Non-toxic Carpet Cleaner!

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As some of you may know, I recently moved into a new place. As we ALL know, new places usually need a good scrub when we move in! As this one has carpeting in the bedrooms that looked a bit on the older side, I thought they could do with a good shampoo. BUT i absolutely did not want to use some toxic carpet cleaner that would then off-gas into our bedrooms later, and transfer around on our feet. Yuck.

So, there began my experiment with DIY carpet cleaner for carpet shampoo machines like the Rug Doctor. I rented mine from Safeway for about $25, and was looking at the shampoos, which would cost me an extra $15-20 all said and done, even if I was comfortable using them. So not only does this recipe eliminate toxins from your carpets, it saves you QUITE a bit of cash as well.

There are two steps to this process, one being a carpet cleaner, and the other being a rinse. Please do NOT mix the two sets of ingredients hoping to save yourself time. They will cancel each other out, creating something about as good as water (which does an ok job too, but then, why are you bothering mixing anything up and spending the money?).

As always, please spot test if you have darker or coloured carpets. Although these ingredients ARE natural, they may indeed strip certain dyes to a small degree.

To clean:

First, mix in a large bucket about one part liquid castille soap to about 20 parts water. You could even use less if you are being super economical. Around there. Guesstimate, you don’t have to measure things out exactly! Fill up the cleaner reservoir, and go to town on that carpet. You should not get an overwhelming amount of suds.

If you run out of cleaner, just mix up another batch and add. However, it is important to note that you will have to completely empty the reservoir of cleaner BEFORE you add the rinse. Failure to do so will again result in the inert substance I described above. If possible, even rinse the last remainder of cleaner out with water so no residue is left. That being said, don’t add a whole whack-load of cleaner if you only have a bit of carpet left, or you will waste a bunch.

To rinse:

Mix about one part white vinegar to about four parts water. If you desire a scent, add 10-20 drops of the essential oil of your choice (I recommend lavender, any citrus, citronella, or rose). Add to resevoir. Go right over your carpets again with this. Do not be concerned about your carpets smelling like vinegar, the smell will quickly dissipate.

Unfortunately, in the exhausted stupor that comes with moving with a toddler, I did not have the foresight to take a before and after picture of my carpet. But you will not BELIEVE the yucky dirt that came out in the discard water. Holy momma, I am glad I cleaned those suckers!!

Some folks clean their carpet just with the vinegar solution, skipping the soap step. I wanted to make sure mine got super clean, as I wasn’t sure about what had happened on them prior to me being there. But, if you want just a light cleaning, you could definitely skip the soap and just do the vinegar step!

And there you have it! Carpet cleaning is backbreaking work, but at least this way you know you won’t be breathing in any toxic fumes while you’re at it!

NOTE: Some of you may be concerned about manufacturer warnings to not use any other products other than their lines, etc. in their machines. This is, generally speaking, a marketing scam, and there really is not much chance of these ingredients wrecking your machine. If you are really paranoid, just rent a rug doctor, mine was fine afterwards 😉

Two Basic Cleaners

So let’s start with cleaning your home. I find people are more comfortable making the initial switch to DIY with basic cleaners, as these are both the simplest and cheapest recipes.

These are also the most toxic products in your home, and therefore are in my opinion the most important to replace. If you have small children around, family members with respiratory issues or allergies, you may find making the switch to natural cleaning products gives you peace of mind.

Let’s get started with the two basic cleaners that do almost all the general cleaning jobs in my home! Get ready for the simplest recipe of them all, my…..

ALL PURPOSE CLEANER:

Find yourself an empty spray bottle. Fill with:

1 Part White vinegar
1 Part Water
10 Drops Tea Tree essential oil

Shake well, and spray away! The vinegar and tea tree are both antimicrobial agents, the vinegar being acidic, and the tea tree working naturally to eliminate bacteria. Worried about your home smelling like vinegar? Don’t! The smell absolutely does not linger, and you will get more and more used to it during use. I add citronella to my cleaner sometimes which I find masks the vinegar smell very well during use.

What can you use it for? Spills in the kitchen, a tile or laminate cleaner, surface cleaner for your bathroom, mirror cleaner, and a disinfectant for toys. You name it! Stuck on mess? Spray and let it soak. Need a more abrasive cleaner? Coming up!

TOUGH SCRUB – BATH & TOILET BOWL CLEANER:

Need an abrasive cleaner for that brown ring in your tub, or stubborn stains in your toilet bowl? A really stuck on mess that your all purpose spray can’t handle? Try this recipe on for size.

I find this product dispenses great from one of those large costco size herb / spice shakers with the large holes. Grab one of those, or something similar that you can shake this product out of, and add:

1 Part Washing Soda
1 Part Baking Soda
1 Part Borax*

Mix these ingredients well (if you find you are breathing in a lot of dust from the ingredients, wear a mask or tie a scarf around your face while you are mixing, or mix them on your stove with the exhaust fan running. Although these ingredients are generally benign, it’s not great to be breathing in a large amount of any kind of particulate).

Scrub your toilet or bath with this mixture and they will be clean in no time, with very little elbow grease! If you are cleaning a dry surface, you will want to use a bit of water with this! For your tub, after cleaning, spray down with your all purpose cleaner and rinse well – the sodas can be slippery. The vinegar in the all purpose cleaner will neutralize the sodas so you don’t slip in the shower! For really stuck on messes, scrub with this mixture, and then spray with the vinegar cleaner, and scrub again – this creates a fun foaming reaction that lifts off messes no problem!

*If you would like a borax free recipe, simply replace the borax with an equal part washing soda. I find the borax just gives it that extra kick, but isn’t fully necessary.