The 7 Best Natural Carpet Cleaners of 2021

Remove carpet stains and odors naturally.

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

There are a range ways to clean your carpets naturally, including vacuuming regularly with a vacuum equipped with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. “Cleaning using chemicals is mostly unnecessary on carpet,” notes Alex Varela, General Manager of Dallas Maids, a house cleaning service in Dallas, Texas. “What you need is consistency when it comes to vacuuming. You need to do it at least twice a week, although every other day would be ideal.”

But you also need to eventually deal with stains and odors that get set in and your vacuum can’t handle. “Carpet is made out of hundreds of fibers that are highly absorbing. This material is prone to several types of bacteria and viruses. It’s one of the types of flooring that harbors bacteria the most,” adds Varela. “This is because carpet absorbs organic matter all day: hair, skin cells, dandruff, and food and beverage spills or residues. This is the place bacteria and viruses feed on, lingering both on the floor and in the surrounding air.”

As with any carpet or fabric cleaner, always do a spot test in an inconspicuous area to ensure the product won’t change the color or damage your carpet or other fabric.

We found the best carpet cleaners that rely on mostly natural ingredients, including sprays, powders, and shampoos to remove stains, odors, and grime.

The Rundown
Plant-based enzymes and simple ingredients make this dual cleaner and spot remover safe and effective.
Plant-based extracts and essential oils remove stains without added scents or chemicals.
Powerful soaps remove dirt and stains and leave only a mild, fresh citrus scent from orange and grapefruit extracts.
Mom-approved deodorizing powder without perfumes or sticky residues.
Puracy Natural Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo uses six different types of enzymes while remaining 100% biodegradable.
Steam is a great way to clean without chemicals. This large-capacity steam cleaner with a long cord packs a punch.
Just two ingredients, this multi-purpose booster makes other cleaners work better.

Best Overall: KisClean Carpet Cleaner

KisClean Carpet Cleaner

To earn the Best Overall spot on our list, a cleaner must work well, earn top ratings, be relatively affordable, and accomplish all of this with a few, simple healthy ingredients. KisClean Carpet Cleaner is an excellent option to keep handy because it can be used for spot cleaning carpets, furniture, drapes, and other fabrics in your home. It can also be diluted with water to be used in a carpet cleaning machine.

It contains only plant-based enzymes and minerals, organic alcohol, folic acid, natural vanilla, and coconut oil. Although the types of enzymes in the spray are not fully defined on the label, this spray earned a respectable “B” grade from Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit focused on education and transparency to protect your health and the planet.

Manufactured in Los Angeles, CA, this cleaner is sold in a refillable 16-ounce spray bottle, a one-gallon jug, and a five-gallon bucket.

Best Budget: Simple Green Naturals Care Carpet Cleaner

Simple Green Naturals Carpet Care

If you have pets or kids at home, it’s important to have a reliable carpet spray on hand at all times so you can do quick spot cleans before stains and odors have a chance to set in. Simple Green Naturals Carpet Spray is Certified Biobased by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s derived from plant-based extracts and essential oils that remove stains and dirt effectively from carpet, drapes, furniture, and other fabrics in your home. A 24-ounce spray bottle is around $5 to $7.

The spray contains no chlorine, added colors, or scents. A simple alkaline mineral builder, potassium hydroxide, lowers pH and helps breaks down organic messes such as food and dirt that is then rubbed or blotted away by the soapy sodium laureth sulfate, also derived from plants. A non-chlorine oxidizer, hydrogen peroxide, breaks down and oxidizes proteins that cause stains. Even its preservative is naturally derived from chicory root.

The mostly mild ingredients earn this spray a grade of “A” from EWG. You can also feel good knowing it has never been tested on animals. A bonus is that it is packaged in recyclable bottles made from 25% post-consumer recycled content.

Best Budget Shampoo: Biokleen Carpet & Rug Shampoo Concentrate-64 oz

Biokleen Carpet & Rug Shampoo

You can spend a lot of money on carpet shampoos that contain chemicals whose names you don’t recognize. But there are several available on the market that work just as well for half the price or less. A 64-ounce jug of Biokleen Carpet & Rug Shampoo costs around $10 to $12.

This shampoo relies on a combination of four powerful plant-based surfactants (soaps) that break up and wash away the oils and proteins that make up stains and odors. In their place is a fresh natural citrus scent that’s not overpowering, made from orange peel and grapefruit seed extracts, and orange oil. These ingredients earn this shampoo a grade of “B” from EWG.

At the recommended dilution of 5 ounces per gallon of cleaning machine water, a single container covers a lot of territory for a small investment.

Best for Odors: Good Natured Carpet & Upholstery Deodorizer

Good Nature Saving Grace

The Good Natured brand was founded by a mom, Janice Johnston, who wanted to keep her home clean and safe for her family. Independently-tested by Green Seal and rated by Whole Foods Market in the highest tier of its Eco Scale, this carpet and upholstery deodorizer is easy to use. Simply sprinkle the child-safe powder on your problem area, let it sit for five minutes and then vacuum it up. Done.

Made in Maine from aluminum-free sodium bicarbonate, plus concentrated eucalyptus and lemon essential oils, this deodorizer has antibacterial qualities while leaving a bright clean scent. Appropriate for area rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, and car mats, it even works on that chemical smell caused by VOCs in new furniture.

If you’ve used other powdered carpet deodorizers, you’ll appreciate that this product vacuums up cleanly without leaving a perfume smell or a sticky residue. Note that eucalyptus essential oil can be toxic to pets, so be sure to use care and to vacuum up the product completely when using in a household with animals.

