How to Clean a Carpet Without a Carpet Cleaner

How to Clean a Carpet Without a Carpet Cleaner – 5 Effective Ways

Last Updated on January 10, 2023

Carpet cleaning machines have many perks, but they can also be quite a hassle, especially if you are only trying to deep clean a small area on the carpet or remove a single stain. Carpet cleaning machines also use harsher chemicals to deep clean carpets which could irritate sensitive skin.

Fortunately, there are several ways to deep clean a carpet without a machine and chances are, you already have most of the supplies in your home right now. This article explains how to clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner, regardless of why you are seeking an alternative method.

A bit more elbow grease may be required with these options compared to using a professional carpet cleaning machine. Try these tips and you might be surprised how effectively they can work.

Before You Begin

Before you begin cleaning carpets without a machine, you will first need to assess the cleaning situation and gather the appropriate supplies to get the job done.

What Type of Carpet Cleaning Do You Want to Perform?

Are you looking to clean up a spill that just occurred? Do you want to target deeper stains in high traffic areas of your home? Or, are you looking to deodorise and disinfect a larger area? Either way, we have a cleaning method that you can use to deep clean your carpet without a professional machine. And, as you will soon learn, there’s are appropriate methods for addressing specific problems.

What Supplies Will You Need to Clean Carpets by Hand?

household cleaning materialsCleaning Solution Ingredients

  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Warm or hot water

Cleaning Tools

  • Bucket or large bowl
  • Clean towel or paper towels
  • Scrub brush of your choice
  • Vacuum cleaner (necessary for several of our cleaning methods)
  • Broom (only used for snow method)

Chances are pretty good that you already have many of the supplies needed to clean your carpet lying around your home. In addition, you won’t need every ingredient for all 5 cleaning methods listed below.

When cleaning carpet by hand and without a machine, we recommend trying a method that doesn’t require you to purchase extra supplies first. Then, if you don’t get a clean carpet on your first try, you can try another method.

Cleaning Your Carpet Without a Carpet Cleaner

The following five methods explain how to deodorise and clean carpet stains by hand. Each method is described in detail. To achieve a clean carpet without using complex equipment like a steam cleaner, you might want to try more than one on trickier stains.

1. White Vinegar and Water – Sanitise, Disinfect, and Deodorise

A cleaning solution of equal parts vinegar and water can be used to sanitise, disinfect, deodorise, and clean carpet without a carpet cleaner. Follow the steps listed below to help keep your carpets clean and odour-free.

  • Start by going over the carpet with a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust and dirt on the carpet fibers.
  • In a large bowl or bucket, mix one part vinegar with one part hot or warm water. Vinegar makes an excellent cleaner, just make sure to use white so as not to cause further damage during the cleaning.
  • Take a scrub brush, or a toothbrush for smaller areas, and dip it into your cleaning solution and then rub the bristles by hand with circular motions.
  • Repeat until the entire stain or desired carpet area has been covered. There is no need to saturate the whole thing, just use enough water to scrub the stain.
  • Using a dry cloth, blot as much excess water or moisture as possible from the treated area so the carpet dries quickly.

2. Baking Soda – Disinfect and Deodorise

Baking soda is an all-natural cleaner many homeowners swear by. You can also use it for neutralising musty odours and maintaining a fresh and clean carpet smell. To disinfect and deodorise carpets by hand, simply:

  • Clean carpet with a vacuum to remove any dust and dirt.
  • Sprinkle the carpet or stain with baking soda until it is relatively covered, completely covered for stains.
  • Fill either a large bowl or bucket with hot to warm water.
  • Using a dry scrub brush, rub the baking soda into the carpet in circular motions until bubbles start to form.
  • Take the scrub brush and dip it into your bucket of water and then repeat the circular scrubbing motion with the baking soda on the carpet. Make sure not to spread the stain.
  • Let the carpet air dry or possibly use a fan to speed up the drying process.
  • Once the carpet dries, so as not to damage your vacuum cleaner, go over the area several times to pick up the remaining baking soda.

3. Dish Soap with Warm Water and White Vinegar – Deep Clean and Deodorise

Dish soap is a highly effective cleaner that can often help get rid of greasy, deep stains on your carpet without using a carpet cleaner. However, it is so effective that there is a chance it could strip your carpet fibres of their original colour. To achieve a clean carpet without causing discolourations, always test this solution before using it on new material.

