Natural Carpet Cleaning: Chemical-Free Alternatives

Carpets and small children do not often go together well. Neither do carpets and pets. Yes, the carpet helps cushion the frequent falls, and yes, it’s warm and toasty on cold winter days, but it also absorbs spills and gets smelly. I’m not a big carpet lover, but I have it, and that means I have to keep it clean one way or another. Chemical cleaners are simply not an option for my family, given I have a child who is extremely sensitive to many cleaning chemicals. Thankfully, there are many other options available, most of which are easily purchased at any grocery or even dollar store.

One of the simplest and most basic carpet fresheners is my favorite all-purpose freshener – baking soda. If my carpet simply needs a bit of a touch up, I sprinkle baking soda over it liberally and allow it to sit overnight. Vacuum it up the next morning, and voila! Fresh-smelling carpet. Dry cornstarch also works well for this purpose, and if you want to get fancy, you can switch it up by adding various fragrances. I’ve found that adding crushed dried lavendar bits to my baking soda leaves my house smelling absolutely wonderful. Mixing in a few drops of essential oils, perhaps eucalytus, tea tree oil, lavendar, or even orange or lemon would also work well, just make sure to mix it well and break up any clumps that appear.

Spots require a bit more work, but believe it or not, there are still easy natural ways to snuff out carpet spots without having to invest lots of time and money. Club soda, poured directly on a fresh spot, works wonders. My favorite no-fail trick for tough spots is to mix �¼ cup salt, �½ cup Borax (in the laundry and detergent aisle of your store), and �¼ cup vinegar together in a big bowl. I then dump a little directly onto the spot and scrub it in. After a few hours, I simply vacuum up the remainder. For smaller spots, plain vinegar works well.

Pet stains may seem a bit more complicated, because not only do they leave a spot, they leave a distinctly strong, unpleasant odor. However, you can still easily deal with this with an easy-to-make formula. I mix a few drops of basic Dawn dishwashing liquid with a cup of vinegar, a few tablespoons of baking soda, and 2 cups of hot water. This solution will bubble madly for a few minutes, so be sure to use a big bucket. I pour this mixture directly onto the pet spot (if the spot is fresh, blot up any excess urine first). I again let the mixture sit overnight, then blot up any remaining liquid in the morning. When the carpet is thoroughly dried, I vacuum thoroughly. This is the only thing I have ever found to completely remove all traces of cat urine scent.

For basic carpet cleaning, I will still use a steam cleaner or rug shampooer, but rather than investing money in chemical cleaners which are neither good for the environment or my children, and which also leave a residue that can lead to dirtier carpets, I use straight vinegar mixed in hot water (at a ratio of one part vinegar to four parts water). The first time I tried this, I was doubtful that my carpet would even get clean, and even more concerned that my house would reek of vinegar. It didn’t! The carpet not only look amazingly bright and clean, it felt softer, the nap was perkier, and my house smelled deliciously fresh and odor-free. I highly recommend this method to anyone.

Seventh Generation, Earth Friendly Products, and Bi-O-Kleen all make all-natural carpet cleaners that may be worth a try, if the above suggestions don’t work. Many commercial carpet cleaners also offer steam-only cleanings that you may choose to look into. With all the natural alternatives, there’s no reason to feel as if you need to subject your family, and the environment, to the chemicals and detergent residue most popular carpet cleaners tend to leave behind.

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