Frugal Homemade Carpet Cleaner


Dogs and carpet don’t mix. In fact, country living and carpet don’t mix either…

Unfortunately for me, when we purchased our house, it had brand-new, white Berber carpet. Me, being the frugal person that I am, wouldn’t dream of ripping out brand new carpet… So, here we are.

Our dogs have a knack of finding and eating the nastiest things. I would bet we are pushing a world record on how many times I have cleaned up various forms of nastiness in our house… I will spare you the details.
Let just say that the lastest escapade involved a porcupine. And the porcupine didn’t win.

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of money trying different brands of carpet cleaners. Some worked better than others, but I go through large quantities.

Then one day out of pure desperation, I tried baking soda and vinegar. And… it worked! Baking soda and vinegar are good for many, many things, but I’ve rarely heard them recommended for carpet. I’ve purchased many different brands of spot cleaners over the years, but I always find myself coming back to this simple, frugal, and all-natural stand-by.

(If you are worried about discoloration, please test on a small, hidden area first. I’ve never had problems with that, but you never know…)

Homemade Carpet or Spot Cleaner



1. If using the lemon essential oil, mix it with the baking soda, then sprinkle the mixture on the spot. Allow it to sit on the stain for a little while– anywhere from an hour to overnight. Lemon is a wonderful all-around cleaner, and it helps to deodorize the carpet as well. If you aren’t using the lemon, then sprinkle plain baking soda over the stain.

2. Mix a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water in a spray bottle (remember to repurpose!) Generously spray this mixture on the baking soda and allow it to fizz.

3. Lay a towel or rag over the wet spot and press on it to absorb the moisture. I’ve heard it’s not recommended to “scrub” carpet, since it can damage the fibers. However, you can bet I’ve definitely done some scrubbing at my house in moments of desperation… *ahem* Proceed at your own risk.

4. Depending on the severity and age of the stain, you may have to repeat this process more than once.

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It make take several applications, but I have had great luck at removing the toughest of stains. And, it’s all natural so you don’t have to worry about any toxic chemicals in your house. And, it sure beats driving the 80 mile round trip to town to pick up spot cleaner…
Well, if you will excuse me now, I’m off to pick porcupine quills out of my carpet….

Frugal Homemade Carpet Cleaner


  • White vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Optional: Lemon essential oil
  • Old towels or rags


  1. If using lemon essential oil, mix it with baking soda, then sprinkle mixture on spot
  2. Allow to sit from an hour to overnight. If not using essential oil, just sprinkle plain baking soda over stain
  3. Mix a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water in a spray bottle
  4. Generously spray this mixture on baking soda and allow to fizz
  5. Lay towel or rag over wet spot and press to absorb moisture
  6. Depending on the severity and age of stain, several applications may be required

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  1. Diane says

    I have also had success on carpet stains with my antibacterial norwex cleaning cloth. They are costly up front, but I can use plain water and the norwex cloth to rub out stains. No I do not sell them, got mine at a neighbors party.

    • Jill says

      No- I wouldn’t put this in a shampooer. However, I just bought my own carpet cleaner machine and have been researching natural homemade alternatives. Seems like a lot of people just use plain hot water or a splash of white vinegar instead of the chemical soaps. Some recipes call for adding laundry or dish soap, but I’ve heard several “professionals” say not to do that.

      • doni says

        just getting ready to get out the bissell but needed something for a prespot. figured might as well check pinterest and see if anyone had used baking soda and vinegar before. and here you are. vinegar in your machine is also a good after shampoo cleaner. removes cleaning residue from your carpet. kind of like rinsing with vinegar after shampooing your hair.

      • Lea says

        I recently made a mixture of hot water, baking soda, a tiny bit of Castile soap and lemon essential oil and used it in my carpet cleaner and the carpet looked and smelled great and it worked fine in the machine.

  2. kathy says

    hi, i tried this and it actually took the spots off. however…… i now have white spots from the baking soda that dont seem to be coming up. i i didnt use a lot of baking soda and the rug is not bleached from the vinegar. im afraid to start messing with it . any suggestions out there?

    • Jill says

      Did you try vaccuming up the excess baking soda? Or you also might try adding a touch more vinegar to the unreacted soda and then dabbing it up.

      • kathy says

        tried vaccuming but that didnt help. just tried more vinegar , hoping that will do it. some spots still had a reaction some didnt. `~ sigh~ maybe my rug is just that dirty

    • Jill says

      I’ve never had any trouble with it bleaching the carpet, but definitely try it on just a small area first.

    • Jill says

      The baking soda should definitely help the smell. However, if it’s still lingering, try mixing a few drops of lemon essential oil with 1/4-1/2 cup of baking soda. Sprinkle it on the carpet, let it sit overnight, then vaccuum up in the morning.

