How to Get Laundry Detergent Out of Your Carpet

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated July 14, 2021
Toddler playing with train on carpet
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You can remove stubborn laundry detergent stains from carpet with just a couple hours and a few household items

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Just when you finally decide to tackle that growing pile of laundry, you watch in horror as your container of laundry detergent topples onto your fresh, beige carpet. Luckily, with a little elbow grease, a few household items, and just a few hours of your time, you can get those laundry detergent stains out of the carpet.

There are actually a few different methods to help you remove liquid laundry detergent stains from your carpet. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, carpet cleaner, or steamer, you’ll have the quickest results, but there are other methods available to you, too, if you don’t have those tools on hand.

Wet/Dry Vacuum

Spraying stain on carpet
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1. Fill a spray bottle with very hot water.

2. Spray the detergent stain until the carpet is thoroughly damp.

3. Run the wet/dry vacuum over the damp carpet to clean up the water.

4. After running the wet-dry vacuum, the spot will still be damp. Let it sit for a few minutes to give the hot water time to lift the detergent, then repeat steps one through three until the detergent is entirely or mostly removed.

5. If some detergent remains after running a wet/dry vacuum a few times, blot the area with a dry towel to remove the most stubborn detergent remnants.

Blotting and Sponging

1. Fill a large container with a mixture of vinegar and hot water, with 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of white vinegar.

2. Soak a cleaning towel or sponge in the mixture, then squeeze the water and vinegar out of the cleaning towel or sponge onto the stain. Let the mixture soak into the carpet.

3. Place an old towel over the stain and press firmly into it to blot the detergent spot.

4. Repeat steps one through three until the stain has lifted fully. Be sure to use a fresh, dry towel each time you repeat step three.

Kitty Litter

1. The kitty litter method takes the longest, but if you don’t have the tools needed to vacuum or blot out the stain, this will help, too. Start by pouring a generous amount of kitty litter to cover the detergent stain entirely. Make sure to do this as soon as the spill happens to absorb the wet detergent before it dries.

2. After the litter absorbs the detergent, scoop it up, and toss it.

3. Press the carpet with old towels or paper towels to absorb any remaining detergent.

4. If you do have a shop vacuum or carpet cleaner available, you can go over the spot to ensure it is fully clean. Spray the carpet with water until it is thoroughly damp, then go over the spot with the shop vacuum or carpet cleaner to help lift any detergent remains.

Steamer or Carpet Cleaner

Steam cleaning carpet
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1. Start with one of the three methods above to extract as much of the detergent as possible. Liquid detergent can absorb deep into your carpet, so combining methods can help completely lift the stain and return the color and texture of your carpet to normal.

2. Fill the steam cleaner with its accompanying cleaning solution.

3. Fill the water compartment to the fill line. Do not exceed the fill line, or you could damage the machine.

4. Run the carpet cleaner or steamer over the detergent spot as often as needed until you can feel that the texture is normal.

Cost of DIY Carpet Cleaning

For small stains or spots of lightly colored detergent, you can easily DIY this task. For peskier stains, particularly if you are dealing with blue detergent, the highest cost will be to purchase or rent a carpet cleaner.

A spray bottle can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $12, while hot water can come straight from the tap. White vinegar is $1 to $3. Kitty litter can range from $7 to $20. You might have most, if not all, of these items at home already, so you can save some money.

For the deepest clean, you’ll need a steamer or carpet cleaner, which could cost you $100 to $300 to purchase. You could also choose to spend $20 to $40 to rent a carpet steam cleaner for 4 to 24 hours from a local cleaning company or home improvement store.

Cost to Hire a Professional Carpet Cleaner

What if you just don’t have the time or patience to deal with the detergent stain? Or maybe you scrubbed and steamed and scrubbed again, only for a dark stain with a wiry, crusty texture from the dried detergent to remain on the carpet. Gross. You can call a professional carpet cleaner to help remove the detergent, even if you already tried to DIY.

Professionals typically charge by the room. If you find a professional who charges by square foot, you could spend less than average, since the detergent is just one spot. You can expect to pay $25 to $75 for one room. If you’re hiring a pro, consider checking out local carpet shampoo services for your entire home to keep your carpets fresh.


Does laundry detergent stain carpet?

Yes. Even though laundry detergent gets stains out of your clothing, if it spills on your carpet, detergent leave a stain.

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