Why A Baking Soda Carpet Cleaner Can Ruin Your Vacuum and Carpet

By Maria Hernandez / March 16, 2022 / 0 Comments

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    Having clean carpets at home brings such satisfaction. But be careful how you go about cleaning your carpet. Today we share why a baking soda carpet cleaner is not how you should clean your carpet.

    4 Reasons Why You Should Not Use Baking Soda As A Carpet Cleaner

    Below are our top reasons we do not suggest you use baking soda to clean your carpets. We feel the negatives clearly outweigh any perceived positives.

    1. Experts Do Not Recommend It

    You will be hard-pressed to find a true carpet expert that says using baking soda on your carpet is a good idea. We spoke to several vacuum manufacturers and carpet industry associations, and none of them suggested using baking soda to clean your carpet.

    Vacuum Manufacturers

    For example, here is our conversation with Dyson, a leading brand for vacuums. We asked them if it is ok to use baking soda on our carpet and then use a Dyson to vacuum it up.

    Dyson customer support on why not to use baking soda on carpet

    As you can see, the response is very clear. While we will go into more reasons not to use baking soda on your carpet below, one of the biggest reason why is because true experts like Dyson say not to.

    Industry Associations

    The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) does not list anywhere on their website that baking soda is an approved cleaner for carpet.

    Even carpet manufacturers such as Shaw, do not list baking soda an acceptable and approved way to clean carpets.

    Later in the article we provide suggestions on what types of cleaners are best for carpet.

    Real World Testing

    Furthermore, check out this video analysis done by the Performance Reviews team. They come to the same conclusion as our team here at Floor Critics.

    2. Baking Soda Cannot Be Fully Vacuumed Up

    One myth is that residential vacuums will be able to pick up all of the baking soda from the carpet. This is not true.

    As described in point #1 above, you should not use a vacuum cleaner to pickup baking soda. But if you do, there will still be a lot of baking soda that remains in the carpet that a vacuum will not be able to pick up. The particles are so small that they will make their way deep into the carpet.

    In the picture of a test done by Dillon Cleans you can see even after six separate vacuuming sessions, the amount of baking soda that came out each time. What’s even more astonishing is that over half of the baking soda still left in the carpet.

    piles of baking soda being picked up by a vacuum after numerous sessions

    3. Baking Soda is An Abrasive Material That Will Cause Damage To Your Carpet Fibers and Padding

    We agree that baking soda has a useful purpose for cleaning many things, carpet is just not one of them.

    Baking soda (known as sodium bicarbonate) is considered an abrasive cleaner. while it great for absorbing odor and wetness, it sticks to the carpet fibers. As described above, you will never be able to get all the baking soda out. So every time you walk on your carpet the abrasive particles act like sandpaper and rub against your carpet fibers and slowly start to wear down the carpet.

    You may not notice right away, but the useful life of your carpet will be reduced. Is it worth taking a risk to use baking soda on your carpet? Not one we suggest you take.

    4. Baking Soda Can Ruin the Electric Motors on Vacuums and Can Clog Vacuum Filters

    Manufacturers such as Dyson warn against using a vacuum to pick of powders such as baking soda, and we fully agree,

    In many cases, the baking soda will overload the filters on the vacuum and the particles will bypass the filter and ruin the motor.

    Why take the risk of spending hundreds of dollars on a new vacuum and then risk motor damage? It it critical that you read your vacuum’s warranty. In many cases the warranty will be void if things like baking soda are used.

    Why Do So Many “Experts” Recommend Using Baking Soda on Carpets?

    Know that the true experts do not recommended using baking soda on carpets.

    Below are some thoughts we have on why baking soda is still recommended and used on carpets.

    • Ease of access: almost everyone has baking soda at home as it is a multi-purpose cleaning product
    • Baking soda is much more affordable than having your carpets professionally cleaned
    • Some people’s carpets and vacuums are very old so they may not be as concerned about the issues baking soda can cause
    • It is a natural product that you can feel safe using around kids and pets
    • Bicarbonate of soda is not irritating to the eyes or skin
    • It can neutralize bad odors

    Alternative Cleaning Solutions That Can Be Used Safely on Your Carpet

    Professional Solutions

    • We suggest you look at products recommended by the Carpet & Rug Institute. They have a list of over 300 products that you can choose from based on your needs.
    • Your carpets should be professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months.

    DIY Solutions

    1. Most simple: use lukewarm tap water for spills you catch right away
    2. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of dish washing detergent with 1 cup of lukewarm water
    3. Mix 1 cup white vinegar with 2 cups of of water
    4. Mix 1 tablespoon ammonia with 1 cup of water

    In all cases, it is always a good idea to spot test a hidden area to ensure the cleaning solution does not cause discoloration to the carpet. In addition, always read your carpet manufacturer’s warranty.

