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Spring cleaning carpets the natural way…

The Big Three in Clean

The Big Three in Clean

I’m always on the lookout for great cleaning tips.  I also am trying really hard to do away with expensive, toxic cleaning supplies in my home.  Often, good old fashioned non-toxic cleaning solutions can work just as well or better than expensive, toxic products.  Here are a few inexpensive and effective solutions for keeping your carpets clean:

1. Club Soda-  Buy cheap club soda in cans and never be without it.

I have a favorite club soda story.  And sure, it’s funny to me… now.  Back when my kids were babies, I heard somewhere that club soda could take stains out of carpets.  With three little ones (one of them being affectionately called “Pig Pen Ben”)  I needed all the cleaning help I could get.  So I picked up a six pack at the store.


The Glory Days of Black Bart Ben

One day I was nursing the twins (sometimes a nerve-wracking experience because my two year old Ben had a knack for finding trouble while I was totally pinned down by two hungry babies.)  Anyway Ben somehow found a black Sharpie marker (you know the Permanent kind!)  I know, I know, how could I ever have left one lying about?  But I did.  Well, my budding little Picasso,  colored all over a few books and some toys.  After that he took off his clothes, including his diaper, and illustrated himself (even certain unmentionable parts…all black… for sometime afterward he was known as Black Bart Ben)  Then he colored all and I mean ALL over the carpet.  After having a good cry, and thinking the black scribbled carpet in the middle of my daughters pink room might be artistic (not!) I pessimistically decided to give the club soda a try.  It beat calling the expensive carpet cleaning company (which I was also pessimistic about.)  Armed with only a stack of clean towels and a can of club soda (and sure I was on a fools errand)… I poured the club soda over the stain.  To my surprise, the black marks looked diluted on contact.  My hopes rose just a little.  I began blotting.  (Never-ever scrub your carpet.)  It took about 45 minutes, the whole stack of towels, and several cans of club soda later… but the stains were completely gone!  I was amazed.  I was thrilled!  And I was sold on the cleaning power of club soda.

Since then I have used it on other stains, including Black Cherry Soda.  And it has worked like a charm.  I’ve also used it on clothing stains.  It does works best when used before the stain sets and dries.  Since you don’t need to use a lot of soda for most stains, I buy club soda in cans.  Save any leftover soda in the can for the next inevitable spill.  I’ve found it still works even if the carbonation is gone.  Just pour over the stain, let it sit for a few minutes and then blot it with a clean white towel.

2.  Another favorite carpet trick is to freshen them up using Baking Soda.  With three kids and an dog, my carpets can take on not so pleasant odors.  I measure out 1 cup of baking soda and sprinkle it all over the carpeting in a room.  Then wait for about 30 minutes to an hour before vacuuming.  And voila, your carpets smell fresh as a daisy.  If you want to add a bit of natural scent, measure 1 cup of baking soda into a container with a lid (like a Mason jar) and add a few drops of essential oil (I love lavender) replace the lid and shake.  Then sprinkle over your carpet, wait and vacuum.

3.  Last but not least is the spot cleaning champion White Vinegar.  You know the drill, the puppy just went behind the chair and a few minutes later you smell something majorly unpleasant.   It’s white vinegar to the rescue.  For pee stains, first lay several towels over the stain and place weight of top. Leave for several hours or over night. Then mix 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 quart water and put in a spray bottle.  If the smell is really bad you can go with undiluted vinegar.  Spray the area thoroughly to remove the odors and blot dry.  I have used white vinegar on all sorts of other dried on stains on my carpet.  And am happy to say it removes many of the toughest stains.

White vinegar can also be used for all over carpet cleaning using a Steam Carpet Machine.  Just mix 1 part vinegar with 10 parts hot water, following your machine’s instructions. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell will dissipate as soon as the carpets are dry.  White vinegar leaves your carpets bright and clean and it does not leave any residue so the carpets will stay clean longer.

This quote really sums up my house keeping experience:

House cleaning is like stringing beads with no knot at the end of the thread.

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21 Responses to “Spring cleaning carpets the natural way…”

  • Oh my goodness, what a horror story about the black Sharpie! Glad that you found a good safe solution. Need to bookmark this page so it will always be on hand :-)

  • Oh, my goodness. You do have your hands full. Thanks so much for sharing with us. I’ll keep these ideas on hand. I don’t have children, but I do have a 91 year old mother who often spills on the carpet, and a cat. And after keeping my son’s lab for a couple weeks I need to freshen my carpet. Thanks again.

