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Red wine spilled on carpet

How to Clean Carpet With Vinegar

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Vinegar has become the new buzzword when it comes to green cleaning, and this is one instance where the product actually lives up to the hype. Plain white vinegar is an amazing natural cleanser and is quite possibly the most versatile all-purpose cleaner that you could ever use. One unexpected place where vinegar is incredibly effective is for everyday carpet cleaning. 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. Here’s a look at how you can use vinegar to transform your carpet cleaning regimen.

Benefits of Vinegar as a Cleaning Product

Mother Nature has provided all-natural solutions for cleaning that are both effective and safe, and vinegar is one of them. 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.

With Vinegar, It’s All in the Technique

While vinegar can make for an excellent carpet cleaner, you can’t just dump it on and wipe it up like an industrial cleaner. With vinegar, finesse is critical or you may end up damaging your carpet fibers. As with any cleaner, it’s important to test the 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. Allow the vinegar to sit for a few minutes and then blot it away. After about 24 hours, examine the area for color fading or changes in texture.

If the fibers are unchanged, then you know that the vinegar is safe to use. For most types of cleaning, you will want to dilute the vinegar with water to protect the carpet fibers. Usually, the vinegar will have to sit on the carpet for a bit to maximize its effectiveness. Keep in mind that the room will smell of vinegar during the cleaning, but once the carpet dries, the smell will completely disappear. No rinsing is necessary. For more specific cleaning instructions see below.

Tips for Using Vinegar as a Carpet Cleaner

  • Steam Cleaning with Vinegar: When carpets need 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.
  • 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. Any solid matter from a spill should be scooped up and any liquid blotted with a towel. Once almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, diluted vinegar can be sprayed or very lightly poured over the area and allowed to sit. It should then be blotted up with a clean cloth until the stain is no longer visible.

While vinegar is an effective carpet cleaner, dilution will help to ensure that your carpet fibers are protected. Again, always test an inconspicuous area first with the diluted solution before applying it to the entire carpet.

Learn More: 

How to Shampoo Carpet

Green Carpet Cleaning

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