    • Jill says

      It should help, but if you really want some deodorizing power, try mixing some lemon essential oil with 1/4 cup of baking soda, sprinkle on the spot, leave overnight, then vaccum the next morning.

    • Jill says

      You could give it a try! Another thing you might try is rubbing straight lemon essential oil on the stain. Or even straight liquid dish soap.

  3. says

    Thank you for this! I wish I would have found it a week ago today! We had to let a sick, newborn calf stay over night in the hallway outside the kid’s bedrooms. And it has carpet. And why, when some baby animal wiggles it’s way off the blanket, does it’s behind end up being the end that sticks off the blankets? :) YUCK!! I knew I should have ripped up that carpet last year when I ripped out the dining room carpet. Oh, well…. My sweet husband got off work and went to Palestine to rent a steam cleaner for me. Next time, I’ll try this first. Probably sooner than I want to. Our youngest Great Dane sleeps in the living room at night, & I haven’t figured out how to teach him to wipe his feet before coming in.

  4. Joy says

    Thanks for posting this it’s very timely for me. My (91 year old) mother lives in a senior apartment and periodically spills on her carpet. Right now there is something I don’t recognize and I’ll need to clean it. I will definitely try this method. 😀

  5. Alyse says

    My grandma shared this magic recipe with me the first time my dog got skunked. We’ve since used it for vile stinky nasty vomit upchucks. for getting the stink out of carpet, and the dogs (as in skunk spray!) this stuff works! Mix for each use. It won’t keep or store.
    1 cup hydrogen peroxide
    1/4 cup baking soda
    1 tsp liquid Castile soap (as in doc bonners) or you can use dish soap.
    Expand as needed for the volume needed.

    • Jill says

      Yes! I’ve used that recipe on my skunked dogs too! It’s magic! Never thought to try it on carpet though– good idea. :)

      • alyse says

        My grandma always, always had white carpets in her ranch home. (with those plastic matts on the floor!) NO ONE was allowed into the house with shoes or even clothes that had been out in the fields and barn. Nor even grandpa. If you wanted to hear grandma hollar…this transgression would bring it on! At the back side door there was a mud room and direct access to the basement shower.
        I’ve used it on carpets that were in rental homes over the years. The carpets were synthetic fibers and it worked without stripping the color.
        You can always test on a part of the carpet that is hidden, like in the closet? I always tried to rinse as much out of the carpet as I could.

  6. Cecilia says

    Hi! Professional Carpet Cleaner here (26+years). These are all great ideas. None of these combinations should have a bleaching effect, but the residue of baking soda and/ or a ‘clean spot’ would be my guess on the white spots left. One trick that works SUPER for large, deep spots and stains: after you put down your diluted cleaning agent, layer absorbent towels, then something heavy (with a plastic layer in between if your something heavy is absorbent). Leave in place for hours, up to a day. Repeat. The cleaning agent will loosen the soil, the weight will cause the stain to ‘wick up’ into the absorbent material. If people knew this trick we would have less business. :o)

    The thing about dish soap is liquid detergents ‘never dry’: they leave a sticky residue. And they are so concentrated it is easy to use to much. There are some stains that will only respond to a high-alkaline cleaning agent, in which case use sparingly and rinse with vinegar solution (acid) to neutralize and remove the residue.

    My home cleaning is moving more and more toward home-made cleaning products, thanks for the good ideas!

    • Jill says

      Wow– it’s great to hear from a Pro! Thanks for sharing your tips– I really like the towel idea!

      • Irina says

        Hi, Why do the same spots come up after I machine wash the carpet like a month later? The carpet looks clean and then they just reappear? Do you know of a solution that can make them disappear? Thanks

        • says

          I’ve had that happen too–it seems to depend on what caused the stain. Usually after repeated washings, mine will eventually go away.

  7. susan fox says

    “Some posts on this blog contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.”

    Well, that’s interesting. You should post that little gem on top of your page in BIG letters so that your readers know you are endorsing this solely for monetary gain.

    • says

      I’m not endorsing this solely for monetary gain- and I think it’s rather unfair to say that. I’m endorsing this because I’m in love with their products and they have worked splendidly for my family and I- so much so that I choose to sell them. I don’t see a problem with becoming a distributor for a product you personally use and love.

      Blogging takes a tremendous amount of time. and it costs money to run a blog. I use the money I earn from affiliate links on my blog to help to offset these costs.

  8. Corine says

    I use this same mixture, although for things that I do not want to let sit (let alone overnight, I use the shop vac to vacuum up the mess and it works wonders! :)

  9. Stanna says

    Who cares if u gain $$$. I’m so thankful to have these ideas to clean my home:)

  10. Catherine McKaskey says

    I love oils myself. I enjoy your blog too. Interesting tip about goats and baking soda….kep sharing links and all!

