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How to Clean Carpet With Vinegar

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Plain white vinegar is an amazing natural cleanser and is quite possibly the most versatile all-purpose cleaner that you could ever use. Besides cleaning counter tops, sinks, toilets, and the inside of the microwave, you can successfully clean carpet with vinegar. As a natural deodorizing agent, vinegar freshens carpets by removing stale odors from age, food and pet accidents, as well as any mustiness left from excess liquid of any kind.

Vinegar is very acidic with a pH of about 2.4. (A neutral pH is 7.) This acidity means that vinegar is naturally:

  • antiseptic (kills germs)
  • antibacterial (kills many bacteria that cause illnesses)
  • antimicrobial (kills microbes and other microscopic organisms)
  • able to kill mold

Besides being able to kill numerous household germs and loosen and lift dirt from surfaces, vinegar is completely safe. Unlike most commercial carpet cleaners, vinegar will not cause any harm if ingested and is 100 percent pet and baby friendly. Vinegar is also eco-friendly, will never cause damage to plumbing systems, and is incredibly cheap. In short, white vinegar makes a very effective, economical, and ecologically-wise household cleanser.

Steam Cleaning with Vinegar

When carpets needs an overall, deep down clean, plain vinegar can replace those costly and chemical-laden commercial steam cleaning solutions. If the steam cleaner has a tank where cleaning solution alone is added, it can be filled with full-strength vinegar straight from the bottle. If, however, the steam cleaner's manual instructs you to add a certain amount of cleanser along with hot water in a single tank, the vinegar can simply be substituted in the exact amount recommended. If the manual states to use eight ounces of cleaning solution, for example, eight ounces of vinegar should be used instead.

The entire carpet can be cleaned just as you would ordinarily use the steam cleaning machine. The room will smell of vinegar during the cleaning, but once the carpet dries, the smell will completely disappear. No rinsing is necessary.

Stain Removal

White vinegar may be useful in removing fresh stains from food or drink spills, pet accidents, or grime tracked in from outside. It is always best to treat any spill as soon as it happens, before the stain has a chance to set into the carpet fibers. As a stain remains over time, it actually bonds to the fibers, and old stains may be impossible to remove no matter what cleaning solution is used.

Any solid matter from a spill should be scooped up, and any liquid should be absorbed. Towels or washrags can be pressed over the spill to soak up the liquid.

Once almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, straight vinegar can be sprayed or very lightly poured over the area. It should then be blotted up with a clean cloth. As necessary, the vinegar can be reapplied to the stain and blotted again and again until the stain is no longer visible.

Preventing Carpet Damage

As with any cleaner, it's important to test vinegar on a hidden area before using it to clean the carpet. Using a damp rag, an inconspicuous area of carpet--inside a closet or in a corner, for example--can be moistened before applying the vinegar as if you were actually cleaning the area. The vinegar should be allowed to sit for a few minutes and then be blotted away. After about 24 hours, the area should be examined for color fading or changes in texture.

If the area has been damaged in any way, another solution besides vinegar should be chosen to clean the carpet. When cleaning a stained area, it may be possible to dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water to prevent carpet damage. Again, the area should be tested first with this diluted solution.

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