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How To Clean An Area Rug Without A Carpet Cleaner

Keeping an area rug clean is essential to keeping it looking its best. Many homeowners use a carpet cleaner to remove dirt and other stands from their area rugs. But can you clean an area rug without carpet cleaner? We have looked into this, and in this post, we will answer this inquiry for you.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Yes. You can clean an area rug without carpet cleaner. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Prepare your cleaning solution
  2. Vacuum the rug
  3. Perform spot treatment
  4. Apply the carpet cleaning solution
  5. Dry the rug

Over time, area rugs can become dirty and develop stains from everyday usage. Having a carpet cleaner can help you clean them easier and faster. However, if you don't have one or your current one is on the fritz, know that all hope isn't lost. Continue reading to learn more about how to clean your area rug without one.

A gorgeous living room with white painted walls, wooden flooring, wicker chairs and table with an area rug, How To Clean An Area Rug Without A Carpet Cleaner

Steps To Clean An Area Rug Without A Carpet Cleaner

Sometimes you may not know how much dirt and grime your area rug has accumulated until you start to clean it. And it's best to place it on a cleaning schedule before it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and other germs. This is especially true if you have small children or pets.

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Things you'll need:

  • Bristle brush (one with a wand for larger rugs)
  • Spray bottle
  • Rubber floor brush
  • Carpet spot cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Carpet cleaning solution
  • Cleaning rags

1. Prepare your cleaning solution

Combine your carpet cleaning solution with water by pouring both of them into a spray bottle. For most carpet cleaning solutions, you only need about an eighth of a teaspoon for every two cups of water.

Be sure to fill the spray bottle to the top with water. Next, agitate the spray bottle to combine the water with the solution.

Find this spray bottle set on Amazon.

2. Vacuum the rug

Next, go over the area rug with your vacuum. Be sure to adjust the height of the vacuum brushes to that of the area rug. Carpet fibers are usually taller than area rugs, so if you've used your vacuum on your carpet recently, you may need to lower it a bit so that it can clean the rug thoroughly.

3. Perform spot treatment

Next, take your spot treatment solution and apply it to any stains on the area rug. Let the solution sit for the recommended amount of time, and then scrub the area with your bristle brush.

Be sure to scrub from the edges of a stain to its middle in a circular motion. This will prevent the same from spreading across the rug.

Find this spot cleaning solution on Amazon.

4. Apply the carpet cleaning solution

After removing any obvious stains, apply the carpet cleaning solution to the area rug, starting at the top. Work your way down the entire length of the rug, going from left to right in a sweeping motion. Be sure to apply enough solution to dampen the carpet, but not too much to where it's thoroughly drenched.

Next, grab your rubber floor brush [for area rugs that are at least 15 square feet] and work your way down the area rug, cleaning no more than 4 ft of the area at a time. Be sure not to scrub the rug too thoroughly, as you don't want to damage the fibers.

Brush over each section a couple of times with the brush to help the solution remove any loose dirt or debris within the rug. If your rug is on the smaller side, you may want to use your smaller bristle brush instead.

Find this rubber floor brush on Amazon.

5. Dry the rug

After going over the entire rug, grab your cleaning towels or rags and then go back over the rug to soak up any remaining solution. Be sure to start in the same area where you cleaned the rug to prevent the solution from drying before it is absorbed.

It's also helpful to lay the towels down on the area rug and step on them to help them quickly absorb the excess solution. Afterward, give the rug anywhere from 6 to 24 hours to dry completely. Larger rugs [15 square feet or more] will require more time to dry.

Check out this area rug on Amazon.

How do you make a homemade rug cleaner?

There are many ways to make your own homemade rug cleaner if you prefer not to purchase commercial solutions. Let's look at a few of them.

Solution 1

This solution is perfect for anyone who prefers cleaners without harsh chemicals or strong smells. It'll leave your rug smelling fresh and will remove everyday dirt.

Things you'll need:

  • 2 cups of warm water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 10 drops of lemon oil [or other essential oil]
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

Start by combining the water and vinegar in the spray bottle. Next, pour in the salt and the lavender oil. Slightly agitate the spray bottle for about 15 seconds to mix the solution and then liberally apply it to the rug.

Find lemon oil on Amazon.

Solution 2

Here is another cleaner that you can create if you're looking for something a bit stronger. This solution will work better for area rugs and heavily soiled carpets.

  • ¼ cup ammonia [lemon-scented will smell less harsh]
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 3 tsp dish soap
  • 1 gallon of warm water

Fill the two-gallon bucket with a gallon of hot water. Next, pour all the ingredients into a plastic spray bottle cleaner or a 2-gallon bucket.

Apply it to the carpet or area rug. Because the solution is more concentrated [due to the ammonia], be sure to only apply it moderately. It can also be used as an effective spot treatment for blood or oil-based stains.

Solution 3

If you're looking for a solution that works as a great spot cleaner and that's also easy to make, here is one to consider. This cleaner works wonderfully to lift pet urine stains and smells and everyday dirt and grime from your carpet. If you have pets or small children and need something for regular carpet cleaning, you may want to keep these ingredients on deck.

Things you'll need:

  • ¼ cup table salt
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup Borax
  • 1-gallon warm water
  • 1 large bowl

Pour the borax and salt into the bowl, followed by the water and vinegar mix, stir the ingredients until they form a thick paste. Next, use a paint stick, putty knife, or another applicator to apply the solution to the spots on the carpet and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Next, vacuum the solution [which should now be dried and crumbly] to remove any lingering residue. You may need to run the vacuum over the spot several times to remove it off.

Find this putty knife on Amazon.

Does baking soda clean an area rug?

Yes. Baking soda can be used as an ingredient to clean carpets and area rugs. Not only can it revitalize the fibers in the rug, but it can also refresh them by removing any lingering stains.

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So, for example, if you have issues with odors from pet urine, spilled food, or humidity, adding a bit of baking soda to your carpet cleaner can help. This inexpensive solution can also be used as a spot cleaner and combination with vinegar.

How do you clean a large area rug without water?

One of the quickest and easiest ways to remove dirt and debris from a large area rug without water is first to sweep it. You can use a push broom or regular broom for large rugs to make things easy.

However, if you're going to do any spot treatment, it's best to do it with a handheld bristled brush. You can use carpet cleaners or homemade solutions on the area rug.

Can you use Dawn to clean area rugs?

Yes. You can add 2 teaspoons of Dawn dish detergent to 24 ounces of water and apply it to the area rug to clean it. For thorough cleaning, it's best to use a bristle brush or rubber floor brush.

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This will help work the solution into the fibers of the area rug to lift any dirt and debris. Afterward, go over the area rug with a damp and tile or cleaning cloth to remove the detergent to prevent the rug from feeling crunchy.

Wrapping Things Up

A gorgeous living room with white painted walls, wooden flooring, wicker chairs and table with an area rug

As you can see, it is possible to clean an area rug without a steam cleaner or commercial carpet cleaning solutions. Using handheld bristle brushes and rubber floor brushes can effectively lift dirt and stains from the carpet fibers. However, be sure to blot the carpet or area rug afterward to help soak up any water or cleaning solution.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

How To Vacuum Area Rugs With A Dyson

Should A Runner And Area Rug Match?