deep clean carpet female hand brushing white plush carpet

The Complete Homeowner’s Guide to Cleaning and Restoring Old, Stained Carpet

Do you hate your old, stained carpet? Good news! With a few effective cleaning tips and a bit of elbow grease, you can revive your carpet and make it look nearly new. From vacuuming routines to DIY shampoo solutions, this guide will show you how to deep clean your carpet, remove stains, and maintain its beauty and freshness.

deep clean carpet female hand brushing white plush carpet

If you hate your carpet because it’s old, stained, and bordering on disgusting, I have great news. There are steps you can take to deep clean your carpet that will have you falling in love with it all over again.

Years ago when we remodeled our home, we replaced some of the carpets with hardwood. What a revelation. Now I could see the dirt and dust and, honestly, I couldn’t believe what accumulated in such a short time on those wood floors. Of course, I never saw it on the carpet but I know it was there all along. What a wake-up call it was to see the old carpet removed, rolled up and hauled away.

Why Regular Carpet Cleaning Matters

Here’s what we need to know and never forget: Regardless of the color, brand, or style—carpet hides dirt. This is not a good thing.

On the one hand, I love carpet for the warm, cozy way it can make a room feel, especially a bedroom. But the thought of what’s in it gives me a slightly creepy feeling. I used to think that occasional vacuuming was sufficient. Now I know better. Regular cleaning, especially taking the time to deep clean your carpet, is essential.

Still, even with its ability to harbor and hide all kinds of dirt and grime, I’m not ready to completely give up the carpet in my home! Even if I did, you can be sure that soon I would be shopping for area rugs. So what’s the difference? Carpet is carpet and all of it gets skanky, gross, and ugly if not well cared for.

And what about those stains? On my wood floors, I wipe up spills instantly. But stains or spills on the carpet? I used to turn a blind eye. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way. And while I may not vacuum daily, I can promise you there are no stains on my carpet and no dirty paths either.

The Best Vacuuming Routine for Your Carpet

Vacuuming your carpet should be as routine as sweeping or mopping your hard surface floors. Just because you can’t see the dirt, dust, debris, footprints, crumbs, and hair doesn’t mean it’s not there! Allowing any of that to burrow down into the carpet pile can quickly turn your carpet into a mess.

For optimal results, you need a vacuum with super strong suction to remove dirt, dust, and grime efficiently. Weekly vacuuming is a good start, but twice a week is even better. For heavy traffic areas, daily vacuuming is ideal. Here’s a simple routine to keep your carpet in top shape:

  • 12 passes of the vacuum within 4 feet of outside doors
  • 8 passes in high-traffic areas
  • 4 passes elsewhere

In the areas where the carpet has not been regularly and thoroughly cleaned in the last year, double the passes given above for three months.

Top Vacuum Choice: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe

Product Image - Shark NV356E Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright Vacuum

In the decade since I met and fell in love with my first Shark upright vacuum, I’ve purchased, tested, given as gifts, and worked nearly to death (it’s really hard to wear out a Shark) many Shark vacuums. With the lift-away feature, extended wand, high-capacity dirt cup, anti-allergen HEPA filter, and a 30-foot electrical cord, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe is our top pick. It combines convenience, durability, and powerful suction, making it the ultimate vacuum cleaner for any home.

Immediate Stain Treatment: Tips and Tricks

Sugary liquids, sticky food, grease, mud, pet urine, and excrement—these are the bane of beautiful carpet. If you don’t want to hate your carpet you’ll pick up and remove spills and then deep clean the area as soon as possible after it occurs. Quick action prevents spots from becoming stains, which are much harder, if not impossible, to remove.

CarpetAid+: A Must-Have for Carpet Owners

Product Image - Carpet Aid Stain Remover

CarpetAid+ Stain Remover

I use, rely on, and highly recommend CarpetAid+, available online and at stores like Home Depot and Lowes. It’s fabulous! CarpetAid+ comes in an aerosol can and dispenses like shaving cream, making it super easy to use. It works like magic on tough stains like traffic dirt, oil, pet accidents, and wine spills.

