Cleaning Carpets with Sal Suds

(Spot test your carpets before trying any of this. Sal Suds are gentler on color than traditional carpet detergents, but do the test just to make sure.)

With three kids and two dogs and a big backyard full of dirt, my carpets get about as dirty as they can. So as you read how I clean them, don’t scoff at the miniscule amount of Sal Suds that I use. It works. You’re welcome to try out using more. Just be sure to invite me to the bubble party you’ll be throwing in the aftermath.

Sal Suds works great on carpets. Sal Suds is called a “hard surface cleaner”, but it works in many soft surface applications, such as laundry and carpets. It has taken some trial and error, and many bubbles to figure it out. The long and short of it is, the biggest mistake you can make is to use too much Sal Suds. It takes a good bit of time to get all the extra suds out of the carpet.

Spot Cleaning with a Carpet Cleaner:
Using my spray bottle with the diluted Sal Suds, I spray the spots very sparingly with the solution. Do not try to saturate the spot with the Sal Suds spray. Just use one or two squirts over the spot. (Of course, it does depend on the size of your “spot”, but just be sparing.)

Natural carpet cleaning with Sal Suds
Then, fill the carpet cleaner only with hot water. If you have a separate cleaner tank, fill it only with hot water, too. Run the carpet cleaner over the spots until they’re gone, and run the cleaner with the dryer only over the wet areas to extract the water and the Sal Suds. Rub your fingers into the carpet to check for remaining bubbles.

Whole floor Cleaning with a Carpet Cleaner:
There are so many different types of carpet cleaners, so you’ll have to take what I say and adapt it to your particular device. I have a Bissell. It has a separate rinse water tank that holds about 2 quarts of water and cleaning solution tank that holds about 2 cups. In the solution tank, I fill it with hot water; then I add 1 DROP of Sal Suds. I want to emphasize 1 DROP of Sal Suds. One, Uno, Eins. Seriously. That’s it. I fill the rinse water tank with one (1) cup of regular white vinegar and then the rest of the way with hot water. (The vinegar is for deodorizing purposes. If you’re concerned about the color-fastness of your carpet, or rug, be sure to spot test this first. Or you can leave the vinegar out.)

On the carpet, I run the carpet cleaner over each strip twice while spraying the solution. Then I run it over 3 or 4 times to suck out the dirty stuff. When I pour out the dirty rinse water, it is horrifically, yet satisfyingly filthy. The carpet cleaner is clearly cleaning.

Rub your fingers into the carpet to make sure there are no bubbles left. If you find some, fill the carpet cleaner, and the solution tank with plain hot water and run that over your carpets.

I also need to mention that using Sal Suds in your carpet cleaner may void your warranty. Mind you, I’m not saying that using Sal Suds will break your carpet cleaner. However, it’s oftentimes a little footnote in the warranty that if you don’t buy that company’s special stuff, and keep funneling your dollars their way, they won’t honor the warranty. You’ll need to make your choice with this one. You can see that I’ve already made mine.

Spot Cleaning By Hand
Sal Suds works just as well by hand. Once again, you want to be careful not to apply too much Sal Suds to the spot. I spray the spot sparingly with my Sal Suds spray. Then, I gently rub the spot with a rag dipped in a bucket of plain hot water. Keep rinsing the rag and rubbing some more until the spots are lifted out and no Sal Suds remains.

Regardless of which of the above methods you use, it is crucial that no Sal Suds are left in the carpet.

Sal Suds – and any detergent or soap – attract dirt. That’s how they work – they hold on to it. I’ll write more details about that another time, so take my word for it now, that if you leave Sal Suds in your carpet, you will get a worse spot. If you’ve accidentally used too much, there’s nothing to do but keep rinsing.
If anyone tries this with different brands of carpet cleaners, share here how it works for others with the same model.

31 thoughts on “Cleaning Carpets with Sal Suds

  1. Thank you Lisa for all your great tips! I actually just steam cleaned my carpets this past weekend with Dr. Bronner’s Lavender. Not only did it clean like a charm, but it had my whole house smelling divine!

