all-natural carpet cleaner

You never know what you get yourself into when you move to a new rental. I’ve had mold take over my bathroom multiple times–& landlords continually blaming me for the ventilation problems they never fixed. I’ve had burns & stains all over linoleum flooring. I’ve had walls with so many layers of white paint you’re not even sure a finishing nail hit dry wall.

Most recently, I’ve had floors so filled with cat hair & lived-in mess that a friend visiting a month later–after daily vacuuming–thought the carpet was another color. That we’d had it shampooed.

It’s taken a long time to get this carpet looking normal. It’s taken even longer for us not to be disgusted by what comes up after just one round of vacuuming. (That’s right. We have one of those fun bagless types, & I love checking it out before & after each vacuuming session.)

I was feeling pretty good about the carpeting situation until a few days ago, Joe drizzled a cofffee trail from pot to sofa. That led me to look a bit closer at the carpet… & the series of brown spots from dirty winter shoes that have created constellations near the door. It’s time to do some cleaning.

We could have rented a shampoo system, but… Ok, at this point you guys already know what’s coming. Say it with me: I didn’t want to spend the money or use the chemicals. It’s also a pretty water-intensive process. (Not to mention it’s not my property, so why should I help someone out when they make me pay a cleaning fee before I move in that supposedly covers the cost of a shampoo anyway? I’m a softee, but I do not help landlords. Sorry. You take enough as it is.)

There’s another key factor that’s kept us from cleaning the carpets, going back to the chemicals:

I have a bunny. She’s adorable, but one of her favorite pastimes is (don’t tell the landlord)  licking, chewing & just tearing the bejesus out of our carpeting.

In my last rental, before moving out I took all the carpeting she’d torn out, took my dad’s hot glue gun & stuck everything back in place. Voilà. Got my whole deposit back. Joe & I are hoping for similar success this time around. Her carpeting shreds are being stored in a container until we’re ready to move, at which time they’ll be stuck back in their proper place.

I digress. I had a point. Where was it? Right. Here: I don’t want my bunny eating chemicals. She likes that sort of thing. Wires, glue, paint. Just licks it until I can chase her away. Her favorite snack is the binding from a magazine–eats it like corn on the cob. So, you can only imagine how insane she’d go if she got a whiff of some chemical stew on our carpeting.

We’re in luck. It turns out that stocking an “organic,” more natural cleaning cabinet is way cheaper & easier than we’d imagined. Baking soda has become my default product. You know that motif in My Big Fat Greek Wedding with the Windex? It fixes & heals everything? Well, I spring baking soda on e v e r y t h i n g.

Eartheasy says I’m not too far off on that. They put together an incredible list of natural, nontoxic cleaning recipes using things you have around the home (lemon, vinegar, baking soda, corn starch). Here’s what they have to say, with recipes varying for types of stain:

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray directly on stain, let sit for several minutes, and clean with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.
  • For fresh grease spots, sprinkle corn starch onto spot and wait 15 – 30 minutes before vacuuming.
  • For a heavy duty carpet cleaner, mix 1/4 cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub paste into carpet and leave for a few hours. Vacuum.

If you have a shampooer, don’t feel judged or trapped needing chemical supplies. You can whip up a simple solution for that, too. Check that out at SurvivingtheStores.


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
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