See how to make an easy DIY carpet powder in less than 5 minutes! This homemade carpet deodorizer absorbs odors from carpets and leaves a fresh, clean scent. The carpet freshener recipe is made with essential oils and natural materials safe for your family and pets.
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Why make homemade carpet powder?
With two adorable cats, I’m always looking for ways to freshen up my home. My cats’ favorite hangout spot is a plushy rug behind our sofa, and after a while, it gets a bit smelly. I’m sure you can relate if you’re a pet parent too.
Carpet powder is one of those household essentials I can’t seem to live without and like to use frequently. It’s such an easy and convenient way to get rid of those not-so-nice smells and odors.
But when I investigated the ingredients in commercial carpet deodorizer powder, I found that they are loaded with synthetic fragrances and quats (quaternary ammonium compounds). These chemicals are potentially toxic and can cause allergies and asthma.
I simply don’t feel comfortable letting my pets or kids play on a carpet laced with these substances.
Luckily, DIY carpet deodorizer is a cleaning product that you can whip up yourself, and it takes just minutes to do so. My homemade carpet freshener is made with simple, natural ingredients and helps to refresh smelly carpets.
What is carpet powder?
Carpet powder is a type of dry carpet deodorizer that can help to reduce the odors trapped in carpet fibers. It’s sprinkled on carpets and rugs and then vacuumed up afterward.
Powdered carpet deodorizer is more a carpet refresher than a carpet cleaner. Think of it like carpet dry shampoo: Dry shampoo gives hair a quick refresh between washes, but it doesn’t actually clean your locks. Only liquid shampoo does that.
Likewise, carpet powder lifts foul odors but removes dirt and grime only to some extent. I find that it’s great to tackle grease spots, but it can’t pull out tough stains. Only carpet shampoo can do that.
Benefits of natural carpet powder
- Great carpet refresher: You will be surprised how well this DIY carpet freshener works. It travels deep into the fibers, captures unpleasant odors, and helps to maintain a fresh smelling carpet.
- Non-toxic ingredients: My powder carpet cleaner is made with gentle, natural ingredients that biodegrade and are safe for your family and the environment.
- Natural scent: Essential oils provide a natural scent, free of unpronounceable chemicals.
- Cost-effective: Making your own carpet deodorizer powder is cheaper than spending $5 on the premade stuff, especially when you need it frequently or have a large area to cover.
- Easy + customizable: This rug freshener is super quick and simple to make, and you can adjust the formula to your individual needs and preferences.
Materials for DIY carpet powder
I’m a strong believer that the products we use to clean our home should be made with non-toxic ingredients. For this DIY dry carpet cleaner, you’ll need only 4 all-natural materials:
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an effective deodorizer and does a great job neutralizing malodorous smells.
- Corn starch (corn flour, optional) is an excellent absorbent. It attracts and traps unwanted odors.
- Zinc oxide (optional) removes odor-causing bacteria that originate from pet stains and food spills.
- Essential oils provide a natural fragrance and help to sanitize carpets, thanks to their antibacterial activity.
The exact amounts are listed in the DIY box below. I also explain the purpose of each ingredient in more detail further down.
How to make carpet powder
To make this natural carpet cleaner as accessible as possible, I’ve created 2 ways to make this dry powder carpet cleaner. Version 1 is a simple DIY rug cleaner with just 2 ingredients (baking soda + essential oils). The second version also includes cornstarch and zinc oxide.
The ingredients are fine, airborne powders. Inhaling them isn’t harmful but unpleasant. I recommend covering your mouth and nose with a face mask while you mix your carpet cleaning powder.
Simple DIY carpet cleaning powder
- Mix. Add the baking soda and essential oils into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Wisk together until the materials are thoroughly combined.
- Store. Place your homemade carpet cleaner into a glass jar or airtight storage container. Store in a dry and cool location.
Homemade carpet deodorizer with zinc oxide
- Combine dry ingredients. Put the baking soda, corn starch (corn flour), zinc oxide into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Scent. Add the essential oils.
- Mix. Whisk everything until the oils are well distributed throughout, and you no longer see droplets of liquid.
- Store. Transfer the deodorizing carpet powder into an airtight storage container and keep it in a dry, cool place.
How to use carpet powder
Waterless carpet cleaning is an effortless way to freshen up your carpets. Here are the simple steps for how to dry clean carpets at home. I use this method for cleaning large area rugs and installed carpets.
- Sprinkle. Sprinkle the dry rug shampoo generously over a dry carpet or rug. I like to use a cheese shaker for this task. An empty parmesan dispenser will also work. You can optionally use your hands to distribute the powder deeper into the carpet fibers. Please do not use it on a wet carpet, or the baking soda will clump into a paste that you can’t vacuum.
- Let sit. Allow the carpet odor eliminator to sit on the carpet for at least 30 minutes or overnight for a stronger effect. The product needs time to absorb the unwanted odors.
- Vacuum up. Vacuum the powder thoroughly.
- When I treat smaller, movable area rugs or bathmats, I follow steps 1 and 2. But instead of vacuuming, I simply beat the powder out by hanging the item on a clothesline and hitting it with a rug beater.
- Make sure pets aren’t present in the area/room when you deodorize a carpet.
- New high-performance vacuums don’t respond well to powder mixes because the filters can clog. If you have a newer vacuum, be sure to clean the filters before and afterward.
How much carpet freshener powder do I need?
How much DIY carpet odor eliminator you need depends on the size of the carpet and how much traffic the area receives. Use a little more in high-traffic areas like the living room and less in bedrooms or the study.
