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How to Clean Carpet with Baking Soda

A carpet offers one’s feet a soft and pleasant feeling, but only when it’s clean. A carpet laden with dirt, dust, and stains becomes rough to feel and unpleasant to look at. But those who are in a fix about how to clean their dirty, stained, smelly carpet without professional help, need not worry, because they can do the cleaning work with a very easily available object – the baking soda!

Also, although one keeps their carpet clean with regular vacuuming and steaming, a carpet needs extra care to look always fresh and bright, and even for this extra care, baking soda is a great solution.

Here are tips on how to clean the carpet with baking soda.

Published: May 16, 2022.

baking soda 1

Baking Soda Vs. Commercial Cleaning Products for Cleaning Carpets

Many people buy commercial cleaning products to clean carpets and for overall home cleaning.

However, these products may be much inferior to baking soda in many aspects. Firstly, they are expensive while baking soda is rather cheap. One generally doesn’t have to buy it separately as it’s available in the kitchen for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Moreover, commercial cleaning products are made with harsh chemicals that can ruin the carpets and are sometimes harmful to human and pet health, as they can cause respiratory and skin problems. They may be harmful to the environment. Also, they are not always very effective.

Using baking soda for carpet cleaning and other cleaning jobs is a perfectly safe, healthy, and effective alternative to these chemicals.

How to Clean Carpets and Area Rugs with Baking Soda

One can use baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) to clean and deodorize all types of carpets and area rugs.

However, the method of cleaning will depend on whether the dirt it holds is grease-based (e.g., oil- or butter-based foods, machine lubricants, beauty lotions, hair gels, etc.) or non-greasy (e.g., blood, mud, wine, ink, tea and coffee (without milk), soda, etc.).

But whatever may be the method, the cleaning process starts by sprinkling baking soda over the dirt. But even before that, the user should vacuum the carpet because if there are other types of unseen dirt and debris around the stains, they can cause even more stains, if not cleared first.

Any type of dirt is easier to remove when it’s fresh. Therefore, if there is a spill on the carpet, one should try to remove it immediately.

However, even if one notices the dirt after a while when it becomes old, one need not worry, because baking soda is capable of removing new as well as old dirt effectively.

Advantages of Baking Soda for Carpet Cleaning

Baking soda is absolutely safe for humans and pets. It’s not at all toxic. Even if it’s mistakenly consumed, at the most, it can make one feel unpleasant for some time. It doesn’t irritate eyes and is safe for pregnant women, infants, and pets.

It’s also very cheap and easily available at any grocery shop. Moreover, if one buys it in larger quantities, it’s even cheaper.

It’s very versatile. Apart from carpet cleaning, it can be used for cleaning various surfaces, laundry, and general cleaning. Of course, it’s used for culinary purposes as well as for relieving acidity, heartburn, gout, and gases.

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Any Downsides?

Using baking soda is a perfectly safe, effective, and eco-friendly way of cleaning carpets. But users may want to consider if it has some downsides.

Firstly, thankfully, baking soda won’t damage a carpet. It won’t even discolor the carpets. On the contrary, it will make the carpet’s colors fresher and brighter.

However, while using baking soda on a carpet for the first time, one should check the color-fastness of the carpet with an easy method (described below).

It should be noted that baking soda may damage the floor underneath the carpet.

Also, it may be quite tough to vacuum every bit of baking soda later from the carpet. Baking soda particles are very minute and can often settle down the carpet fibers. This is not a big issue, however, as baking soda is safe for humans and pets.

One should also note that it’s not recommended to use baking soda for cleaning handmade silk carpets.

Also, if consumed in larger amounts, baking soda can cause seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, muscle weakness, frequent urination, and irritability.

Removing Non-greasy Dirt

Non-greasy stains are less headache than greasy stains because they are easier to remove being devoid of an underlying residue. The baking soda has only to absorb the color causing the stain and no fat.

- First, as mentioned earlier, get the carpet vacuumed so as to clear all other types of dust and debris around the stains that can potentially cause even more stains.

- If one is using baking soda on their carpet for the first time to remove stains, they should first check for color-fastness of the carpet before applying the baking soda. They should mix ½ tablespoon of baking soda with ½ cup of water. Now they should pour a small amount on the carpet and let it dry. Then they should vacuum and check the carpet.

