How to deep clean carpet in five simple steps—including tackling spillages and stains

Master how to deep clean carpet with these clever cleaning hacks that will have yours looking as good as new

deep cleaning carpet with hoover
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not the most glamorous of pastimes, but mastering how to deep clean carpet will keep your living areas in great condition—and ensure that your carpet lasts for years to come. Let's face it, your floor could be one of the grubbiest places in your home, gathering dirt and dust, not to mention being tarnished by messy hands or paw prints and accidental spillages. 

Carpet withstands a lot of foot traffic every day, whether you're running through the house chasing after kids or simply going about your everyday activities. Regardless of your particular lifestyle habits, your carpet can pick up a lot of grime. Hope is not lost, though, and while deep cleaning carpets is not as easy as cleaning tile or hardwood, it's entirely possible to get that fluffy, stain-free look again.

And if you're tackling the entirety of your house with some kitchen cleaning and bathroom cleaning too, you might want to take a look at our guides on how to clean tile floors, how to clean vinyl floors, as well as our specific guide on how to get stains out of carpet.

How often should I deep clean my carpet?

You should plan to deep clean your carpet every 12-18 months to keep it looking its best. Of course, if your carpet is subject to particularly heavy use or frequent stains, you may want to consider deep cleaning it more often to help maintain its longevity. 

Clean carpets look better, feel better underfoot, and are likely to last longer, making deep cleaning a valuable investment of time and effort. Even better, it can help reduce common allergens (opens in new tab) in your carpet, improve indoor air quality, and even help combat the spread of bacteria and viruses throughout your home. 

How to deep clean carpet in 5 steps

Giving your carpet a deep clean is a satisfying chore, as you're left with a fluffy, unblemished carpet at the end of it that will make your living room feel all the more luxurious (not to mention more hygienic!). There are a few easy steps you'll need to take, as follows:

1. Vacuum your carpet

Before you begin deep cleaning, start by vacuuming your carpet. Vacuuming helps remove any loose dust and debris in the fibers and prevents dirt from being ground deeper into the carpet when you apply water. You should be aiming to vacuum your carpet weekly, as well as part of your deep cleaning routine to keep it at its best. 

2. Read over any available cleaning instructions

Does your carpet still have a tag? Do you have the original cleaning instructions for it, or can you look them up online? Ideally, you need to check the cleaning instructions before moving forward. Those instructions will also let you know of any cleaning agents that you shouldn't apply to your carpet, preventing you from inadvertently causing damage.

3. Take care of any visible stains

It's always most effective to take care of stains before they have a chance to set in. Sometimes, though, they just get away from you. We've all experienced the dribbles of wine you didn't notice until the next morning, pet tracks that you didn't have a chance to clean up, and bits of food that accidentally got smushed during your last dinner party. Use this chance to take care of those spots.

To spot clean any stains:

  1. Create a solution—one part vinegar and two parts water. 
  2. Add the solution to a spray bottle and spritz the stain—you may want to test this water and vinegar mixture on a discreet corner of the carpet or rug before you really go to town. With some delicate fibers, this solution can cause discoloration. 
  3. If your test area turns out ok—continue spraying on all stained areas. 
  4. Next, blot out the area—using a clean towel until the stain has lifted. 
  5. Lastly, apply fresh water—and blot up to remove any remaining vinegar. 

cleaning tools

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While this water and vinegar mixture is a good general cleaning solution, other DIY mixtures can be used for specific types of stains. To know how to deep clean carpet, you should employ these methods for different types of stains:

  • Wine stains—use two parts peroxide to one part dish soap to help take out wine stains, especially if they're recent. 
  • Mud stains—use one tablespoon liquid detergent plus two cups of warm water to take care of mud stains.
  • Most food and beverage stains—one tablespoon of dish soap, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and two cups of warm water will help take care of most food and beverage stains.

Remember to do your test patch and always blot stains. Rubbing the stains aggressively can cause them to travel deeper into the fibers or ruin the surface quality of your carpet.

4. Use a steam cleaner

Ready to get started with that deep cleaning? Instead of using a commercial carpet cleaning solution, bust out that vinegar and water again for a great natural alternative. Mix equal parts vinegar and water, add them to the steam cleaner and start steaming according to the manufacturer's directions. If you're in the market for a new model, check out our guide on the best steam cleaners.

Don't like the idea of your carpets smelling like vinegar? While the scent will fade quickly on its own, a few drops of essential oil added to the solution can help your carpets smell even better. 

5. Allow the carpet time to dry

Once you've deep cleaned your carpets, you want to make sure they stay that way! Allow your carpet time to dry completely before allowing anyone to walk across it. You don't want to find yourself dealing with new stains before you've had a chance to enjoy your fresh, clean carpets. 

Deep cleaning your carpets with easy, natural methods is one of the best ways to keep your home looking its best. You can also learn how to clean your fridge or how to clean your air purifier with simple, DIY hacks that will have your house sparkling in no time.

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on