How to Clean a Carpet with Vinegar

Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated May 21, 2023

Using homemade Vinegar solutions to clean carpet stains.

How to Clean a Carpet with Vinegar

This is a step by step guide on how to clean your carpet with vinegar.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Remove carpet stains without needing a cleaning company?
  • Apply the white distilled vinegar in your carpet cleaning process?
  • Get rid of the nasty smell leftover by vinegar solutions?
  • Lots more.

In short: If you are interested in the whole process (and do not want to lose your carpets to stains from red wines, vomits, and more), you’ll love my guide.

Let’s get started.

White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is a great non-toxic cleaning agent as a result of its acidity. So both the white Vinegar and apple cider vinegar would be great to clean your carpets with.

Yet, I’d recommend the white vinegar for your carpet cleaning. (1)

If putting vinegar on your carpet as stain removal, I’d suggest you used something clear rather than brown. The color of the apple cider vinegar might just add color to your already stained carpet.

Besides, the smell of apple cider vinegar might be a bit more pleasing than the white vinegar but can easily be fixed with essential oils. The white Vinegar is also more affordable as the apple cider vinegar was made with more expensive ingredients.

Step by step, depending on the cleaning issue:
This section will show you steps on how to remove your carpet stains, deodorize your carpets, and You’llegar.

Removing Carpet stains

You’ll require a spray bottle, a few paper towels, and your vinegar to remove these stains.
  • First, you must remove stains as soon as you possibly can. Whether it’s spilled wine, muddy footprints, or pet pee, it sits harder if allowed to stay for long. So, I’d recommend you get it while it’s still wet. This step is where you blot. Here, you place your paper towels over the spill. Firmly use the heel of your palm to apply pressure on the towel.
    Remember, blot only. Do not rub the liquid in.
  • Keep up with the blotting until you have drained as much of the liquid as you can. You might require a few more paper towels, depending on the extent of the spill you’re dealing with.
  • Next, get your vinegar solution handy. I’d recommend that you pour the solution into a spray bottle. Turn on the “mist” setting on your spray bottle. Spray the entire area liberally till it’s soaked. Then, allow yourself to sit there for a few minutes before you move to the next step.
  • By now, the vinegar solution should have worked its magic. You can now use a paper towel to soak the liquid. Try blotting but if you feel the need to scrub, then go for it.
  • This next step requires a steam cleaner. If you already have one at home, you can just swap its contents with plain vinegar. Just follow your usual procedure when steam cleaning the entire carpet.
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However, this should get the stains off your carpet.  I’ve used this technique on so many spills, from party poop to mud stains, even pet dung. As long as the stain is relatively fresh, this easy, eco-friendly technique would get you cleaned up.


Deodorize Carpet

This step requires a few more ingredients. You’ll need to get a few cups of water and a tablespoon of baking soda to add to your vinegar.

Let’s begin:

  • Pour your mixture into a spray bottle and shake.
  • Once the bubbles are down, you can spray the mixed vinegar on your carpet.
  • The vinegar solution might begin to smell quite strongly but wait till it dries off. Once it dries off, the smell should dissipate with it.

Note that as a guide when using the vinegar to clean your carpet, remember the odor caused by bacteria. So, the more intense the odor is, the more concentrated you’ll want the vinegar solution to be.

Carpet Cleaning

Follow these steps to complete the cleaning process:

1. Vacuum the carpet

To begin the process, vacuum the carpet to ensure no stray dust or debris is lying on the surface. If you apply your vinegar solution to a dirty rug, you will most likely stain it the more.
Make sure you are thorough, i.e. you should vacuum the front and back. This would leave your carpet dirt free and allow you to focus on the stains.

2. Apply your Vinegar solution

Here, you begin by creating the right mix for your cleaning. You have to ensure you regulate the vinegar contents. Too much might damage the carpet, and less might not do anything at all.
Mix your white vinegar with small amounts of warm water and a mild dawn dish soap. Ensure you test the cleaning solution on a small portion of the carpet.
This is to check if it will damage the color or surface of the carpet.

3. Scrub through the carpet

Use a soft cloth or brush to scrub through. A sponge might also do the trick, but it has to be mild, to avoid ruining the carpet fibers. Dip it into a bowl of your water and vinegar solution and gently scrub in a linear motion.

Make sure you scrub in the direction of the nap. It might require a lot of time as you are cleaning the entire carpet, but you need the patience to get it done.
Clean the fringes along the edges as well. The whole process should be done from one end to another until it’s clean.

