Cleaning Guides

How to Clean a Carpet: Easy Step-by-step Guide

If you have carpets in your house, then they’re probably constantly bombarded with all kinds of stains and dirt. So, to maintain a clean domestic environment, it’s always a good idea to learn how to clean carpets by hand to achieve satisfying results even without a machine.

Keeping in mind that there isn’t a single best way to clean a carpet, we have gathered the best carpet cleaning tips and tricks to help you in your day to day battle with dirt.

So, if you:

  • Want to learn how to clean your carpet properly;
  • Are interested in getting rid of specific stains;
  • Want to know how to clean a specific type of carpet;
  • Are looking for carpet maintenance tips,

Then read on! This article is here to help. Let’s dive deeper into the right way to clean a carpet.

How to clean a carpet at home

Good cleaning does not always include a steam cleaner or any other carpet machine. So, learning how to deep clean a carpet yourself is not an impossible task.

The following method can be performed with either baking soda, dish soap or commercial cleaner (if you have one). The steps are easy to follow and you can use different kinds of easy-to-find products. If you wish, you can also use a product made for steam cleaners.

What to use to clean carpet:

  • An old toothbrush
  • Clean cloth or a towel
  • Cleaning product – baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, etc.
  • Warm water

So, here is in brief how to deep clean your carpet by hand:

  1. Vacuum

    Vacuum the chosen area thoroughly.

  2. Pre-treat stains

    Dip a soft brush or toothbrush in warm, soapy water and carefully scrub only the stained areas. Vinegar is also quite popular for treating various types of carpet stains. Of course, it all comes down to the type of stain you want to remove and the type of carpet. Specific stain treatments are available further in the article.

  3. Apply the cleaning product

    You can go on and use the soapy water solution to go over the entire carpet. The amount you apply depends on the size of the area you wish to clean. A single tablespoon is good for around 6-8 inches. If you have a dry-clean-only carpet, you can use baking soda. Just pour a generous amount of it over your carpet to freshen it up.

  4. Dry

    Open as many windows as possible or turn on a fan/air conditioning to help the carpet dry out faster.

  5. Vacuum again

    When it’s no longer damp, vacuum the residue.

Be careful not to wet the rug too much during the cleaning. The carpet should be just slightly damp and not soaking wet.

Sounds simple enough, but there are some tips and tricks to every step that when applied can improve the results of your cleaning efforts significantly. We reveal them all for you below. Let’s dive deeper.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
Professional Carpet Cleaning vs DIY

Vacuum the carpet

To make sure you’re vacuuming carpets properly, follow the tips below.

Use the proper vacuum hose attachments

When vacuuming carpets, you will need different vacuum attachments, depending on the area you’re working on. For example, the edges of the carpets tend to get very dirty and, along with baseboards, they collect the most dust. So you should start from these areas.

You can use a nozzle attachment for them and a cranny extension if there is any furniture you need to reach under to remove accumulated dirt.

Certain attachments can damage some carpet fibres, so do your research well before vacuuming. For example, Berber and natural fibre carpets (like wool or shag rugs) should never be vacuumed with a beater bar, as the rotating brush can ruin their appearance.

If you have carpeted stairs, keep in mind that they are not suitable for an upright vacuum, due to their size. Even if you choose to go with a larger head, it would just be too difficult. The way to go is to use a stair hose attachment, or just the hose itself, without extensions. The smaller the add-on is, the easier it would be for you to reach all those hard corners, or between the railing posts, if you have any.

Vacuum carpets at the right height

To provide the best airflow and suction, you will have to adjust the height of your vacuum head according to your carpets. If you’re using a beater bar, you’ll want the bristles to just be touching the tips of the fibres, no lower.

To be sure which height is the right one for your carpet, check with the vacuum manufacturer, or look up the exact type of carpet and its requirements.

Take your time and do slow turns

When you start vacuuming carpets, it is essential to ignore all basic human instincts to try and do everything as quickly as possible. Good cleaning takes time.

Let your machine suck up all the dirt that has piled up. Always do a second round and slightly overlap the different sections whilst cleaning, just to be sure that you have covered the area properly.

Clean carpet stains and smells

Stains can be a nightmare to clean, especially from a light-coloured carpet. But keeping your carpet stain-free needs to be a priority if you want to prolong its life. And here is how you can treat stains to lift them up.

