The Search for Natural Carpet Cleaning

My OxiClean method of carpet cleaning is great for getting carpets clean. However, with a little one rolling around in the floor these days, I wanted something that was more natural. Cleaning with Young Living Thieves cleaner worked well, but that stuff is expensive and it isn’t the easiest to get your hands on. I got to thinking there had to be something cheap, natural, and easy to purchase that I could clean my carpets with.

Let me start by telling you that I should come with a warning sign that says, “Warning! I void warranties!” If you use anything other than the branded cleaning solution for your carpet cleaner you will void the warranty on the carpet cleaner. I’m just not down with that life. I cannot be limited to only products that say “Hoover” or “Bissel”. It seems like such a scam. Anyway. You’ve been very warned that you can void your warranty if you do anything I do.

My carpets are super dirty. I haven’t cleaned them in a year! Actually, more like 14 months. I have super cheap and very old carpet. We rent, so there isn’t anything I can do about the carpet. It was old and dingy when we moved in 9 years ago and SURPRISE! That doesn’t get better with time.

Also, I am well aware that professional cleaning is probably better. However, I cannot afford quarterly professional carpet cleaning for these old, cheap carpets in our house we rent. If you can afford someone, awesome. If you can’t, keep reading, because you are who this is for.

I started with my dining room. There was slime in the floor from a recent kid experiment. There was some paint, some turmeric, and several spilled drink spots. You start by emptying your room as much as possible and vacuuming the floor.

First I decided to try vinegar. It is super cheap. And I figured it might smell weird, but it might be the magic carpets need. I did two passes over the area with a half a cup of vinegar mixed into my clean water. It cleaned really well but did nothing for the stains. And it didn’t get up the slime, which is weird since it is water soluble.

Next, I grabbed a bowl and filled it with hot water and about a teaspoon of Castile soap. I usually have the hemp almond scent, but the rose was on sale, so we have rose right now. I use Castile soap for all manner of cleaning around my house and can get it right down the road. With a scrub brush, I scrubbed the stains and the gunk (slime) that didn’t come up with the vinegar alone.

This is after vinegar but before scrubbing.

After spot scrubbing, I decided it was time for the rinse portion of cleaning. When I “rinse” my carpet after cleaning and scrubbing, I just put hot water in the clean water portion of my carpet cleaner. No cleaning solution. You can add a few drops of essential oil, but mine was already smelling pretty strongly like rose, so I skipped that step. If you are using essential oil in the rinsing portion, you should be aware of a few things. The first is that you should always add the oil after you fill the water reservoir. If you add the oil first it can mess up the carpet cleaner by getting oil in little spots it probably shouldn’t be settling in. Next, do not use citrus oils, they can break down plastic, which is pretty much the entire carpet cleaner- so skip that one. If you want to use oil, but want to be a bit safer on your machine, grab a spray bottle and fill it with water and a few drops of oil, spray that over the carpet and then rinse the carpet. You’ll still be sucking the oil up, but not in concentrated amounts.

After the rinse, you can go back over the carpet again and not use water at all to suck up the excess water. I usually do this so it doesn’t take forever to dry.

So, the vinegar wasn’t the best at carpet cleaning. It really did clean my carpet. I can tell you, it is very clean. But you can see that there are still a lot of stains. However, I feel comfortable letting the baby wallow around on this. But I wasn’t entirely pleased with the results. So, on to the living room and a different method.

Same story. Remove as much of the furniture as you can. Vacuum the room. This time, I decided to give baking soda a shot. I put 1/3 cup of baking soda into some hot water to dissolve it, then poured that into the clean water.

You can see the little fuzz balls that accumulate. Just pick them up after each pass. This always happens to me, despite vacuuming well before starting. The baking soda wasn’t great. It feels like OxiClean on the floor. A little film going on. But it just wasn’t cleaning all that well. So, I switched tracks again.

This time, I decided to just use Castile soap. I put a capful in the clean water tank and set out to clean again. This time, it did much better.

I still had to spot clean some spots. And not all of them came out. Turmeric stains something awful. But I spot cleaned the same as before with Castile soap and a scrub brush. Then I rinsed the carpet with clean water. Then I went over it “dry” to suck up as much extra water as I could, so it wouldn’t be too very wet.

I am much happier with these results. I feel like the Castile soap got the slime and stuff up much better. The carpet got much cleaner looking. And it didn’t feel weird after. Castile soap is the clear winner. I was a little concerned that it would bubble up too much and affect the suction on the carpet cleaner, but using just a capful in the water seemed to be enough to clean but not enough to make a bubbly mess. (Like that time I put Dawn dish soap into the carpet cleaner.)

