17 DIY Carpet Cleaner Solutions

Updated: Dec. 11, 2023

Before calling an expensive cleaning service, DIY it with these common household solutions to help wipe out all kinds of tough carpet stains, from gum to oil.

How to Clean Carpet

This question can be a difficult one. The trick is to know exactly what type of stain you’re dealing with. Cleaning up coffee and cleaning up ink are two completely different stories. The good news? Everything you might need to tackle any carpet mess is probably already in your cupboards. No matter which solution you’ll need in order to clean up your mess, be sure to dab at the stain and not rub it. Rubbing the stain into your carpeting will only spread the particles and make the stain worse. Get a clean, preferably pale cloth, and use the following DIY carpet cleaners to attack your hardest carpet stains.

1 / 17

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Coffee and Tea: Beer

Getting that coffee or tea stain out of your rug may seem impossible, but you can literally lift it out by pouring a bit of beer right on top. It may seem like an unusual cleaning solution, but it really works. Rub the beer lightly into the material, and the stain should disappear. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times to remove all traces of the stain.

2 / 17

Best DIY Chemical Carpet Cleaner: Ammonia

Lift out stains from carpeting and upholstery by sponging them with a solution of 1 cup clear ammonia in 1/2 gallon (2 liters) warm water. Let dry thoroughly, and repeat if needed. Make sure not to mix the ammonia with bleach though, as it can cause toxic vapors.

3 / 17
Rikard Stadler/shutterstock

How to Clean Carpet With Vinegar

Vinegar is the superhero of stain removal. Try these different formulas for homemade carpet stain remover to remove a variety of common stains:

  • Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum.
  • For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture and use in the same way.
  • For tough, ground-in dirt and other stains, make a paste of 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and rub it into the stain using a dry cloth. Let it set for two days, then vacuum.
  • For spilled paint, use a solution of 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons laundry detergent, and two cups water; sponge away the paint before it sets in and rinse with cold water.
  • For fruit and fruit juice stains, mix 1 tablespoon laundry detergent with 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar and combine with two cups of water. Work the solution into the stain and blot.
  • For coffee and tea stains, combine equal parts white vinegar and water and blot the stain.
4 / 17
shaving cream

Most Unexpected DIY Carpet Cleaner: Shaving Cream

Your little one is very sorry for spilling a little juice on the carpet, so make it “all better” with some shaving cream on the spot. Blot the stain, pat it with a wet sponge, squirt some shaving cream on it, and then wipe clean with a damp sponge. Shaving cream also works great on grease and oil stains; simply work the cream into the stain, let dry, and rub off with a damp soft cloth.

5 / 17

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Grease and Oil Spills: Cornstarch and Milk

Oh no, ink on the carpet! In this case, a little spilled milk might save you from crying. Mix the milk with cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the ink stain. Allow the homemade carpet stain remover to dry on the carpet for a few hours, then brush off the dried residue and vacuum it up. Cornstarch is also great for soaking up grease and oil stains. Sprinkle the spots liberally, let sit for several hours, and vacuum up.

6 / 17
Miro Novak/shutterstock

Best Multi-tasking DIY Carpet Cleaner: Salt

Use a sprinkle of salt to boost the power of another homemade carpet stain remover:

  • Don’t panic if you spill red wine on your white carpet. While the red wine is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the color. Then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area with salt and wait about 10 minutes. Now vacuum up the whole mess.
  • For greasy food stains on carpet, mix up 1 part salt to 4 parts rubbing alcohol and rub it hard on the grease stain, being careful to rub in the direction of the rug’s natural nap.
  • Ketchup spill on your carpet? Act fast because once this one dries, it will be nearly impossible to get out. Sprinkle salt over the spill, let sit for a few minutes, and vacuum. Sponge up any residue and continue salting and vacuuming until the stain is completely gone.
7 / 17

How to Clean Carpet With Borax

Thoroughly dampen the stained area, then rub in some borax. Let the area dry, then vacuum or blot it with a solution of equal parts vinegar and soapy water and let dry. Repeat if necessary. Don’t forget to first test this DIY carpet stain remover on an inconspicuous corner of the rug or on a carpet scrap before applying it to the stain. Borax is a great cleaner and used for keeping things fresh around the house.