Choose the right cleaning solution

If you want to know how to clean a carpet naturally, worry not, because the solutions to most stains are hidden right in your kitchen cupboards.

You have probably heard many times that tonic and soda water are good at removing coffee stains, or that salt is perfect against dirt and for soaking up fresh stains. Baking soda, on the other hand, is the number one helper in absorbing unpleasant smells, stuck in the fibres of your carpet.

All of the above is true, but these are not the only natural remedies with secret superpowers.

  • For sticky stains like gum or wax, you need to harden the spot by using an ice cube, or a plastic bag filled with ice, before scrubbing the stain off.
  • For smelly stains, make a solution of vinegar and lukewarm water, apply it to the stained area and leave it for a couple of seconds. After that, rinse with clean water.
  • For blood stains, the best course of action is to work with either cold water or hydrogen peroxide. Using warm liquids will only set the stain. If the blood spot is already dry, gently blot it with a cloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide and continue with an enzyme-based detergent.
  • For pet urine stains, similar to blood, it’s best to use an enzyme-based cleaner. Try not to experiment with other solutions, as they might not be as effective. Still, if you don’t have a choice and the stain is still fresh, try blotting it with an ammonia solution. After that, follow up with a simple carpet detergent and warm water. If the stain is already set in the carpet, try to lift it with a 1:3 solution of water and vinegar. Finish up with a detergent and water.

We’ve dedicated several posts on dealing with different carpet stains. Read in detail how you can remove them here:

Test your cleaning solution

Whenever you’re cleaning your carpet, you want to make sure that you won’t damage the fibres or the dye in the process. That’s why, regardless if you are using a homemade cleaning solution or a chemical stain remover, you should always test it out on a small, inconspicuous area.

Does your carpet hold on to its colour even when exposed to heat, moisture, light, and stronger cleaning products? If the answer is yes, then your carpet has been dyed with a colourfast dye.

Performing this test will help you determine what you can use to remove stains from the carpet safely. Here’s how to do it:

  • Apply the solution – Go to the area you have chosen for this experiment and apply a small amount of the solution you intend on using.
  • Wait – Let the solution sit for a few seconds.
  • Press with a cloth – While the spill is still fresh, take a clean cloth or a white towel and press it to the spot for a bit.
  • Check the results – If the carpet dye has transferred to the cloth, then this solution is not the right one for your rug. But if the towel is clean, then the professional or homemade detergent is safe to use on any other part of your carpet.

If it’s your first time using a particular solution, always do a test first and don’t trust the experience of other people.

Blot instead of rubbing the spot

We are often tempted to rub the stain as hard as possible in the hope that this is the fastest way to remove it. Unfortunately, rubbing a stain into the carpet will not only prolong the time you will spend removing it but will also make the task a lot harder than it should have been.

The smart way to remove carpet stains is to blot the affected area, barely touching the carpet, rinsing with clean water, and blotting again. Don’t scrub the spot if you don’t want to damage the carpet fibres or permanently soak the stain into the fabric.

For very fresh stains, only seconds old, the best thing you can do is to blot them with a cold, slightly damp cloth, until they are gone. Again, no rubbing or using hot water.

Don’t risk damaging your carpet – leave the hard work to the experts!

Remove the smell from the carpet

Baking soda is one of the best ways to take care of nasty carpet odours from food, beverages, cooking, etc. It works by neutralising them. Here is how you can clean a smelly carpet:

  • Prepare baking soda – To treat those smelly stains, you need to create a thin layer of baking soda over each spot, so if you have more places waiting for treatment, prepare a lot of soda.
  • Spread evenly – Spread the baking soda evenly on the area with your hand, or a spatula if necessary.
  • Let it sit – The baking soda coat needs to stay overnight, so make sure that no one steps on the spot by accident.
  • Vacuum – The day after, just vacuum it up.

A foul smell does not only come from spills and dirt. Sometimes, it can appear even after a deep carpet cleaning or if the rug is newly purchased. If the latter is your case, take a look at our special post on how to reduce the smell of a new carpet.

Clean different types of carpet the right way

Not all cleaning methods suit every type of carpet out there. To ensure your rugs don’t get irreversibly damaged, you need to know which solutions are acceptable and which ones to avoid when cleaning your heavily soiled carpet.


