Easy Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution for Machines

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If you clean your own carpets or have ever considered buying a machine to do it yourself, this Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution will knock your socks off! In fact, I’m certain you’ll never buy expensive machine cleaners again!

I’m very picky when it comes to my carpets and I don’t like stains.  For years I bought expensive “professional” cleaners to get my carpets the cleanest (or so I thought).  This simple homemade version works better and costs just pennies to make!  And, there are no harsh chemicals involved!

Your carpet will be clean, soft and fluffy with no lingering smell.  Just read our reader comments and make sure to leave one of your own when you see the amazing results.

Easy Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution for Machines

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HOT Water (approx. 1 gallon of water)
1 Tablespoon Dawn (or other dish soap)
1 1/2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1/4 Cup 3% Peroxide

First, fill your machine’s water reserve with HOT tap water.  You’ll want this as hot as you can get it from the tap.  Leave space for the other ingredients.  *If you have a solution tank, just leave that empty.

Then add 1 tablespoon Dawn dish soap.  Other varieties work well, but don’t use any “with bleach”.  Then add the vinegar and peroxide.  3% peroxide is the type used on cuts and is found in any store in the first aid section.

Be sure to add the dish soap after the water or you’ll have a full container of soap bubbles before the water nears the top of the container.  Resist the temptation to add extra soap!

Clean your floors with your machine as you normally would.  You can rinse by using hot water, but I’ve found there is actually no need for rinsing.  It’s truly amazing how well this simple solution works!

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Need a Machine for your Cleaner?

I have two machines that work really well on my almost white carpets!  The Hoover SteamVac Carpet Cleaner with Clean Surge is an impressive cleaner with no frills. It gets the job done and the carpets clean!

If you are serious about your carpets this Hoover MaxExtract 60 PressurePro Carpet Deep Cleaner  is another great option.  I have it (and love it) and it makes my nearly white carpets look brand new after using my homemade solution.

If you have high traffic stains or stubborn spills that won’t come out of  your carpet, don’t give up. This recipe took stains out of my carpet that have been there through cleanings with professional cleaners!

Check out our Homemade Spot Cleaner you can make yourself which does not require a machine.  This solution is stronger and effective on pet stains, grease and stubborn dirt!

Stains on stairs?  We have the best recipe for Homemade Stair Cleaner and it is AMAZING!  This recipe also works on spots.

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Comments

  1. I am taking a break from cleaning my tan berber carpet to tell you how much I LOVE THIS! I have 3 kids and 2 cats and our living room carpet was horrible. We have wall to wall carpet and I had put a small area rug on top of it in front of the couch. I moved that rug the other day and was disgusted with the difference between the clean carpet underneath the rug and the horrible mess on the carpet around that spot. We don’t eat in that room, we always take our shoes off before we go in there, and I have no idea how the carpet got that dirty, but I can tell you, your cleaning solution worked! Thank you so much!

  2. I recently purchased a Big Green Deep Clean Machine, and the instructions state specifically not to use vinegar in it (http://www.bissell.com/aossDetail.aspx?id=21720). I’m looking for a natural alternative to the chemical cleaners, but also don’t want to destroy an expensive machine. What do you think? Thanks!

    • Does your machine heat the water? Does it have a separate tank for the solution and the water? My machine does not heat the water (I pour hot water into the tank) and I have used the recipe in it over 30+ times. The machine runs like new with no problems.

      • I add a 1/4 cup of Gain Febreze and a 1/4 cup of regular Rubbing Alcohol. My carpets have never looked better and used this recipe at least 20 times. We have 3 large dogs and I foster German Shepherds. I’m constantly cleaning carpets!! My machine and my SpotBot have never clogged. Love it!

  3. I use this in my Bissell pro. Because you just use this in the tank you have to put your setting on rinse.I also add a quarter cup of fabric softener it leaves a nice scent.

  4. I was wondering if I would be able to use apple cider vinegar. …. of course thats the only kind I have in the house right now.

