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Can You Use Dish Soap in a Carpet Cleaner?

Carpeted floors are cozy treats for your feet until you spill a glass of red wine, get a new pet that isn’t fully potty trained, or have infants and toddlers with sticky tendencies. These everyday messes require some carpet TLC, but what if you run out of soap solution for your carpet cleaner? Can you use the Dawn you have under your kitchen sink?  

It’s recommended that you don’t use dish soap in a carpet cleaning machine due to the potential to oversoak your carpet and damage the fibers, pad, and subfloor.

The rest of this article will explain a few topics related to this question in great detail, including the best kinds of soap to use in your carpet cleaner, how to use dish soap as a carpet cleaner, the best ways to remove carpet stains, and homemade carpet cleaning solutions.  

Can you use dish soap in a carpet cleaner?

Using Dish Soap as a Carpet Cleaner: Is It Okay?

Choosing the right soap for your deep carpet cleaning projects is essential to banishing odors and stains. I’ve already told you that dish soap isn’t appropriate for your carpet cleaning machine, but does it work for minor carpet stain cleaning? Or for carpet cleaning without the machine?  

You can use one teaspoon (4.93 ml) of dish soap diluted with one cup (236.59 ml) of hot water for minor cleaning tasks such as small spills and simple spot cleaning. You shouldn’t use any more than that, though.

Dish soap isn’t recommended for cleaning carpets because it can leave a soapy residue, and it’s difficult to get it all out of the carpet fibers. However, it can be effective at treating mild stains in small areas. 

Another reason it’s not advised to use dish soap is that you shouldn’t use it in your carpet cleaning machines. This means that if you want to use a dish soap solution on your carpets, you’re committing to a time-intensive endeavor.  

What Kind of Soap Can I Use in My Carpet Cleaner?

There’s nothing more refreshing than recently cleaned carpets. Cleaning carpets improves the smell in the room and makes the fibers softer and brighter. So, what’s the best shampoo to use in your carpet cleaner to freshen up your space?  

The best soap to use in your carpet cleaner is soap specifically designed for that purpose. However, the best brand/type depends on several variables, including the type of cleaning you’re doing, the types of carpet stains you have, your budget, and the type of machine you have.  

The liquid shampoos used in carpet cleaning machines are superior products to use compared to dish soap. First, carpet cleaning soaps are specially formulated and concentrated, unlike dish soap, which is crafted to tackle grease and food buildup on dishes.  

Dish soap works well for cleaning surfaces that you can fully saturate with water to remove the soap. Thus, dish soap isn’t effective for use in your carpet cleaner because you can’t get all of it out of the carpet once you put it in.  

When you’re looking for the best soap for your carpet cleaner, think about the type of stains you are trying to remove – pet stains or food stains, for example. Some carpet cleaning shampoos are formulated to deep clean specific stains like pet urine, for example.  

So, if you’re focusing your cleaning efforts on certain spills and grime, you should look for a carpet shampoo that fits the type of stains you have. 

Some carpet cleaning shampoos are expensive. If this isn’t a concern for you, pick the one that will meet your needs the best and that will work in your machine. However, if you’d rather have a cheaper option, shop around for the best bang for your buck! Amazon.com has some affordable carpet cleaning soaps available.  

Best Carpet Cleaning Soaps for Pet Stains

Sometimes, our furry best friends aren’t the cleanest home occupants. Especially if they’re young and not potty trained.  

Pet urine and feces are common carpet stains for pet owners. However, using proper cleaning tools can help ensure that your carpet stays in tip-top shape, even when your pet has an accident.  

When selecting a carpet cleaner for pet stains, be sure to use products that will get rid of the bacteria, colors, and odor. 

The Spruce recommends two different solutions for pet stains. These are:  

  • Vinegar solution. This homemade cleaner is 50% white vinegar and 50% water. This combination will neutralize the stain and eliminate most if not all of the odor.  
  • Combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda solution. To use this solution, mix ½ cup (118.29 ml) of hydrogen peroxide with two cups (473.18 ml) of water. Keep the baking soda separate.  

For both of these solutions, mix them in a clean spray bottle and spray the affected area. If you use the baking soda and peroxide method, sprinkle the baking soda before pouring the hydrogen peroxide mixture.

While you want to saturate the affected area thoroughly, be careful not to overwet the area.  Excessive wetness on carpets can ruin the pad and possibly the flooring underneath it.  

To prevent damage, if the stain is on a rug, lift the carpet off of the floor and place it on a clean hard surface while you clean it.

Also, be sure to fully dry the area after you’re finished with a wet-dry vacuum.     

If you’re not into the DIY carpet cleaning solution for your pet stained carpet, or if these aren’t taking care of the issue, you can also purchase a commercial cleaning product.  

There are many carpet cleaning solutions available for purchase with several major retailers, and a lot of them are specially formulated for specific types of pet stains. For instance, Bissel offers a professional pet urine eliminator and a pre-stain treatment solution.      