If you’re wondering how to clean a synthetic rug, the good news is it’s a breeze! Still, there are a few different types of synthetic carpets and knowing which methods to use is important.


Nylon carpets are a popular choice because they are super easy to clean, durable, and stain-resistant. When it comes to washing a nylon carpet at home, you have a wide variety of solutions available. You can use:

  • dish soap
  • white vinegar
  • baking soda
  • lemon
  • club soda
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • ammonia

your cup runneth over with possibilities!

The one thing you really should avoid is cleaners with high alkaline content, as that can make the carpet lose its stain resistance.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean Nylon Carpet


These colour-fast and water-repellent carpets are also extremely easy to clean and maintain. However, they are oleophilic, meaning that oily stains can be harder to remove.

So, cleaning a polypropylene carpet – how is it done?

Professional cleaning-wise, any wet technique can be used – steam cleaning, hot water extraction, etc. It’s recommended that you have this done at least once a year.

Want to wash your carpet yourself? You can use dishwashing liquid or, for more stubborn stains, diluted bleach. Yes – polypropylene carpets are bleach-cleanable! Just make sure you dilute it properly.


Polyester carpets are stain and fade-resistant, easy to clean, and – best of all – inexpensive. However, they are prone to attracting dust and dirt rather quickly.

Cleaning a polyester carpet can be done with ingredients such as baking soda, dish soap, and white vinegar.


Natural carpet fibres can be a bit more challenging to clean than synthetic ones, as they are more delicate and prone to damage. So, read on to find out how to clean natural fibre carpets.


Wool carpets are among the most popular natural fibre types, as they are fade-resistant, fairly durable, and can even be fire-retardant. However, they can be easily stained.

Cleaning wool carpets can be tackled with:

  • wool cleaning detergent
  • dishwashing liquid
  • baking soda
  • white vinegar

Avoid bleach, bleach-based products, steam cleaning and dry cleaning at all costs.

Seagrass, jute, and sisal

These carpet types are a great way to bring a natural look to any home. However, cleaning them can be a challenging task.

To clean these types of rugs, you can use a dry cleaning agent.

  • Seagrass carpets can be cleaned with club soda or mild dishwashing liquid, too.
  • Clean jute rugs with baking soda, diluted dish soap, and salt.
  • For sisal, use baking soda or vinegar.

By no means use any cleaning method that involves excessive moisture to clean these types of rugs! If using dish soap, club soda or vinegar, never pour liquid directly over the rug, always blot up the excess moisture and dry the carpet immediately after.


Cowhide rugs can bring a luxurious feeling to every home. While they’re not everyone’s first choice, it helps to know how to clean a cowhide rug.

You can use dishwashing liquid or vinegar to treat stains. Dry cleaning chemicals should be avoided.


When wondering how to freshen a sheepskin rug, remember that it’s not just about the products – you need to make sure the hairs are properly brushed and detangled to avoid matting.

Sheepskin rugs can be cleaned with a mild dishwashing detergent or dry cleaned. We don’t recommend washing dyed rugs – dry clean them instead.

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean a Sheepskin Rug


These delicate carpets should be treated gently. The best course of action here is prevention. However, accidents happen. If possible, leave cleaning silk carpets to the professionals.

If you decide to tackle the stains yourself, you can use club soda, white vinegar, baking soda, or mild dish soap. Under no circumstances use enzymatic cleaners, bleach, or hot water and steam.

Experienced carpet cleaners are available near you!

Let an expert inspect and determine the best cleaning method for your carpet.

Add a valid postcode e.g. SE1 2TH

Dry your carpet after cleaning

Making sure that the carpet is completely dry is just as important as cleaning. A damp rug can very often be the new home of many kinds of fungi, bacteria, and mould. So, leave all the windows and doors open to ensure strong air circulation.

The drying time shouldn’t be more than 24 hours. However, if you are washing a sheepskin rug, know that it will take a bit longer.

If leaving the windows open is not possible, then leave the door open and set your air conditioner to moderate. Basically, anything along the lines of fans, blowers, dehumidifiers, air movers, and carpet dryers can help you speed up the drying process of your carpet.

How long do carpets take to dry after cleaning?

It usually takes from 6 to 12 hours, depending on what you are using as a tool. Whatever it is, no walking on the carpet or moving the furniture is allowed whatsoever.