  5. Michelle – this is an amazing recipe and I will be using it for a long time I’m sure. I have two toddler boys and an English Mastiff all of whom are completely crazy mess makers. I used this today to clean an “accident” spot that the dog made overnight and the carpet is unbelievably super clean and this left no odor at all! Thank you so much for sharing such an amazing recipe!!!!

    Victoria

  6. Hello,
    I have a Bisssel little green pro heat, I was looking for a more natural safe cleaner for a couple of chairs I wanted to clean.
    I came across your recipe and it really cleaned up the chairs well, they are a medium brown and they did not fade at all, really freshened up the stale smell they had.
    After using the cleaner, I read that you should never mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar because it can cause skin irritations and respertory problems….. Well I have sensitive skin and breathing problems and you’ll be glad to know I did not experience any problems of that nature while using it . :-) Thanks again for posting, it works !!!!

    • Thank you Diane. I have used this receipe to clean my entire house of carpets over a dozen times in the last year. There is nothing toxic about it. My kids have walked on it wet, there is barely a smell. When it dries, it is odorless and CLEAN!

      • Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar combine to form peroxyacetic acid. However, in your solution it will be a very low concentration.

  7. Chris Sullivan says:

    Michelle or for anyone else…I have a Bissell Power Steamer, however, the solution dispenser is no longer working…If I read your directions correctly..I can just put the solution where the hot water goes ? Thanks…

    • That is where I always put mine! Leave the solution dispenser empty.

      • Chris Sullivan says:

        Thank you….after about 3 gallons/3 cleanings..my carpet is 10 times cleaner…with 3 cats and a 8 year old…the stuff coming up was pretty nasty…hopefully the helps out the allergies a bit..

  8. This is an awesome solution. I learned in Microbiology that a 1:10 vinegar solution is better than applying beach to kill bacteria. Adding the peroxide and soap helps to remove additional dirt and bacteria. I have been using this for years and it is the best out there.

  9. We made a big batch of your rug cleaner after trying it. Since the concentrate is used in the dispenser of the rug cleaner we keep the water side clean water only for additional rinsing. Here is the mixture diluted so that it will run out when the dirty water is full:
    32 ounces hydrogen peroxide
    4 ounces of Dawn
    6 ounces of white vinegar
    16 ounces of water

    I am told that ANY shampoo will also work well, although if grease of any nature is involved Dawn is best

    • Well, I was looking for out and came across your solution and it peaked my interest. I sent my husband out to gather the necessary materials. I sure hope this works because I am all about using more natural materials to clean with considering all the children and animals we have around here. I’m Going In, I’ll be back later to post my results. Thanks for caring and sharing!

  10. Sorry that would be downy

  11. Could you use doney fabric softener for the aroma ans softness? If so how much?

  12. Just got done using your solution on a doggy vomit accident. Not only did it pick up the stain, it picked up the extra yuck left behind from cleaning the carpets last week! This is my go to cleaner for now on! Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  13. sherry hess says:

    Can I use this solution with a kirby?

    • I think others have and found it to be successful! There is nothing in the solution that could harm your machine. Read through the comments for advice from those who have tried it in a Kirby!

  14. My carpets are light brown (not from dirt LOL) and I was wondering how the peroxide doesn’t bleach the carpet.

  15. Sherry Else says:

    Doing the happy dance on my awesome CLEAN AT LAST carpet. Slightly OCD with floors. We just got new puppy who is not so OCD. 15 yr old carpet has taken a beating with his accidents. Used solution that came with Bissell Pet steam cleaner. What an exercise in wasted time! Inly thing good can say about it was free! However this solution took up Boogie ( puppies name) and old stains from last resident! I will never again use anything else. Thank you million times over! And Boogie thanks you too!

