to remove, especially if they have seeped into the carpet fibers. I have a tip for removing smoke odors from cigarette and cigar smoke, and from burnt food, that has worked for me. For smoke odors from house fires, I recommend calling a smoke damage professional.

Removing Smoke Odors From Carpet

  • Mix 3 parts baking soda with 1 part dried lavender
  • Sprinkle liberally on the affected area
  • Let sit overnight
  • Vacuum the area well
  • Repeat the process if necessary
  • If the odor persists call in a professional carpet cleaner to treat the area

About Professional Carpet Cleaning

Professional Carpet Cleaning Companies

Carpet Cleaning Methods

Carpet cleaning companies generally use one of two methods to clean carpets and upholstery, heated water extraction and chemical cleaning.

What is Heated Water Extraction?

Heated water extraction (HWE), also called steam cleaning, uses detergent and hot water to remove stains and clean carpets. A machine sprays detergent into your carpet, the hot water activates the detergent, and a powerful vacuum removes the water and detergent, leaving little residue behind. It may take several hours for carpets to become completely dry, and some stains, such as chemicals and pet stains, may reappear, requiring a second cleaning.

What is Chemical Cleaning?

Chemical carpet cleaning uses dry-cleaning compounds or cleaning solvents to clean carpets. The chemicals break down soil and stains, and a small amount of moisture is used to allow the chemicals to work more effectively. Carpets cleaned with chemicals can be used almost immediately after cleaning, but the chemicals used can be harsh and emit a strong odor which may irritate breathing, particularly in people with asthma and other lung diseases.

What Does Professional Carpet Cleaning Cost?

The cost of hiring a professional carpet cleaner will depend on the company pricing policy, method used, carpet type and whether any special services, such as stain removal, are required. Carpet cleaning companies charge either by the room or by the square footage.

Carpet Cleaning Cost Per Room

Carpet cleaning companies may charge you a flat rate for each room regardless of square footage. However, some companies may charge extra if a room exceeds maximum square footage limits, or even charge double for a very large room. Make sure that you are aware of the square footage of your carpeted rooms so that the company does not overestimate the square footage of large rooms.

Carpet Cleaning Cost Per Square Footage

Some companies will charge based upon the square footage of all your carpeted rooms. They will need to visit your home to take measurements before giving you an estimate. Homeowners with larger homes will benefit from this type of pricing because the fee should include a fixed price for travel costs and the cost of cleaning materials.

How Will Your Carpet Type Affect Your Cost?

Charges will vary depending on the type of carpet that you have. Berber carpets are the cheapest to clean, while wool carpets are the most expensive.

What is the Average Cost for Carpet Cleaning a Typical Home (2,200 Square Foot House)?

Average costs of carpet cleaning a 2,200 square foot home will run from around $125 to $250, depending on where you live, while the cost of cleaning an entire larger house can run as much as $550.

Do Carpet Cleaning Companies Charge Extra for Stain Removal?

Stain removal will add to the cost of carpet cleaning. Charges for stain removal will depend on the size and type of the stain, and will generally run from $40 for simple stains such as food stains, to around $300 for more complex stains such as pet stains that have seeped down into the carpet pile.

What Other Services Are Offered By Professional Carpet Cleaning Companies?

Other special services that some carpet cleaning companies provide include dyeing and color restoration. Companies generally charge an hourly rate for these types of services. I would always inquire about satisfaction guarantees on these services, and I recommend getting references for costly repairs.

What Questions Are People Asking About Carpet Cleaning?

1. How much does commercial carpet cleaning cost?

Most commercial carpet cleaning services will require an on-site inspection before giving an estimate. The size of the building and the condition of the carpeting will usually determine the overall price. The average price range of commercial carpet cleaning is generally between $.05 to $.25 per square foot, which is roughly half the cost of residential carpet cleaning. The price of water extraction cleaning, also called steam cleaning, will be on the high end of that range, while low moisture, or chemical cleaning, will fall on the lower end of the spectrum. Stain removal can be somewhat expensive, with small, easy to remove stains, costing about $20, while larger, hard to remove stains, such as oil or grease, can cost up to $1,000.

