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Budget Carpet Cleaning

December 9th, 2008 at 12:15 am

I'm trying to figure out how to clean my carpet without spending any real money on it.

Our house was a rental before we bought it 11 years ago, and had cheap neutral-colored carpet in all rooms except the kitchen/dining area and bathrooms. We pulled up the carpets in all rooms but one and had the hardwood floors which were underneath refinished about 9 years ago. The family room had plywood under its carpet so the carpet was retained.

The family room has a sliding glass door to the backyard on one wall and a door to the garage on the other. There is a dirt trail on the carpet where we walk. There is a tree with berries in the backyard, and every fall the berries fall off and the berry juice comes in on all shoes no matter how carefully we wipe them. So in addition to the dirt trail there are also dark dots all over the carpet.

I've had a carpet cleaner come in a few times and the carpet looks much better when he's done. Trouble is it costs $60 to do this 13' x 10' room. At a minimum we should have it done twice a year. A few years ago I became convinced that we should pull up this carpet and put down a hard surface and a big rug. Both would be easier to clean than this carpet. I have finally convinced Mr. H of the soundness of this plan. Actually, I think rearranging the family room a bit in a way that forced him to spend more time looking at the dirt trail on the carpet is what did it. It's likely that we'll choose a surface that he can install, cutting the labor down. But it's not going to be done any time soon.

Enter my carpet cleaning attempts:
1) Google manual carpet cleaning (or something similar). Get a list of ideas.
2) Read that hydrogen peroxide can take spots out of carpet. Hey, that stuff is cheap and we have it. Grab the bottle and some cotton balls and start dabbing. Hey, it's taking up some of these spots! Great! Later that evening I realize that I'd created clean, light colored polka-dots on my carpet. Hmm. Well it kind of worked.
3) Read that you can scrub your carpet with a scrub brush, water and a tiny bit of soap and then use a shop vac to suck up some of the water and put old towels on the carpet to absorb more water. Hey, I have all these things! Mr H is in charge of the shop vac though. He goes after the worst of the dirt one day when Daisy and I are out using just water (no soap). Later he shows me his efforts, but notes that there are now dirt stripes where the dirt blob used to be.
4) I go after a part of the rug using a small amount of soap in the water this time. It works! I created a 2' x 1' clean patch on the carpet. Mr. H suggests we clean in a checkerboard pattern.
5) Today Daisy and I went after another spot. We scrubbed, vacuumed, rinsed, vacuumed then toweled a spot. Then two more adjoining patches. Daisy danced on the towels to help pull the water up. Another, larger clean spot was created. I just looked at the clean spot - it has dark stripes in between each section. It's kind of hard to tell where you started and stopped so we missed that part.

I'm not sure how this is really working out. The carpet is looking cleaner in spots. . . but it is a lot of work to do even a small patch. Instead of looking dirty it just looks kind of strange now. But I guess we'll just keep going.

6 Responses to “Budget Carpet Cleaning”

  1. gruntina Says:

    How about a rug? It seems like an occurring problem and I would probably consider getting new hardwood floors or something more durable than carpet.

  2. mom-sense Says:


    I second Gruntina - do you have any area rugs around the house to spare? I used to think that carpets on carpets was redundent (actually, a dumb idea) until I moved into a house with a light beige carpet all over - it was fine when we first moved in, but after four years, two dogs (until recently) and five kids, it has seen better days.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Your final method sounds good, but why not include the hydrogen peroxide, too. How much to rent a carpet cleaner from the store?

  4. Petunia Says:

    gruntina and mom-sense - I've finally convinced Mr. H that a hard surface and a rug is the way to go. But we won't be getting to that any time soon, hence my carpet cleaning efforts. We don't have any extra area rugs at this time; but I'll look into it.

    creditcardfree - After yesterday's efforts didn't seem to yield much (maybe partly because I had Daisy helping me) I did think about carpet cleaner rentals. Meanwhile, DH's sister has a friend who may be willing to lend us a carpet cleaner. I don't think a carpet cleaner would cost much to rent. I'm just trying to keep my spending to a minimum this month.

  5. creditcardfree Says:

    If you can borrow a carpet cleaner you'll be very pleased with the results. Good luck!

  6. zetta Says:

    For about $70, you can get a Bissel QuickSteamer carpet cleaner at Target. That's about what a professional cleaning or renting a couple of times will cost you, and you'll be able to use it for years. It doesn't have any attachments or motorized brushes, but I found it does as good a job as the more expensive model we had previously. Spend another $10 for Resolve high-traffic foam and Resolve spot cleaner, and you're good to go.

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