8 / 17
Mike Vande Ven Jr/shutterstock

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Ink Spills: WD-40

Don’t let ink or other stains ruin your carpet. Spray the stain with WD-40, wait a minute or two, and then use your regular carpet cleaner or gently cleanse with a sponge and warm, soapy water. Continue until the stain is completely gone.

9 / 17
Andrey Popov/shutterstock

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for All-around Stains: Hydrogen Peroxide

Can’t tell what that stain is? Still want to remove it? Don’t worry, homemade carpet cleaners can remove mystery stains too. Try this sure-fire homemade carpet stain remover: Mix a teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a little cream of tartar or a dab of non-gel toothpaste. Rub the paste on the stain with a soft cloth. Rinse. The stain, whatever it was, should be gone.

10 / 17
baking soda

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Bodily Fluids: Baking Soda

Out of all homemade carpet cleaners, baking soda is your best choice to quickly remove vomit or urine stains and leave your carpet clean. Wipe up what you can, then pour baking soda over the affected area and pat with a paper towel. Let the homemade mixture dry completely before vacuuming up the residue. Baking soda will clean, sanitize, and deodorize the messy spot. Baking soda can also be used to lift grease stains when combined with equal parts salt. Sprinkle the mixture over the grease spot, and use a stiff brush to work the powdery concoction into the spot. Let sit for 4 or 5 hours and then vacuum up to completely remove the stain.

11 / 17

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Blood: Meat Tenderizer

Scraped knees leave blood stains on your carpet? Cover the stain with equal parts cold water and meat tenderizer and let this homemade remover stand for 30 minutes. Sponge off with cold water. Here are a few tips for cleaning up blood spills.

12 / 17
club soda

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Tough Stains: Club Soda

Club soda works wonders on pet urine and other tough stains. Immediately blot up excess urine with paper towels, then soak with club soda, blot again, and scrub with diluted carpet shampoo. Club soda also removes spilled coffee and tea stains; simply pour liberally over the stain and blot to dry.

13 / 17
Yevhen Prozhyrko/shutterstock

Best DIY Stain Remover for All Fabrics: Baby Wipes

Use baby wipes to blot up spills from your rug or carpet; they make great homemade carpet cleaners, absorbing both the liquid and the stain. Wipes can also be effectively deployed as a homemade stain remover when attacking various spills and drips on your clothing and upholstered furniture.

14 / 17
Yulia YasPe/shutterstock

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Deep Stains: Toothbrushes

Removing a stain can be a pain, especially one that has soaked deep down into soft fibers. To remove those deep stains, try using a soft-bristled nylon toothbrush, dabbing it gently to work in the stain-removing agent (bleach or vinegar, for example) until the stain is gone. Toothbrushes are great for different cleaning and other home projects.

15 / 17
ice cubes

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Gum: Ice Cubes

Chewing gum somehow end up stuck to the fibers of your carpet? Ice cubes could be the homemade carpet stain remover you need. Freeze the gum first with ice cubes in a plastic bag, then scrape with a butter knife and blot with trichloroethylene, a dry-cleaning fluid.

16 / 17

Best Carpet Spot Cleaner for Oil Stains: Dry-cleaning Fluid

Dry-cleaning fluid is excellent at removing grease, lipstick, butter, and mysterious oily fingerprints. Blot up excess oil with a paper towel, and then work the fluid into the stain, moving from the edges to the center.

17 / 17
paint spray

Best DIY Carpet Cleaner for Paints and Polishes: Paint Remover

For spilled paint, nail polish, or leaked ink, dab gently with paint remover. If that fails, try dabbing with dry-cleaning fluid.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest