How to Disinfect Carpet in Simple (but Effective) Ways

Updated April 24, 2022
shampoo carpet with steam cleaner

Learn how to disinfect carpets using commercial and natural methods. Find out how to sanitize your wool carpets and rugs. Get tips on keeping your carpets germ free.

How to Disinfect Carpet With a Steam Cleaner

When it comes to disinfecting your carpets and area rugs, a steam cleaner becomes your new best friend. For this method of disinfecting your carpet, you need to grab:

  • Steam cleaner with attachments
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Towel

Using a Steam Cleaner to Disinfect Your Carpets

A steam cleaner is recommended for all different types of carpets and area rugs. It can get in there and remove the virus and bacteria germs in a few simple steps.

  1. Remove everything off the floor you are going to steam clean.
  2. Vacuum the floor using the brush attachment to clean and dust trim and baseboards.
  3. Fill the spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water.
  4. Pretreat any stains with the vinegar mixture for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Follow all the instructions on your steam cleaner for filling and using.
  6. Take it slow, doing one section at a time.
  7. Allow the carpet to dry completely.

How to Sanitize Carpet Without a Steam Cleaner

cleaning red carpet

Not every carpet can be steam cleaned, and not everyone has a steam cleaner. In that case, you can disinfect your carpet pretty simply. Most nylon or acrylic carpets can be disinfected pretty effectively with a bit of soap, vinegar, and elbow grease. However, wool carpets take a gentler hand. Before getting into the cleaning process, you need to grab:

  • Dry rug shampoo or wool carpet detergent
  • Carpet disinfecting spray -- look for one approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Scrub brush
  • Dawn
  • Bucket
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Vacuum
  • Broom

How to Disinfect Carpet With Commercial Spray

One of the easiest ways to disinfect a carpet is to use a commercial spray. These sprays typically have ingredients designed to kill nasty bacteria.

  1. Vacuum the carpet to remove any loose dirt and debris.
  2. Spray the cleaner on the carpeting.
  3. Allow it to sit for the recommended time.
  4. Vacuum to remove dead germs.

How to Disinfect a Wool Carpet

When it comes to wool rugs, it's important not to saturate them. Therefore, you might want to opt for a dry rug shampoo when it comes to disinfecting your wool carpets.

  1. Sprinkle the dry shampoo onto the carpet or rug.
  2. Allow it to sit for the recommended time.
  3. Vacuum it up.

Disinfecting Your Carpet With Snow

This might seem strange, but if you can take your carpet or rug outside, you can disinfect it with snow. This method works great for carpets that can't take steam cleaning and harsh commercial cleaners.

  1. Lay the carpet in the snow.
  2. Beat the carpet with a broom. (You can also walk over it.)
  3. Flip it over and repeat.
  4. Brush off any snow before returning it indoors.

How to Disinfect Carpet Naturally

When it comes to disinfecting your carpet naturally, many people tell you to use white vinegar. But vinegar doesn't disinfect as well as you think. Why? White vinegar, or even cleaning vinegar, isn't considered a disinfectant. While the acetic acid will kill a good majority of germs, vinegar isn't as effective as some commercial cleaners. Therefore, you can make a natural disinfectant with:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dawn dish soap
  • Spray bottle

Homemade Carpet Disinfectant

Just because vinegar isn't as effective at cleaning germs, all hope isn't lost when it comes to a homemade carpet disinfectant. Rather than using white vinegar, you can try rubbing alcohol.

  1. In a spray bottle, mix a cup of water, a small squirt of Dawn, and 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.
  2. Test the mixture on a hidden spot to ensure it doesn't cause any issues with color or fibers.
  3. Spray the solution on your carpet.
  4. Tap it with the towel. (Don't scrub)
  5. Wait 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Vacuum again.

How to Kill Bacteria on Your Carpet With Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfectant. It also has bleaching properties. Therefore, it's perfect for cleaning and disinfecting white carpets. To get started, you need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Spray bottle
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum

Steps to Disinfect With Hydrogen Peroxide

Now that you've got your materials at the ready, it's time to get down to work. Just remember, this is for white carpets only.

  1. Vacuum up any dirt on the carpet.
  2. Treat and clean any stains.
  3. Fill a spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Spray down the white carpet with hydrogen peroxide.
  5. Allow it to dry.
  6. Sprinkle the carpet with baking soda for odor removal.
  7. Allow it to sit overnight.
  8. Vacuum again and enjoy.

How to Sanitize Washable Carpet With Washer

If you have a smaller rug or carpet, you can sanitize it by throwing it in the wash. However, check the care tag to ensure these rugs can be washed. It's also recommended you use a front loading washer, since top loaders can get unbalanced with rugs. If everything looks on the up and up, then cleaning is simple.

  1. Vacuum or shake off any loose dirt.
  2. Throw the rug in the washer on the hottest recommended water setting.
  3. Add detergent and a laundry sanitizer, such as hydrogen peroxide or bleach.
  4. Allow it to air dry.

Create a Baking Soda and Borax Mixture to Sanitize Carpets

Another quick cleaner in your sanitizing arsenal is borax. This mineral is great for cleaning and getting rid of bacteria and odors. While this method doesn't kill as many bacteria as hydrogen peroxide or bleach, it gets the job done pretty well. To get started, you need:

  • Borax
  • Corn starch
  • Baking soda
  • Broom or scrub brush
  • Vacuum
  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle

Instructions for Using Borax to Sanitize Carpets

You've got the borax and baking soda. It's time to learn what to do with it. This method works best when you do one section at a time. This makes sure that you are evenly coating everything with the cleaners.

  1. Vacuum the carpet to remove any loose dirt.
  2. Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda on a section of carpet.
  3. Follow with 1 cup of borax.
  4. Add 2 cups of cornmeal on top of both.
  5. Use a broom or brush to work the particles into the carpet fibers.
  6. Allow it to sit for three or more hours.
  7. Vacuum several times until all the loose powder is gone.
  8. Spray the disinfected carpet with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water.
  9. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
  10. Vacuum again.

Does Baking Soda Disinfect Carpet?

Baking soda is great for removing stains and deodorizing your carpet. However, it's not considered an EPA-approved sanitizer. Like white vinegar, baking soda does kill some germs, but it's not as powerful enough to be considered a sanitizing agent. If you want a true sanitizing solution for your carpet, you might try a carpet sanitizing powder.

How Often to Disinfect a Carpet

Disinfecting a carpet is a bit variable. You should be vacuuming the carpet several times a week to remove loose dirt and pathogens. It's also important to deep clean carpets every three to six months to get rid of bacteria build-up. You would typically sanitize during this time. Most importantly, however, you want to sanitize your carpet every time someone in your home is ill with an infectious disease, such as the flu or COVID-19.

Tips for How to Avoid Bacteria on Your Carpet

boy putting on shoes at front door

One of the best ways to avoid sanitizing your carpets is to keep germs and bacteria off of them. Try these methods to keep your carpet germ-free.

  • Vacuum your carpets often. Vacuuming can pull dirt and germs out of the fibers before they penetrate.
  • Have people take shoes off at the door.
  • Change clothes before entering a room if you've been around someone sick.

How to Disinfect Carpet

Germs are all around. While it might be easy to disinfect and clean your hardwood or vinyl floors, carpeting is a bit harder. The germs can settle into the fibers and be hard to kill. Therefore, you want to make sure you use the right cleaner to get the job done. Next, get tips on how to clean a shag carpet.

How to Disinfect Carpet in Simple (but Effective) Ways