- Once they ensure that the color is fast and won’t be faded, they should sprinkle a plentiful amount of baking soda over the entire stain. A shaker bottle is a useful tool for easy sprinkling. They should make sure the layer is thick enough.

- Now they should wet a (or more if needed) washcloth or paper towel with hot water and squeeze it to keep it damp but not dripping, and then cover the stain and baking soda with it. Keeping the area damp and covered for at least 3 hours (or longer if possible) will allow the baking soda to sit on the stain. They can do this before going to bed or leaving for work.

- After 3 hours or more, they should remove the washcloth and vacuum the spot. If any of the stains are still visible, they should repeat the process.

Removing Greasy Dirt

Greasy stains are more difficult to remove because the grease can leave an outline of the stain or a residue that catches more dirt.

- First, the user should get the carpet vacuumed.

- Then they should test the carpet for color-fastness with the above-given method. Once it’s proved that the carpet’s color won’t be faded, they should take a (or more if needed) clean cloth or paper towel and press it into the stain to absorb as much grease as possible.

They should not rub or scrub, because rubbing would work the grease into the carpet and make it even tougher to remove. Also, the paper towel or cloth should be white and not colored, as, if it’s colored, its color can get transferred to the carpet.

- After this, they should sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the entire stain, preferably with a shaker bottle.

- While using baking soda to remove greasy stains, users should not wet it with anything since it should be allowed to absorb as much of the grease as possible, which water won’t allow.

- They should let the baking soda sit overnight or even longer. The longer it sits on the stain, the more grease it can absorb.

- They should then vacuum the spot thoroughly. The stain will be gone in most cases.

- Users should make sure their vacuum is designed for fine particles.

For Tough Grease Stains: If the stain still persists, the user should:

- Take a small amount of dish soap on a damp clean sponge or towel and blot the stain (don’t rub).

- Rinse with a clean damp warm towel, again remember not to rub it.

- Dry with a clean dry towel.

- Spread another layer of baking soda over the spot and let sit overnight. (This step may have to be repeated multiple times till the stain vanishes).

- Vacuum the area & the stain will be gone!

How to Clean Carpet Every Day with Baking Soda?

Even for regular carpet cleaning, and not only for removing stains, one can use baking soda. But the baking soda should be applied only on the dry carpet for everyday cleaning.

- Users should do the color-fastness test first if they haven’t used baking soda for carpet cleaning before.

- Once the carpet is proven to be colorfast, they should sprinkle a light layer of baking soda all over the carpet (should be dry) or area rug. If the carpet is in an area with high traffic such as walkways, hallways, or in front of a couch, they should use a heavier amount of baking soda.

- Users can use a dry and soft brush to distribute the baking soda evenly and work into its fibers. If the user is worried that they won’t be able to remove all the baking soda particles later, they can avoid using a brush.

- They should allow the baking soda to sit on the carpet at least for around 15 minutes. However, leaving it for 24 hours or at least overnight can give the best results.

- Now they should vacuum the carpet as they usually would.

- As a bonus, the baking soda keeps the vacuum cleaner bag or canister deodorized.

How Long Should the Baking Soda Sit on Carpet?

Baking soda should ideally sit on the carpet for at least 15 minutes. But the longer one allows it to stay there, the more dirt, oil, and odor it will absorb, and will give a thorough cleaning. Therefore, it’s a good idea to leave it overnight on the carpet and vacuum it in the morning.

Using Baking Soda for Removing Pet Odors

Pet owners agree that although pets are extremely adorable and have joyful personalities, they come with an odor that is left on carpets or area rugs and can sometimes be unbearable.

Maybe the odor is caused by accidents or just because of repeated exposure at spots where one’s pets love to hang out.

dog on carpet

Baking soda can work here too and can give pet owners rid of pet odors.

They just have to spread a light layer of baking soda over the entire carpet and let it sit for a few hours. Baking soda will absorb all the odors on the carpet. Then, the pet owners should just vacuum the entire carpet.

However, if the pet smell is caused by stronger sources like urine or feces, the users have to treat the carpet with the method described above for removing non-greasy stains. They can make the process even more effective by adding some vinegar to the baking soda.

Adding Vinegar to Baking Soda to Clean the Carpet

Even after one applies baking soda to remove stain or odor on the carpet, sometimes they experience that the stain or odor is not removed fully. Here vinegar can come to their rescue.

It’s interesting to see why the mixture of baking soda and vinegar is so powerful to clean carpets.