Best Carpet Cleaning Soaps for the Environment

Carpets are a popular furnishing choice in the United States. According to an article from Science Direct in the Building and Environment journal, about half of the flooring market in the U.S. is for carpeting.  

Carpets are also “reservoirs for re-emission of chemical and biological agents,” based on the article mentioned above. So, it can be essential to seek out a cleaning soap that’s not only capable of removing hard stains but that’s also easy on the environment and your health.  

While most of us recognize the potential toxicity in chemically enhanced cleaning products, it can seem impossible to find an eco-friendly alternative while still getting the sanitizing results of solid chemicals.  

While you can use some at-home products to create cleaning solutions, such as baking soda and white vinegar, sometimes this isn’t enough to clean the stains.  

Best Carpet Cleaning Soaps for Food Stains

Besides pet stains, food and beverage carpet stains are a typical household mess that we occasionally need to clean up.  

If you’re in the market for the best food and drink stain removers, some DIY options are available. Typically, the solutions you can mix yourself are meant for smaller cleaning tasks rather than large-scale projects. 

So, if you have a small drop of red wine on your carpet, DIY solutions, such as a white vinegar solution, may work best.

However, suppose your toddler decided to create an artistic masterpiece in ketchup on your entire living room carpet. In that case, you likely will need a commercial product in your carpet cleaning machine to tackle the mess.  

Best Ways To Remove Tough Carpet Stains

Some stains can feel impossible to remove. For example, just seeing red wine or red Kool-Aid soaking into the fibers of your cream-colored carpet is enough to make anyone lose their marbles.  

Removing tough carpet stains depends on the type of stain. Here’s a list of common carpet stains that are stubborn to eliminate:

  • Ink stains
  • Grease stains 
  • Nail Polish
  • Wine/coffee stains

Each of the stains mentioned above requires unique materials to clean them. Baking soda, white vinegar, acetone, and a wet-dry vacuum are a few of the necessary materials you may need to clean these types of spills.  

Watch this YouTube video on how to remove stains listed above:

The sooner you attack carpet stains, the easier they are to remove. Conversely, carpet stains that are left to soak become more challenging, deep-rooted stains.  

How To Remove Set-In Carpet Stains

The best thing to do when a stain hits the carpet is to address it immediately. The sooner you attack a carpet stain, the more likely it is to come out.

However, if you didn’t know about a stain or just moved into a new home with old carpet stains, this may not be feasible for you to do.

The good news is that there are ways to remove old stains. Here are the steps:

  1. For set-in stains, an oxidizer is your best bet for removing the paint. The best oxidizer to use is hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Once you have your oxidizer, pour it directly on the stain in small amounts and use a brush to push it into the carpet fibers gently.
  3. Next, get a clean rag and wet it with hot water.  
  4. Set the washcloth on top of the stain.  
  5. Then, use a hot iron and place it on top of the washcloth.  
  6. Let it sit for a few minutes, then remove the iron and wet rag. You should see a difference almost immediately.  

Check out this YouTube video to see how it’s done:

Remember, set-in stains that have been on the carpet for prolonged periods may require multiple, consecutive cleanings. So, don’t give up!

Homemade Carpet-Cleaning Solutions

Carpet is a popular choice for many homeowners. It’s a soft and comforting interior floor, but frequent foot traffic combined with accidents and spills can quickly turn your beautiful carpet into a dirty mess.  Use carpet cleaning machines and the proper cleaning solutions to keep your carpet fresh and clean.

Here are a few common DIY carpet-cleaning solutions you can do at home:

  • For killing germs, removing dirt, and odor, use one cup (236.59 ml) of white vinegar with one cup (236.59 ml) of Oxyclean and one gallon (3.79 L) of hot water.  
  • For your carpet cleaning machine, you can mix one gallon (3.79 L) of hot water with 1 ½ tablespoon (22.18 ml) of white vinegar, ¼ cup (59.15 ml) of hydrogen peroxide, and five to eight drops of your preferred essential oil — lemon is excellent for cleaning.
  • For pet stains, mix two cups (473.18 ml) of white vinegar with two cups (473.18 ml) of warm water. Sprinkle the area with baking soda and then apply your mixture 

Remember, after applying your cleaning solution and removing the stain, you need to ensure that your carpet is dry. Use a wet-dry vacuum for this. If you leave your carpet wet, it can damage the back of your carpet, the pad, and even the subfloor underneath it.  

Removing carpet stains is a great way to keep your home neat and tidy, and it keeps your home fresh.  


Maintaining the integrity of your carpet will save you money in the long run and prevent odors and bacteria from infiltrating your home.  

Remember: When you’re spot cleaning, sometimes it’s okay to use dish soap as your cleaner, but it should always be diluted, typically with hot water, and it doesn’t belong in your carpet cleaning machine.  

From spilled juice to pet urine, there are many carpet cleaning solutions – from DIY creations to store-bought products – that will give your carpet a unique fresh look and feel it needs.

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