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    Carpet Cleaning Tips

    How To Prepare The Carpet

    Before you actually start cleaning the carpet, you need to prepare it and gather all the necessary supplies. These are the things you need to have handy:

    • Vacuum cleaner
    • Spray bottle
    • Sponge
    • White cloth
    • Lukewarm water
    • DIY or professional cleaning solution

    The first step to prepare your carpet is to vacuum it. This will make things much easier for you because you’ll avoid developing additional stains that come from dirt already trapped in your carpet.

    Grab your vacuum cleaner and go over the carpet. It doesn’t have to be the most thorough job, but make sure that you’ve cleared all the big particles, dust, and dirt. If by chance you miss this step, applying water directly to the stain can lead to new, deeper stains you’ll also need to address.

    The best way to tackle a stain on your carpet is to act right away. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to remove later.

    When you have a liquid mess to deal with, get a paper towel right away and blot it gently to remove the fluids. Don’t rub– this can just spread the fluid around and cause the carpet fibers to absorb the liquid faster.

    Reduce the traffic on the carpet that you’ll be cleaning, and be sure to avoid stepping where you apply the products. Now you’re ready to start!

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    Cleaning Greasy Stains

    Greasy stains are unfortunately hard to remove. They become more stubborn as the time goes by so be sure to act quickly.

    DIY Cleaning Solution

    • Option 1: Mix 1/4 teaspoon of dish washing detergent with one cup of lukewarm water. Note: using more detergent does not help remove the stain quicker.
    • Option 2: Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water.
    • Option 3: Use a nail polish remover that contains acetone. Nail polish removers that contain amyl acetate can leave residues.

    Professional Solutions

    • Option 1: Use a non-flammable spot removal. Some recommended brands are: Goof-Off, Carbona, and K2R.
    • Option 2: Hire a professional.

    Cleaning Tips

    Use your white cloth to soak the greasy stain with warm water. Be gentle, since you don’t want to push the stain further down into the carpet. Only dab and blot, never rub. Start form the edges and worth your way to the center.

    Vacuum the spot. When you’re done, check whether the stain is completely gone. Grease stains can be stubborn so you may have to repeat the cleaning several times.

    If the carpet is still damp after vacuuming, let it air dry or use a fan.

    Cleaning Non-Greasy Stains

    Non-greasy stains are much simpler and easier to remove, especially if they are fresh. After you’ve prepared the carpet according to the guide above, you’re ready to tackle those stains.

    DIY Cleaning Solution

    • Option 1 (same as for greasy stains): Mix 1/4 teaspoon of dish washing detergent with one cup of lukewarm water. Note: using more detergent does not help remove the stain quicker.
    • Option 2: Simply use lukewarm water (many times you do not need anything else).
    • Option 3: Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water.

    Professional Solutions

    • Option 1: Use a spot removal kit that is suggested by your carpet manufacturer.
    • Option 2: Hire a professional.

    Removing Pet Odor

    This is where intuition tells use to use baking soda, but now you know better.

    If the pet stain is dry when you find it, you will first want to rinse the area with lukewarm water. Then, use a wet/dry carpet vacuum so go over the area several times.

    Important: do not use a steam cleaner as the heat will lock in the odor and stain.

    Of you need something stronger, you can try a carpet stain remover.

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    Can you clean a carpet with baking soda?

    You should avoid cleaning carpet with baking soda. The particles will get deep in the carpet fibers and cannot be fully removed with a vacuum. In addition, baking soda could cause your vacuum’s motor to fail and in most cases voids your warranty.

    How long should I leave baking soda on carpet?

    You should immediately remove any baking soda that was put on your carpet.

    Will baking soda damage my vacuum?

    Yes! Baking soda and many other powders are not meant for vacuums. Baking soda can damage the motor and void your vacuum warranty.

    How can I make my carpet smell good while vacuuming?

    Spray white vinegar onto your carpet to absorb any odors. You can also use essential oils and diffuse them in the air.

    Can I use baking soda in my carpet cleaner?

    No. Professional carpet cleaning solutions are made to remove stains effectively, so baking soda should not be mixed.

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    Let us know in the comments below about your previous experiences with baking soda and whether these tips were useful in your household. 

    About Maria Hernandez

    Senior Floor Critic, 25 years of experience in residential and commercial cleaning

    Maria Hernandez has 25 years of experience in residential and commercial janitorial and cleaning services. From hardwood to carpet to marble floors, Maria has developed a deep expertise in cleaning and maintaining many different flooring types. Visit Website.

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