Maximize Your Carpet’s Lifespan with Regular Washing

Regular washing is essential for prolonging your carpet’s lifespan and preserving its appearance. Aim to wash (shampoo or steam clean) your carpet at least once every three months to remove deep-seated dirt, stains, and odors.

Investing in your own carpet cleaning machine would be a wise choice. Not only will the machine pay for itself the first time you use it instead of calling in the pros, but it also gives you the flexibility to clean your carpet whenever needed, without waiting for appointments.

By incorporating regular washing into your cleaning routine, you not only ensure a cleaner and fresher carpet but also extend its longevity.

The Best Thing I Ever Bought: Hoover SteamVac

Carpet and Cleaning

Hoover PowerScrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner Machine

When it comes to carpet cleaning machines, the Hoover SteamVac is unmatched in performance and durability. I’ve personally relied on mine for over a dozen years, and it continues to exceed my expectations. Recently, I decided to upgrade to the newer version, and I must say, it’s truly a beauty!

I cannot overstate the value of my Hoover SteamVac. Purchased on Dec. 7, 2008, for just $147 with free shipping, it has been a staple in my cleaning routine ever since. All these years later—while still enjoying my spotlessly clean carpet, Hoover is still performing flawlessly. It’s become an indispensable part of my household, and I wouldn’t want to be without it. Over the years the Hoover folks have upgraded this machine and even given it a new name (on the right, and recently added to my collection)—still an amazing product.

Deep Cleaning Your Carpet: Step-by-Step Guide

If it’s been so long that you can’t recall the last time you cleaned your carpet, and it’s reached a state of embarrassing dirtiness and odor, simply using hot water is not going to cut it.

You need to add a high-quality, commercial-grade carpet shampoo product to your cleaning machine. Or make it yourself. Just be prepared to rinse, rinse, and rinse some more. You must extract every trace of soap or detergent that penetrates the carpet fibers to prevent residue buildup. Any that remains will become a magnet, attracting new dirt, dust, and grime.

DIY Carpet Shampoo Recipe for a Fresh Clean

For a budget-friendly and effective carpet cleaning solution, try this simple DIY recipe:

What You’ll Need

How to Use

Mix the Oxiclean Stain Remover, Febreze, and white vinegar in a container. Pour the mixture into your carpet cleaning machine, adding hot water to the fill line. Use the machine as usual to clean your carpets thoroughly.

This homemade solution not only cleans your carpets but also deodorizes them, leaving behind a fresh scent. Keep in mind that the scent may be slightly vinegary until the carpet is completely dry.

Before using the solution on your entire carpet, test it in an inconspicuous area to ensure compatibility. This DIY carpet shampoo recipe is safe for use on all carpets and provides a cost-effective alternative to store-bought cleaners.

Advanced Techniques for Eliminating Lingering Odors

Product Image - Nok-Out

Nok-Out Odor Eliminator

If, even after deep cleaning, your carpet still carries stubborn odors—with lingering undertones of pet urine—it’s time to bring out the big gun: Nok-Out. This powerful odor eliminator is available directly from the company at or by calling 866-551-1927 to speak with owner Ted Price if you need more help with a specific stinky situation.

By following these advanced techniques, you can effectively eliminate lingering odors and restore freshness to your carpet:

1. Clean

Before applying Nok-Out, thoroughly clean the carpet to the best of your ability even if that takes several repeats.

2. Neuatralize

Nok-Out has a pH of 8.5 and works best in an alkaline environment, so if acidic cleaning products like vinegar were previously used, neutralize them first. Spray a solution of club soda or mild baking soda (1 teaspoon baking soda to 2 cups water) onto the carpet and allow it to dry before proceeding with Nok-Out application. This neutralization step ensures optimal effectiveness.

3. Test

Always perform a patch test in an inconspicuous area (like inside a closet) before applying any new cleaner or deodorizer to your carpet or upholstery. This precaution helps you understand how your specific carpet will react to the product.

4. Water Temperature

When using Nok-Out in a carpet cleaning machine, avoid hot or boiling water. Instead, add 1 to 2 cups of Nok-Out to the reservoir, then fill with room-temperature water to total one gallon (128 ounces).