  • Soooo glad I came across your blog today. I was planning on cleaning the carpets today with one of those machines you can rent.. I am an all-natural girl and I was very hesitant to use the cleaning solution they sell. Well I already clean using vinegar, water, and lemon oil, so now I am going to use the same solution to clean my carpets (they’ve never been shampooed, yucko I know). Thanks!!

  • Thank you. My carpet just needs a cleaning. Use your tips

  • Hmm…I am going to assume this works on upholstery as well? My boyfriend’s cat decided that my arm chair was her new litterbox, and we can’t seem to get rid of the smell! I will try spraying straight vinegar on it and soaking it up with a paper towel like you suggested for carpets. Thanks for the tip!

  • Lori:

    Thanks for the cleaning carpets with vinegar tip.

  • Tonya:

    Have you ever tried using Genesis 950? It is the best, easiest cleanier I have ever used. It takes care of almost any stain. I think you might really enjoy it. It’s safe and amazing!

  • I have used vinegar on my carpet before I was amazed it cleaned like a charm and no smell Im going to clean the whol carpet soon as you suggest

  • julie:

    Will this work on set banana stains, I have used everything

  • Mindy:

    We moved into our new house less than 24 hours ago and already the dog threw up on the carpet. Gonna try these ideas today. Thank you.

  • Alice:

    Not sure how the club soda for Sharpies worked for you. I have 2 small Sharpie stains on my fabric couch that just won’t come out. Not even with the club soda and I tried doing this immediately after my daughter made the marks. :(

    • Calli:

      Hi Alice, I only had that one experience with Sharpie and club soda. I think I locked up the Sharpie markers after that episode. My son wrote all over my carpet over at least a 3 to 4 foot area in fairly dense scribbles. I still have the same carpet in my girl’s bedroom today, and there isn’t the slightest stain. I think the key was that I cleaned the stain just minutes after it happened, but I also think my carpet being synthetic fibers (less easy to absorb the ink) and the fact that carpet isn’t a solid surface, also helped. Is your sofa synthetic or natural fiber?

      • Janine:

        It may be a long shot but try Rubbing alcohol. My husband accidentally left a pen in his military uniform and it went through the washer and dryer. I tried clorox 2 and oxy and neither worked. I poured rubbing alcohol and let it sit a few minutes and then used a sponge to absorb the stain. I had to do this for a long time but the stain came out! Good Luck!

        • Mary:

          I have used cascade on my military uniform to get the ink stains out of the sleeve where it leaked and it removed the entire stain. I left it on the stain overnight and washed it out the following morning. I have also removed a pet stain from my carpet using straight cascade. Makes the carpet smell nice too!

  • Ricardo:

    Try hair spray, followed up immediately with club soda. Vacuum immediately with wet-dry vac or blot with towels.

  • Laurie:

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the tip on cleaning carpet with vineger!! My dog has suddently taken to urinating in two spots in my living room while my husband and I are at work. I rented a carpet cleaner and went over the whole room three times. The next morning, the whole house reeked of urine. I found this site online during the day and thank goodness I did because when I got home from work the house smelled even worse. I ran the machine again using vinegar and water as you directed, and the smell all but went away immediately! I couldn’t believe it! Next time I will save the $20 I spent on the cleaning solution and use only water and vinegar :)

  • I was reading this post and noticed you put a weight on the spot… while that will soak up some of the liquid, if also pushes some into the carpet pad below…later the stain can resurface and cause odors. I was at my mother in laws, and my son spilled strawberry soda all over her brand new bright white carpet..I freaked. But My brother in law taught me a trick, he said to blot, then lay a towel folded (that you don’t care about) over the wet area, then using a hose attachment on the vacuum, vacuum the entire area using the towel as “filter”.. I was impressed the shasta mark was completely gone, and we didn’t have to use any other product.

    • Calli:

      Hi Amanda, I’d never thought of that! What a great solution with the vacuum. I am definitely going to try it next time.

  • Samantha Anastasiou:

    fyi vinegar can set some dyes, so be careful, it is what fabric makers used to use to set certain dyes in fabric! a lot of people use vinegar to clean, but do not know this and when you clean a fiber carpet you can set some stains in for good.

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