If you’re wanting your carpet to look new, use the OxiClean. If you want it clean, but are more concerned about having a kid or pet safe product, use the Castile soap. The Castile soap works just as well as the Thieves Cleaner did. My carpets aren’t perfect. I still wish I could pull them up and put something else down. But they are clean and they look a lot better. And the baby can wallow on them and I won’t worry about the residual cleaning product getting on her.

And to answer the common questions. I do not recommend any one carpet cleaner over another. I’ve used Hoover and Bissel. I have reviewed carpet cleaners for both companies. I’m not affiliated with one or the other. The cleaner in these pictures is the Hoover Powerdash Pet because that is the carpet cleaner I am currently reviewing. But I haven’t ever had one home carpet cleaner that was just stand out better than the others. They are all pretty much the same to me.

I purchase Castile soap at my local natural grocery store. I have purchased from Whole Foods in the past. And I have purchased it from Amazon. I have only used Dr. Bronner’s. It is what I like, so I keep buying it.

I am not a Young Living consultant, but I’m sure you know one if you want to try the Thieves Cleaner method. I was a consultant, but selling stuff isn’t for me, so I stopped. In fact, I need to update y’all about my oil purchasing. Because I still very much use and love essential oils. Need a consultant? Post on Facebook and I’m sure a dozen of your friends will be happy to sell it to you.

**This post contains an affiliate link (for the Castile soap). Using this link to purchase the item does not cost you more, but I do make a small amount from the purchase. Thank you, in advance, for supporting me by using my affiliate links. Support your favorite bloggers by using their links when you want to make a purchase. **

Ask LJ: Carpet Questions

I get a lot of questions related to my Carpet Cleaning with OxiClean method and my Carpet Cleaning with Young Living Thieves Cleaner method. I figured I would answer them all in one spot for you today.

after

Dear LJ,

When I am cleaning my carpet, do I stop when the water is clear?

Cleaning For Hours

 

Dear Cleaning For Hours,

No! Oh my goodness, I don’t think I could ever get completely clear water in a home carpet cleaner. Stop when the floor looks clean. If you want it clean until the water comes back clear, you’ll need to hire someone. I suggest Master Cleaners.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

What does it mean when you say “rinse the carpet”?

Confused on Details

 

Dear Confused on Details,

Rinse simply means you are using your carpet cleaner with water only, no soap. Just don’t add anything to the cleaning tank. Just water. I use tea tree oil in my rinse because it makes the carpet smell nice and disinfects.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

Can I use OxiClean in a rented carpet shampooer?

Rebel of Carpet Cleaners

 

Dear Rebel,

Your rental agreement likely says you cannot. I am not going to tell you to do it because I never have. The rental machines state you can only use their product. I have used them before with their product. Buy the pet version, it is better. And follow my same steps or washing, scrubbing, and rinsing. If you want to use OxiClean, buy your own machine. It will still void the warranty, but you won’t be potentially messing up a rental.

As for the long term effects on OxiClean on my machine. It creates more residue than the cleaners suggested by the manufacturers. The rinse cycle does help clean some of that out. But you’ll notice white powder residue in several places on my machine. So far, in the years I have been using OxiClean in my machine, it hasn’t killed it. But I’m not sure I’d risk it on someone else’s machine without their permission.

LJ

Dear LJ,

Can I use Thieves Cleaner in a carpet shampooer?

Natural Cleaner

 

Dear Natural Cleaner,

Yes, you can! I wrote about that here. It doesn’t clean as deeply, but it leaves the carpet pretty darn clean and soft! Try it. But yeah, it is still going to void the warranty on your machine, so make sure you are okay with that.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

Can I use bleach in my carpet cleaner?

Giant Mess

 

Dear Giant Mess,

No. I have tried. Don’t do it. And I’ll just go ahead and address the next question. Don’t use peroxide either. I’ve tried that, too. Bleach will unevenly bleach your carpet. It looks bad. Peroxide will turn it orange in spots. It looks bad. So don’t do either of those things. Seriously.

Other things I have put in a carpet cleaner:

Dawn dish detergent: way too foamy. You can barely keep the machine going with all the foam. It takes forever to rinse all the suds out. Definitely not the trick I was hoping for.

Laundry Detergent: It cleans clothes, carpet seemed logical. While it smelled amazing, it was too sudsy and too slippery and just didn’t deep clean all that well. It took a few tries to get the amount right, and then it just didn’t clean any better than straight water.

Fabric Softener: I know. I was going for a good smelling carpet. It wasn’t the best. You have to use very little to not end up with a blue hue and then it doesn’t do much. Carpets shouldn’t be that soft. It is more creepy than cozy.

