Carpet cleaning is a costly chore, with most commercial cleaning preparations priced at approximately $0.30 per ounce. Homemade carpet shampoos are much cheaper than the store-bought counterpart, costing as little as $0.05 per ounce.*
The do-it-yourself versions are better for the environment, as they usually contain all-natural ingredients. In addition, there is no plastic bottle to throw away: each batch of cleaner is made as it is needed.
Of course, many people wonder if the homemade versions work. As the mother of two young sons and a muddy Golden Retriever, I put the homemade solutions to the test on our family room carpet. All of the cleaning recipes worked for spilled juice stains, mud, and pet stains. Rust and ink stains were not removed with the steam cleaner recipes: these types of stains respond to other stain removal methods (see the Carpet Stain Removal table below).
There are several tips to keep in mind when treating stains:
Remember to blot, and never rub, a stain. Rubbing in a stain often grinds the stain deeper into the carpet and may spread the stain to other carpet fibers.
Treat stains as they happen, as the stain is easier to remove when it is fresh.
Use the right type of cleaning agent for specific stains. Ink stains require alcohol for removal, for example, while typical foot traffic will come clean with any of the general carpet cleaner recipes below.
*Cost for vinegar and liquid dish soap carpet shampoo solution.