5. Let it Penetrate

After spraying the carpet with Nok-Out, allow it to sit for 10 to 20 minutes to penetrate deeply into the carpet fibers, matting, padding, and floor substrate underneath. This thorough penetration ensures complete odor elimination.

6. Extract

Once the waiting period is over, begin the extraction process by pulling the carpet cleaning machine backward. This action removes all liquid and contaminants from the carpet, leaving it clean and odor-free.

7. Dry Quickly

To expedite drying, use overhead ceiling fans, floor fans, or turn on the AC/heating fan. Opening windows can also help facilitate faster drying. If necessary, repeat the application process for stubborn odors.

If a second application should be necessary, simply repeat this procedure.

Selecting the Right Carpet Color

If you are getting ready to replace your carpet, don’t select a color because you think it will “hide the dirt.” No! You want a color that will point out every bit of dirt, every spill, and every stain.

Why? Because you want to see those things so you can immediately take steps to clean them up, in the same way, you care for your beautiful wood, laminate, and tile floors.

You are not alone if you have come to hate the carpet in your home, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With regular vacuuming, stain removal, and deep cleaning, you can revive your carpet’s beauty and functionality. While the process may require persistence, the results will leave you and your carpet falling in love all over again!

And one last crucial note: always conduct a test in an inconspicuous area before applying any new product or treatment to your carpet. While I can offer guidance, I cannot guarantee specific outcomes given the variability of individual circumstances.


Question: What’s the most challenging stain you’ve had to remove from your carpet? Share your story and any tips that worked for you down in the comments.

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  1. Una says:

    About ten years ago I bought a Hoover Dual Power Pro Carpet Washer that never worked very well because the carpet was saturated with water when I “finished”, no matter how many times I tried going over it. I contacted the company and they said to clean the filters which I thought I had done. A couple months ago my sewer backed up and I knew the Hoover wouldn’t get the job done so I invested in the only vacuum company I will buy from – – Shark! I got the Shark StainStriker CarpetXpert and it took care of the sewer backup problem. It requires some specific shampoos so I’m hoping they aren’t too pricey because I need to clean my living room.

  2. Anna M Mandy says:

    The Oxiclean Stain Remover listed in the ingredients for the DIY Carpet Shampoo Recipe now links to OxiClean Color Boost Laundry Brightener and Stain Remover Liquid on Amazon. Is that correct? I know they’ve come up with a bunch of new products over the years. Is the liquid linked correct, or is it the original powdered OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Great question Anna. Yes the product linked is what I suggest and here’s why: Its operative ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, which is mild but effective in removing stains. The powder you mention contains disodium carbonate as its operative ingredient, which is basically Super Washing Soda (soda ash). It’s quite harsh and could affect the color (dye) in the carpet fibers. Now that I’m reading back I realize that I need to be a bit more specific to avoid confusion so I’ve updated the post. Thanks for the question!

  3. Sheri B. says:

    I wish there was a non rinse recipe. By the time I’m done cleaning it , I don’t have the energy to rinse, rinse, rinse.

  4. Liz says:

    Using the DIY carpet cleaner for much hot water would I put in with solution if I’m not using a steam vac.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      The clean water reservoir capacity on the Hoover Power Scrub Deluxe Carpet Cleaner Machine is one gallon. So, if you were to make up one batch outside of the machine, that would set the ratio. If you want to make a smaller amount, pull out your best math skills! Mine says this to make about 1 quart of cleaner:

      1/4 cup Oxiclean Stain Remover (NOT Oxiclean Detergent), 1/4 cup Febreze, and 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 quart very hot water.

      OR for about 2 cups:

      1/8 cup Oxiclean Stain Remover (NOT Oxiclean Detergent), 1/8 cup Febreze, and 1/8 cup white vinegar, 2 cups very hot water.

      Etc… !

      Remember to rinse, rinse, and rinse some more! You don’t want any of this to become residue in the carpet, which will at as a dirt magnet once that carpet has dried.

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