  16. Thank you!!! I have 30 year old (original) carpet in a beach condo. I believe they were originally peach ( so 80’s!) but have faded to beige-ish. Used to have professionals come in at the end of each season however the last 2 times there were streaks where they didn’t overlap. Bought the Hoover steam vac and used the cleaner which came with it. Along with pretreating by spraying LA Awsome. Worked better than most bottled cleaners but still always had a grayish cast. (Even after 2 sometimes 3 rounds of cleaning). Ran out this AM and found this recipe. The carpet looks wonderful. Don’t get me wrong…it is what it is. 30 year old carpet in need of replacing BUT it’s very clean 30 year old carpet. No gray smears and a brighter look. Thanks a million. Will be passing along to several friends.

  17. You are my savior! This works better than store-bought cleaner! My Mom was VERY impressed and so was I! Thank you x 1,000,000!!!!!

  18. My husband bought a carpet cleaner thing for $4 at a garage sale. I was skeptical. I found your cleaner recipe through a search and used it. It worked wonderfully!!! I can’t believe how gross my rugs were yuck!! Thank you for this very simple and very efficient recipe!! I love it!!!!

  19. I cleaned for the first time yesterday. ? Do you use DAWN Concentrated or non? Seems I had too many suds. Don’t know if that is to be or too much soap?

    • Those suds could be from previous cleanings that didnt do a good enough rinse. Try rinsing a spot that you havent cleaned yet to see if it sudsy. You may just need to rinse the carpet and use the soap that is already in the pile.

  20. Hi Michelle! We literally just got through using your DIY carpet cleaner for the OLD (like over 30 years) and dirty carpets in the house we rent. We had cleaned them about 5 times before now, but I’m here to tell you, this solution works a thousand times better. It got up stains that were probably left here in the Nixon administration, that the commercial ones didn’t touch. Plus the whole house smells fresh and airy!

    We know the carpets need to be replaced, and I’m sure at some point our landlord will do so (he’s a great guy), but right now, I am perfectly pleased at how they look. Your carpet cleaning recipe is AWESOME. I will never use anything else. I love being able to spend about $5-6 for 14 gallons of cleaner. Thanks so much for a great, thrifty and spotless carpet cleaning recipe!

    • I love hearing these great stories. I’m glad it works and you like it!!!!

      • Michelle,
        I have a Bissel Pro Heat 2 Pet machine. It sounds like you are saying to ignore the solution dispensing tank and put your homemade solution into the clean hot water dispensing area. Do you run the machine on the regular cleaning setting which would be looking to get solution from the now empty soap tank or do you run the machine on the rinse cycle since there’s only solution in the hot water reserve tank? Maybe the brushes don’t even operate in the rinse cycle? Not sure. If you run it on the cleaning setting and the liquid coming from the reserve tank that is normally supposed to be water is now solution doesn’t that leave the carpet in need of a rinse?

        • My machine may operate differently, but I put my solution in the larger tank (which is supposed to be plain water) and run on regular cleaning setting. My machine dispenses a mixture of water and solution onto the carpet if used. Since this is already mixed, I leave the solution side empty. I hope that makes sense.

  21. im definitely trying this ive tried a couple with just dawn baking soda and vinegar and got nothing but i am going to add the peroxide and see if i get anywhere. I have an older hoover all in one (hard floors and carpets as well as upholstery attachment) atm my parents have 4 grown cats and 5 half grown kittens (that will be leaving) add my 4 yr old captain mess maker into the mix and there are dark spots and a high traffic path area that i can never seem to keep clean! Top it off the carpets are (were) light beige and were in a rental! Will post back in a week or so whenever i can get to the carpets again!

  22. Shelbie says:

    What about for dark colored carpets, still use peroxide?

  23. I have a tan living room rug and it has bad dirt stains ,as soon as u walk in my door your in my living room, so it’s hard to keep clean , what would u recomaned me using ,i tried laundry soap and dawn but it doesn’t get the stains out .

    • I highly recommend using the recipe provided for machines. You may have to shampoo the room up to 3-4 times. This has worked for me several times! Good luck!

