You know I love a good cleaning experiment, right? Today I am testing several different DIY carpet cleaners and comparing them to a store-bought brand. I admit, I have been using a carpet cleaner from Zerorez for several years, and it does a pretty good job for everyday stains. However, I am always looking for ways to reduce the chemicals and try out DIY versions that are cheaper. Let’s get started, shall we?
Luckily, we have a small slab of carpet in the basement that was perfect for this experiment. I tried thinking about common things that spill on carpet, so I went with pizza sauce, red Kool-aid, coffee, and dark soda.
I decided to try 3 different DIY carpet cleaners that I’ve had pinned on my Pinterest Cleaning Board, and one store brand. I started each trial the same way: Apply the staining products: a blob of pizza sauce, and 1/2 Tablespoon of each of the following: Black Cherry Kool-Aid, Barq’s Rootbeer, and Coffee.
In each experiment, I then blotted the stain with a paper towel. The paper towel alone did a great job at getting up the liquids. I could hardly even see where they were applied. First lesson, get to the stain ASAP. The pizza sauce, however, left a nice stain for us to compare.
Test 1: Store Bought Cleaner
I followed the directions on the bottle precisely: Spray the stain, gently agitate with a clean paper towel (or clean cloth), wait 3 minutes, spray with warm water and blot. Here are the results:
You can certainly see the pizza sauce, but it’s faint. Upon close inspection, you can also see the coffee a bit, but I certainly wouldn’t notice unless I got really close, and was looking for it. I would give this four stars out of five being that I can still see the pizza sauce stain.
Test 2: Vinegar & Baking Soda
This DIY version was extremely easy: generously sprinkle baking soda on the stain, pour vinegar over the baking soda allowing it to bubble up. Blot with a paper towel or cloth. Allow everything to dry, then vacuum. Here’s the carpet after this DIY trial:
Again, I can see the pizza sauce. Bummer. Not only can I see it, it’s definitely more noticeable than the store-bought version.
Test 3: Ammonia & Water
This DIY version started by mixing equal parts ammonia and hot water. I then sprayed the stain with the mixture and placed a white flour sack towel over the sprayed stain and ironed with a hot iron (no steam). I kept moving the towel around as it would absorb the liquid, and each time I moved the towel, I noticed the stain was less and less. Here’s the carpet after this method:
This was definitely working! I could not see any of the pizza sauce stain. Five out of five stars for cleaning. The only thing that isn’t so “five star” about this method is that the smell of ammonia is bad. I would highly recommend using it in a well-ventilated area. I also think having some safety goggles would be good because the hot iron creates a steam that has the ammonia in it. I noticed it irritating my eyes a bit.
Test 4: Baking Soda, Vinegar, Dish Soap, & Water
Our last DIY version had me start by sprinkling baking soda on the stain, much like test 2. I was then to wait 10 minutes and vacuum up the baking soda. While waiting, I prepared the mixture of 2 cups water, 1 Tablespoon Vinegar, and 1 Tablespoon clear dish soap. After my 10 minute wait and vacuuming, I sprayed the solution on the stain and blotted. Here were the results:
Not great. Again, I could see that pizza sauce plain as day. I actually think this DIY version was the worst.
I would definitely recommend the ammonia DIY version of the carpet cleaner. I know it doesn’t smell great, but it certainly did the best job; even better than the store bought version. Taking the precautions mentioned above, I definitely think this is the way to go.
How Much Do You Save?:
Buying Carpet Cleaner at the Store:
- Carpet Cleaner= The cheapest cleaner I could find was 409 Carpet Cleaner for 11.3¢ per fluid ounce ($2.48 for 22 fluid ounces). Please keep in mind, this was NOT the same cleaner I used in the experiment, so I am not sure how well it would perform.
Making Your Own Carpet Cleaner:
- 11 Ounces Ammonia= 19¢ The cheapest ammonia I found was at Target for 1.7¢ per fluid ounce ($1.12 for 64 fluid ounces)
I used 11 ounces of ammonia, which would be combined with 11 ounces of water, making 22 ounces, the equivalent of Walmart’s size.
This means that for 22 ounces of carpet cleaner from Walmart for $2.48, you could make your own for 19¢, saving yourself $2.29. And remember that Walmart’s price is the cheapest price I could find!
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