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How to Shampoo a Carpet

woman shampooing carpet
September 13, 2022

Are you determined to clean your carpet without hiring a professional carpet cleaning service in London? While it is not recommended to do so, we can understand why people turn to DIY methods to remove food or wine stains from carpet fibres, among other things. And because we don't want you to ruin the expensive pieces you own, we would like to give you some tips and tricks on doing a great job.

Call us at Crystal Carpet Cleaners at 07557914387 or 02036215221 if you'd like to get professional help with shampooing your carpets!

If you are looking to deep clean carpet fabric yourself, you will need a few tools and products to get you started, such as a carpet shampooer and a vacuum. This means you need to know how to use them properly.

Check out our carpet cleaning tips to make this journey a little less stressful and more effective. Here is how to clean a carpet from start to finish.

Key Takeaways

  • Find yourself a quality hot water extractor and read up on its settings and features before use
  • Stain pre-treatment is an essential step of the process
  • Be careful how much carpet shampoo you’re applying; excessive use of any product can be too much of a good thing, hindering your way to a clean carpet
  • When operating the machine, work in straight lines from wall to wall
  • Don't stop extracting until the water in the waste-water tank runs clear
  • When the carpet dries in full, vacuum it before you start walking on it again


Preparation is always the first step. You can't skip it if you want to do a thorough job. Now, if you can transfer the carpet to another area where you will have more space to work, that will be ideal.

However, if that’s not doable, we recommend moving away as much furniture as possible so that nothing hampers your cleaning endeavours.

Okay, it’s obvious that some pieces will have to stay, but the more stuff you take out of the room, the easier it will be to manoeuvre the machine around the carpet. For those furnishings that will inevitably stay put, you can use plastic wrap or aluminum foil as a protection tool.

Once you set the scene for your cleaning adventures, it’s advisable to vacuum the entire carpet to remove any dust balls, loose debris, and pet hair.

Stain Pre-treating

As you ensure no dust bunnies are sitting on your carpet, you should locate any stains and give them a good pre-soak with a stain remover that is specifically manufactured for carpets. Alternatively, you can mix one part white vinegar with three parts water into a bowl and use that on the tough stains.

Baking soda and cold water work too. You might also sprinkle pure baking soda over the fabric and vacuum it all after it sits for a few minutes.

Needless to say, and this is an important step right there, you should test whatever solution you want to use on an inconspicuous site. This could be a section that is positioned closer to a corner or that usually remains hidden by furniture. Wait for the concoction to do its thing, then go back to inspect for any discolouration or other signs of damage.

If there are no visible changes to the texture or appearance of the carpet, it’s safe to use that product. Before you apply it to larger sections, read the instructions on the label carefully. Pay attention to how the cleaner should be used. Some should be dabbed with a clean cloth or paper towel, whereas others need to be vacuumed. You really don’t want to mess this up.

Carpet Shampooing

woman shampooing carpet by hand

Before you proceed to shampoo your precious item, make sure the fabric can tolerate this. Some carpets can only be dry cleaned; others can withstand moisture. Not to mention, most products are not meant to be used on all types of carpets. There are specific requirements for each.

So, if you don’t want to ruin your belongings, go ahead and check out the manufacturer’s label for more info about the cleaning methods that can be employed.

Now, the shampooing stage usually requires that you have a hot water extractor, carpet shampooer, or steam cleaning machine at the very least. If you don’t own one, consider carpet machine rental straight from carpet cleaners or a hardware store.

Types of shampoo for carpet pile

  • Liquid carpet shampoo (the traditional kind of carpet shampoo). Liquid detergents work best when you combine them with a powerful carpet extractor or hot water extractor. Steam cleaners may be used as well, although these typically lack a suctioning part, which means they can do half the job. Traditional shampoos tend to be low-foaming, hence they are easier to rinse after that.
  • Dry carpet shampoo. This one does not require a special hot water extraction machine to work. Instead, you should use a regular vacuum cleaner to get things done. Powder-based shampoos are perfect for carpets that should only be dry-cleaned. Even though they are not in liquid form, they are still quite effective at removing stains and bad odours.

Hot or cold water with carpet shampoo

It’s called hot water extraction for a reason, right? In most cases, you want to use high temperatures because this is what helps to loosen dirt and kill germs in addition to the chemical solution you add to the cleaning process. Warm water works for synthetic materials just fine.

However, if you are dealing with natural fibers like cotton and wool, only cold water is an option. High temperatures can be damaging to the carpet fibres, causing shrinkage.

Water tanks on shampoo/carpet cleaner

There is going to be a separate reservoir for the dirty water. It will fill up as you are extracting the liquid from the carpet fibers. Your job is to empty it before it gets full to the brim. Otherwise, the dirty water will start to spill out of the container and back into your carpet.

Carpet cleaning machine bells and whistles

Carpet cleaning machines that can be rented out all come with different settings and specifications. For this reason, it’s vital to read the instructions before you use it. You will find a slew of options for power levels, carpet soap concentrations, water levels, and water temperature.

