How to Clean Dirty Carpet: A Step-by-Step Guide



Having dirty carpets in your home can be frustrating and embarrassing. Over time, carpets accumulate stains, dirt, dust mites, pet hair, and odors that regular vacuuming simply can’t remove. To really clean carpets and make them look fresh and new again, periodic deep cleaning is required.

At Eagle’s Eye Carpet Cleaning, we are experts at cleaning all types of carpets and rugs. We use professional-grade equipment and solutions to deep clean carpets and lift years of built-up grime. Our technicians are highly trained and take great care to clean carpets thoroughly while ensuring no damage or shrinkage.

In this comprehensive guide, we provide DIY tips and step-by-step instructions for deep cleaning carpets at home.

Why Is Deep Cleaning Important for Carpets?

Carpets trap far more than just surface dust and dirt. Allergens, pet dander, soil particles, food crumbs, skin cells and oil, germs, and residue from spills and stains get ground deep down into the carpet fibers over time. Regular vacuuming only removes some of the surface dirt.

Deep cleaning is the only way to fully sanitize carpets by extracting the years of accumulated grime from deep within the fibers. This helps:

  • Restore vibrancy and extend the life of your carpets
  • Remove odors and improve indoor air quality
  • Reduce allergens that trigger asthma and allergies
  • Protect your health by removing germs and bacteria
  • Prevent permanent staining by lifting stains while they’re still fresh

The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends deep cleaning carpets every 12-18 months, and more often in high-traffic areas. For best results, we recommend professional deep cleaning every year.

DIY Carpet Cleaning Tips

While professional deep cleaning is ideal, you can deep clean carpets yourself at home with some simple tips and the right supplies. Here are our top DIY carpet cleaning recommendations:

Start by Vacuuming Thoroughly

  • Vacuum all traffic areas, under furniture, and edges. This lifts surface debris so your cleaner can penetrate deeper.
  • Use a vacuum with strong suction and a rotating brush head. Canister vacuums work best.
  • Vacuum slowly and in overlapping paths to cover all areas. Go over heavy traffic areas 2-3 times.

Pre-Treat Any Stains

  • Identify any stains and pre-treat them with a stain-fighting carpet cleaner. This will make them easier to remove during deep cleaning.
  • For old or set-in stains, use a carpet spot cleaner and gently agitate with a soft brush. Allow to sit for 5+ minutes before blotting with a cloth.
  • Be sure to spot test cleaner on an inconspicuous area first.

Select a Carpet Cleaning Solution

  • For DIY cleaning, use a mild, water-based cleaner specifically made for carpets. Check that it’s safe for your carpet fiber.
  • Avoid detergents or bleach, which can damage carpet fibers. Stick to gentle, low-sudsing formulas.
  • Mix according to package directions. We recommend warmer water for optimal cleaning power.

Choose Your Cleaning Method

You have three main options for DIY deep carpet cleaning:

1. Hot Water Extraction Machine

This is the gold standard cleaning method used by professionals. Hot water and cleaning solution are sprayed into the carpet then immediately extracted along with dirt by a powerful vacuum.

Pros: Very effective at deep cleaning. Heated water and strong suction lift years of built-up grime from deep in the carpet.

Cons: Machines are expensive to buy. Can be heavy and difficult to maneuver.

2. Portable Carpet Cleaner

Smaller, easier to use devices that spray cleaning solution then use suction and agitation from a rotating brush to clean.

Pros: More affordable to buy. Easier to use than larger machines. Often do “good enough” job for maintenance cleaning.

Cons: Not as effective at deep cleaning compared to professional equipment.

3. DIY Steam Cleaning

Using a spray bottle, lightly mist carpet cleaning solution over sections of carpet then scrub in using a stiff brush. Blot excess moisture with clean white towels.

Pros: No special machine needed. Low cost.

Cons: Very labor intensive. Not effective for deep cleaning heavily soiled carpets.

For best DIY results, we recommend a portable carpet cleaning machine. They offer the suction power needed to extract years of built-up dirt from deep within carpet fibers.

Step-by-Step Guide to Deep Clean Carpets

Follow these steps for effective DIY deep carpet cleaning:

1. Remove Furniture and Prepare the Room

  • Clear all furniture, rugs, and decor off carpeted areas so you can access the entire surface.
  • Remove curtains or blinds that could get wet.
  • Plan your path to systematically cover all areas and not get trapped. Work farthest from exit first.
  • Open windows and/or use fans to speed drying time.

2. Vacuum Thoroughly

  • Vacuum all traffic areas, edges, and under furniture with a strong suction vacuum.
  • Go slowly and use overlapping passes to cover all areas. Make 2-3 passes over heavy traffic areas.
  • Use vacuum attachments to reach into corners, along baseboards, under furniture, and on stairs.

3. Pre-Treat Any Stains

  • Identify any stains and spot clean following directions above. This will make them easier to remove.
  • Allow any pre-treated stains to sit for 5+ minutes before deep cleaning.

4. Mix Cleaning Solution

  • Fill clean tank/reservoir of your machine with hot water to fill line.
  • Add carpet cleaning solution according to package directions.
  • For portable machines, mix in a separate bucket then pour into tank.

5. Deep Clean Carpet in Sections

  • Working in 3×3 ft sections is most effective. Focus on soiled areas first.
  • Spray cleaning solution evenly over section following your machine’s method. Don’t oversaturate.
  • Make overlapping forward and backward passes with the machine. Go slowly.
    -Extract dirty solution immediately. Make additional dry passes to remove excess moisture.
  • Repeat process until entire carpet is cleaned. Rinse applicator tips frequently to prevent redeposition of dirt.

6. Allow Carpet to Dry

  • Keep windows open and use fans to speed drying time. Aim fans so air flows along the carpet, not directly on it.
  • Avoid walking on damp carpet. Only walk on dry areas or put down boards.
  • Allow 6-8 hours drying time before replacing furniture. Longer for thicker carpets.

7. Vacuum Again Once Dry

  • After carpet is completely dry, vacuum again using a rotary brush head. This will lift matted fibers and restore carpet nap.
  • Use high traffic setting and go slowly over all areas, especially high traffic zones.

Professional Carpet Cleaning

While DIY cleaning can freshen carpets, for the deepest clean possible we always recommend hiring professional carpet cleaners. At Eagle’s Eye Carpet Cleaning, we use industrial-strength truck mounted systems that heat water to optimize cleaning power. Our powerful wands have strong suction that lifts years of built-up contaminants from deep within carpet fibers.

We also use green-certified cleaning agents that are safe for kids and pets once dried. And we take extra care moving furniture and cleaning along baseboards and edges.

Our 10-Step Deep Cleaning Process:

  1. Thorough vacuum with commercial grade equipment
  2. Pretreat any heavy stains
  3. Protect furnishings and furniture pads
  4. Deep clean carpets with pressurized hot water extraction
  5. Rinse with clean water to remove residues
  6. Gentle carpet grooming and straightening
  7. Spot clean any remaining stains
  8. Speed drying with high-powered fans
  9. Finish with edge cleaning along baseboards
  10. Final inspection and touch-ups

We also offer advanced services like pet odor and mold remediation using professional-grade products.

For affordable deep cleaning without the hassle, schedule your appointment or request a free quote from Eagle’s Eye Carpet Cleaning today!

How Often Should You Deep Clean Carpets?

Carpet cleaning frequency depends on the level of traffic, kids, and pets. We recommend:

  • High traffic areas: Every 6-12 months
  • Medium traffic: Every 12-18 months
  • Light traffic: Every 18-24 months
  • With kids/p


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