I have a few things to say about this photo of dirty water from cleaning my carpet:
First of all, isn’t it lovely? The image of a job well done.
Second, my apologies.
I’ve got pictures of dirty water from homemade carpet cleaner.
Oh, yeah. Nothing but class.
At least I’m going to tell you how I did it, too, and you can probably replicate it at home just fine!
Do You Clean Your Carpets?
I’m sure there’s a balance between the philosophy of “a little dirt is good for you” and “I don’t want any germs in my house.” I lean toward the former, but when we moved into a new home, it just felt prudent to pretend I was in the latter camp for a few weeks and clean everything really, really well.
With no furniture in the house, how could one NOT steam vacuum the carpets?
Note: We also had the ducts cleaned out, a $400 mistake that I would NEVER do again. The result was an incredibly dusty basement (that I had already cleaned top to bottom for two hours) and people sneezing for a few weeks. Want to create more dust in your house? Pay to have your ducts cleaned. I would have rather all that stuff sat still under the vents…to be fair, many in the comments really appreciate duct cleaning…sounds like we had a terrible company. 🙁
My in-laws own a steam vacuum and offered the cleaner that came with it, but with a soon-to-be crawler who will be ingesting everything on the carpet and my general tendency toward natural green cleaning products, I knew I had to figure out a green alternative homemade carpet cleaner, and one that I could find fast. John also was sleeping on the floor while I was working at the new house, another reason not to have fumes, well, fumigating his nostrils!
Enter the power of social media.
Options for Non-Toxic Steam Vacuum Solutions
Here is the full list of ideas from readers out there, and I’ll tell you what I ended up using (and why it probably wasn’t the best choice!) at the end:
- Just hot water (a few times) – a few people said don’t use soap at all, because soap attracts dirt.
- Water and vinegar – half and half OR vinegar in the amount you’re supposed to use cleaning solution Note: vinegar sets some stains (dyes); I wouldn’t use it anymore
- 2 parts water, 1 part castile soap, and a shot of vodka for sanitizing (that sounds like too much soap to me…maybe in different models?)
- 1 DROP Sal Suds, 1 c. vinegar in rinse cup (my model didn’t even have a special rinse cup; I wonder if I would have done it twice with this method) – this site discusses more about the Sal Suds treatment, including a spot cleaner. Note: no vinegar for me anymore
- After we thoroughly cleaned all the carpets, we’ve been using a new product for spot cleaning carpets naturally that does a great job, and it can also be used as a steam clean option.
- Tiffany at Nature Moms uses Babyganics Floor Cleaner Concentrate and swears by it.
- Someone hypothesized that Simple Green might work
- A few recommended soap nuts liquid (you make it DIY by boiling soap nuts in water). They said to use the same proportions as whatever soap is called for in the cleaner tank and water in rinse tank, or “just boil a few nuts 30 minutes and use that water.” For me, for that stage of my life, that was too much extra work to even try, although I considered trying a bunch and doing side-by-side tests! Also I didn’t know how many times we’d actually need to refill. It ended up being quite a few, maybe 5?
- Biokleen Bac-Out, diluted
What Did Katie Use to Clean the Carpets Naturally?
Because it seemed super easy and I use vinegar to clean many things, I went with two cups of vinegar and hot-hot water to clean the carpets. I thought folks had a point I’d heard before about soap attracting more dirt, so I didn’t want to use castile soap just in case, and my Sal Suds bottle was still all packed up.
Obviously, we got a lot of dirt up, but I wonder now how it would have gone with just the water.
I received a comment in my Charlie’s Soap review from a fellow who owns a carpet cleaning service. He’s looking for an eco-friendly cleaning solution for professional use, and apparently it’s quite tricky:
“The difficulty in finding a good home brew carpet cleaner is that many have the affect of setting stains. Many that are “green” also leave residues in the carpet that cause premature re-soiling.”
He reminded me:
“When fiber artists want to set dyes in fabric they use vinegar. On the right kind of spot vinegar can work fine. On the wrong kind it can take an easily removable spot and make it a permanent stain never to be removed.”
Um. Oops. Like maybe this one?
That’s in the thoroughfare of our living room, likely never to be hidden under furniture, although the sellers had an oddly placed couch covering it when we viewed the house.
That’ll teach me to listen to the wisdom of the Internet!
If I had to do it over, I would just use hot water, since everything else leaves questions of residue or setting stains. (Biokleen Bac-Out was a close second since I love it for stain treating laundry, but I wondered if it would have residue problems. It’s an enzyme-based cleaner that smells like lime, which was more appealing than vinegar! The vinegar didn’t actually make the house smell like vinegar at all, by the way.)
Deodorizing Carpet Naturally
I used to suggest deodorizing carpet issues, especially tinkle on the carpet, with baking soda, but I’ve since learned why NOT to use baking soda on carpet. Baking soda never fully gets vacuumed up, and even in small quantifies it’s so abrasive that it can wear out the carpet fibers prematurely.
Fascinating! I learned all this in the comments! Anyone want to share an idea for something to deodorize carpets that won’t end up damaging them?
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