2. How often should I get my carpets cleaned?

There are a few factors to consider when asking how often should I get my carpets cleaned. Do you have pets? Are your pets housebroken? Is the carpet located in a high-traffic area? Is the carpet in your home or business? Does your carpet have a warranty that you would like to keep in force? Some carpet companies require a water extraction cleaning at least once a year. So, as you can see, there isn’t a standard recommended schedule for carpet cleaning. The answer to how often you should clean your carpet comes down to how particular you are about having a clean carpet.

3. Is it necessary to vacuum before cleaning my carpet?

It is a good idea to vacuum before cleaning the carpet. Vacuuming loosens carpet fibers and removes dirt particles, food, sand and other debris. This allows the carpet cleaning machine to clean deeper and more effectively. Eliminating excess dirt will also reduce the number of times that you will need to change the dirty water in the tank. You may even discover items on your carpet that could potentially harm the carpet cleaning machine.

4. What do I need to do before the carpet cleaners arrive?

You should vacuum the traffic areas and any other areas that have a lot of debris. Remove lamps and breakable items from tables and other furniture. Remove small furniture such as small tables, ottomans, and light-weight chairs. Most carpet cleaning companies will move large pieces of furniture, though some companies may charge a small fee to do so. Secure your pets in gated areas or rooms that are not being serviced.

5. Will carpet cleaning remove bacteria from pet accidents?

It depends on the method used. Chemical cleaning is not very effective for removing bacteria. If you are cleaning the carpets yourself, you can use a solution of detergent, vinegar, and hot water to effectively remove bacteria left by pet deposits. Professional carpet cleaning companies that use the water extraction method have specific products to treat pet stains along with the hot water they use to clean your carpets.

6. How can I make a homemade carpet cleaning solution?

Making a homemade solution instead of buying the rug cleaner brand will save money and it’s easy to prepare.

Here is one recipe for a great homemade solution that really works!

  • ¼ cup LA’s Awesome cleaner (found at dollar stores, environmentally friendly)
  • 1 scoop Oxyclean
  • 2 tablespoons liquid laundry detergent
  • 1 teaspoon liquid fabric softener
  • 1 gallon hot water

Mix the first four ingredients in a large plastic bowl. Stir gently to dissolve the Oxyclean. Gradually add hot water to prevent sudsing and bubbling. Store the cleaning solution in a gallon jug until ready for use. Add a small amount of solution to the hot water when you are ready to use in a carpet cleaning machine.

7. Should I rent a carpet cleaning machine?

The answer to this question depends on your budget and how you value your time. Renting a carpet cleaning machine will be much less expensive than having a professional carpet cleaning service clean your carpets, but it will also take several hours and some patience on your part. Carpet cleaning machines, such as a Rug Doctor, can be rented for $30 per day. The cleaning solution costs about $17 for a 48-ounce bottle, and you will need two bottles for every 1000 square feet of carpet. Pre-treating solutions cost $6 to $10 per bottle. Professional carpet cleaning companies will charge by the room, with a minimum charge of around $100. The average cost to have your carpets cleaned by a professional is about $250. Renting a machine to clean the carpets in the same size house will cost approximately $90, so your savings will be substantial. The downside to cleaning carpets yourself is the big chunk of your day that will be required, and carpet cleaning can be somewhat grueling. You will need to move the furniture yourself, and you will have to discard the dirty water and refill the carpet cleaner a couple of times per room. It comes down to whether it is worth the savings and the time and effort required to clean the carpets yourself.

8. How can I get grease stains out of my carpet?

Purchase a non-flammable solvent-based cleaner. Make sure that the cleaner is safe for nylon fabric. Prepare a solution of ¼ dawn dishwashing detergent with 1 cup warm water. Test the solvent-based cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure that it does not discolor the carpet. Pour the cleaner on a clean cloth and apply to the grease stain Let the solution soak in for 5-10 minutes. Blot, don’t rub, with a clean, white cloth until the stain no longers transfers to the cloth. Rinse with cold water until all the excess solution is out of the carpet. If any stain remains, repeat the above steps with the detergent and water solution. Blot with paper towels to soak up any excess moisture. Vacuum when completely dry.