Baking soda is extremely absorbent. Since it’s capable of absorbing grease as well as odors, it’s great for removing these two elements from stains. On the other hand, vinegar, being made of acetic acid, is a natural disinfectant.

Actually, it’s so acidic that bacteria can be killed with it and it can even dissolve dirt and grease that make the stains more unsightly.

When baking soda and vinegar are both used to clean the carpet, the absorbing and deodorizing power of baking soda and the dissolving and disinfecting power of vinegar come together.

Together they cause fizzing and crackling and thus move the mixture throughout the stain, and their power of cleaning increases multiple times, and the stains are completely removed.

Note 1: Users should always use white vinegar for cleaning purposes. White vinegar is clear and won’t cause any discoloration which can happen with other types of vinegar.

Note 2: Vinegar is not recommended to be used on carpets made of natural fibers like silk and wool, as these fibers are very delicate and can’t tolerate excessive exposure to acidic products. So, the carpet may be damaged.

Here are steps to clean carpets with baking soda and vinegar:

- Users should first cover the stain with white vinegar making sure the entire area is wet but not soggy.

- Then they should spread dry baking soda over the vinegar and stain, again making sure both are completely covered.

- They should start hearing sounds of fizzing and crackling that indicate the chemical reaction. Even some bubbles may be seen that may move around a little.

- Now they should wait. They may perhaps need to let the mixture sit on the carpet overnight. It’s important that the vinegar is completely dried. As it dries, its smell should dissipate.

- If a little baking soda is left behind, they should scoop some of it.

- Lastly, they should vacuum up the baking soda.

These steps can lead one to a spot-free, fresh carpet. Still, if a slight stain or odor remains, one can repeat the process as needed.

There is another method too:

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda, one cup of vinegar, and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle, and spray it over the entire carpet to eliminate any odors. As baking soda is already dissolved, it won’t leave any residue on the carpet.

carpeted stairs

What Other Substances can be Mixed with Baking Soda for Cleaning Carpets?

Substances like cinnamon, clove, and one’s other favorite fragrant herbs can be mixed with baking soda so as to leave a pleasant fragrance after cleaning. Some essential oils too can be mixed with baking soda. H

owever, if one has pets, they should do this cautiously as some essential oils are harmful to pets.

What Should Not be Mixed with Baking Soda for Cleaning Carpets?

While the effectiveness of baking soda as a cleaning agent can be increased by mixing substances like vinegar, some other substances can turn it ineffective or even harmful to the carpets, one’s health, and the environment. These are:

- Alcohol

- Ammonia

- Hydrogen peroxide

- Bleach

Which Vacuum Should One Use?

The problem with vacuuming baking soda is that not all vacuum cleaners prevent fine particles, such as baking soda, from passing through the motor.

If baking soda gets inside the motor, it can break the vacuum. Therefore, one should first read their manufacturer’s instructions regarding fine particles and carpet cleaners. Per se, bagged vacuums are best for fine particles or bagless units with cyclonic air filtering action combined with pre-motor air filters.

Of course, a good HEPA post-motor exhaust air filter is also recommended especially if it contains a layer of activated charcoal.

Are Baking Soda and Baking Powder the Same?

No! They are different. But even experienced bakers, just like amateurs, get confused between them due to their similar names and looks.

Although both these are leavening agents used in baked goods like cookies, cakes, and muffins, baking soda is purely a base (alkali) and needs both an acidic ingredient (such as lemon juice or buttermilk) and a liquid to get activated, whereas baking powder already contains an acid ingredient needed for the product to rise and a base.

Can Baking Powder be Used in Place of Baking Soda to Clean Carpets?

Although baking powder can do the cleaning job to some extent, its effect is not as strong as that of baking soda. One will have to use baking powder around three times more than baking soda for cleaning carpets.

cat on a carpet

Long Story Short: Baking soda is one’s best bet to remove stains and odors from the carpet, and also for day-to-day cleaning of the carpet to make it look fresh and bright.

When combined with vinegar and other substances, it can be made even more effective and refreshing. By using baking soda to clean carpets, one can ensure using an effective, non-toxic, environmentally safe, and cost-effective cleaning agent.

However, if You need additional help in keeping your carpets and area rugs clean, especially in heavy traffic areas, a good HEPA vacuum cleaner with a motorized brushroll and especially a dedicated carpet washer can be of great help - combined or not with a baking soda.

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