While you are familiarising yourself with the carpet cleaning machine, don’t forget to consult the carpet label as well so that you know which settings will be of use. Also, find out how the equipment should be handled over the fabric. Should you drag it backward or push it back and forth?

And do you know how to empty the water tank afterwards? Is it removable or fixed? Those are questions you should be able to answer before you begin work. After you finish exploring the carpet cleaning machine, fill the tank with water up to the max level. Add carpet shampoo solution according to the label directions.

Please note that there is such a thing as too much shampoo, so don't overdo it. Since these products come in big concentrations, applying more cleaning solution than necessary will prevent the chemicals from dissolving and you won’t be able to extract all of it in the end. Remember that the high temperature is what does most of the cleaning.

Cleaning Process

woman shampooing a carpet

If you have set the carpet cleaning machine, it’s time to start cleaning. Choose one corner of the room and work your way from wall to wall, making straight lines. Press the water-release button to apply carpet shampoo to the item. This is, without a question, the most effective cleaning method. You can cover the entire room if you are patient enough.

Make it a point to check out both reservoirs to see if you need to empty the tank holding the dirty water or fill the one that has the clean water and detergent.

Since you don’t want to sprinkle excessive water on the carpet, press the water-release button intermittently instead of steadily.

Once you finish shampooing, fill the water tank with fresh water and run the carpet cleaning machine over the carpet one more time. You know it's time to cease cleaning when the extracted water becomes clear.

Alternatively, you can run your fingers through the carpet fibres, pressing them hard against the surface. If they have residual moisture, you need to continue extracting until no more residue is produced when you press down your hand to the carpet.

Now, if you have a large or heavily stained carpet, you will need to repeat the above steps several times to achieve the desired results. Using just cold water without soap isn't going to be effective on carpet stains.


When you are done, you need to allow enough time for the carpet to dry completely. There are different strategies you can implement to speed up the process, such as running a fan in the room, opening the windows, or taking the carpet outside.

The drying time varies from carpet to carpet depending on the type of material, carpet thickness, and size of the room. Proper ventilation is paramount to being successful. You don’t want your carpet to take too long to dry, as it may begin to develop mould and mildew.

Wait before putting furniture on it unless drying is over. This will prevent the fibres from drying completely; not to mention, it will crush and flatten them.

On average, most carpets dry within 6 to 24 hours. Do not walk over the fabric unless you are sure it’s completely dry.

As you are ready to re-introduce foot traffic in the area, vacuum the carpet one last time. This will remove any debris or soap residue.

When is Shampooing Necessary?

  • There has been a flood recently
  • You or anyone from your family suffer from seasonal allergies that seem to be worsening
  • Pet odours or other nasty smells linger on
  • There are noticeable stains
  • The fabric has started to show signs of discolouration

How Do I Clean a Carpet Without a Machine?

Let's be real, many people can't afford to rent a quality shampoo machine or hire a professional carpet cleaner. You can deep clean your whole carpet with household items and some elbow grease. The results won't be nearly as good as hiring a professional carpet cleaner but you can make your piece look decent.

Vacuum carefully to remove loose dirt and everyday dust. Pre-treat stains with a mixture of baking soda and water or opt for a spot cleaning treatment from your local supermarket.

For stubborn stains, you could use soapy water. Make a cleaning solution of one tablespoon of dish soap, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and some water. Put it in a spray bottle so you can use it in controlled bursts wherever on the carpet needed. Blot up any excess water and let the carpet dry completely before you step on it again.

If you are not going to involve a machine in cleaning carpet, you should use cleaning solutions and soaps sparingly.


What's the best way to shampoo a carpet?

The best way to do that is to leave the job to the professionals. But if you want to shampoo your carpets yourself, your best bet would be to rent a hot water extraction or steam cleaner from a cleaning company or hardware store. If you are on a tight budget, use dry shampoo and a regular vacuum cleaner.

Can I shampoo my carpet myself?

Yes, you can. Before you do so, make sure to pick a shampoo that is suitable for your carpet type and the material it’s made of. Abide by the instructions on the label. The same applies to the hot water extraction machine - familiarise yourself with the way it works before you begin. If you don't think you can handle this yourself, let professional carpet cleaners get the job done to avoid damaging your items.

How many times a year should you shampoo your carpet?

You should attempt to do so once every 12 months but do not clean it more than twice a year.

Do you have to rinse your carpet after shampooing?

It is recommended that you rinse the carpet well after you shampoo. The chemicals in the product can damage the fibres if left to sit for too long.

Can you walk on wet carpet after cleaning?

No, it is not recommended to walk on your wet carpet barefoot or with your shoes on. You should refrain from doing so for 24 hours after you do a deep clean.

How long can carpet stay wet before it begins to smell?

One or two days is the maximum timeframe we can put to this. After that, the carpet will start to form mould.

How do I help my carpet dry completely?

Start by running a fan in the room. Make sure to point it in the direction of the item. Another thing that will work wonders is a dehumidifier. As the last step, you want to keep the windows open as long as necessary to let cold air in and keep the carpet fresh.

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London, Barnet EN4 8HU
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