  24. Hello michelle I just got a hoover steam cleaner and want to clean my couches which have huge stains. Does this solution work on upholstery? Thanks for your help

  25. Could I use castille soap in place of dawn? I’m out of Dawn, but have some lavender dr. Bronner’s.

  26. OldNick says:

    Any thoughts about using more Peroxide? I make up my own 10% peroxide from a 50% bottle and distilled water and I have used it, neat, as a spot remover on our living room rugs. It cleaned up a dog sick stain and did nothing to the carpet. I also spray it on our lounge chairs and it does an amazing job there, too, without damage to the chairs. We were sold a “magic” (and expensive) cleaner and I soon found out it was just Peroxide.

  27. Thank you so much for this! I was fully prepared to remove and replace my carpet due to stains. Trying this recipe was supposed to be a temporary fix until I could have the new floors installed but I don’t have to anymore. My carpet looks so clean and fluffy. You have saved me major $$ with this recipe. Thank you! Thank you!

  28. Hey there!

    I recently purchased a house, and the carpet is atrocious! More on that afterwards if you’re interested. I was reading around on the internet and have seen a few various recipes, and I wonder what you think of alternate or additional ingredients.

    First, soap. A few recipes I saw used laundry soap instead of dish soap. Have you tried laundry soap? if not, do you think it would be better, worse, or on par with dish soap?

    I saw another recommendation to use ammonia instead of vinegar, stated by the users that it does a better job in place of the vinegar.

    Thirdly, I read about baking soda, and I read a comment with your reply – what do you think about combining baking soda and vinegar, or baking soda and ammonia? I know vinegar and baking soda react, I use the said reaction to clean my shoes (with great results!), but the level of dilution would minimize or even negate it.

    Finally, about my carpet, if you’re interested. I purchased from a family friend, when he purchased it, approximately 15 people lived in this 3 bedroom house for around 5 years, as told to me by the neighbor of 20 years. The family friend had his son living in this place, and he was a heavy party person. The friend said the floor has been doused with every negative thing you could imagine, pet stains, vomit, blood, red wine and alcohol, all sorts of food, they used the floor as an ashtray and a bit of a trash can… so I very much want to clean and disinfect this carpet as much as humanly possible.

    Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your reply!

    • First, I would admit, I have never cleaned carpet that dirty. I have used different solutions using ammonia but never baking soda in my machine.

      ***Personally, if I was you, I would use a combination of methods. I would sprinkle my entire carpet with baking soda over night. (don’t walk on it). Vacuum it up the next morning. This should eliminate odors lingering.

      I have a spot cleaner recipe on my site (containing ammonia) which I would use on the heavily soiled spots. Then, I would mix up the exact ingredients in this recipe and run them in a machine over the entire carpet.

      Good luck!

    • Jacqueline says:

      NEVER ever use ammonia on a carpet that may have or definitely has cat urine! If the pet stains are from a cat your entire house will reek like pee forever! If you own a cat that has never peed on the carpet it will start to! Ammonia does not remove cat odors and will turn an old stain into the nastiest smell in the world. Clear laundry detergent is fine, but blue may stain a lighter carpet.

      I adopted a bad cat and know what I am talking about lol :)

  29. Rosemarie M. Buchanan says:

    I own a professional cleaning company. When people ask my advice on cleaning carpets, I usually say “rip it up, roll it up, and throw it away”. Carpets are extremely unhealthy, particularly if you have children who are playing on the floor. No amount of cleaning will remove the allergens and pathogens which can contaminate carpets. If you are “totally anal” about your carpet, I’d suggest removing them and having machine-washable cotton area mats (with that lovely non-slip product which is not attached to the mat). Your allergies, children and pets will thank you.
    However, if you insist on keeping your carpets, any of the homemade solutions should work very well, without leaving the chemical residues of the commercial cleaners. I have two Bissell ProHeat and I put a small amount of the homemade solution in the big vinyl bladder inside the machine (keeping water in the solution container, so the machine will work properly). My clients are happy with the results, particularly those who have been through some health issues (cancer and asthma), and who have become very sensitive to chemicals (as am I).
    I would strongly urge everyone to look at the chemicals they use to clean their homes, and to go as natural as possible.

