Written by Sommer Poquette
If your home has carpet, you’ve probably struggled with cleaning a stain or two. It’s possible you’ve filled your shopping cart with an array of conventional carpet cleaners that promise to remove persistent carpet stains. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter carpet cleaners contain toxic chemicals such as phthalates, pesticides, formaldehyde and other ingredients that aren’t necessarily safe for humans or the environment.
These cleaners can also build up in the carpet fibers or carpet padding if not rinsed properly—and most homeowners don’t have the capability to rinse their carpet as effectively as a commercial carpet cleaner might. Some cleaners can even make your carpet resistant to cleaning, collecting and holding dirt because they contain soap (a fact I learned from a professional carpet cleaner I hired after trying too many conventional cleaners for our messy St. Bernard puppies, to little avail).
But I’ve since learned a better method: make your own eco-friendly carpet and stain cleaners. It’s likely you have many of the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard, including table salt, white distilled vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Besides saving you money, these all-natural ingredients can help maintain your household’s health.
The Culprit: Fruit Juice or Red Wine
Key ingredient: Salt
The color red in general is always tough to clean, whether you’re dealing with carpet or clothing. The key is to tackle the stain immediately. Let’s imagine you’re having friends over and a guest accidently knocks over their glass of red wine. Don’t panic! Quickly blot the stain and collect as much of the liquid as possible. Don’t rub; you’ll just work the stain deeper into the carpet. Stay calm, smile and blot.
Then, pour table salt over the area and allow it to dry. Continue on with your dinner party, pour your guest another glass of wine, and take a deep breath. In the morning, when the stain is dry, vacuum it up and your stain will be gone.
If you didn’t catch the accidental spill, no worries—just re-wet the stain with club soda. Blot well and then pour table salt on the area and let dry. It’s not ideal to see a dried red stain, but it happens and there’s no need to freak out. You might need to repeat the process once or twice, but with some persistence, it should come out.
The Culprit: Blood or Vomit
Key ingredient: Hydrogen Peroxide
These are among the worst stains to deal with, but the key is to immediately clean the area and blot to absorb any liquid. Never rub when dealing with a carpet stains; you’ll just make the liquid soak into the carpet fibers and padding. Blot with warm water and use equal parts water, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide can stain darker shades of carpet, so test in a corner or out-of-sight area first.
The Culprit: Pet Odors
Key ingredient: Baking Soda
It’s common for carpet to have an odor if you have pets. An easy solution to freshen up your carpet and deodorize it is to use baking soda. Simply sprinkle the baking soda on the carpet and leave it overnight. Vacuum in the morning and your home will smell fresh and clean. I like to do this on a monthly basis, but don’t overdo it with the baking soda. A little goes a long way. You’re simply sprinkling—not pouring!
Another affordable option is to make your own DIY spray freshener. All you need is a clean spray bottle, water and your favorite essential oil. Add one cup of water and 2-4 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Spray on your carpet, throw pillows, curtains or furniture. I like to use lavender because it’s relaxing, but there are so many options, and this is a great way to freshen up the smell of your home before having guests over.
The Culprit: Ground-in Dirt and Serious Stains
Key ingredient: White Vinegar
Steam cleaners are great because they remove the dirt from your carpet with heat, loosening the particles. Some require you to use harsh chemicals, but there is an alternative. In the past I’ve used a 1-to-10 ratio of white vinegar and water in my steam cleaner, with no problems. Check with the manufacturer before making your own solution to make sure it’s safe to use in your steam cleaner.
Whether your carpets are dirty, stinky, or stained, there’s an eco-friendly cleaning solution to your problems. Good luck, and when in doubt, call a professional!