We Tested It: Vinegar As A Carpet Cleaner

Sometimes, when it rains, my pooch decides that his precious paws are simply too delicate to become sullied with that icky mud, and he’d rather just not go outside to do his business. Yes, the corner of the living room will suffice, thank you very much.

I hate when it rains. What am I, a maid service?

I used to use this awesome carpet cleaner I’d buy in a vat from Costco. It smelled like mustard gas, like a chemical weapon, which I guess it basically was. It worked weapons-grade magic against my stains and I was a happy, albeit fume-y, camper.

But that was ages ago, and in the years since then I’ve been on a steady march towards totally natural, totally homemade cleaning products. I mean really, is there anything that baking soda and vinegar can’t do? So far, I haven’t found it.

What I have found, however, is that when it comes to “green” cleaning, sometimes the technique is just as important as the ingredients. Case in point: vinegar as a carpet cleaner. It works, and it works really well, but you can’t just dump it on and wipe it up like it’s one of those industrial strength, neon blue, store-bought monsters. It takes a little more attention. A little finesse. And with much practice (thank you, dear doggie), I finally perfected the method. All you need is a spray bottle with a solution of half vinegar/half water, and a few old cleaning towels.

1. First, it’s important to get to the stain as soon as you possibly can. Whether it’s pet pee or muddy footprints or spilled wine, the longer it sits just means the harder it’ll be to get out. So make sure you get it while it’s still wet.

2. Lay the towel over the spill and firmly, using your fingertips or the heel of your palm, blot the liquid up. DO NOT rub the liquid in. Blot only, yes? That’s the “method” part of this whole tutorial. Blot.




3. Continue your blotting until you have soaked up as much of the liquid as humanly possible. You might go through a few towels, depending on the size of the spill you’re dealing with.

4. Now it’s time to apply the vinegar. On the “mist” setting, spray the entire area and spray it liberally. Get it good and soaked. Then, allow it to sit there for a while -- 5 or 10 minutes should do it.

5. Once the vinegar has had a chance to soak in and work its magic, you’ll use a clean towel to soak it up. Blotting works great here, but if you’re just dying to rub or even scrub, have at it! You can even put a little elbow grease on it. Might as well give that carpet a good, deep cleaning.

And that’s all there is to it! I’ve used this technique on so many spills, everything from party punch to baby poop. As long as the soiling is relatively fresh, this easy eco-friendly method will always do the trick. With no nasty fumes to leave behind; and if you want a fresh scent, try a citrus-infused cleaning vinegar! (PS You can mop with vinegar too.)

Of course, if that spill is due to a leaky roof rather than a leaky pooch, find a local roofing professional and get a handle on things before the rainy season starts.

Sayward Rebhal writes for Networx.com.

Updated November 5, 2018.

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