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Carpets can make or break your home. Whether it’s laid over existing hard flooring or installed as the only covering, it leaves an impression on visitors. Maintaining your carpet is key to keeping it looking great for years to come. Vacuum cleaners are the first line of defense against dirt and dust, but there are times when carpets need a deeper cleaning.

Sanitizing your carpet is one of those times. Sanitizing helps to remove any bacteria, dust mites, bugs, or other allergens that may be lurking in the soft surfaces of your rugs. Not only will this make your home look and feel cleaner, but it can also be beneficial to your health (see how to eliminate bed bugs).

If you want to know how to sanitize carpets, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some tips on keeping it clean in the future.

a person holding a bucket with cleaning products

What You’ll Need 

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Sanitizing solution
  • Bucket or container
  • Mop or rag
  • Instructions

How to Sanitize Carpet

You can use carpet cleaning machines to disinfect your carpets. The carpet fibers will be lifted, and the disinfectant will be forced deep into the pile, killing bugs, maggots, bacteria, or allergens. If you don’t have a carpet cleaning machine, you can use a sanitizing solution to disinfect your carpets. Just make sure you are wearing single-use gloves as hand protection against germs, microbes, and bacteria.

Step 1: Vacuum Your Carpet

Before you do anything else, it’s important to vacuum your carpets. It will remove any surface dirt or dust that may be present.

Step 2: Mix the Sanitizing Solution

The sanitizing solution can be a homemade mixture or a store-bought product. If you’re using a store-bought product, follow the instructions on the bottle. If you’re making your solution, mix 1 cup of bleach with 2 gallons of water.

Step 3: Soak the Area

Using a bucket or container, pour the sanitizing solution over the affected area. Be sure to saturate the carpet thoroughly.

Step 4: Let the Carpet Sit For Up to an Hour

Give your solution time to work, and don’t be tempted to wipe or scrub at it before it’s done. It will only push dirt more deeply into the fibers. You can use this time to clean other areas of your home and prepare your cleaning tools for the next steps.

Step 5: Mop Up the Solution

Once the hour has passed, it’s time to mop up the solution. Use a wet rag or mop to soak up as much of the liquid as possible. Wring out the rag/mop thoroughly before using it on the carpet again.

Step 6: Vacuum Once More

Again, this will remove any leftover dirt from your rug. If you’ve used a store-bought sanitizing solution, be sure to dispose of the rag/mop properly. Rinse it out and place it in a plastic bag for disposal later. Once finished, your rug is clean and sanitized.

a person cleaning the carpet

What Is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?

In most cases, the terms “sanitizing” and “cleaning” are used interchangeably. In reality, there is a difference between the two processes. Carpet cleaning removes dirt, dust mites, and other allergens but doesn’t necessarily kill them. Sanitizing kills these contaminants to help keep your home healthy for you and your family.

How Often Should You Sanitize Your Carpet?

Before you begin sanitizing your carpet, you should ask yourself a few questions: Is there an increased presence of allergens in your home? Do I have any family members who suffer from allergies? How often do I vacuum and clean my carpets?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you should probably be sanitizing your carpet on a more regular basis. Generally, once every month or two will do the trick.

If your carpet is heavily trafficked, it may need to be sanitized more regularly. If you have pets that frequently use your home as their bathroom, you’ll want to sanitize more often.

a person standing on the colorful carpet

How Should the Facility Be Cleaned to Limit Spread Germs?

Cleaning and sanitizing play a critical role in the spread of germs. If you are sick, it is important to limit your contact with other people in the facility. Sick people should stay in their rooms and use alcohol wipes or hand sanitizer gel before touching shared surfaces. Sick individuals should not share towels, cutlery, cups, etc., nor should they prepare food for others within the facility.

Surfaces in common areas should be regularly cleaned and sanitized with a bleach-based solution. All surfaces should be wiped down, including door handles, light switches, countertops, tables, chairs, etc. Sanitizing wipes or sprays can also be used to disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

It is also important to regularly clean and sanitize bathrooms and toilets. Floors should be swept and mopped regularly. You can use disinfectant sprays on toilet seats, countertops, and other surfaces in the bathroom.

