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Should You Use Laundry Detergent In A Carpet Cleaner?

Should You Use Laundry Detergent In A Carpet Cleaner?

If you’ve run out of carpet cleaning solutions and still need to get the job done, you may have wondered if you can use laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner instead; but is this a sensible thing to do?

In most cases, you can use laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner, but you need to check the type of detergent beforehand to make sure it won’t damage the type of carpet you have.

Keep reading to see our top tips for using laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner to ensure you don’t run into any problems further down the line.

Potential Problems With Laundry Detergent In Carpet Cleaners

The most important things to know when it comes to using laundry detergent instead of carpet cleaning solution are the problems that you may encounter if you don’t take the necessary precautions.

Let’s take a look at the most common problems, and then we can head into the tips for actually using laundry detergent properly in a carpet cleaner.

Excess Foam

If you use too much detergent, you may find that it will foam up excessively. Some brands are worse than others, but it will happen no matter the brand due to the way carpet cleaners work.

Foam can be an issue, especially when in large amounts, as it can prevent your carpet cleaner from working properly and – in some cases – cause damage. The key here is to use a small amount of detergent at first to see how it reacts, and then go from there, but we will cover this in more depth later in the article.

Carpet Damage

Another problem you may encounter is damaging the carpet itself.

This can be a result of excess foam that may be difficult to fully remove from the carpet fibres, or due to an interaction between the detergent and the carpet. Choosing the right type of detergent and being aware of ingredients like bleach is crucial to keeping your carpet safe.

Carpet Cleaner Warranty

If your carpet cleaner is still under warranty then using anything other than carpet cleaner – usually the same brand as the machine itself – will break the warranty.

This is something you need to be aware of because if you break your machine by using laundry detergent you will not be able to get it fixed or replaced under warranty as they will be able to identify what you have done.

Tips For Using Laundry Detergent In A Carpet Cleaner

Now you’re aware of the risks, let’s see what tips and tricks you can use to make sure you don’t run into any problems.

Check The Ingredients

You want to check the ingredients to see if there are any chemicals that may cause damage to your carpet. A great example of this would be bleach, but you can read more in-depth about the composition of laundry detergent here.

Cross-reference any ingredients with the label on your carpet which should contain important information about what to use to clean it. After you have checked this you should be safe to use the detergent.

Spot Test

Checking the ingredients is one thing but to be extra cautious we recommend conducting a spot test as well.

To do this, simply make up a small amount of detergent solution with water and rub it into a small area of your carpet with a damp cloth. Let the mixture sit on the carpet for 5 to 10 minutes and wash it away using a fresh and damp cloth, followed by drying with a dry towel.

Check for any discoloration or fibre degradation, there should be none if you have checked the ingredients but it’s important to confirm this with a spot test.

Start With A Small Amount Of Detergent

Once you’re ready to get started add half a teaspoon of detergent to the carpet cleaner and get started. Check for the consistency of the foam, if there is an excess of foam then start again with a smaller amount of detergent.

Likewise, increase the amount if the solution is not foaming as it should.

A good indication that the detergent will work well in a carpet cleaner is those that are labelled ‘HE’. This mark means High Efficiency and refers to detergents that won’t create a large amount of foam and are usually great for use in carpet cleaners.

Powder vs Liquid

Once dissolved there is practically no difference between using a power or liquid detergent, but it is the dissolving process that can cause issues.

If you don’t properly dissolve the powder then small lumps can form which can lead to issues with the function of the carpet cleaner. If you decide to use powder, keep this in mind and make sure it all dissolves before you throw it into the cleaner.

Benefits Of Laundry Detergent In Carpet Cleaner

Why would anyone want to use laundry detergent instead of carpet cleaner in the first place?

This is an interesting question that is best explained by taking a look at the associated benefits that come from using detergent.


In general, laundry detergent can be much, much cheaper than carpet cleaner.

This is mainly due to how many brands of detergent there are versus carpet cleaning solution brands. Also, a lot of carpet cleaners are sold with an accompanying solution, which also artificially raises the price as you are effectively tied into using one brand.


Let’s face it, you’re much more likely to have laundry detergent somewhere in the house simply due to how often it is used compared to carpet cleaning solutions.

This makes detergent a much more convenient option, who can be bothered to go out to the shop when you can just get started with the job straight away?

Clean and Fresh

Carpet cleaning solution will leave your carpet looking and smelling amazing, but detergent can also achieve similar results. At the end of the day, both solutions are created to break down stains and marks and leave a material smelling like new, so you will hardly notice a difference between the two.

As carpet cleaners use steam, you will also get additional benefits like flea removal as well.

Final Thoughts

If you take the right precautions, you should have absolutely no problems with using laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner.

Let us know if you have any other tips or tricks with carpet cleaning by getting in touch here.