DIY Carpet Cleaning Without a Machine

Try our easy tips for keeping your carpets and rugs looking clean without the use of vacuums or steam cleaners.

April 13, 2020
Colorful Carpet Tiles in Kitchen

Colorful Carpet Tiles in Kitchen

Instead of searching endlessly for the perfect area rug, create your own colorful look with carpet tiles. You can achieve a big look on a small budget by going modular; just six FLOR® tiles can make a roughly 3’ x 5’ rug or a narrow 10-foot runner, and the individual tiles can cost as little as $8 apiece. Shown is the FLOR style House Pet, which comes in a rainbow of hues and can stand up to heavy foot traffic.

Photo by: FLOR, Inc.

Simply put, it’s possible to keep your carpets clean without bringing in heavy cleaning equipment. In a world where we have very high expectations of our vacuums and rent steam cleaners to handle the rest, it’s good to step back and remember that there are efficient ways to keep your carpet looking clean without the machinery.

How to Remove Loose Dirt and Dust

Without a vacuum, you can still clean a rug with a stiff-bristled broom and a dustpan. This is an especially easy method of cleaning if you have a low-pile carpet. If you’re cleaning thicker, high-piled or shag carpets, be prepared with a little patience and sharp eye, because it’s easier for dirt to become embedded in the fibers. To make a flimsy broom more effective, wrap the bristles with a rubber band to make them more rigidly bound.

Rubber Band Wrapped Around a Blue-Bristled Broom

Blue Broom Wrapped in a Rubber Band

This worn out, blue-bristled broom has a rubber band wrapped around the middle of the bristles to help stiffen the bristles again and bring the broom back to life.

Photo by: Cassidy Garcia

Cassidy Garcia

You can also clean area rugs without a machine on a snowy day. The snow must be packable (i.e., snowman snow) rather than fluffy snow. This method works really well for rugs that are too delicate to clean with a vacuum or a heavy-duty machine, but it can be used on any rug that’s easily transported, which excludes wall-to-wall carpets. Start by rolling up the carpet indoors, and then unrolling it upside down in the snow. Using your hands and a paddle, beat the rug so that the dirt falls downwards and is captured into the snow. Move the carpet again and repeat the process until the underlying snow is clean. The rug won’t absorb the moisture and for the most part, it will lift off the packed snow without having attached snowballs to its fibers, but it’ll still need some time to thaw and dry completely before being put back into its original indoor space.

How to clean vintage, high-pile rugs using snow.

How to Clean Rugs Using Snow

How to Clean Rugs Using Snow

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

How to Disinfect a Carpet

Refresh and disinfect the fibers of your carpet without renting a steam cleaner with the help of a simple homemade solution and a scrub brush. In a bowl or small bucket, mix one part white vinegar with three parts water. Dip the bristles of the scrub brush into the solution and rub them into the carpet. Massage them into the fibers well (without fully saturating the carpet) and follow up with a cloth to help blot excess moisture.



Photo by: Gettyimages/wakila


How to Spot Clean

Spot cleaning is perhaps the most important carpet maintenance that can be done without a machine. Whether you’re tackling a spot on the carpet that has been there for a while, like a pet stain, or impressing your friends with how easily you can clean up wine or a dropped plate of food, simple cures are a good party trick and an essential life skill.



Woman cleaning carpet

Photo by: Gettyimages/pinstock


If your spot is fresh (wet or sticky), always start by blotting the area with a highly absorbent cloth – and though it might feel wasteful to use a whole roll of paper towels, they work really well.

Next, the rinse. You can use club soda if the stain is fresh to loosen it before it sets in, but also consider applying a carpet cleaner according to product guidelines. Always continue to blot at the stain and the cleanser, rather than scrub.

Remove Carpet Stains

Remove Carpet Stains

If you’ve got an unsightly spot on a rug or carpet, sprinkle it with baking soda to wick out any excess moisture. Let it sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it up. Next, blot the stain with 1 cup warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon vinegar working from the outside edges inward. Blot until the stain has transferred from the carpet to the cleaning cloth and allow to air dry.

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

How to Remove Pet Fur

Get in the habit of using a lint brush to remove pet fur from your carpets to help keep them tidy between deep cleanings. Use the brush in areas where there’s visible build-up, and also focus on areas where your pet lays most often. (The furs are likely to be more embedded.) Brush and groom your pet more frequently to help keep your carpets clean.

Choosing high-performannce pet-friendly carpet for your home.

Pet-friendly Flooring Options

Choosing high-performannce pet-friendly carpet for your home.

Photo by: Shaw Floors High-Performance Bellera Carpet, Shaw Industries

Shaw Floors High-Performance Bellera Carpet, Shaw Industries

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