Lysol: I was attempting to disinfect my carpets post tummy bug. It did nothing. Skip this and use cinnamon oil or tea tree oil or Thieves Cleaner instead.

Febreeze: Again, I wanted the carpets to smell good. Just spray it on your carpet. It was way overkill and didn’t clean or do much of anything. Tea Tree Oil works so much better on fixing carpet stink.

Essential Oils: These are great. They work. They help with smell. They don’t stain, someone asked me that. They could potentially break down the plastic of the carpet cleaner, but I haven’t had issues. I also put them on my vacuum bag. I’ve tried many, but tea tree oil and cinnamon bark are my favorites for carpet cleaning. You can try others. I’ve done orange, lemon, fir, frankincense, lavender, and a few others. I still prefer tea tree or cinnamon.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

Will you come clean my carpets?

Needs Help

 

Dear Needs Help,

No. I am not a professional cleaning service. See my recommendation above for Master Cleaners.

LJ

 

Did I miss your question? Feel free to ask in the comments. This post contains some affiliate links.

Carpet Cleaning

Before I do the unthinkable and show you my carpets, let me explain. I have 4 kids under 5. (Although, the Little Miss will be 6 next month, which kind of makes me sad.) And I have 2 dogs. And I’m clumsy. So, lots of spills. Second, my carpets are cheap. And I rent, so there is no replacing them. Yes, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have cheap beige carpet, but my world isn’t ideal. My world just is. I am thankful for a home, even if I don’t own it. And I do absolutely everything I can to make our rental house a home. (I do occasionally get pretty bummed about the whole renting thing. Then I remind myself that I’m not in a tent in the desert following a cloud, and I realize I’m extremely fortunate for God’s provision, even if it isn’t a home we own and even if our rent is astronomically expensive. God has been faithful to provide for us each step of the way and this is not the worst place I’ve ever lived, though pretty close to the most expensive.)

I’m going to share with you my carpet cleaning tips and tricks. Bear in mind, my carpet is cheap and awful. There isn’t much I can do to make it worse than it already is. Also, using anything other than the carpet cleaner made by your steam cleaner manufacturer voids the warranty. But if you want clean carpets, their stuff just won’t work. So, you can either void the warranty and have clean carpets. Or follow their rules and still have stained ugly carpet.

** Update: If you’re looking for a natural cleaner, go see my post over here. **

 

These are the before pictures. I know. Don’t judge me. 4 kids. 2 dogs. Clumsy me. Plus we host a lot. Okay, I’m justifying. But this carpet has made me a carpet cleaning pro. I clean it often. I do this thorough steam clean about every 2 months. (Yeah. I know.)

Step 1: Clean you carpet with your steam cleaner with one scoop of OxiClean in the hot water. Do not use off brand OxiClean. Only use the real stuff. Believe me. The cheap version leaves a white residue on stuff. Plus it smells weird. So good stuff only. And when I say “clean your carpet” know I refilled my steam cleaner 6 times to get step 1 done.

Tip: Don’t forget your shoes are wet when you step from the carpet to your linoleum/hard woods to dump and refill. You’ll get hurt.

After you steam clean with OxiClean, you’ll look at your carpet and it will be miles better. At this point, some people would stop. Not me. Clearly it is better, but it isn’t great just yet. (And believe me, I do know that some amount of staining is just inevitable and I can live with it.)

Step 2: Get a bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush (I use some cheap dish scrubber I got at Dollar General the one time I was in that store.) and scrub the spots that didn’t come up. Today, I had several spots of chocolate. Why not scrub first? Well, over half of the “stains” on the carpet will come up with the steam cleaner, as you can see. So, saving the spot scrubbing cuts down on the number of spots you scrub. Don’t be afraid to get the carpet wet and soapy.

Step 3: Rinse your carpet with the steam cleaner. I rinse one time with just hot water in the cleaner. Then I go over it a second time with a few shakes of tea tree oil in the water in the steam cleaner. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial. Since I have a crawling baby and a toddler who often eats off the floor, I like feeling like my carpets actually are clean, not just look clean. Plus, the tea tree oil makes  the carpet smell really great. So, if you’re keeping count, that is 8 times I have filled up the steam cleaner. And yes, a couple hours of work. I didn’t claim it was easy. Just awesome.

Make sure you let it dry a bit before you put your furniture back in. (Tip: If any of your furniture is metal or has metal on the base, let the carpet dry COMPLETELY before putting the furniture back on it. Trust me, it will rust. And rust is not a stain that comes COMPLETELY clean.)