Cleaning rugs with home remedies:
tested by our company
Coffee, tea, red wine, food, pets, etc.; the long list of possible "dirt makers" your rug is at risk from. But you don't have to go to extraordinary measures to keep your rug clean, hence avoiding the need for professional cleaning.
Tried and tested household remedies are often simple and effective "little helpers" to quickly remove stains from your rug. There are countless tips and tricks on the internet. But which remedies actually help, and which have an opposite effect? We have tried out 7 popular home remedies for you.
The nuts and bolts of rug cleaning
If you don't want to go to a professional carpet cleaner, you have many other options. Besides cleaning agents from the drug store, there are also countless home remedies to choose from. However, there are a few basic rules to follow when cleaning and caring for rugs - the be-all and end-all of rug cleaning, so to speak:
- Vacuum the rug regularly, preferably more often and at half power.
- Use the right hoover attachment. Many rugs, such as pure new wool, do not like brushes.
- Adapt the cleaning agent to the rug in question.
- Cotton rugs prefer alkaline solutions
- Treat wool and animal fibres with acidic cleaners.
- Dab gently, never rub.
The big home remedy test in 3 steps
There are countless myths about home remedies for cleaning rugs and what can help to remove stubborn stains from rugs. Whether mineral water, shaving foam or lemon juice - all are said to work wonders. We have tested them for you and summarised all the advantages and disadvantages of these miracle cures.
Step 1: Cleaning agents and their application
Stains come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and forms. We have picked out the most common ones and tested the above cleaning agents on all of them. For the sake of comparison, we also tried out a commercial rug cleaner.
Here are the cleaning agents and the instructions for using them on all stains.
Can it really be that simple? Many people swear by the fizzy drink for cleaning. The carbonic acid is said to work wonders in removing stains. Let’s see how it fairs throughout our testing process.
Cleaning with mineral water:
- Dampen the spot with mineral water
- Leave to soak in for a few minutes
- Dab off carefully
- Leave to dry
Note: The stain must not have dried up yet. The carbonic acid dissolves the stain and prevents it from sticking to the fibres.
Due to its acidity, vinegar is said to be particularly efficient on stubborn stains. The colours are also said to be refreshed in addition to the stain removal. However, it is usually recommended to test the agent pure or diluted on an inconspicuous spot, as the acid can also bleach.
Cleaning with a vinegar mixture:
- Mix vinegar in a ratio of 1:1 or vinegar essence in a ratio of 1:5 with water.
- Spray on
Caution: Vinegar has a bleaching effect. This cleaning method is therefore better suited for lighter-coloured carpets. Otherwise - if possible - test on inconspicuous areas first.
Supposedly, the white and creamy foam is not only good for shaving. Due to its many grease-dissolving active ingredients, it can be a useful tool for rug cleaning.
Cleaning with shaving foam:
- Apply and rub in gently with a soft cloth.
- Leave on for at least an hour
Wait until the foam has dried completely, then gently remove the residue with a cloth and vacuum. The fresher the stain, the better the method is described to work.
To add a competitive comparison, our fourth test participant is a commercial rug cleaner from a supermarket. There is now a selection of organic products that promise the same effectiveness and efficacy against stains. Whether they can actually keep up with the home remedies or even surpass them, we shall see.
Cleaning with our chosen rug cleaner:
- Leave to soak in
- Allow to dry
With all rug cleaners, please always follow the individual instructions printed on or included with the cleaner packaging.
Homemade rug cleaner
There are countless tips circulating on the internet on how to easily mix your own rug cleaner with just a few ingredients. We have tested one of them.
- 250g cornflour
- 250g baking soda
- Mix ingredients and apply
- Spray with warm water or white vinegar (we chose water)
- Leave on for several hours
Both baking soda and corn-starch remove odours as well as dirt. If applied and sprayed with water, starch and the baking soda can penetrate deep into the fibres and easily remove water-soluble and greasy matter.
Baking soda, baking powder or soda
These three household remedies are said to have multiple effects: they dissolve dirt, can be used over large areas and are also said to remove odours. We used baking soda in our test.
Cleaning with baking soda, baking powder or soda:
- Sprinkle on
- Rub in lightly with a soft brush
- Spray with a little water
- Leave on for at least 30 minutes
- Wipe off and vacuum
- Spraying with warm water is an optional step.
The resulting chemical reaction produces carbon dioxide, which should completely remove the stain from the rug. We opted for this route in our test.
Especially for red wine stains, many people resort to salt. That is why we have tested this household remedy for such stains. Salt is supposed to have a cleansing effect and absorb liquids particularly well. But is this enough, and can you really clean a rug solely with salt?
Cleaning with salt:
There are several ways to clean with salt, such as combining it with warm or hot water or lemon juice. We decided to use this variant in our test:
- Sprinkle on salt
- Leave to soak in and dry
Step 2: The big stain remover
Removing oil and grease stains
Especially in living and dining areas, oil and grease are among the most frequent causes of stains. They are often difficult to remove from one’s beloved rug. Home remedies are supposed to be the go-to chemical-free solution in such instances.