If you have some sort of protectors on the feet of your heavier furniture, you can remove them only after the carpet has thoroughly dried.

How to keep your carpets clean

Getting rid of singular stains or having a deep clean every once in a while is not enough to keep your carpet clean and fresh. The little things you do every day are just as important, and now we will tell you exactly what they are.

Treat stains immediately after they occur

The number one rule in cleaning carpet stains, no matter the origin, is to take immediate action when a spill occurs (unless it is a mud stain, which you should tackle once the mud has dried). Don’t let a stain dry on your carpet because it will be a lot harder to remove afterwards. When a liquid is spilt, blot it carefully – don’t rub it on the carpet

Remove your shoes before walking on your carpet

Maybe it will take a bit more effort, but consider having a special place to take your shoes off before you enter the main parts of your home. The best one will be just after the door. We’re sure that you don’t want to bring all the outside dirt and bacteria into your lovely home.

Install a doormat to keep dirt out

You can place doormats either inside or outside of the main entrance. By being able to wipe your feet before entering, you will reduce the amount of outside dirt and bacteria and prevent them from spreading around the house. The bigger the doormat is, the better.

Fit furniture protectors to prevent dents

If you tend to move your furniture a lot, you have to be aware that it may affect your carpet fibres. You can avoid damage by fitting castor protectors or felt pads to the feet of your furniture.

If you have furniture marks on your textile floor covering, check out our post on how to get dents out of carpets to see how you can fluff your rug back up.

If your carpet reaches areas with a lot of traffic, such as the corridor to the front door or the kitchen, consider protecting those areas by placing plastic carpet protector mats or throw rugs. This extra layer will not only protect the actual carpet but will also make cleaning a lot easier when you can pick up the mat and throw all the dirt outside.

In addition, plastic carpet mats are also see-through, so by using them, you are just protecting your carpet, not adding another piece of carpeting that may interrupt the design of your room.

Potty-train your pets to avoid “accidents”

If you have a pet, you have to do your best in training them not to use your carpet as a toilet. If they use a litter box, place it in a non-carpeted place like the bathroom, or anywhere else as long as it’s easy to clean, like tile or laminate.

Sometimes you might not have a choice other than putting it in a carpeted area, so if this is the case, place a rubber mat below.

Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it

The rule of thumb is to vacuum twice a week and have your carpets deep cleaned once per year. However, different households have different needs.

If you live alone, surely you wouldn’t need as much maintenance as someone who has a family with kids or pets. If the traffic is high (and especially when pets are present), vacuuming carpets should be done around two to three times a week. It’s crucial to get rid of the many allergens, such as dust and pet hair, and to prevent the build-up of dirt, making the carpet easier to clean and maintain.

So, make your own carpet cleaning schedule, depending on your circumstances, and make sure to stick to it; otherwise, it’s all for nothing, right?

You may also like:
Cleaning Guides
Clean Carpets, Clear Prices: Demystifying Carpet Cleaning Costs

I don’t have that much time. Are there any other cleaning options?

It’s okay if you don’t have the time to clean the carpet by yourself. Alternatively, you can buy or rent a carpet cleaning machine, but by doing so, there is still the issue with time – you will have to invest some of yours.

The most time-efficient way to clean your carpets is to have them professionally cleaned. Fantastic Services offers two carpet cleaning solutions – hot water extraction and dry cleaning.

Hot water extraction, also falsely called steam cleaning, is suitable for synthetic and woollen materials, while dry cleaning is suggested for more delicate items made of seagrass, jute, and sisal.

Want to bring your carpet back to its former glory?

Find a professional to rid your carpet of dirt today!

Add a valid postcode e.g. SE1 2TH


  • Cleaning your carpets yourself can help you remove surface dirt and dust.
  • Using rented cleaning machines often leaves the carpet damp, which can lead to mildew issues.
  • The most effective solution is to have your carpet professionally cleaned.
  • When vacuuming, make sure to take your time, use the right attachments and vacuum at the correct height.
  • For easier removal, treat stains as soon as they occur.
  • Always test your chosen cleaning method on an inconspicuous area first.
  • Maintaining your carpet regularly can help make it easier to clean.

We hope you found our article on how to clean a carpet helpful and please, do share your experience with similar situations in the comment section below.

Image source: Evdokimov Maxim /

5 6 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x