9. Is water extraction carpet cleaning or chemical carpet cleaning best?

It’s a matter of preference because both methods are effective. The downside to water extraction cleaning is having to wait for the carpets to dry, which can take several hours. Carpets cleaned with chemicals can be used almost immediately after cleaning, but the chemicals used can be harsh and emit a strong odor which may irritate breathing particularly in people with asthma and other lung diseases. Read “Carpet Cleaning Methods” above, to learn more about water extraction and chemical carpet cleaning.

10. How frequently do hotels clean their carpets?

A hotels schedule for cleaning their carpets is entirely up to the individual hotel. Higher end hotels may clean carpets more frequently than lower-end hotels. But once again, this is a case by case decision made by the hotel’s management.

11. Which is the best carpet cleaning solution?

12. How to remove pet vomit from wool rugs?

Carpet cleaning professionals use various methods when removing pet vomit from wool rugs. Below is my favorite DIY cleaning tip for cleaning pet vomit.

What you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • Small bowl
  • Towel
  • Scrub brush (optional)

Important: Remember to spot test your rug in an inconspicuous area. You must use vinegar in this process. It acts as a bonding agent and prevents colors from running. It is critical!

Blot pet vomit up immediately. Use an old towel to remove as much pet vomit as possible. Then sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda on the area. Allow the baking soda to sit for about 30 minutes, then vacuum.

After vacuuming combine dishwashing detergent, vinegar, and water in a bowl. Do not use clear detergents with “extra bleaching powers.” They will damage your rug.

Blot the cleaning solution onto the stained area with a sponge or clean towel. Rub in small circles. Use care in this step; you don’t want to scrub to the point of damaging the rug.

Next, apply clean, cold water to the area using a clean towel. Apply pressure to the area using the clean towel. You want to absorb as much of the moisture as possible.

Finally, allow the rug to dry completely. I recommend propping the rug up to let air flow beneath the stained area.

13. How to clean human urine from carpet?

  1. Pour lukewarm water on the area to dilute the urine.
  2. Use a thick towel to absorb to absorb the water and urine. Stepping on the towel will apply the most pressure and help soak up the moisture.
  3. Apply a pet urine cleaning detergent. The enzymes in the pet urine detergent will help break down the odor.
  4. Rinse the detergent with lukewarm water and blot out the moisture using a clean towel.

Now, let’s get rid of any remaining smells and detergent residues. To do this, we use ½ cup of white vinegar mixed with ½ cup of water and a pinch of baking soda. Apply the mixture and blot up with a clean towel.

Allow the area to dry completely. Remember to wash your towels ASAP! You don’t want them smelling like urine.

14. How can I keep my carpets clean?

  • Vacuum your carpets on a regular basis. Vacuuming carpets regularly will help prevent dust and dirt from being ground into carpet fibers which can damage the fibers and make carpeting appear dull and dingy.
  • Use scented carpet powders sparingly, or avoid using them altogether. Carpet powders can eliminate or mask odors, but will leave their residue in your carpet. When your carpets are steam cleaned, this residue will appear as a white stain on the surface, which is difficult or impossible to remove.
  • Lay decorative rugs and runners over high-traffic areas, in front of sofas and chairs, and in hallways to prevent staining and crushing of carpet fibers and to add a touch of color to your home.
  • Get carpets professionally cleaned regularly and have a stain protector applied. Carpet manufacturers recommend having carpets professionally cleaned once or twice a year. This will help prevent dirt and other particles from becoming ground into the carpeting, and stain protection will allow you to clean up spills and stains more easily and will also help protect the carpet fibers.

15. Who makes the best carpet cleaning machine?

There are a number of brands and options available for consumers looking for a good, reliable
carpet cleaning machine. Most of the top manufacturers of vacuum cleaners also make carpet cleaners. You will want to find a machine that is efficient, sturdy and easy to use. Here are ten of the top rated carpet cleaning machines.

