Natural Carpet Cleaners

Carpets get dirty. Children, pets, high traffic areas, spills, and life itself can lead to the inevitable grunge that is ground into the carpets of many homes. Commercial carpet cleaners abound but are not often the best option for cleaner carpets. Chemical carpet cleaners can lead to skin irritation, indoor air pollution, and leave a residue on carpets that can actually lead to dirtier carpets. Simple, everyday products such as baking soda, club soda, and even vinegar can clean a carpet as well as any commercial product.

For simple carpet deodorizing, little works as well as baking soda. Baking soda can simply be sprinkled onto the carpet, allowed to sit overnight, and then vacuumed up in the morning. For darker colored carpets, unused coffee grounds may also be used to freshen carpet and leave a wonderful fragrance behind. Cornstarch mixed with crushed lavender or mint leaves can also make a delightful carpet freshener and room deodorizer.

While it is always best to blot up and treat any spills immediately, stains can and do happen. Club soda or vinegar can be poured directly onto a set-in stain and scrubbed in with a small carpet brush. For dark or stubborn stains, a paste can be made with ¼ cup salt, ¼ cup vinegar, and ½ cup boric acid (found in the detergent aisle). This paste can be applied to the spot, scrubbed in, and then vacuumed up when dried.

Pet accidents often leave a foul odor that remains long after the original stain is gone. Handle this unpleasant situation with 2 cups of hot water, 1 cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons baking soda, and a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Stir gently (due to the baking soda and vinegar, it will bubble), and pour enough onto the accident site to thoroughly soak the carpet. Allow it to sit overnight, and then blot up any excess in the morning. Allow it to dry, and vacuum the remaining residue. The scent should be completely gone, even stubborn cat odors.

Natural alternatives for more complete overall carpet cleaning also exist. Instead of using chemical steam cleaning mixtures, simply use a 1:4 hot water and white vinegar mixture in your home steam cleaner. This blend will leave carpets cleaner, brighter, and even softer. The vinegar scent will rapidly dissipate as the carpets dry, leaving carpets freshly scented and deodorized.

If stubborn spots or carpet dirt remain, there are natural commercial carpet cleaners available through makers such as Seventh Generation, Earth Friendly Products, and Bi-O-Kleen. Some commercial carpet cleaning services also offer steam-only cleanings that take the responsibility completely off a homeowner’s shoulders. With so many natural options, there is no reason to add to the indoor air pollution and chemical stew many commercial products leave behind.

Pat Mulford •