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Can I Use Laundry Detergent In My Carpet Cleaner? [& How To]

Carpet is lovely to have, but it can be a pain to maintain. Carpet cleaners use a shampoo that can get pretty expensive. Can laundry detergent work in its place? If that's your concern, let's discuss the details. 

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Laundry detergent is a good alternative to carpet shampoo. However, you need to use the correct one for your carpet. You'll need a low suds detergent. If you want to take it a step further, you can make carpet shampoo using it as one of the ingredients. Otherwise, it works well enough alone. 

Before you do something, it's essential to cover all the bases first. What could happen if you use the wrong detergent? Additionally, how would you use detergent with a carpet cleaner? These are answers you'd need before you use laundry detergent as carpet shampoo. To learn more, keep reading. 

Close-up on a professional cleaner vacuuming a carpet while working at an apartment - housework concepts,Can I Use Laundry Detergent In My Carpet Cleaner? [& How To]

What's The Difference Between Carpet Shampoo And Laundry Detergent?

Close-up Of A Person's Hand Pouring Detergent In Lid

It's important to establish the difference between the two products before you replace one with the other. What's the difference between carpet shampoo and laundry detergent? More specifically, what are you giving up when switching the two?

There's not much you give up when making the switch. Using carpet shampoo is more convenient. It takes the guesswork out of the equation.

You can put it in the carpet cleaner without worrying about damaging it. It also won't damage the carpet as long as you follow the instructions. In terms of functionality, carpet shampoo and laundry detergent generally accomplish the same job. 

The main differences between the two are in the name of each product. Carpet shampoo is made for carpet usage, while laundry detergent is primarily for laundry. 

What Laundry Detergent Can You Use In A Carpet Cleaner? 

Stack of folded towels and detergents on white table in bathroom

It's also crucial to note that not all laundry detergents will work with a carpet cleaner. Using the wrong one can end in disaster. It can damage the carpet cleaner and the carpet itself. 

If you're renting or borrowing a carpet cleaner for this purpose, it would be better to stick with carpet shampoo. Otherwise, you risk ruining the machine. 

You're looking for two characteristics when picking a laundry detergent. First, it needs to produce a minimal amount of foam. Secondly, it should be easily rinseable.

This way, there's no leftover detergent on the carpet or the cleaner. With this in mind, we can eliminate one type right away—avoid using powdered forms. 

High-Efficiency Label

Liquid laundry detergents are better for this situation. Thirdly, it should have an HE label. It's an acronym for high efficiency. You'll see it on the detergent container in lowercase form. 

HE laundry detergent is primarily for use in high-efficiency washers. This type of laundry detergent produces fewer suds. This aspect is good when you're using low amounts of water. 

Click here to see this high-efficiency liquid laundry detergent on Amazon.

High-efficiency detergent excels at shorter wash cycles. For this reason, it makes the perfect candidate to replace carpet shampoo. Regular laundry detergent will create too many suds. 

It will overflow the carpet and the machine. No one should test their luck in getting regular detergent to work in a carpet cleaner. 

You only need a fraction of HE detergent to make it work in a carpet cleaner. There would be more guesswork in figuring out how much regular detergent you can use without overflowing the machine. 

How To Use Detergent In A Carpet Cleaner

At this point, you should finish picking the laundry detergent you want to use. It can be detergent from Gain, Tide, Arm & Hammer, etc. The brand doesn't matter. 

Click here to see this Gain laundry detergent on Amazon.

As long as it's a high-efficiency detergent, it should work. Next, grab a tablespoon. Take out the container you will fill with hot water. 

The cleaning solution will only require two tablespoons of detergent. Add it to the container as it's filling or before you start filling it. Once it mixes, it should be ready to go. However, don't use it right away if too many suds develop. 

Let it settle before you use it. After you finish using the detergent on your carpet, do a second run. Since you're using detergent, you'll want to rinse it out. 

So, fill the carpet cleaner with hot water only. This way, you can ensure the carpet and the cleaner won't have detergent lingering around. 

Warranty Considerations Before Using Detergent

Before you attempt to use laundry detergent in your carpet cleaner, you'll want to consider the warranty. If the machine is still within the warranty period, this cleaning method will void it if anything goes wrong. 