  11. Sherrie says

    I had all but given up on the stains in my carpet but after having great success with other natural cleaning solutions decided to look for something for carpet and yours was the first/only link I needed. Appreciate your information and feedback from readers including the professional which really just gave me the added confidence I needed to give it a try. Thank you!

  12. says

    thanks so much- it worked! when we bought our home 11 yrs ago there was what looked new & expensive carpet in the living room that got a lot of nasty oil stains on it from me putting an oil home remedy on our collie’s leg , I wrapped it but she took it off when I was out- thus carpet stains. i scrubbed & had natural proffessional carpet cleaners come in- nothing worked till this. we are getting hardwood floors put in this spring now that the stain is out, but at least it will look clean for the winter. thanks again. carol

  13. Amanda Predmore says

    I have a question with a bit of story leading up to the question… My aging kitty was accidentally locked in our bedroom and subsequently he “went” on my tempur pedic mattress… we cleaned the best we could and turned the mattress so that the spot he went was at our feet so we wouldn’t smell it – for cat pee smell can be impossible to get out. Each night before going to sleep I put “Breath” and “Serenity” on my feet for breathing well and sleeping. Some months went by with this ritual and one Saturday when changing the sheets, I decided to smell the spot where Buddy went, and it didn’t smell AT ALL… and it of course smelled good but no hint of cat pee smell. This said, I started thinking about the issues around our home with Buddy “going” – which is generally furniture. We have lost 4 couches so far and countless other items. And starting thinking… and doing research… and as it turns out according to others’ testimonies is that citrus can deter cat naughtiness in the areas where they tend to go… not only do we want that, but also to do away with the smell. Here is, finally, the question… what mixture for a bit of dilution so that we don’t go through the lemon or orange oil so fast should I use… I can’t just mix water with the lemon/orange oil – because it doesn’t mix… but it isn’t a mixture that I plan on mopping up – but spraying day after day until I don’t smell anything. Should I do just a drop of dish soap? I know this works well for spider killing… putting this out there to see if you are still answering questions on this! Thanks!

    • says

      You could definitely try a bit of dish soap to help it disperse. Another idea is to mix the drops of EO with some Epsom salts until they absorb it, and then dissolve the salts in the water. As far as the dilution–you’ll probably have to play around with what works. :) Good luck!

  14. K Wells says

    Personally, I appreciate links to products that you use/recommend. Saves me the effort of asking or researching on my own. I’ve used oils before and love their products. If you can recoup some of your costs for time and effort by promoting some of the products you use then that’s your pr

    • says

      Yes– I am aware that they neutralize each other, so I always avoid mixing them together in DIY cleaners that will be sitting around. However, I’ve still had really good results with this recipe, so maybe the reaction happening on the carpet helps? I dunno–it just works! 😉

      • jackie says

        If the two cancel each other out, then I suspect the bubbling reaction is the hero here. I use hydrogen peroxide on the carpet when my toddler has accidents. It is magic! I have tried it with dog vomit and it didn’t work very well so up next is the baking soda and vinegar.

  15. says

    when you get ready to shampoo your rugs, don’t overlook Simple Green! it is a non toxic biodegradable all purpose cleaner and degreaser and it smells phenomenal! you can buy a gallon at Costco or Sam’s for under $10 and it works Great! also works great for extra dirty laundry, mopping floors and a myriad of other things, but i know you make a lot of your own natural cleaners as do i. but that Berber carpeting i would HATE to see get ruined, so that is my advice to another natural homesteader from another one just like her 😉

  16. sally says

    I too have NO ISSUE with bloggers that “make money” from affiliate links on their blogs – people like you are doing something constructive, earning their own money instead of complaining AND providing a FREE service for many who don’t have the time or inclination for researching on these things on their own..

    I don’t have carpet (for health reasons) but checked this blog out for family members who do have carpet – and pets – and babies. :-) Will definitely be passing this info on to those people – and even using it when we vacation – because I often have allergy problems with the carpeting in our accommodations.

  17. Karen Rasmussen says

    Simple Green is NOT non-toxic! Check out EWG’s list of toxic cleaning products, it’s there.
    I used to use it all the time, now it’s banned from the house.

    BTW, also learned tip from a professional…if you have a nasty pet spot on an area rug that isn’t too huge to lift, put a plastic bowl under the stain, pour very warm water thru the stain, it will wash into the bowl. Then of course towel under rug to absorb any dampness after you remove the bowl.

  18. Ellen O says

    I was told many years ago by a flooring installer that the only solvent necessary to clean carpet is water. Spray clear water on a stain and rub with a towel. I have removed road tar with plain water. The only problem is that the “spot” always ends up cleaner than the rest of the carpet. He also told me that using any kind of soap will attract dirt to the spot. Water has been my preferred carpet cleaner ever since. No one believes me until I demonstrate. Try it and see!