Cleaning a carpet with a sponge

How to Clean a Carpet by Hand

Cleaning an entire carpet by hand may seem like a mammoth task! And to some degree, it is, especially for those of you with big rooms to maintain!

That being said, you can tackle the task with the correct set of tools, time, and patience. And by the end of the cleaning session, you’ll have a gleaming carpet that you’ll love sinking your toes into!

Read on to find out how you clean a carpet by hand!

Here are a few tips before we dive in:

  • Cleaning an entire carpet by hand isn’t a tiny task, so be prepared to spend time completing the job and get someone to help you (if possible) so you can speed up the process!
  • Give yourself enough time to carry out the work. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a half-finished job that won’t look very good! It’s better to start and finish the cleaning work in one day. That way, you can move all your furniture out and back into the room in one go instead of repeating the actions multiple times over a few days – this would be pretty tiring in itself.
  • Don’t scrub your carpet too hard as you clean it because you could damage it.
  • Don’t over-saturate your carpet in cleaning products/liquid because it’ll take a long time to dry properly.
  • Test your chosen cleaning product(s) and method(s) out before you use them. Find a discreet patch of carpet, dab a little solution on the area, and see what happens. If the carpet starts to fade, discolour, or break down in any way, stop what you’re doing and find an alternative cleaning solution.
  • Make sure there is good airflow in the room. And if there isn’t, open some windows and set up a couple of fans to ensure there’s good airflow inside the room. Not only will this help to remove odours (cleaning and general dirt ones), but it will also speed up the drying process for you.
  • Keep kids and pets out of the room as you work. You don’t want feet and paws treading through cleaning products and dirt and then traipsing it all over your house.
  • Remove as much furniture as possible from the room so you have access to most of your carpet.
  • Clean from one end of the room and back towards the door. This way, you won’t box yourself into the room and can avoid walking all over your freshly cleaned carpet.
  • Prepare in advance. Make sure you’ve opened windows, got your cleaning goodies ready, and removed the furniture well in advance so you can complete the job with ease!
  • Wear protective and old clothing. It’s a good idea to wear knee pads to protect your knees as you kneel down to clean the carpet. A gardener’s knee cushion would do the trick!
  • Don’t worry about calling in a professional carpet cleaner to help you out, or renting a carpet cleaning machine for a day, if you can’t complete the task by hand. Many people choose one of these options if they’ve just moved into a new house or if they need lots of grotty carpets cleaned at once.
  • It’s much easier to clean a carpet if it’s well looked after and maintained regularly. So, brush your carpet and/or hoover it at least three times a week, and treat stains as they appear so that you can stay on top of the grime. A grotty carpet that hasn’t seen a brush or a hoover in months will take a very long time to clean by hand. So, keep your job nice and simple by staying on top of the general maintenance!

Cleaning a carpet with a vacuum cleaner


How to Clean a Carpet by Hand

Clean your carpet using one or more of the methods listed below. You can either buy a carpet cleaning solution or take the DIY approach! It’s up to you to decide!

Option 1: An off-the-shelf carpet cleaner

Tools you need:

  • Protective gear and old clothes
  • A carpet cleaner
  • Cloths
  • Water
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Handheld soft-bristled brush (optional)
  • Bucket (optional)
  • Fan (optional)
  • Sweeping brush (optional)
  • Stain treatment (optional)

Follow these steps:

  1. Pop some old clothes, protective gear and gloves on.
  2. Remove the furniture inside the room so you end up with a clear carpet.
  3. Open the windows in the room where you will be working in.
  4. Prepare your cleaning supplies. Read the care label on the product you’ve bought to clean the carpet and follow the instructions you have been given (stick to the dose stipulated!)
  5. Optional: Brush the carpet to remove loose debris from it (things like pieces of food and hair).
  6. Hoover the carpet to remove ingrained grime from it.
  7. Spot treat any stains you see on the carpet. Choose a suitable stain removal method and test it out before you use it. For more details on this, see below.
  8. Test out your chosen cleaning solution before you use it to clean the entire carpet.
  9. With your supplies at hand, start to work the cleaning solution into the carpet with a cloth/soft-bristled brush.
  10. Leave the solution on the carpet for the time stated on the cleaning solution’s packaging (this could be for a few minutes or overnight).
  11. Remove the carpet cleaning solution by blotting the entire carpet with a damp, neutral-coloured cloth or vacuum clean the carpet (if instructed to do so).
  12. If you’re removing the product from the carpet using a damp cloth, continuously rinse and soak your cloth in fresh, clean water throughout this process. This’ll ensure that you don’t re-coat the carpet in grime!
  13. Leave the carpet to air dry naturally, and can pop some fans in the room to help circulate the air.
  14. A carpet will take around a day to dry thoroughly, so don’t walk or put furniture back onto it during this time.
  15. Check the carpet the next day, and if it is dry, hoover it to restore its fluffy feel.
  16. Replace your furniture when you’re ready. 

