Can You Use Laundry Detergent to Clean Carpet?

Today I want to discuss with you if it is possible to use laundry detergent to clean the carpet. I know that some of my readers hire carpet cleaning experts to do that hard job for them. As for me, I am the greatest cheapskate in the world, so I try to clean the carpet by myself, using the cheapest solution – laundry detergent. But is it possible to use it for carpet cleaning?

As a general rule, you can use laundry detergent to clean the carpet. The laundry detergent won’t do any harm to the carpet pile. Besides, it will refresh its look and leave a wonderful scent. Nevertheless, it is very important to rinse the laundry detergent residue from the carpet pile. Otherwise, its fibers remain sticky and get dirty fast. Continue reading to know about three ways of cleaning the carpet with a laundry detergent. 

Laundry Detergent to Clean Carpet: Pros and Cons

Detergent to Clean Carpet

Before sharing my knowledge with you, I studied lots of posts and articles about cleaning the carpets with laundry detergent. Frankly speaking, opinions are different. Some carpet owners are sure, that cleaning carpets with a laundry detergent is a great idea. Thus, you’ll get an absolutely fresh and clean carpet and save lots of money. This is especially important for people with a tight budget. 

The others, on the contrary, suppose that a miser pays twice, and it is necessary to spend some more cash and get a great carpet powder. 

To help you find the right decision for yourself, I collected the list of pros and cons of cleaning carpets with laundry detergent.

Pro 1: Low-cost

Detergent low-cost

I like to clean my carpets with a laundry detergent, which I buy in the nearest 1-dollar store. As usual, the bottle of laundry detergent costs me $1. And to clean the carpet of an average size of 8×10 square feet, I use just 3-4 teaspoons of it. That means the cleaning of the carpet in such a manner costs me about $0.3-0.5. As you see, it is the most low-cost carpet cleaning solution on the market. 

Pro 2: Always at hand

The other reason, why I like to take laundry detergent for carpet cleaning as it is always at hand. Sometimes I have to clean the carpet very fast. For example, my kids may have made a huge chocolate or ink spot on the carpet surface. Or, I may arrange an unexpected party and I have to be ready in a day or 2 for it. In these situations, I don’t have enough time to pre-order some strong professional carpet cleaning solutions on the Internet. But laundry detergent always stays in my storage room. So, I can take it any time and clean the carpet with it.

Pro 3: Great smell and crispy freshness

Detergent Great smell

Do your clothes look great after washing them with a laundry detergent? The same happens with your carpets. I’ve heard many times that laundry detergent can’t get the dirt out of the carpet pile. But that’s not true! The laundry detergent cleans great various types of carpets: either from wool or from olefin; low-pile or high-pile ones etc. Each laundry detergent has great cleaning power and it shows perfect results.

Laundry detergent is usually perfumed. That’s why carpet fibers smell extremely fresh after being washed with them. After entering the room, your visitors and home inhabitants will be impressed by the crispy freshness of the newly-washed carpet.

I must warn you that using laundry detergent for carpet cleaning has some cons, too. The opponents of this solution say that laundry detergent works great in washing machines and for cleaning clothes, not for carpets or rugs. Here are the disadvantages of washing the carpet with a laundry detergent.

Con 1: Soap residue on a surface of the carpet 

Several times I’ve got letters from my readers, who complained that they washed the carpet with laundry detergent. And then they couldn’t get rid of the sticky coating on the carpet pile.

It may happen if you rinsed the laundry detergent not so carefully from the carpet surface. I know, that soapy grout is not so easy to wash from the carpet surface. It’s necessary to put some effort to clean the laundry detergent from the carpet fabric completely. 


If you tried hard to rinse the carpet with a laundry detergent, but still the fibers are soapy and sticky, you may use vinegar to solve this problem. Just make vinegar and water solution. To prepare it, get 1 tablespoon of 9% vinegar and dilute it in 1 liter of warm water. Put the solution into a spray bottle and splash it over the carpet surface. Vinegar will dissolve soap residue.

Con 2: Hard to rinse laundry detergent granules 

clean the carpet

One of my readers wrote me, that she couldn’t get rid of laundry detergent granules from the carpet pile after cleaning. It may happen if you haven’t completely diluted laundry detergent in the water before you put it on the carpet pile. Keep in mind, that it’s very important to make the soapy grout from the water and laundry detergent before using it as a carpet cleaner.