Some manufacturers warn against using anything but the cleaning solution they recommend. 

How To Make A Carpet Shampoo

Using laundry detergent alone sounds barebones. Some people may think it's not enough. How would it remove stains and brighten the carpet again if it's just detergent? 

Fortunately, you don't have to settle on using detergent alone. You can add a bit more to the mix. If you'd like to make a container of cleaner, here are the three ingredients you'll need:

  1. Detergent
  2. All-purpose cleaner
  3. Laundry booster

Start by filling a container with a gallon of hot water. Then, add two tablespoons of your favorite detergent. Follow that up with a 1/4 cup of all-purpose cleaner. Finally, add a scoop of laundry booster. 

Click here to see this all-purpose cleaner on Amazon.

OxiClean falls into the laundry booster category. You can use that or a generic brand. Close the container and give it a little shake. 

Continue shaking the container until the powder dissolves. As a safety precaution, dry the outside of the container. Then, label it. This way, you won't have a random unlabeled container of mixed chemicals. 

Using the Cleaning Solution

The container should last a few uses. It all depends on how much your carpet cleaner requires. Regardless, fill the carpet cleaner's container and clean away!

Here's a YouTube video demonstrating how to make it:

Can You Use Dish Soap In A Carpet Cleaner?

A woman holding a bottle of dish detergent in her hand

Sometimes, there is no better degreaser than dish soap. More specifically, Dawn is one of the best at removing greasy messes. With how effective it can be, you would think it would do well in a carpet cleaner. 

However, that's not the case. You can use Dawn as a pre-spot before you use the carpet cleaner, but unfortunately, you can't use it in the machine. 

As mentioned, you want a cleaner that doesn't produce a lot of suds, and even the smallest amount of dish soap can create a lot of suds. If you put Dawn in the carpet cleaner, it will overflow the machine. 

The excessive suds will travel through the machine and into your carpet. Thus, it leaves residue on your carpet, which you don't want. In the end, it might make your carpet dirtier. 

If you need degreasing power, you can always add an all-purpose cleaner to your carpet shampoo mix. Otherwise, you'll need to guess how much dish soap you can use without producing a lot of suds. 

Can You Use OxiClean In A Carpet Shampooer?

OxiClean comes in powdered form. You generally want to avoid using powdered options when choosing a laundry detergent. So, why would it be different with OxiClean?

Simply put, it's more of a convenience factor. If you add detergent powder alongside OxiClean powder, you may struggle to dissolve it. In the worst case, some clumps will slip through. 

They'll make their way into your carpet cleaner. Who knows what that could do to the machine? It's not worth risking that. In any case, it's possible to use OxiClean in a carpet shampoo mix. 

You only need to add one scoop per gallon of warm water.

Why Does My Carpet Feel Sticky After Shampooing?

Worker removing dirt from carpet indoors, closeup. Cleaning service

The problem with making carpet shampoo is uncertainty. After using your own carpet shampoo mix, the carpet might end up sticky. It raises the question—what could be causing this?

One likely reason is leftover residue. Carpet cleaners will leave residue on your carpet for two reasons. Since you're using homemade carpet shampoo, it could be because of too much detergent. 

The other reason is improper use of the carpet cleaner. Rushing the cleaning process doesn't give the machine enough time to vacuum the mixture.

To fix this problem, re-rinse the carpet with your carpet shampoo. Afterward, do an additional rinse cycle with warm water. This way, you can focus on removing the shampoo for the final rinse. Then, let it dry.

In Closing

It shouldn't be expensive to maintain the fluffy feeling of carpet. Fortunately, you can make carpet shampoo for a fraction of the cost with laundry detergent. The icing on the cake is that you might already have everything you need to make it. We hope you found this informative. 

Before you go, do you have other carpet cleaner concerns? Are you wondering what else you can use in one? To learn more, check out:

What Can You Use In A Carpet Cleaner? [11 Options]

Do you need help restoring the soft feeling? We have some tips to share. For more information, check out:

How to Make Carpet Soft Again [Softening Methods Beyond Just Cleaning]