A person using disinfectant spray

How to Clean Carpets Without a Machine

Put one part vinegar and three parts water in a bowl or bucket. Use a scrub brush to rub the solution into the carpet. After massaging the solution into the carpet fibers well (without soaking the carpet), blot the excess moisture with a cloth.

Cleaning Solutions

There are cleaning products that work as both cleaning solutions and sanitizing products. You may find these types of cleaning solutions at your local grocery or retail store. They usually require the addition of water, but many also come premixed with helpful dispensing triggers built-in.

When using a cleaning solution as a sanitizer, follow the instructions on the bottle. Be sure to wet down the entire area of carpet that needs to be treated and allow the product enough time to work (usually one hour). Afterwards, mop up any leftover liquid and vacuum the area.

home made solution ingredients

Bleach-Based Solutions

A bleach-based solution is one of the most common and effective sanitizers. It is important to note that bleach can be harmful to both people and pets, so use caution when handling and using it.

When using a bleach-based sanitizing solution, mix it according to the instructions given. Be sure to wet down the entire area of the carpet that needs to be treated and allow the solution enough time to work. You can help speed up the process by using a brush or a carpet rake on the affected areas. Once done, mop up any leftover liquid and vacuum the area.

Borax Solution

A simple borax solution is one of the easier cleaning solutions to make. Mix 1 cup of Borax and 1 gallon of warm water in a clean bucket for a borax solution.

Be sure to wet down the entire area of the carpet that needs to be treated and allow the solution enough time to work. Once done, mop up any leftover liquid and vacuum the area.

Vinegar Solution

A vinegar solution is a common household cleaner that you can use to sanitize carpets. To make a simple vinegar-cleaning solution, mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water in a clean bucket.

Be sure to wet down the entire area of carpet that needs to be treated and allow the solution enough time to work (usually one hour). Afterward, mop up any leftover liquid and vacuum the area.

closeup of a steam cleaner

Steam Cleaning

One of the most effective ways to clean carpets is to use a steam cleaner. A steam cleaner uses hot water and pressure to clean carpets and remove loose debris, dirt, dust, and other allergens.

If you choose to use a steam cleaner to sanitize your carpets, be sure to read the instructions carefully. Some steam cleaners can be used as a sanitizer, while others are only for cleaning. Make sure you are using the correct setting on your steam cleaner to achieve the desired results.

Top Tips for Deep Cleaning and Sanitizing Carpet

Summer is a great time to give your carpets a good deep cleaning. Not only will this help keep your home looking its best, but it can also help reduce the number of allergens in the air.

Here are some top tips for deep cleaning and sanitizing your carpets:

  • Make sure you have the right supplies on hand, including a good carpet cleaner, cleaning solutions, and a vacuum.
  • Be sure to wet down the entire area of carpet that needs to be cleaned before applying any cleaning solutions.
  • Allow the cleaning solutions enough time to work (usually one hour).
  • Afterward, mop up any leftover liquid and vacuum the area.
  • If you choose to use a steam cleaner, read the instructions carefully and use it as directed.
  • If desired, give your carpets a good vacuuming once they are dry. Be sure to switch the setting on your vacuum to one that best suits your carpet’s pile height (low or high).

closeup of a vacuum cleaner and cleaning equipment

Benefits of Sanitizing Carpet

Sanitizing your carpets is not only important for the appearance of your home, but it can also be beneficial for your health. Some benefits of sanitizing your carpets include:

  •   Reducing the number of allergens in the air.
  •   Removing loose debris, dirt, and dust.
  •   Helping to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
  •   Deep cleaning your carpets to keep them looking their best.
  •   Helping to decrease pet odors in the house.
  •   Keeping dirt, allergens, etc. from being kicked up into the air while you are walking on your carpet.
  •   Decreasing the number of pollen particles in the air by removing them from your carpeting surfaces.

a female person sitting on a white carpet with a cup of coffee


Maintaining clean and healthy surfaces in a household is important for preventing the spread of germs and viruses. You can prevent illness from spreading by regularly sanitizing commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, counters, tables, chairs, etc.

By regularly cleaning and sanitizing bathrooms and toilets, you can help prevent illness from spreading. It is also important to clean the hardwood floors regularly. Although cleaning solutions help sanitize surfaces, they may not be effective for deep cleaning carpets.

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