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Homemade Natural Carpet Shampoo/Cleaner for Carpet Cleaning Machines

This is the Rug Doctor carpet cleaning machine we rented to clean our carpet and we got great results using our homemade non-toxic carpet cleaning solution.

We had to clean the carpet in our finished basement this week, but I couldn’t stand the thought of living with all the chemical fumes and residue from commercial carpet cleaning solutions. So I made my own natural carpet cleaning solution and we rented a carpet cleaning machine from the grocery store.

It worked beautifully! Our light beige carpet looks and smells fresh and clean. Cleaner than it has been since we moved in eight years ago, I’d have to say.

On the tails of the freezer thaw we experienced a week of so ago, our basement flooded during what is being called a 500-year event. Our house isn’t near a river, or even on low ground, but the window well filled up with water from the rain and poured through the sill to flood the basement.

We were luckier than many out here who found their houses swimming in raw sewage during the flood, but we still faced a clean-up  job to avoid mold and before the basement could be used again.

After we sucked all the water out and dried out the carpet and pad, we rolled the carpeting back and could see visible water stains left from the dirty flood water. I knew we had to clean it but we needed to a) do it ourselves (no flood insurance!) and b) avoid the toxic fumes and residue left by commercial carpet cleaning solutions and their undesirable toxins. The basement houses our family room, so the kids especially spend a lot of time down there and I didn’t want them exposed to those nasty chemicals.

I searched online and found a great recipe for natural carpet shampoo from Rachel at Surviving the Stores blog. Not only does it work, but it dried cleanly without any residue and left a clean, mild scent of orange from the pure essential oil I added to the mix. I increased her original recipe to work with the large carpet cleaning machine we rented.

[print-me target=”.recipe”]

Homemade Natural Carpet Shampoo/Cleaner for Carpet Cleaning Machines


  • 3 quarts of hot but not boiling water
  • 1/2 cup 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (the one you can get at any drug store)
  • 4 Tablespoons White vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Dish soap (I used Seventh Generation, like Rachel did)
  • 1/4 teaspoon essential oil of your choice (I used Sweet Orange)


Heat the water in a large saucepan until hot, then remove from heat. Add the hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, dish soap, and essential oil and stir gently. Do not agitate enough to cause the dish soap to froth.

Pour mixture into carpet cleaning machine and follow the directions on the unit to clean your carpet.

While some commenters below advise against using vinegar with hydrogen peroxide, I’ve used this recipe a number of times without any problems for either the carpet or the machine.


Posted in: Living naturally

20 Comments on “Homemade Natural Carpet Shampoo/Cleaner for Carpet Cleaning Machines

  1. I would use rubbing alcohol instead of the hydrogen peroxide because you should not mix vinegar and hp.

  2. Am I supposed to use this full strength after making it or fill to the water line on solution tank and then add the shampoo?

  3. I think I will leave out the vinegar and replace with baking soda to raise the ph then maybe ri SE with vinegar water

  4. Thank you for this! We will be moving to home with carpet soon–i hate carpet, but at least I now am armed with a good cleaning solution until we can afford to rip it up and put down tile.

  5. Thank you so much for this recipe! I tried it on some really disgusting carpet with lots of stains and it worked suprisingly great. For those saying not to mix the vinegar and peroxide, it’s a very dulited amount. It’s mostly water. Just rinse the tank afterwards and it should be fine. I didn’t notice any carpet discoloration at all. Only fresh and clean carpet! Yay ☺️

  6. Don’t do this! Mixing hydrogen peroxide and vinegar creates peracetic acid! Very corrosive!

    1. You are exactly right! I thought the same thing when I saw this recipe. I am, however, looking for an effective DIY carpet cleaning recipe for my machine – do you know of one?
      Thank you,

  7. Does the vinegar leave behind any sort of odor? My husband finds its scent nauseating!

    1. The smell of vinegar dissipates after use. I use it to clean counter tops, etc… and the smell never lasts! (:

  8. Fantastic article. Thanks for sharing the info it helps me a lot. I will recommend it to all my friends and colleagues.

    Best Regards! Newington Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  9. I am sorry to hear your story. I can really feel how stressed you are when it happened. Aside from furniture pieces, the carpet is one of the things that require attention after a flood. The good thing here is that you know how to resolve this kind of problem. White vinegar is an all-around cleaner, indeed. Using this material will surely give you a satisfying result.

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