16. Are my pets safe to be in the house after having my carpet cleaned?

Most carpet cleaning companies will provide safety information about their cleaning products, which should include information about pet safety. Many companies also use eco-friendly, green products when requested. Most carpet cleaning products that consumers purchase for their own use is safe for pets as long as the user specifically follows the directions on the containers. It is important to keep pets off of carpets when they are being cleaned and during the drying process. If pets do get any product residue on their skin, wash the area thoroughly with clean water.

17. Will cleaning my carpet kill fleas?

Steam cleaning is an effective way to kill fleas at all life stages in carpeting and around walls and furniture. Fleas cannot survive the high temperature in steam cleaning machines. The downside is that cleaning carpets will also greatly reduce the effectiveness of insecticides, therefore it is advisable to have your home treated for bug and insects prior to having your carpets cleaned. Vacuum carpets frequently after steam cleaning, and be sure to get those hard-to-reach areas in corners and around furniture.

18. Does OxiClean work for cleaning carpet?

OxiClean contains a solidified form of hydrogen peroxide and detergents that work together to effectively clean stains from clothing, upholstery and carpet. OxiClean cannot be used on wool, leather or silk, so it cannot be used to clean wool carpeting. I keep my laundry room stocked with OxiClean Carpet and Rug Stain Remover spray (4.8 stars out of 5, 318 reviews-see reviews) for cleaning small and large carpet stains and OxiClean Large Area Carpet Cleaner (4.6 stars out of 5, 69 reviews-see reviews) to use in my carpet cleaning machine, and I have found both products to be very effective for cleaning stains and soil out of my carpeting.

19. What are some potential issues of improper carpet cleaning?

One of the biggest issues of DIY carpet cleaning occurs from not getting enough water out of the carpets. Carpet cleaning machines that are purchased or rented by consumers do not have as powerful a vacuum as the machines that professional carpet cleaning companies use. If your carpets get too wet, the water will seep down into the backing material and the pad. This can cause carpet to shrink and can cause issues with mold and mildew. Another problem can arise from leaving too much shampoo in your carpet. This is easy to do with home carpet cleaning machines. When you leave soapy residue in your carpet, it becomes a magnet for dirt, and even stains that have been cleaned can reappear over time. It is advisable to have a professional carpet cleaning company clean your carpets periodically to get the build-up of soapy residue out of your carpets. Other problems that can occur are bleaching and discoloration from certain chemicals found in carpet cleaning solutions, and the transfer of dyes from wood furniture stains when the furniture becomes wet during the cleaning process. Make sure to test a small, inconspicuous area of carpet when using any cleaning product to ensure that it won’t discolor the carpet. Also place protective padding or foam under any furniture that stays in the room.

20. Can cleaning carpets cause Kawasaki disease?

Kawasaki disease is a rare, autoimmune disease that affects children, mostly under the age of five. It causes the large and small arteries in the body to become inflamed, but fortunately, most children who receive treatment for Kawasaki disease recover completely. Some studies have suggested that there may be a possible link between Kawasaki disease and carpet cleaning, however there is no scientific evidence to prove this. On the contrary, most doctors and researchers believe that it is most likely caused by a virus or bacteria. If you are a parent who may still be concerned about exposing your child to carpet cleaning products, remember to keep children away from the areas being cleaned during the cleaning process and for four hours after the cleaning is complete. You can also effectively steam clean carpets using only hot water. Keep all cleaning products out of reach of children or in a locked or safety-latch cabinet.


To wrap this up, no one likes a dirty carpet. Some smaller stains can be cleaned using ordinary household cleaners. However, be careful not to make the problem worse by scrubbing and working the stain into the fibers. If you are not the DIY type, review our tips above before hiring a carpet cleaning company. Having your carpets cleaned by a professional isn’t that expensive, can result in much cleaner carpet and will save you time so you can get back to binge-watching Netflix.

Have any great carpet cleaning tips? Leave them in the comments below; we’d love to share them with our readers.

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