Throughout our test process, all home remedies more a less proved to be convincing solutions as oil stains would disappear. However, the oil then got stuck in the warp yarn and left a dark stain in all cases that were tested.
Grease stains on the rug
Dabbing grease stains on rug
Also dab well all liquid cleaners
Oil residues on the rug
Removing coffee stains
The smell of fresh coffee in the early morning is probably one of the most enjoyable scents there is. However, if you are not fully awake in the morning, the contents of your morning cup of coffee can sometimes end up splashing onto the rug. Can a quick splash of mineral water help remove the stain?
As you can see in the fourth photo, mineral water (1) really does have magical cleaning powers and the carbonic acid has done a great job: the coffee stain has disappeared without a trace.
This is where the other competitors reach their limits: baking powder, bicarbonate of soda (6), our homemade rug cleaner (5), vinegar mixture (2) and the shaving foam method (3) did not work miracles. The result of the carpet cleaner (4) from the drug store, on the other hand, was more acceptable, though a light stain did remain.
Coffee stains on the rug
Dab off coffee stains
Powder and foam cleaners work
Result of coffee stain removal
Removing red wine stains
Who hasn't experienced this? Conversations flow, as do the red wine stains, right onto the beloved living-room rug. To ensure that the evening remains a pleasant memory and is not immortalised onto the rug, home remedies promise simple, quick cleaning.
A glass of red wine is often accompanied by a glass of water. Next time, you should consider having a glass of mineral water around (1). The carbonic acid will somewhat soften the stain. However, it does not disappear completely. A vinegar mixture (2) can also lighten the red wine stains somewhat. For all the other go-to cleaning solutions, a lingering souvenir of the red wine still remains. With shaving foam (3), the stain turns bluish, and with the popular salt cleanse(7), unfortunately not much happens at all.
Red wine stains on the rug
New blue stain from shaving foam
Stubborn stain after salt treatment
Result of the red wine stain removal
Removing vegetable or fruit stains
Berries, carrots, beetroot - as healthy as fruit and vegetables are for people, they can quickly stain a rug with a small spill. However, these should be quite easy to remove with home remedies.
The shaving foam (3) disappointingly allied itself with the effect of carrot juice, and testing saw the result of a sticky effect. Both rug cleaners (4 and 5) and the attempt to remove the stain with baking soda left slightly orange stains. The mineral water (1) and the vinegar mixture (2), on the other hand, were truly brilliant as they left the rug clean and fresh.
Vegetable stains on the rug
Powder cleaner after moistening
Rug intensive vacuuming with brush
Remove vegetable stains - Result
Removing felt-tip pen stains
Felt-tip pens versus rugs - sometimes a less than ideal combination. If a child’s sheet of paper is not enough for their art skills, any rug can be quickly transformed into a large canvas. Which home remedy helps best here?
Felt-tip pen stains are a tough act to follow when it comes to cleaning challenges. All the cleaning agents in our test left behind clear traces of the mark. Once again, however, mineral water was the most convincing (1). With shaving foam, there was almost no difference. Here, the marks of creativity will probably decorate the rug forever.
Felt-tip pen stains on rug
Shaving foam at work
Stain after treatment with DIY cleaner
Sad result of stain removal
Step 3: The results
Many stains, many remedies, many tests. To give you a better overview, you will find a detailed list of all results in the following table. Red stands for "Did not work at all", yellow for "The stain is still there, but not as visible" and green for "The stain is gone".
Decide for yourself which choice of home remedy is suitable, or not, for your rug stain.
Vegetable juice stain
Red wine stain
Felt pen stain
Mineral water (1)
Vinegar mixure (2)
Shaving foam (3)
Rug cleaner (4)
DIY rug cleaner (5)*
Backing soda-powder mixture (6)*
Finding 1: Test winner mineral water
The test winner is without a doubt mineral water. The carbonic acid contained in it succeeded in dissolving many stains from the rug, or at least softening them. However, some stains are too tough even for this fizzy miracle remedy, so it is worth going to a professional cleaner for further help.
Finding 2: Lumps with powder and water
Spraying all powders with water or vinegar may activate the cleaning effect, but unfortunately it also makes the powder sticky and causes it to bond with the rug fibres. The result: only with intensive vacuuming (with a brush!) could we partially remove the agents again. Unfortunately, this leads to the rug becoming fuzzy. You can smooth out these fibres or carefully remove them with a small pair of scissors - but in our opinion, these cleaning methods are not the best option available.
Finding 3: New stains
As good as some home remedies sound, the lasting effects of such solutions are not as impressive as they sound. In our tests with shaving cream, for instance, the original stain partially disappeared, but a new blue stain appeared to replace it. Perhaps it was due to the brand/type of shaving cream used, but this result should still be taken into consideration. Therefore, it is better to do a practice test on a more inconspicuous spot.