  30. Would this be safe to use on area rugs? Mine is like an oriental type.

  31. I have the bissll pro heat and there is a comparent for the hot water and a little compartment for the solution, how would u do this?

  32. I tried this on my carpet yesterday and it was AWESOME! Thank you so much. I’ve tried almost every cleaner there is out there. It does the job but leaves a film of sorts that seems to attract more dirt, in my opinion. Thank you again!!

  33. Bill Brooks says:

    Will it fade light brown color carpet?

  34. Does this work on tile floors? I have a Hoover machine that does both carpet & hard floors.

  35. This sounds fantastic! Is there any reason I couldn’t use it in a Rug Doctor machine, the kind you rent at the grocery store?
    Thanks….

    • Mrs. Harris says:

      I just used it in a rug doctor my carpet was very dirty..now it looks brand new again…this solution really works I was so amazed.. my carpet had not been cleaned in 4 years n we have a dog n 2 kids now its backto life…who ever came up with this solution, thank u so much even my husband was happy he didn’t think it would work..

  36. Stephanie Jones says:

    I saw this recipe online except instead of the white vinegar it used baking soda, have you ever tried this? If so does one work better then the other?
    I have a room that my cat peed in and i bought the Bissell urine eliminator carpet solution and pre treator and cleaned my carpet THREE times and it seemed like it just kept getting worse instead of better. I used that solution with the baking soda and the smell isnt totally gone but it is WAY better!

    • The vinegar is a great stain remover. The baking soda is a great odor eliminator. I would use the one you need the most!

    • Wendy Bonds says:

      I would use Nature’s Miracle or another enzyme treatment from a pet store on the urine spots before using Michelle’s solution. You need to neutralize the urine to stop the odor. Also stops the pet from urinating on it again which they tend to do unless it’s neutralized.

  37. Can you use the cider vinegar?

  38. Bernard says:

    Just received my bissell in the mail today. The solution that came with it didn’t really do the job. I found this recipe from a google search. It worked wonders. I had stains 15 years old and they are pretty much gone. I have a light gray colored carpet and didn’t notice any discoloration or bleaching. I printed out two copies. One for me and one for a friend.

  39. I found this recipe through google and used it when I ran out of store bought cleaning solution. In this comparison on light beige carpet with cat, dog, and coffee stains, it worked as well as the pre-made purchased solution. I used a little more vinegar on accident but saw no ill effects from it, and the smell was minimal and completely gone when dry. Thanks for sharing this. I won’t bother with bottled stuff again – this is so easy and cheap. No bleaching of the carpets either, btw.

    Now the real test will be in 6 months to see if the stains come back.

  40. I printed out the instructions of how to make your own carpet cleaning solution. I was very annoyed when I needed to see what the recipe was for the high traffic area. Low and behold everything in blue and double underlined ended up with some stupid John Deere tractors. Why? Its over kill.

    • Bill I understand you are frustrated, but if you go back and re read the section on high traffic areas, it just says not to give up…. she did not mean for you to leave this page for any further instructions. Further, it’s likely not the page owner linking those words to John Deere stuff. Just a heads up.

  41. Brittney U says:

    OH and I put mine in the hot water receptical, not the solution container, and just used the “Hot water rinse ” option.

  42. Brittney U says:

    THANK YOU!
    I was out of my normal solution and didn’t have time to run to the store. I don’t think I will ever buy store cleaner again!! MY carpet is sooo fluffy!

  43. so after reading these … I’m still not sure where this homemade cleaner goes ??? I have the Bissell Prosteam 2X Pet Steam Cleaner… it has one large compartment for clean water and a little compartment for the cleaning solution… where does this solution go ?

    • CORRECTION… I have an empty compartment in the front to collect the dirty water… the back is for cleaner and water combo…. so I’m good… it all goes into the solution compartment… will let you know how my results are… THanks !!

