How to Green Clean Carpets and Rugs
Want to know how to make a natural homemade solution for steam cleaning carpets and rugs and avoid chemical cleaners in your home? Here are two recipes to make at home that are great alternatives to chemical cleaning solutions, eco friendly, safe for your home and get the job done effectively.
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Spot cleaning is simple, but sometimes, rugs and carpet need a really good deep clean, especially if you have kids and pets.
These quantities are based on a Britex Carpet Cleaning machine that we hired for the day which seem to be at all the supermarkets. The company recommend they are to be used with a few chemical solutions that you buy when hiring, but we chose not to as I didn't want the house smelling of it during the cleaning process, or the long lingering chemical smell afterwards which I tend to be a little sensitive to.
My dad has a method of dragging rugs out side, spraying them with a hose and using dish washing detergent and a broom to scrub them (I hope he doesn't mind me sharing this!). You might laugh, but this is pretty effective BUT you need space to do this AND somewhere to hang them up as the excess water needs to drain out of the rug. I briefly considered doing this and using a ladder for a giant clothes horse, but realistically this wasn't a very practical option for us.
You really are supposed to just use what Britex sell, BUT I just couldn't and I figured what I planned to use was highly unlikely to damage the machine and result in a costly error for us. Plus, I'm not believing everything they say as they claim it dries in 4 hours (It doesn't) and according to their cleaning calculator we should be doing this every 2 months which seems crazy!
If you are using a smaller carpet cleaning machine or a different brand of carpet steamer, you will want to adjust the quantities and double check your manual instructions. Always do a test patch on the carpet, rug or upholstery first.
Method 1: Vinegar and Bicarb Soda Carpet Cleaning Solution
1 cup of plain white vinegar
1/4 cup of Bicarb Soda
20 drops of essential oil (Optional)
>Add the bicarb soda to a jug and slowly pour in the vinegar.
>When combined, they fizz up initially so make sure you have some extra space in your jug.
>Add Essential oils - We used 10 Drops of Peppermint and 10 Drops of Lavender. I do recommend doing this as wet carpets and rugs will always have a damp smell initially.
>Make sure you have dissolved as much of the bicarb as possible, you don't want gritty carpets.
>Add your home made carpet cleaning solution into the tank of your steam cleaner along with the water and go for it.
We were so happy with the results of this and I feel it worked just as well as the chemical option (used in the past), which I didn't expect.
It is also significantly cheaper than pre-packaged chemical cleaning solutions.
The rugs still did have a mild damp smell for 24 hours and I was a little concerned they would permanently smell like this, but once dried they simply had a faint aroma of the essential oils. So if you wanted more than a lingering essential oil aroma, add more to the mixture.
Vinegar and bi-carb are also excellent drain cleaners, so it's like doing two jobs at once.
Method 2: Eco-Friendly Laundry Liquid Carpet Cleaning Solution
1/2 a Cup of Eco-Friendly Clothes Washing Liquid
Essential Oils Optional
This is a great option and if you have grey water safe laundry liquid, you are preventing all the traditional chemicals heading into the ocean and perhaps even use on your garden. You may also be able to refill your bottles at a local zero waste store and skip the single-use plastic too.
Beware to avoid anything with bleach or anything that is very sudsy - when you hire the machine you may notice they sell an antifoaming/anti-sudsing agent with it and I imagine too many suds would interfere with the carpet cleaner functioning properly in drawing up the water effectively and will probably fill up the tank with bubbles.
>Add the laundry liquid directly to the tank with the water but make sure to read the ingredients to ensure it is an eco-friendly version! Ours was grey water safe and doesn't create a lot of suds when washing clothes so it was a good option. It is also unscented so we added in essential oils too.
Although the first method we tried was fabulous, I wanted to test out this idea too. It can be hard to truly see (and smell) the results before the carpet dries and as we only had the machine hired for 24 hours I thought it well worth trying. This was just as effective at cleaning as the above, and I guess a little simpler as there was nothing to mix up.
A Note on Stains
I can't guarantee it will fix all your stains and make your carpet look like new (sorry), BUT it does give them a great clean and get them smelling fresh and feeling soft.
These methods above removed all of the recent staining and marks from our rugs, mostly caused by food and drink spills and repeated puppy attacks.
It failed to remove old marks that are many many years old (I don't even know what they are) and even the recommended chemicals have failed to do this when we've used them several times in the past.
Any spills and accidents really should be dealt with when they happen to prevent permanent reminders.
If you're local and live in Adelaide, here is a Mega List of zero waste and plastic-free shops where you can find vinegar and eco-friendly laundry liquid in bulk.
If you're in Australia, I highly recommend checking out these essential oils that are sustainably sourced, manufactured here and great quality. They have some amazing blends to choose from too that are ideal for carpet cleaning.
We try to go natural with our cleaning as much as possible and I was so happy this worked.
I suspect this method would also work brilliantly on upholstery too. We would probably steam clean our rugs every few years, or sooner if they really need it. In the time between, we spot clean or use a homemade foam to clean and refresh them.
P.S. During puppy training , we also used a home made carpet deodorising powder. It worked great, but just with so many accidents it really needed a proper clean!
If you give it a go, I'd love to hear how it went.
And if you're looking for more Green Cleaning ideas, check out this post on How to Get Started Green Cleaning Your Home and Car