Try to clean the detergent remnants with a powerful vacuum cleaner. 

Con 3: It may be harmful to a carpet cleaning machine

Sometimes carpet cleaning machine manufacturers write in the instructions that just a certain chemical can be used for their device. The other cleaners may cause the machine to break down. That’s not true. Many times I used a laundry detergent with my Doctor Rug machine, and it still works great.


If you rented the carpet cleaning machine or if it is new and its warranty is still valid, don’t use laundry detergent for it. Otherwise, your warranty may be canceled.

So, I’ve honestly shared the pros and cons of using laundry detergent for carpet cleaning. As for me, I like this solution and often take it to clean my rugs. Read further to know, how I use laundry detergent for carpets washing.

How Do You Clean Carpet with Laundry Detergent?

The carpet cleaning job is always hard. If you want to save some cash and choose the “Do-it-yourself’ way, then you have to sweat.

There are three ways you can clean the carpet with a laundry detergent:

1. In a washing machine

You can put it into a washing machine not each type of carpet. Read “Is It OK to Put the Rug in the Washing Machine?” to know, what carpets can be washed. And what regime you have to choose for each separate carpet.

2. With a carpet cleaning machine

carpet cleaning machine

I have a carpet cleaning machine at home, that’s why I often use it to clean the carpets in my house. I never buy too expensive laundry detergent to put into my cleaning machine. Usually, I get “[amazon link=”B009P7XHWW” title=”Tide” /]”, “[amazon link=”B08YJVZT65″ title=”Persil” /]” or any other detergent, available in the nearest store. Then I follow such steps:

Step 1: Dilute 2-3 teaspoons of laundry detergent in 2-3 liters of warm water

Step 2: Pour the soapy grout into the cleaning machine tank

Step 3: Wash the entire carpet surface with a cleaning machine. Rub more thoroughly the places, where you see some stains or old dry dirt.

Step 4: Let the carpet get completely dry. It’s good if you take it outside during sunny weather and leave it for 1-2 days in sunlight.

Step 5: Put the carpet back into the room. Comb its pile with a carpet rake. 

3. Manually with a carpet rake

Even if you don’t have a carpet cleaning machine at your disposal, still you can wash the carpet with a laundry detergent. Sometimes I clean my carpets in such a way, too. And I like the result I get.

First of all, you should take the carpet outside in your house yard or to any other place, where you have a flat surface. Put a carpet there and take:

  • The bucket with warm water
  • A half glass of a laundry detergent
  • The carpet rake
  • The hose of fresh water (or several buckets with cool water)
Raking Carpet

I pour the carpet surface with fresh water to make it completely wet. It is very comfortable to use the hose of fresh water for it. Then I dilute the half glass of laundry detergent in a bucket of warm water. After that, I pour it onto the carpet pile and spread the soapy grout over it with a brush or carpet rake. I leave the carpet for 30-60 minutes with diluted laundry detergent on its surface. Thus, I let the solution do its job. Finally, I rinse the carpet pile thoroughly. I use the carpet rake to comb the pile while washing it. Thus, the soap gets out of the fiber successfully. Finally, I put the carpet in a sunny place and wait, till it becomes completely dry.

Is It Necessary to Rinse the Carpet after Cleaning?

I have to say, that it is very important to rinse the soap residue completely from the carpet pile. 

  • If you wash the carpet in a washing machine, you should use the special regime to rinse the carpet carefully. 
  • If the carpet cleaning machine does the washing job for you, it rinses it while cleaning and gets the carpet pile almost dry. In this case, there’s no need to rinse it again.
  • Use a lot of water to rinse the carpet fibers properly, if you clean the carpet with a laundry detergent manually. Otherwise, the carpet fibers remain soapy and sticky. In this case, the carpet will get dirty again extremely fast.


To conclude, it is possible to clean the carpet with laundry detergent. I advise you to use this method from time to time, as it’s effective, money-saving, and available. 

There are three ways to clean the carpet with laundry detergent. In the post we’ve discussed all of them, so you can choose the most convenient option for you.

Don’t hesitate and clean your carpet with laundry detergent! Then share your thoughts, and what you think about it. 

Nancy Adams

I am a fan of home decor, I devote all my free time to this activity. One of the most important components of home comfort is carpets & rugs and at the same time, it is one of the poorly covered topics on the Internet. Therefore, I decided to share my experience and knowledge in this niche.

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