How To Deep Green Clean Your Carpets

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Credit: Katie Gard

Over time spot cleaning just doesn’t do it. You turn around one day, and your carpets are a shade darker than when you had them installed. Or, you do a great job spot cleaning only to reveal how dirty the rest of the carpeting really is. Here’s a way to give your carpets a deep clean using a few household ingredients, a vacuum, and a steam cleaner.

What You Need

Ingredients: Salt, borax, and white vinegar.

Equipment: A vacuum and a carpet steam cleaner, don’t worry, I explain why we need the heavy equipment below.


Start out with good old spot cleaning, then move to the more heavy-duty all-over work.

1. Vacuum. Vacuum like you’ve never vacuumed before: go in 3 different directions and take your time. Get the dust, hair, and particles out of the pile.

2. Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup borax, and 1/4 cup vinegar, then apply this paste to deep stains or heavily soiled sections of carpet. Allow the paste to sit on the carpet for several hours until it dries completely, then vacuum it away.

3. Start up the steam cleaner. Why are we using a steam cleaner, you ask? I’ve looked into lots of options, from dry chemical cleaning (vetoed because of the chemicals and what is left in the carpet) to steam cleaning, and have decided that renting a steam machine is the best option because the chemicals are optional. Try to rent a new machine to increase efficiency and do a little pre-cleaning of the machine if it doesn’t come to you pristine.

4. Skip the carpet shampoo. Hot water can get most grime out of your carpet alone; just make sure you’re filling your machine with really hot water.

5. If you have especially soiled carpeting, you can add 1 cup of white vinegar to 2.5 gallons of water for very deep cleaning.

6. Most machines have 2 modes. First, you depress a button and release the hot water and second, you release the button, and it sucks water back up. Spend 3/4 of your time on the second mode. Soak the carpet, then go over it three or four times to dry the carpet as much as possible.

7. Steam clean the carpets a second time. You rented the machine for the day, right? you might as well get your money’s worth and do 2 passes.

8. Let the carpets dry completely. Once they are mostly dry, you can bring furniture back in, but we usually put aluminum foil under the legs to avoid any stain bleeding onto the wet carpets. Then, let them dry all the way before you walk on them to avoid staining them again.

9. Finally, dispose of the water from the machine responsibly. Many places that rent out the machines will take the machine back full to avoid putting the chemicals from your carpet down the drain. Otherwise, call your local water treatment plant to enquire about how to dispose of the wastewater.

(Images: Allison Verdoorn)