Having clean, fresh smelling carpets can make a huge difference in the overall feel of your home. However, constant foot traffic, spills, pet accidents, and other mishaps can leave carpets dingy and smelly. While thorough steam cleaning by professionals is ideal for deep cleaning carpets, you can use baking soda between deep cleans to freshen carpets and keep them cleaner longer.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain how baking soda can be used to clean carpets, remove odors, and keep carpets fresh day-to-day.
Why Use Baking Soda on Carpets?
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile household product with a variety of uses. It has natural deodorizing and cleaning properties that make it effective for carpets. Here are some key benefits of using baking soda on carpets:
Absorbs odors: Baking soda contains sodium ions that trap and absorb odor molecules, leaving carpets smelling fresh. This neutralizes odors rather than masking them.
Cleans stains: Baking soda can break down staining compounds through a process called hydrolysis. For grease stains, it also physically absorbs oils.
Gentle abrasion: The gritty texture of baking soda allows it to lift some dirt and debris from carpet fibers through gentle abrasion.
Dries carpets: Baking soda absorbs moisture, allowing it to dry out damp carpets to prevent mold or mildew growth.
Non-toxic: Baking soda is all-natural and safe for children, pets and the environment. It’s gentler than many commercial carpet cleaners.
Overall, baking soda gives you an effective and inexpensive way to clean in between professional steam cleanings and keep carpets fresher day-to-day.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Carpets with Baking Soda
Follow these simple steps for using baking soda to clean common stains and odors from carpets:
1. Vacuum the Carpet Thoroughly
Before applying baking soda, give the carpet a thorough vacuuming to remove dirt, debris, pet hair and other particles. This allows the baking soda to work directly on stains and odors. Move furniture if needed to access all areas.
2. Apply a Generous Layer of Baking Soda
Sprinkle baking soda liberally over stained or smelly areas of the carpet. For freshening large areas, you can also sprinkle lightly all over. For deep cleaning, apply enough to fully coat the stained fibers.
Pro Tip: For easier application, pour baking soda into a flour sifter or sieve and sprinkle it over the carpet. Or use a baking soda shaker bottle.
3. Let the Baking Soda Sit for at Least 15 Minutes
Allow the baking soda to sit on the carpet for at least 15 minutes, or overnight for severe stains or odors. This gives it time to fully absorb odors and lift stains.
4. Use a Damp Cloth For Extra Cleaning Power
For stubborn carpet stains and odors, place a damp cloth or paper towel over the baking soda. The moisture activates the baking soda to clean even deeper.
5. Vacuum the Carpet Thoroughly
After letting it sit, use the vacuum to remove all of the baking soda from the carpet. This lifts away dirt, debris, and odor molecules the baking soda has absorbed.
6. Repeat if Needed for Severe Stains
Check if the stain or odor has lifted. If not, you can repeat this entire process for more thorough cleaning. The baking soda will continue absorbing odors until it reaches full saturation.
Tips for Removing Specific Carpet Stains with Baking Soda
Not all stains are created equal. Here are some tips for using baking soda to remove common carpet stains:
Food and Beverage Stains
For stains caused by food and drinks like wine, coffee, juice or ketchup, follow the basic instructions. Make sure to blot any excess liquid before applying baking soda.
Grease or Oil-Based Stains
Gently blot to absorb as much as possible, then coat with a heavy layer of baking soda. Let sit for 24 hours before vacuuming for best grease removal.
Pet Urine Stains
Soak up fresh urine immediately with towels. For old stains, use an enzymatic pet odor remover first before applying baking soda. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming.
Mud or Dirt Stains
Let mud dry fully then gently break up any chunks. Apply baking soda and rub gently with a dry cloth or brush before vacuuming.
Candle Wax Stains
Scrape off any excess wax, then cover the stain with baking soda. Place a paper bag on top and apply a warm iron to absorb the wax. Vacuum away the baking soda.
Ink or Makeup Stains
Apply rubbing alcohol to fresh stains. Once dry, coat with baking soda paste. For set stains, moisten with vinegar first. Let baking soda sit 1-2 hours before vacuuming.
Using Baking Soda to Deodorize Carpets
Aside from cleaning stains, baking soda can be used anytime to deodorize carpets and keep them smelling fresh.
For Freshening Carpets:
Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the entire carpet. For high traffic areas, use more.
Let sit for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming thoroughly.
The baking soda will continue absorbing odors in the vacuum bag/canister.
For Severe Carpet Odors:
Vacuum the carpet first to remove any loose dirt or debris.
Heavily coat the source of the odor with baking soda, at least 1/4 inch thick.
Allow to sit overnight, or for at least 4-6 hours, to fully absorb odor molecules.
Vacuum away the next day. Reapply if any odor remains.
As Preventative Maintenance:
Occasionally sprinkle carpets with baking soda and let sit before vacuuming.
This keeps them fresher between deep cleanings and lifts some dirt too.
Focus on high traffic areas and locations prone to odors.
Baking soda can make quick work of carpet odors from pets, smoke, food, musty smells and more. It absorbs odors instead of temporarily masking them like scented sprays.
Answering Common Baking Soda Carpet Cleaning Questions
We hope these tips give you confidence to use baking soda for cleaning and deodorizing carpets. Here are answers to some frequent questions about the process:
Is baking soda safe for all carpet types?
Baking soda is safe for most carpets, but always check for colorfastness first. Test an inconspicuous area to ensure the baking soda doesn’t discolor the fibers. Avoid using on hand-dyed or delicate antique carpets.
How much baking soda do I need?
For freshening and deodorizing, a light sprinkle will do. To clean stains, apply baking soda liberally over affected areas, using enough to coat the fibers. For severe odors, apply up to 1/4 inch thick.
Should I add vinegar with the baking soda?
Some recommend combining vinegar and baking soda to clean carpets, but vinegar has risks. It can damage carpet backing, leave residue to attract dirt, and cause discoloration. Baking soda alone is usually sufficient.
Can baking soda remove severe or set-in stains?
Baking soda works well for fresh stains. But heavy set-in stains often require a commercial carpet cleaner or professional service for complete removal. Baking soda can help lift some of these stains, but results take patience over multiple applications.
How long should I let baking soda sit before vacuuming?
At minimum, let baking soda sit for 15-30 minutes on carpets to work. For heavy odors and stains, leaving it overnight or 4-6 hours allows maximum cleaning power. The longer it sits, the more it will absorb.
Does baking soda disinfect carpets?
Baking soda is not an EPA-registered disinfectant, so it does not kill germs or sanitize carpets on its own. However, it does have natural antimicrobial properties to inhibit some bacterial growth when used regularly.
How often can I clean my carpet with baking soda?
For freshening, you can vacuum baking soda from carpets as often as needed. It’s safe for frequent use. For deep stain removal, limit baking soda applications to once per week at most, so the fibers don’t get damaged over time.
Should I vacuum before or after applying baking soda?
Always vacuum first. Carpet fibers need to be as clean as possible for the baking soda to reach odors and stains trapped deep down. Removing dirt and debris ahead of time prevents it from getting pushed further into the carpet.