  • Vacuum the carpet to remove any dust and dirt.
  • In a large bowl or bucket, combine the ingredients to make your cleaning solution. Add one tablespoon of dish soap per quart of warm water.
  • Next, add 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar to the solution and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • Before you start cleaning the whole carpet, make sure to test a small section that is unnoticeable first. Leave the solution on the carpet for a short while and wait for it to completely dry before determining whether or not it is safe for your carpet colour.
  • Once you determine the cleaning solution will not damage your rug, dip a scrub brush into your bucket and begin rubbing it into your carpet using circular motions.
  • Using a dry cloth, blot the cleaner and the stain out of the carpet.

4. Salt and Club Soda – Spot Cleaning Wet Spills Before They Stain

One way to prolong the life of your carpets or rugs at home is by spot cleaning accidental spills using salt and club soda. However, if you want to achieve a clean carpet without using professional cleaning equipment, you need to clean wet spills before they stain.

  • After a spill occurs, you need to work as quickly as possible to address the situation. Do not wait for the mess to dry.
  • Using a highly absorbent cloth, or paper towels, blot club soda onto the spill being careful not to scrub it further into the carpet fibres. This will dilute the stain slightly while also pulling up a good portion of it at the same time.
  • Completely cover the stained area with salt until you can’t see the carpet.
  • Leave the area to dry while the salt actively pulls up and absorbs the stain.
  • Once completely dry, vacuum up the soiled salt and you should be left with a clean carpet below.

5. Snow – Removing Dirt and Dust on Area Rugs

This technique can be used on carpets or area rugs that you can carry outside and it is best done with heavier, moldable snow. Fluffier powder-like snow will not grip and remove dirt nearly as well. Additionally, this option is dependent on the weather so it will not always be available.

  • Begin by rolling up the area rug you wish to clean.
  • Carry the rug outside and shake any loose dirt off.
  • Place the rug on the snowy ground, dirty side down.
  • Use a broom to cover the rug with a layer of snow approximately 5-10 cm thick.
  • Next, use your broom to beat the top of the carpet several times. This causes ammonia in the snow to change and react to the cold air in a way that hardens the dirt trapped inside so it can easily fall out.
  • Keep the carpet covered with snow for roughly 15-20 minutes.
  • Flip the rug and repeat the process on the other side.
  • Once complete, hang the rug up and allow the snow to naturally evaporate. It shouldn’t take too long if you have the right snow conditions.
  • Reposition the rug in your home and vacuum it once to ensure all of the dirt has been removed.

Further Considerations

The following sections explain a few pro tips so you can make carpet cleaning without a machine as easy as possible.

Timing Is Everything

closeup of person removing fresh stains on rugWhether you want to tackle new or old stains on your carpets, you need to remember that timing is everything. Don’t leave spills, try to get to them right away before they get a chance to dry into the fibres of the carpet. The longer you wait to address stains the harder it will be to keep your carpets clean.

Trial and Error

Often, one cleaning solution will work better on a specific problem than other methods. Thus, to clean carpet without using a machine, you may need to try a couple of methods before finding out which is the best way to clean a carpet.

If the homemade cleaning solutions we have discussed don’t seem to be working, you may also want to try using cleaners that are specifically designed to be used in carpet cleaners. Often, cleaners made for a machine are more powerful and work well without a lot of elbow grease. However, these detergents can also be much harsher so you may want to wear gloves while scrubbing the solution into your carpet.

Additionally, if you already own a steam mop or a steam cleaner brush for clothes, you might be able to use it to help clean your carpets as well. Take the steam brush or steam nozzle and rub it on the area to help loosen dirt and stains, similar to how you would with a steam cleaner machine. Just make sure not to get any harsh chemicals that could damage your clothes on a fabric steamer.

If the steam cleaner or steam mop technique isn’t enough to clean your carpet, perhaps it is time to use a carpet cleaning machine after all. Carpet cleaners have the ability to penetrate deeper into the carpet fibres. They also do a better job sucking up moisture with the vacuum function, particularly if you’re deep cleaning larger carpets. They can also be rented in many local home goods stores.


Now that you know how to clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner, it may be time for you to finally conquer a pesky stain that has been hanging around for a while. It is up to you to figure out which of the techniques you learned works best.

In addition, you have learned that timing is key when it comes to removing more difficult stains so you will probably be the first to jump to the rescue the next time an accidental spill occurs.

If you have time-tested household cleaning tips to share, please let us know in the comments section below. Happy cleaning!

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