Best Enzymatic Carpet Cleaner: Puracy Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo

Puracy Natural Carpet & Upholstery Shampoo

Enzymatic cleaners are among the most natural and effective cleaners. That’s because they use enzymes, naturally-occurring biochemicals found in all living things, to break down stain- and odor-causing elements on contact. While most enzymatic cleaners use one or two types of enzymes, Puracy Natural Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo uses six different types while remaining 100% biodegradable. Each naturally focuses on a specific type of stain or odor caused by proteins like blood and urine, food starches, fats and oils, and all types of dirt.

This professional strength shampoo is about four times more concentrated than the average carpet shampoo, so it goes further while using fewer plastic containers. It can be used in a carpet cleaning machine or by hand without bleaching or discoloring carpets and fabrics. With no synthetic fragrance, it’s fresh citrus scent comes from pink grapefruit essential oil.

Puracy is a wonderful brand that was created by two best friends from Austin, Texas who wanted safe alternatives to household products for their newborn daughters. The products are also vegan, cruelty-free, and have never been tested on animals. Made in the United States, Puracy offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Puracy also pays it forward with each purchase by making donations to local children and families in need.

Best Steam Cleaner: McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner

McCulloch Heavy Duty Steam Cleaner

This versatile steam cleaner costs a little more but most say it’s worth it because of its versatility. It uses hot, pressurized steam to cut through a range of stains including grease and mold. The cord is over 15 feet, and 9-foot steam hose mean you’ll be able to reach the stain without having the machine underfoot. It's equipped with 18 accessories, including a squeegee, nylon and brass brushes, and microfiber pads.

It has a large capacity water tank (48 ounces) that heats up in less than eight minutes and lasts up to 45 minutes of use, so you can tackle a tough job without repeated refilling. The rolling canister design makes it easy to use anywhere in the house, chemical-free. This cleaner gets good and hot (over 200 degrees). That also means that the machine can be used improperly, causing burns, so be sure to read that instruction booklet before you begin.

Best Booster: Branch Basics Oxygen Boost

Branch Basics Oxygen Boost

Boosters are products that are meant to be used in combination with other cleaners, doing a better job than either product used alone. Although Branch Basics Oxygen Booster is meant to be used with Branch Basics Concentrate, it can be added to standard carpet shampoo to get out even the toughest stains and odors.

This booster is made from simple, plant-derived sodium percarbonate and sodium bicarbonate. That’s it! It’s fragrance-free, biodegradable, and not tested on animals. Perhaps the best part is that it’s so simple and safe that it can also be used for laundry, tile and grout and even in your bathtub.

For carpets, Branch Basics recommends you spray the spot with a carpet spray or shampoo and then sprinkle on the powdered Oxygen Booster. Then scrub with a brush or damp cloth. Let it sit for five to ten minutes, then scrub it clean and vacuum up any excess.

This booster is also an EWG Verified product, which means it has been meticulously evaluated for human and environmental safety. Both ingredients earn an “A” grade from EWG.

Final Verdict

Our Best Overall KisClean Carpet Cleaner (view at Kisclean) is a great product to keep on hand because it can be used as a spot treatment or diluted to use in most carpet cleaning machines. For tough and persistent odors, try Good Natured Saving Grace Carpet & Upholstery Deodorizer (view at Walmart) that’s effective and easy to use while leaving a fresh, natural lemon eucalyptus scent.

FAQs

Can you use vinegar to clean a carpet?

Yes, white vinegar mixed in equal parts with warm or hot water can be used to remove stains and odors from many carpet types without harming fibers or changing their color. The vinegar leaves a faint scent that dissipates when the carpet is dry.

However, using undiluted vinegar on wool, silk, or some other natural fiber carpets can damage the material so be sure to dilute it properly. As always, spot test any cleaner in an inconspicuous area first to ensure no damage will occur.

Are there any cleaners or chemicals consumers should avoid? 

“Definitely avoid ammonia or any cleaning products that use ammonia, because they might stain your carpet. Plus, the smell is very strong so it won’t be a good idea for allergic people,” advises cleaning expert Alex Varela. “Also, bleach is not a good idea either, for the exact same reasons. It might cause staining and release toxic gases, especially when mixed with other chemicals.”

Consumers should also avoid synthetic fragrances, naphthalene, and acrylic acid. Synthetic fragrances are made from toxic petroleum- and coal-based chemicals that have a number of documented negative chronic health effects. Several cleaners also use naphthalene because it is effective at dissolving dirt but is also known to cause cancer and are toxic to the aquatic organisms even after passing through standard sewage treatment. Acrylic acid is added to carpet cleaning solutions because it coats carpet fibers with a protective layer similar to plastic that prevents future stains. Both naphthalene and acrylic acid have earned an “F” from EWG.   

Are there any homemade solutions that work for cleaning carpets?

“For any homemade solutions that you try, remember to test in an inconspicuous area first,” says Valera. “I would say that baking soda is usually an effective, harmless solution. It works for most couches and carpet floors. What you want to do is sprinkle a bit over the surface, let sit overnight and vacuum the next day.”

Why Trust Treehugger?

To make this list, we carefully reviewed the ingredients in a range of carpet cleaning products, and also consulted with a cleaning expert.

Writer Lorraine Wilde has years of experience cleaning carpet and upholstery in the home and car as a mom of teen twins and a long-time pet owner. Lorraine also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science and is a firm believer that consumers can make informed choices that protect the planet.

View Article Sources
  1. "Eucalyptus." ASPCA.