There are several brands of carpet cleaner, including Vanish Carpet Cleaner and 1001 Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo.


Option 2: Salt and bicarbonate of soda

Bicarbonate of soda on carpet

Tools you need:

Steps to follow:

  1. Pop some protective gear and gloves on.
  2. Prepare your cleaning supplies: bicarbonate of soda, salt, a bowl, water, a spray bottle, a brush, and a hoover.
  3. Open the windows in the room.
  4. Remove the furniture inside the room so you end up with a clear carpet.
  5. Brush the carpet to loosen up the debris in the fibres.
  6. Hoover the carpet to remove ingrained grime from it.
  7. Treat any stains you see. See the section below for tips on removing stains from carpeted areas.
  8. In a bowl, mix equal parts of bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  9. Sprinkle the salty-bicarb mixture over one end of the carpet.
  10. Leave the mixture on the carpet.
  11. Fill the spray bottle with cold water.
  12. Hold the spray bottle about a metre above the salty-bicarb area and spray a fine mist of water over the space.
  13. Wait a few minutes.
  14. Start brushing the area you’ve just coated in a mist of water. Brush in all directions so you get deep into the carpet’s fibres and remove the dirt.
  15. Repeat the steps above for every section of your carpet. Remember to work back towards the door so you don’t stand on your freshly cleaned carpet.
  16. Wait for the carpet to dry. This may take a few hours.
  17. Hoover the entire carpet to remove the dried salt-bicarb mixture.
  18. Make sure the whole area is dry, and then replace your furniture and start using the room again.

How to clean a carpet by hand with salt and bicarbonate of soda


Alternative cleaning solutions

Of course, you don’t have to use the most popular options noted above. You could rustle up an entirely different cleaning potion at home and use it instead.

You can use some of the following items to clean a carpet:

See our guide on how to make a homemade carpet cleaner for detailed instructions.

When your cleaning solution is ready to be used, just remove the furniture from the carpeted room, hoover the entire area, and apply your solution to the whole carpet.

When you’re done, you can leave your treatment to settle in and then blot your carpet clean with a cloth! 

Before you use any of these products on your carpet, you must test them out!

vinegar on carpet


Treating Stains on Carpets

What stain treatment you need to use depends on what blemish(es) you have on your carpet. Check out the following examples:

  • Grease-based stains can be removed with some washing-up liquid and water. Mix the two products in a spray bottle, and spray the entire stained patch with the solution. When you’re done, grab a neutral-coloured cloth, soak it in some water, wring it out and blot the residue off the surface.
  • It may be better to use an official carpet cleaner to treat set-in or very old stains. Just coat the area in the solution, leave it for the amount of time stipulated on the item’s packaging, and then blot the surface clean with a damp cloth.
  • For flour-related stains, you can usually just use a hoover to get rid of the mess! But if you need a little elbow grease, try some washing-up liquid and cold water.
  • Some general stains can be removed with shaving foam. Just squirt the foam over the mark (make sure it’s just white shaving foam, not the gel kind), leave it to rest on the area for 30 minutes, and then clean the surface with a damp, neutral-coloured cloth. Some people also like to spray a little white vinegar onto the patch to help remove the residue too, but this isn’t essential.
  • Rust-based stains can be removed in various ways, but you must choose a method that suits your carpet type. For example, if your carpet is made from natural fibres, you can use washing-up liquid and wool detergent. If your carpet is synthetic, you can try hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.
  • Blueberry stains can be a pain to remove, but with a little lemon juice and some hydrogen peroxide, you can banish the blemishes!

Note: When removing stains from a carpet, remember to work from the outside of the blemish and towards its centre. This will stop you from spreading the stain around the carpet.

Cleaning a stained carpet by hand


How to Keep a Carpet Clean

Hand washing a carpet every week isn’t practical, nor will it be feasible for most people. So, here are some things you can do in between washes to keep your carpet looking and smelling fresh.

  • Have a ‘No Shoes’ policy – get people to take their shoes off before they set foot on your carpets!
  • Don’t eat in rooms with carpets (this isn’t always possible in every home). Or at least put a rug over your carpet where people are most likely to drop food.
  • Clean your pet’s paws before they enter a carpeted room.
  • Don’t do any arts and crafts on a carpeted surface. And if you are going to do this, put a plastic sheet down on the floor to protect the surface.
  • Hoover your carpet regularly to stop the build-up of dust and general debris.
  • Clear up any stains as soon as they appear! By doing this, you should be able to avoid any long-term damage from occurring.

See our article on carpet-cleaning hacks for some more ideas.

How to keep a carpet clean

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