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Can You Clean A Carpet Without A Carpet Cleaner?

cleaning carpet without a carpet cleaning machine

Cleaning carpets is a concern on so many homeowner's minds with most of us having some form of carpet or upholstery furniture found within our homes.

This leads many to ask the question, can you clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner? This question is presumably driven by the demand for a cheaper solution to our cleaning requirements and we fully understand why you may want to reduce the cost of cleaning your carpets, especially in today's economy.

In this blog post, we will answer this question and offer some great advice and alternatives to carpet cleaners for your home.

You can clean carpet but not to perfection

Cleaning without a carpet cleaner has been done for thousands of years prior to the inventions of electricity of course.

It is perfectly possible to clean your clean your carpet without a carpet cleaner, however, the results won’t be as good.

Nothing beats a hot water extraction carpet cleaner with professional-grade products and it would be unreasonable to expect to be able to compete with such a method.

Having said that, not all carpets need such a deep clean and if you maintain them regularly, they wouldn’t get to a point where they required such a strong method of cleansing.

With that mental attitude of maintenance cleaning in mind, let’s take a look at a really good option for homeowners who Do not want to pay for a deep carpet clean, nor do they want to risk hiring a carpet cleaner that can end up damaging the carpets more.

Dry carpet cleaning

dry cleaning a carpet

Dry carpet cleaning (also known as encapsulation cleaning) is one of the newer methods of cleaning your carpet and upholstery without the need for using a carpet cleaner.

It boasts to be a less expensive and easy way to deep clean the fibres in your home, no expensive carpet cleaning machine is needed and the method is so foolproof that an amateur could easily perform the task.

Not only that but the drying times are practically non-existent compared with shampoo carpet cleaning. It could take less than 2 hours for your carpets to be moisture free for a dry carpet cleaning method.

By contrast, shampoo carpet cleaning can take between 6-12 hours and steam carpet cleaning up to 6 hours too.

All seems well and good, but it’s not quite as simple as that. While dry cleaning doesn’t require a carpet cleaner, you will still need to use some machinery:

What you need:

  • Strong wet and dry vacuum cleaner

  • Agitation mechanism (this can be a pile brush but be prepared to have a swollen back afterwards. Alternatively you can get a crb machine)

  • Stain removal cleaners

  • Dry cleaning powder

So, you do still need a few different machines in order to do the job but at least it’s not a £2000 + carpet cleaner!

Dry carpet cleaning method

  • Pre-vacuum and remove furniture in the room being cleaned

  • Apply the dry cleaning powder evenly across the room

  • Let sit for 30 minutes

  • Vacuum the cleaning solution away with your wet and dry

You may have noticed that this method is very similar to the traditional method just without the final step of running your carpet cleaner across the pre treated floor.

As you can imagine, using a steam carpet cleaner to remove all of the dirt and debris instead of a wet and dry vacuum produces greater results.

But dry carpet cleaning does a great job for those of us on a budget needing a quick freshen up rather than a deep clean.

How much does the dry carpet cleaning equipment cost?

So if you are planning on doing this yourself, here’s what you will need to purchase:

  • Powerful wet and dry vacuum (some of the professional karchers are good enough)

  • Agitation mechanism: as we stated you could use a pile brush but the results will be somewhat lessened. Alternatively a crb machine such as the sebo duo dry carpet cleaner Is ideal

  • Dry carpet cleaning solution

These 3 things will set you back at least £450 to get started if you go for the sebo duo and around £200 without it.

The good news is that once you have everything, all you need afterwards is to keep purchasing your dry carpet cleaning powder.

If you really want to clean your carpet for practically free then carry on reading for some home recipes for dry cleaning solution. Just remember, results may be inhibited further.

Homemade DIY dry carpet cleaning powders

There are three ingredients most households already have or can get hold of easily to make their own dry carpet cleaner:

  • Baking soda

  • Corn-starch

  • Borax

These are the bread an butter ingredients for any homemade dry cleaning solution, but you can add more to them for an ultimate cleaning experience.

The ultimate DIY dry carpet cleaning powder

  • 2 cups of corn-starch

  • 2 cups of baking soda

  • 1 cup of borax

  • 2 tablespoons of salt

  • A few drops of lavender oils

Mix all of these ingredients in a large bowl or container and you have made yourself a powerful dry carpet cleaner capable of tackling so many different stains.

Corn starch and borax lift dirt stains and baking soda deodorizes the carpets as you clean them, the same with the lavender oils.

Salt will help to tackle food stains such as ketchup and greasy oil stains too. You may need to add more salt depending on the stains being tackled.

The only stains that won’t be removable with this homemade cleaner is blood stains and other biological stains such as vomit or urine.

Can you just use water to clean a carpet?

You won’t be able to lift much dirt from your carpet with just water, whether it’s hot or cold won’t make a difference.

Water is used to rinse out dirt which has been lifted by a carpet pre-cleaner. Those cleaners have properties that help break down dirt, grease, grime and stains.

Water is then used to saturate those contaminants, creating dirty water which is easy to remove from the surface of your carpets.

If you attempted to clean your carpet with just water, all that would happen is you would create a pool of water on top of the dirt without loosening it.

This would only serve to make your carpets look worse and now you would have to contend with a nasty smell too.

What else can I use to clean carpet without a carpet cleaner?

If you don’t have a carpet cleaner and you don’t want to pay for dry carpet cleaning equipment then there are a few other tools you can try.

  • Steam cleaner: not to be confused with hot water extraction carpet cleaning, using a steamer is a good way to freshen up your carpets and remove light staining.

  • Drill Brush: a popular choice among professionals for upholstery but can be used on carpet just as well. This will take you a while, but having a brush attached to your drill is a decent way to clean carpet stains.

  • Hand scrubbing: If you really need to go back to basics, you can buy yourself a carpet brush and use our homemade dry carpet cleaning solution to scrub those carpets clean. This will take all day, your arm will fall off and the end result won’t be optimal, but it is an option nonetheless.

Can you mop a carpet clean?

There has been a bit of traction on the idea that you can use a steam mop to clean your carpet. While you may be able to get a bit of dirt from the surface with this method, don’t be fooled by the seeming initial success!

You should never clean a carpet with a steam mop because by doing so, all you will be doing is pushing that dirt further down into your carpet.

Have you ever let Weetabix dry in your bowl for more than a day? This is exactly what the texture of your carpets will be like after you drive that dirt down into the fibres of your floor.

Carpet cleaners vacuum for a reason. Extraction is the only way to ensure that carpets will stay clean once everything has dried up.


Thank you for reading our blog on whether or not it's possible to clean a carpet without a carpet cleaner. We hope that you are better informed about the requirements for carpet cleaning and what you can expect with different methods.

While it is possible to clean a carpet with alternative methods, you won't have the same results as you get with a professional carpet cleaner performing the task for you.

We understand that hiring a professional can be expensive which is why we offer some tips and tricks for cleaning carpets yourself because hiring someone is not for everyone.

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