laundry detergent in carpet cleaner

Can You Use Laundry Detergent in a Carpet Cleaner?

Cleaning your carpet can be a challenging task, even if you have the right tools and cleaning agents.

However, carpet cleaning products can be rather expensive and aren’t always available when you need them.

Accidents can happen at any time and with some stains, any delay can lead to permanent damage or staining.

If you don’t have any carpet cleaner, you might be wondering if you can use other household chemicals, such as laundry detergent. After all, it works for cleaning clothes, why shouldn’t it work for carpets?

Read on to find the answer to these questions and receive a few tips on how to use a laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner.


Is it Safe to Use Laundry Detergent in a Carpet Cleaner?

While carpet cleaners are designed to work optimally with carpet shampoos, they will also do the job with a laundry detergent. 

In fact, this is one of the safest substitutes you can use. Using laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner will provide you with effective results and you won’t even have to use a lot of it. 

However, keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily true for all types of laundry detergents and carpets. 

Decorative rugs made of synthetic material may be too sensitive to be washed with a concentrated agent such as a laundry detergent.

Also, some laundry detergents contain bleach, which can damage the colour or the fabric of your carpets.


Benefits of Using Laundry Detergent as a Carpet Cleaner

laundry detergent as carpet cleaner benefits

Using laundry detergents in a carpet cleaner has many benefits. Here are some of the most main ones.

1. Easy to get hold of

Unlike carpet shampoos, laundry detergents are much easier to find in shops. Most of the time, you already have them in your home. 

Even if you happen to run out of it, you can find it in your local supermarket. You won’t have to visit specialist stores or order online like you might have to when browsing for the right carpet cleaner.

2. Effective cleaner

Despite working fine for cleaning their clothes, many people fear that laundry detergents won’t clean their rugs. 

Fortunately, this isn’t true at all. On the contrary, thanks to their strong cleaning properties, they are just as effective as most carpet shampoos. 

They are particularly recommended for wool and plush carpets, as these types require a little more foam to be cleaned thoroughly.

3. More affordable

The price of carpet shampoo is a lot higher than many people can budget for. In contrast, laundry detergent is one of the most cost-effective solutions you’ll find. 

Plus, when using detergent in a carpet cleaner, a little bit goes a long way, making it even more cost-effective.

4. Fresh and clean scent

As you know, most laundry detergents are scented. So, unless you are using a detergent meant for people with skin sensitivities, which doesn’t contain artificial fragrances, it will leave your carpet smelling wonderful. 

Not only that, but your carpet will smell fresh and clean for a long time after being cleaned.


Tips for Using Laundry Detergent in a Carpet Cleaner

laundry detergent in carpet cleaner tips

Before you get on with cleaning it, make sure that your carpet is vacuumed thoroughly. 

Read the instruction manual of your carpet cleaner to see how much water its reservoir holds, as this determines how much detergent you can use. Some devices come with much smaller tanks than others.

You want to make sure not to use more than 60 ml of detergent per gallon of hot water. If your cleaner is still under warranty, make sure to check for warranty information. 

Some manufacturers will limit their warranty for using the device with only a particular brand of carpet shampoos.

The secret to using laundry detergent as a substitute for your carpet shampoo is to use it in small quantities. 

It’s a concentrated chemical that isn’t diluted in a carpet cleaner as it is in a washing machine.

This means using a lot of it can damage the fabric of your carpets. When you are using a new detergent on your rug, make sure to try it out on a little patch first to see how the fabric holds up against the agent. 

Do this on a less visible area you’ll cover after the cleaning, and wait for the carpet to dry to see the results.

Proceed to clean the rest of the carpet only if that area dries and shows no signs of it being damaged. Move your carpet cleaner slowly when you are using it with laundry detergent.


How to Make a DIY Carpet Cleaner from Laundry Detergent

diy carpet cleaner using laundry detergent

If you are worried about using a laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner as it is, or even diluted in water, you can make your own cleaning solution from a detergent.  

Here is what you will need for this:

  • 2 tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent
  • 1 gallon (4.5 litres) of hot water
  • 3 tablespoons of liquid oxygen bleach
  • 1 teaspoon of fabric softener (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, mix all the chemicals until well combined.
  2. Add the mixture to the hot water. Make sure to stir it in very gently to avoid creating bubbles.
  3. Mix until you see that all the chemicals are dissolved.
  4. You can use it immediately or store it in a clearly labelled bottle and heat it up once again when you need to use it.

This solution is fairly thin, but it creates more foam, which you may want to rinse at the end. On the other hand, the fabric softener should prevent the material from hardening, so you may not have to rinse it at all.



While laundry detergent is safe to use in most carpet cleaners, you should only apply a small quantity at a time. 

It’s also a good idea to do a patch test in a corner or a place you’ll be able to cover later to ensure the detergent won’t damage the material.

Remember, carpets are often made from synthetic materials which means they are much more easily damaged than regular clothes.

Avoid using laundry detergents with bleach in them, as this will cause the colours to fade and the materials to disintegrate. 

That being said, using the right kind of detergent with the right cleaning tool can save you money and many headaches if you are short on time.