    • I mixed the solution in a separate gallon container. I filled the large collection container with hot water and filled the small cleaning container withe the pre made solution. I have to say, this solution was great! I nearly poisoned my cats with the bissell solution last year. Thanks soo much for this recipe. Great!

  44. Guessing this recipe is for light carpet only as the peroxide could have a bleaching effect. Any ideas for dark brown carpet?

  45. I was curious about the smell. I love the taste of vinegar, but not the smell. It looks like a small amount. Just curious if you can smell it. I also thought maybe using a form of dawn with a scent. Has anyone tried that? Thanks for this recipe! I’m tired of paying $15 per bottle! :)

  46. Just used this for my Pet Steamer and it worked very well. I placed it in the cleaning solution side and I am very pleased :)

  47. Is it ok to use this solution with a Kirby vacuum system?? haas anyone tried it?

    • Pamela C. says:

      I am wondering the same thing. I have a Kirby vacuum with the carpet cleaning system and don’t have the money to buy the Kirby shampoo right now. I have tons of horrible stains on my floor right now from my 2 year old and would really like to try this. I’m guessing it would work the same with the Kirby as it does with any other machine.

      • Pamela,
        This solution should work the same in the Kirby as all the others. Please try it and come back to let us know what you think. As the others stated, this is an AMAZING recipe. It cleans carpets beautifully and doesn’t leave chemicals behind! Clean and fluffy carpet is what you’ll end up with for a few pennies!

  48. I have the MaxExtract 77 (similar to the 60 you have listed above). I assume you put this solution in the “solution” reservoir (separate from the water)? Do you dilute it with water at all?

  49. Will this discolor carpets at all? I have very light carpets, and I am completely anal about keeping them clean. I would love to try this but I am worried about discoloration.

  50. I hate stains as well but i don’t have a machine to clean the carpet. I just try to clean it and deal with the stains myself using some natural solutions. If the stains are really worst, i call on a professional carpet to the remove the stain for me and to do a deep cleaning as well. Anyway, been thinking about a cleaning machine though. I will be taking note of this homemade solutions so i can use it once i get myself a machine.

    • If you do not have a steam cleaner, and just need to get out stains, use this solution mixed up in a spray bottle (I cut it in half depending on the size of the spray bottle. Then spray the carpets. Place a towel on the carpet and iron the towel. It will pull out any stain you have. I am telling you it is amazing.

  51. Brandette W. says:

    Michelle,

    You ROCK again! I have done much research but have never found a homemade recipe that I could inexpensively use in our Bissel Spot Bot machine. We have a toddler & 2 cats and this Spot Bot gets good use. Problem is, each bottle of the concentrated cleaner costs about $10 and doesn’t last us very long. We are probably forking out close to $100 in cleaner per year, and the bottles are small!

    I tried another recipe I found online several months back, but it was not cleaning up after cat throw-up hairballs well at all. You could totally see the “circular” cleaning spots and they looked dingy. So, I stopped using it and we went back to the expensive store bought stuff once again, sadly.

    I am very particular about our carpets. We built our home a few years back, therefore I want to make sure we keep things nice and clean carpets are a huge part of this for me. I do not do carpet stains, everything gets cleaned up immediately.

    I want to try this recipe out in our machine and see if it works undiluted in the Spot Bot as a straight solution. If not, then maybe the Spot cleaner you mentioned posting soon would. I am willing to try because maybe eventually I will find something that will work amazing well yet cost me pennies, instead of $10 per bottle, to make myself!! I so look forward to the next post!

    • Brandette,
      I used this cleaner in my steam cleaner and did the entire floor. I was absolutely amazed that it came out looking like brand new carpet. I am very particular about our carpets also. I don’t do stains either. But when I moved my furniture I noticed some spots and a high traffic pattern I didn’t like. I am still waiting for this to be too good to be true. 24 hours later my room is still looking amazing! This is better than anything I have ever purchased! I am now ashamed of myself for paying $12-$17 a bottle for cleaners that did half the job and were toxic to my pets and kids! Never again!

  52. apple cider vinegar attracts fruit flies

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