  2. Hi Lisa… Thanks so much for your blog. It’s been so helpful to me. Would you use tea tree castille soap on your carpets? Is there a reason you wouldn’t use it? Thanks for your feedback…


  3. @ Rebecca – The only issue with any of the castile soaps on carpet is that if your water is hard, they probably will leave a residue on the carpets. It’s not soap left – it’s salts that form with the hard water. If you don’t have hard water, or you have a water softener, or are putting distilled water in your carpet cleaner, you may not have this. You can try it and see. It’s not going to hurt your carpets, and if you get the residue, you can go back over them with Sal Suds instead. Also, you don’t want to put vinegar in the rinse water that will come directly into contact with the soapy water. (Check out my blog about those two: However, if you extract all the soapy water out of the carpet and then go over the carpet again with a vinegar solution, that would remove the residue.

    Beth – Since you’ve used the castile soap, can you share how it went?

    All the best,

  4. I am hoping to give your products a try. A friend gave me the url for your site so here I am.
    I can’t wait to try this on ‘all’ the spots on my carpets. What I would like to ask is how does this (if it does) work on ink spots on furniture? My grandson’s managed to splash black printer ink on our off white couch and I would love to find a way to get rid of it. (no I’ve not told my husband about this instead I’ve hidden the stains with throw blankets)

  5. I’m thinking that I will go get Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds (what is this? I just saw you mention this for cleaning your carpet), and vinegar. I’ll scrub the area really well and then soak it w/ vinegar and get a carpet cleaner tomorrow to finish the job.

  6. @Morgy – That definitely sounds like a mess! Different types of ink are made of very different materials. I haven’t had to clean off printer ink in particular, but the Sal Suds does work well with removing non-permanent marker, ball-point pen ink, most paint, and crayons. Definitely give it a try. If you have a carpet cleaner with a scrubbing hose attachment, that would be a good option on you sofa. If it’s on a part of the sofa that is removable, like a zippered couch cushion, take the cover off while you’re cleaning it so that you don’t accidentally saturate the interior and have difficulty drying it.

    Let the Sal Suds sit on the spot for 10 minutes or so. You might also want to try scrubbing some baking soda into the Sal Suds with a soft toothbrush. (Testing for color-fastness in an obscure spot is a good idea, though.) Good luck!

    @Best Carpet – Sal Suds is a gentle and non-toxic all purpose cleaner made by Dr. Bronner’s Soaps. You can read more about it at It’s available at many natural product stores in the house cleaning section.

    Happy Cleaning!

  7. Dear Lisa:
    As you know, i have been using Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile peppermint soap for many many years. When I get one of your gallons i cut it by 50%. I use this for showering, hair and once in a while brushing my teeth.
    Should i be cutting this by 1/3 or even 75% in order to save money? Please advise. Oh and also i use this same soap as a hand cleaner at the kitchen sink instead of the commercial hand soaps.
    ron kearn
    PS: I got Karen Logan’s book; “Clean House Clean Planet”, It’s very very informative and helpful.

  8. Would Dr. Bronner’s work on my leather couch? We have 3 small dogs and a dirty backyard. They come in and all jump onto the cream-colored leather couch. We’ve been looking for something good to clean it with.

  9. I just purchased Sal Suds for doing laundry, I do it by hand, we live 100% off grid, we live like modern day pioneers. I love using Dr Bronner’s soaps, I use the magic soap (liquid) in various scents on my skin and did use it on my laundry until I learned about Sal Suds.

    My question for you is this, is Sal Suds safe to pour on plants, I’m not talking about full strength, but diluted in lots of water, as in after the laundry is done and I have a bucket (or sink) full of Sal Suds, water and dirt, can I safely pour this on my food garden?

    I used to use Shaklee products, and their liquid soaps (Basic H mostly) were not only safe to pour on plants when diluted with water, it was actually good for the plants, you could clean your floor then pour the leftover soapy water on your houseplants or other plants. I hope the Sal Suds are also safe. I generally pour the used laundry water down the drain, it goes into a pit in the front yard to be dispersed into the ground. If it turns out that Sal Suds are safe for plants, I’d rather use that soapy water on my plants.

    Oh and for Morgy, you can use isopropyl alcohol to remove the ink, I would say to test it first to make sure it will not make things worse, but if you already have printer ink on your couch, I can’t imagine how it could be worse LOL. If you can remove the cover, or have access to the back side of the place that is stained, all the better, get a bottle of alcohol and a roll of paper towels and a bunch of cotton balls, you’ll need to put lots of paper towels on the backside of the fabric (if you can get to it), you can use cotton balls soaked in alcohol and blot the spot until the cotton ball is dirty, repeat with clean cotton balls soaked in alcohol, replace the paper towels as they get dirty, keep doing this until the cotton balls and paper towels no longer show any ink or until the ink is gone. Try your best not to allow the stain to get any larger, work slow and carefully.