4. Rinse the carpet

This is a crucial step, you shouldn’t forget. If you fail to rinse out all the vinegar solution, then you might be stuck with bigger dirt than you intended cleaning in the first place.
I’d recommend you take the carpet outside and rinse thoroughly with running water. You could hang it over your fence, two chairs, or whatever you don’t mind getting wet. Rinse till there is no trace of vinegar left in the carpet fibers.
However, you might have the luxury of rinsing outdoors, so you make do with what you have. Simply get a microfiber cloth, dip in to clean water, and rinse using the same method you used in applying the solution.

5. Remove the excess water

Done rinsing? If yes, then you shouldn’t let the excess water remain in your carpet. The excess water could leave your carpet with yellowish marks and might even cause it to smell.
If your carpet is big, then it would most likely become heavier once it meets with water.

Just lift it and hang on a frame to dry or use a window squeegee to remove the excess water.
Ensure you press the squeegee into the fibers and pull in the direction of the fringes. This might likely take your time, but ensure there’s no more water seeping out.

6. Take out to dry

Even with all the water out, the carpet needs to be dried. I’d suggest you let it dry outside under the heat of the sun. Sunshine would dry your carpet way faster.
Ensure you check it out from time to time to confirm if it’s dry. You can as well flip the sides over to be certain that the moist has dried up completely.
If you cannot afford to leave it outside, just open up your windows to allow some air to do the job. You can also use a few fans on it till the carpet dries completely.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Vinegar effective?

Yes, and according to my experience, vinegar is effective.

You can use vinegar to clean stains from different parts of the home. It is a solution that has been used to clean carpets, furniture, and other surfaces.

It is a handy ingredient that could save you money and time. Instead of having your carpet professionally cleaned, someone mistakenly spills something, you can use a vinegar solution.

However, you must test it out on a hidden part before you entirely apply it on your carpet. This would help avoid damages or any form of discoloration.

Should I use it distilled with water?

When cleaning out your carpet with vinegar, you do not want to damage the fibers with highly concentrated vinegar. So, before you apply the vinegar on the surface, add a few cups of water to deconcentrate the solution.

You must monitor the level of water you apply when mixing your solution. Remember, too much water reduces its efficacy, while little water makes it harmful to your carpet.

Will the smell remain?

Whilst you apply your vinegar solution to the surface you are cleaning, you might get plagued by a nasty smell. The smell would require you to open up all your windows as it easily saturates the place.

However, once the solution dries up so does the smell as well. This is one reason it is used in deodorizing your carpet.

Despite the advantages of cleaning your carpet using vinegar, it frequently leaves a very nasty smell once you’re finished.

To conceal the stench, add more amounts of vinegar and water to the solution.

To dampen the odor on the affected area, add a bit of baking soda and allow it to work. Once you’ve poured it onto the carpet, allow it to dry before you scrub or vacuum off.

To help the odor of vinegar disappear faster, open a window, or turn on a fan to help create airflow.

Can I use it with Essential Oils?

Essential oils are a great add-on if you want your vinegar solution smelling a lot less nasty. Adding a few drops of the oil can easily eliminate that sour vinegar odor. The essential oils are available in different scents for you to choose from.(2)

These are a few options:

  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Wild Orange
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Grapefruit

Can I use it with hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar can disinfect areas as well as neutralize odors. As a duo, these two combinations can be harmful to you if inhaled by mistake.

However, if I’d recommend you use them one agent at a time, as they can easily clean out stains from your carpet. Just pour the hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle and the vinegar in another spray bottle.

Spray the vinegar mix on the carpet’s affected area, then spray the same area with the hydrogen peroxide. It doesn’t matter which one you pour first, as long as you spray one immediately after the other.

Can I use it with my steam cleaner?

Using vinegar with your steam cleaner helps remove odors from your carpet and clean out stains. You don’t require anything when adding the vinegar solution.

Just take out the regular cleaning supplies in it and replace them with your vinegar. With that, you can clean away those stains.

However, ALWAYS read the manufacturer’s instructions. Some steam cleaners are not meant to be used with anything else but water. So be careful and always get informed first.

Now it’s your turn …

I hope you enjoyed my guide on how to clean your carpet using vinegar.

Now, I’d like to hear what you think:

  • Are the stains still stuck on your carpet?
  • Did you have issues following any of the steps?
  • Do you think this cleaning method is all you needed?

Either way, share your thoughts with me in the comment section.

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