Clean Yer Carpets on the Cheap!




About: I'm just another person out there trying to get the most out of life. I love to expole the world around me and try to have a good time doing so.

I love my dogs. The mess the make? not so much. Thus I find myself cleaning the carpets in my home about every six months. It keeps the house smelling clean, carpets looking nice, and, most importantly, the wife happy.

These are some tips to get the most bang for your buck while cleaning your home carpets yourself.

Note: We won't be building any carpet cleaning machines or the like. Sorry to disappoint.

This instructable is based on using a rented Rugdoctor carpet cleaner. Why rent? It's cheaper. Each time you rent you end up paying about $30. A rugdoctor machine costs $600. You'd need to rent a rugdoctor 20 times before you'd equal the purchase price. And that, friends, is why we rent.

Step 1: The Day Before...

The day before you intend to clean is the day to do a little prep.

Find a rental location and get a coupon-
Visit and enter your zip code for a coupon and near by rental locations. (You don't have to enter your email addy, unless you really like "exciting" offers on carpet cleaning products.)

Turn your water heater up-
This step is optional, but recommended. Hotter water will give you a better clean. If you have the ability to do so, turn your water heater up to hot. This will increase the water temperature in the whole house, so be careful and always test the water temperature before bathing, etc. This is done, often, by turning a large dial on the front of your water heater, at the foot of the tank. You may also want to mark the current setting.

Make a filler-upper-
Yes, filler-upper is a technical term. A filler-upper is nothing more than two lengths of PVC connected by and elbow, with another elbow on the end (see photo 3). It is not required, but sure makes filling the machine from the sink much easier. No need to glue the parts together, either. If you are on this website, I imagine you have some laying around somewhere... go scrounge it up.

Step 2: Cleaning Day...

You've got your coupon in hand, a tank of steamy hot water, and a filler-upper. Time for action.

Go rent your machine and get some carpet cleaner-
And by carpet cleaner I mean regular old white vinegar. It's strong, green, safe*, and cheap. What more could you ask for? So instead of spending a chunk of change on fancy-pants carpet soap, drop three bucks on a big jug of vinegar. Armed with your coupon and a jug of vinegar for cleaner, you should be able to clean as may carpets as you want for less than $40.

Clean your carpets-
The rugdoctor is really easy to use. Just follow the instructions on the machine. When filling the machine, put in one cup of vinegar first, then fill up the tank with hot water.

The machine sprays the clean water into the carpet then sucks it back out. The suction nozzle is along the front edge of the machine. I've found that by using the machine with the handle in the lowest position (See photo) you push the nozzle into the carpet and suck more water out.

Take your time. Go over things as many times as you like. Once you are done cleaning, go over the carpet one last time without pushing the button to suck out as much water as possible. This will decrease drying time.

Step 3: Once You're Done Cleaning...

Pweh! All the hard work is over. Time to finish up.

Wait until your carpets are good and dry-
This is hard, but wait until your carpets are good and dry before walking on them much, or moving furniture. If you must move furniture back before the carpet is completely dry, put some way paper under the feet so the pain/stain doesn't bleed into the carpet. Also, moisture kind of attracts dirt, so by waiting until the are dry to walk on the carpets, you can keep them cleaner longer.

Turn your water heater back down-
If you turned your water heater up, turn it back down. That'll keep you from accidentally scalding yourself.

Clean the machine-
I'm not saying anything major here, but clean out the dirty water take pretty good. Treat the machine how you want the person before you to have treated it.

Enjoy your clean carpets!



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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    this is my fav instructables tip EVER. i literally ran out of soap just now and came to search the interweb for help. TY! i wash my carpets 6-7 times per year and spot clean spills and messes even more. THIS is why i bought a rug doctor (3 labs on a creek, 2 cats, 3 wild kiddos, and a small hobby farm with assorted get-that-animal-out-of-the-house-now-boots-OFF-at-the-door) years ago. i CAN'T believe i never thought to make my own soap! i use bleach in my machine w the solution. just a 1\4 cup, like in the washing machine. my carpets are synthetic low dense berber and are ok with bleach and hot water. NOT all carpets are. also, don't go over berbers more than twice since the machine doesn't suck out as much water as with pile carpet thus multiple runs will take forever to dry. i ,too, vacuum over it all one last time without pushing the spray button. a fan or ceiling fan speeds up drying also. oh, so excited to go finish up!

    5 drops of dawn liquid soap . That's fine. But how much whiter vinegar per gallon of water? , Is it ok white destilled vinegar?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    One step you left out. According to my neighbor who is a professional rug/upholstery cleaner, do not use the rug doctor cleaning solution (this is where they make their money, not on machine rental). Instead put about 4-5 drops of Dawn liquid dish soap in the hot water tank w/the white vinegar. The main problem with re-occurring stains is that people use too much soap and the soap attracts dirt (especially when still wet). This combination cleans even stubborn stains and minimizes the soap residue left in the carpet.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Also, some people don't realize that vinegar, helps to seal in certain stains. I use vinegar in my machine to soak new colored jeans. It set's the color of the dye so they don't fade so you have a very set colored stain, this could be an issue...when in doubt, blue dawn, just a little bit, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda is the go to...let it set a bit before adding to the machines really hot water though because it makes bubbles (expands) a bit so I always wait a bit, then leave room in the solution tank...for the wondrous magic results!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Fyi...when I say I add vinegar to my,"machine" to keep my colored items longer lasting, I meant my," washing machine"...just so you know. I was worried people would get a bit confused when we were initially discussing carpet cleaning machines... the baking soda, dawn, hydrogen peroxide is intended for the carpet water+ baking soda...dissolve b.soda, add 1/4 tsp. blue dawn(yep) ...add peroxide, a whole bottle! (yep)...and then let her work her magic!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    a little new tid-bit I am soooooo excited to share. The Bissel green machine can now be rented at some big stores. Lowes is one of them I found. The comparative video on youtube, bissel vs. green machine was very convincing, somI checked it out myself...AWESOME!!! So much easier to use, and waaayyyyy better! I am boing to use a home version of the solution suggested, and will get back with the results! Thanks for the instuctable!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    The price of this rugs cleaning machine is very reasonable. Once it is being purchased then its very easy to clean the rugs.



    5 years ago on Introduction

    As a carpet cleaner myself, here is a word of caution:
    If you are cleaning woolen or cotton carpets (or any natural fiber for that matter) use cold water to clean to prevent shrinkage of the carpet.