  10. Thank you very much. I’ll give it a try, when I get the product, and post back how it went.

  11. Thank you for this informative blog, I am a huge fan of Dr Bronner’s and I want to share his products with all my friends and family. Your blog really inspired me to clean up stains that have been lingering on my carpet for quite some time.. lol I just recently posted about Dr Bronner’s because most of my family doesn’t even know about these products and I feel that a blog is a great way to get the products out there. I linked Dr. Bronner’s website so they can browse his whole line of amazing products. Thanks again for sharing, check out on my blog on healthy living and natural beauty. Have an amazing day!
    Lite N Love

    Click here for more information on natural alternatives to health and beauty

  12. @ Ronald – Your dilution all depends then on how much you use of the solution you’ve made. Perhaps you could do some trials and see what is the most diluted you can get and still get soapy suds. It might vary for the different uses. I’m glad you are enjoying Karen Logan’s book. It held my hand while I made the transition to the green world.

    @ Deb – The soap might strip the protective layers on your couch. Try this solution – 2/3 c. olive oil, 1/3 c. white vinegar, 1/2 tsp. lemon oil. The vinegar can clean it, the olive oil can nourish it. Please spot test it to make sure you don’t see any problems. Let me know how it goes!

    @ Wretha – Wow! It sounds you’re the one who should be writing the blog. The Sal Suds wash water is safe to pour on your plants. As you’d probably gather, though, and for others who read this, if you’ve used the Sal Suds to wash something really nasty (like something covered in motor oil, for instance), I don’t recommend pouring that water on plants. Thank you for your ink removal tip. I’ll store that one away!

    Thanks for reading, everyone! Glad it’s helping.


  13. Great tip about sal suds and carpet. We washed our carpets with ONE DROP as you said, and was amazed by how well that one drop worked. We also had our spray bottle of sal suds handy for some of the more stubborn areas. The carpets felt softer on our bare feet after the carpets dried, much softer than with a commercial carpet cleaner. We also use sal suds to wash dishes and clean sufaces. AWESOME. Hey – we just told a friend about the Dr. Bronner’s movie! It was great.

  14. hi,

    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind sharing what type of Bissell cleaner you have? I am in the market for a good carpet cleaner, and am looking for feedback/recommendations based on what people have used–specifically people that only use non toxic cleaning products. And b/c of my health issues, I don’t use any chemical based products, (I make my own all natural disinfectant w/ Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap), so I need to make sure the carpet cleaner I get will work w/ products like Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds–which is one reason your post here caught my eye. As this is EXACTLY the way I would want to use a carpet cleaner. You seem to be rather pleased w/ the results of your cleaner, and I see by other posts, that you too have pets (I have 5 precious little therapy pups)so you have first hand experience the messes they can create 0_0 and what is involved in keeping carpets clean.
    Thank you for your time and feedback

    • @Trudy – Mine is a Bissell Pro-heat Turbo. It is easy to use and very effective. I got this one at Costco a couple of years ago. I don’t know what they’re selling now. I do have two dogs as well as the three kids, so my carpets see a good bit of action. I can bring out the carpet cleaner easily for spots or whole floor cleaning. Good luck!


    • I have a Hoover carpet cleaner, $150-ish, WalMart. easier than vacuuming! All the labor is in the filling and dumping of the water. I’ve always done a rinse with vinegar (1/2 cup) to cut the soap residue and the rinse water is always dirtier than the wash used water! With Bronner Soap, I just use hot water to rinse unless there is a smell present (like fire place smoke) and then I rinse with vinegar water, but not needed to remove residue with the Dr Bonner Soap that I actually buy at Walgreens on line! Residue is the enemy! lol

  15. Lisa, I love all of the Dr. Bronner products but I wanted to thank you for recommending Sal Suds it has changed the way I clean my whole house! I love it and I’ve stopped getting headaches since I’ve tossed all of my chemical cleaners, it’s amazing! I just tried the Sal Suds vinegar solution in my Bissell Pro-Heat Pet carpet cleaner it worked wonderfully. The solution removed the dog stains and my carpet looks good as new. I love that the carpet is so clean without the heavy gagging chemical perfumey smell that the Bissell solution leaves. Many thanks for running this wonderful blog!

    • Hi Ali – You are very welcome! Thank you for the encouragement.


  16. Thank you so much for the suggestions using sal suds for carpet cleaning. I used one drop, no vinegar, just hot water in my Bissel Proheat 2x healthy Home. Mind you, we just had our carpets cleaned professionally a month ago, but with 3 kids and 3 dogs, they were already looking disgusting again. I can’t tell you how many tanks full of brown, yucky water I poured down the drain (based on some blog comments, I will now use the water on my plants). I was absolutely amazed!! The carpets are soft and clean without any weird chemical residue or strong smell. I use sal suds throughout my house to clean everything. My favorite is to use directly on clothing stains before they go into the wash – it will get out stains far better than your standard pretreater. Love this product!

  17. Hey Lisa, thanks for sharing all of these fantastic tips. Question though, I’ve heard of people having mixed results with using vinegar both in terms of whether or not the stain can be removed and what it does to the carpet. What impacts whether or not the the vinegar can negatively affect the carpet?

  18. We have had one very sick dog the last few weeks, she always has flare ups of her gastro issues, so that means lots of vomiting and sadly she doesn’t always make it to the tile floor so i’m always cleaning the carpet. I have purchased every carpet cleaner available and none of them get the carpet totally clean, there is always that residue left that stains the carpet. This morning I decided to try Sal Suds, absolutely brilliant, you cannot even see where the poor pooch vomited. I didn’t even need to use hardly any to get the carpet clean which makes better use of my money and keeps the chemicals out of the house. Looks like I will be using Sal Suds from now on.

  19. The vinegar sounds like a great idea, have you had any problems using the vinegar with cats in the house?
    I thought I had heard that the smell might provoke cats to urinate(similar to the ammonia smell)?
    Any thoughts?

  20. Is the Sal Suds 100% natural like the castile soap is? If I use it to clean my whole carpet, does it need to be rinsed or extracted? The machine I use sprays the solution on the carpet, and scrubs it. But it does not rinse or extract the solution. The cleaner you are suppose to use with the machine locks onto the dirt and then you vacuum away when dry. But I would like an all natural cleaner, so I am lookkng for ideas to make myself.

  21. Hi, Im new to Dr. Bronners and just bought the hemp and rose soap. I have been using melaleuca (tea tree) oil by doterra for hormonal acne that I’ve suddenly been bombarded with when I turned 30!!! Boo! Anyhow, would the hemp and rose help with my bad red spots and pimples just as well as the tea tree soap? I’m worried that doubling up on the tea tree wash and essential oil may dry me out. What do you suggest?? Thanks

  22. Product just seems perfect to clean the carpet but please tell me if it really work because I’ve very costly carpet which was made a piece of dirt after party was held in my house. I can’t see my costly carpet stored in room Instead I want o use it in my hall where my guest sits and praise my clean home and glittering households. Anyone? I think I need someone professional who can save me from disgrace and awkwardness that you feel if your home look dirty just only due to the stained carpet.

    • I highly recommend you spot test any product on an inconspicuous part of your carpet before trying it on the whole thing. I use Sal Suds often on mine, but please do test it first.

  23. I’ve used Sal Suds when I started working as a professional cleaner and it’s quite efficient indeed. Your recipes are a bit different and seem to work a good job too. I have few cleaning solution recipes left from my grandmother and I’m using them when I clean my home. I give them to my regular clients if they need, between the regular seasonal cleaning made by our company. Thanks for sharing your recipes, I should try them. Greets, Wendy from !

  24. Thank you for just being you!

    My question is high-traffic area with carpet, definite improvement but should I be on my hands and knees with a brush? How do I go about expediting areas that are high traffic? Pre-spray?

    I think unit Vance for your time and look forward to your reply

    • Hi Sonia – Pre-spray high traffic areas will help immensely. Take the All Purpose Sal Suds spray (1 Tbsp. Sal Suds in a quart of water) and spray the area. You may want to take a cloth and scrub it into the carpet. Let it sit 10 minutes or so (not til it dries, though) and then run your carpet cleaner over it. Be sure it is fully rinsed afterwards. Run just water over it if it needs more rinsing. Otherwise, the leftover Sal Suds in the carpet will attract and hold on to dirt, getting it dirty again fast.

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