The recipe yields enough for approximately 130 sq ft / 10 m², which is the size of an average bedroom.
How long do I leave carpet powder on?
I recommend leaving the carpet powder on for at least 30 minutes. For a stronger effect, let the carpet powder sit overnight (do this only in rooms where no one sleeps.)
What carpets is this homemade carpet powder for?
Carpets come in many varieties and sizes. To avoid ruining your carpet, I recommend you research the materials and refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to see the best cleaning method for your carpet.
I find the powder works best on cut-pile carpets (think fluffy textured and frieze carpets) and mostly use the powder to clean plushy area rugs, bathroom mats, pet beds, and car mats.
Avoid carpet powder for loop pile carpets because the fibers are too tightly woven for the powder to enter the fabric. The DIY carpet cleaner powder will either accumulate on the surface or skink below the carpet.
Can I use it as upholstery powder?
Yes, you can use this DIY carpet deodorizer powder on upholstered chairs, couches, bathmats, pet beds, fabric seats, and car mats.
How to store DIY carpet deodorizer
Baking soda is prone to absorbing moisture from the air. To maintain the integrity of the product, store your carpet cleaning powder in a sealed, airtight glass jar or glass food container. Keep the storage container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
How long does baking soda carpet freshener last?
If stored correctly, the homemade carpet deodorizer will last for 1 year.
Does homemade carpet powder really work?
When researching for this DIY, I found some sources stating that carpet deodorizers are ineffective because they only temporarily mask bad smells without removing the source of the odor.
One article even called them harmful, claiming that carpet powders can lead to bacterial growth. These articles were published by professional carpet cleaning companies advertising their services, so take that as you will.
Fact is: my natural carpet deodorizer recipe does more than just masking unpleasant smells. It actually removes them. To better understand how and why this homemade carpet fresh works, let’s have another look at the ingredients. Just don’t expect it to magically make an old, stinky carpet brand new again.
You probably heard before that baking soda neutralizes bad smells. But how does it do that? You see, stink is often caused by bacteria. Bacteria feed on dirt, stains + pet urine and release foul-scented fatty acids, like butyric acid.
Baking soda reacts with these fatty acids and lifts, or at least reduces, their stench. Most importantly, baking soda doesn’t just mask bad odors. It breaks down those fatty acids and actually neutralizes them. The ingredient works best on mild to moderate odors.
Next on our list is cornstarch. The fine powder is super absorbent and helps with odor control by trapping the fatty acids responsible for reek.
Another reason I like to put cornstarch in my homemade carpet deodorizer is that you get a little cleaning action as well. Cornstarch draws out grease stains and oily spots.
Both baking soda and cornstarch will also absorb any moisture lingering in your carpet. Moisture can lead to mold and mildew, which have an unpleasant bouquet of their own.
Here’s another odor-fighting ingredient for you: zinc oxide. I’ve never seen another carpet deodorizer recipe suggest zinc oxide, but with 2 pets, I like to supercharge my DIY carpet powder for the best results.
Zinc oxide is a natural mineral and acts as a safe and effective deodorizer, often found in aluminum-free deodorants.
The material is microbial and works against odor-causing bacteria. It’s more capable than baking soda, and I find it particularly useful to deal with pet urine on carpets.
Essential oils eliminate the stale, musty stench and give carpets a fresh, clean scent. Many oils also have antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties. Thanks to these properties, essential oils help to reduce bacteria and fungi hiding in your carpet.
My favorite oils for an essential oil carpet deodorizer are:
- Lemon and other citrus oils
- Tea tree
- Cinnamon and other spice oils
I like a mix of 60 drops lemon + 35 drops lemongrass + 20 drops cedarwood. Of course, you can also create your own blend using your favorite oils.
Pet-safe carpet powder
I love my cats to bits, and I only want to use a carpet freshener safe for pets. To ensure that the DIY carpet refresher is okay to use around our furry friends, choose essential oils appropriate for animals. Here’s what you need to know:
Dog-safe carpet powder
First off, my rug deodorizer is safe for doggos. But because certain essential oils are harmful to dogs, we need to prepare the carpet powder cleaner with this dog-safe EO blend:
Cat-safe carpet powder
The dry clean carpet powder is safe for cats, too. As with dogs, some essential oils are toxic for felines, and you are limited with your choice of oils. To make the cleaner cate-safe, use the following blend:
- 50 drops lemongrass + 25 drops rosemary + 10 drops Texas cedarwood
And as mentioned before, keep animals away from the area you’re deodorizing. Even with a pet-safe carpet deodorizer, you want to keep exposure to the product at a minimum.
DIY carpet powder FAQ
Is homemade dry carpet cleaner safe for children?
Yes, the dry rug shampoo recipe is safe for children as it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. If you have babies or small children who play on the floor a lot, cut the amount of essential oil in half, so they aren’t overexposed.
Can I use borax in carpet cleaning powder?
Some recipes suggest using borax in carpet deodorizer. Apparently, borax helps to eliminate pests like fleas and bed bugs.
Borax is banned in Europe (where I live). But if the material is available to you and you are comfortable using it, feel free to replace the zinc oxide with the same amount of borax (1/4 cup).
Can I use ground spices instead of essential oils?
Yes, you can use ground spices in place of essential oils to prepare this DIY carpet odor eliminator. Some spices and herbs like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, thyme, and oregano possess antibacterial and antifungal activities against certain bacteria and fungi.
Add 1 tsp of finely ground spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger) to the baking soda carpet freshener.
If you have light carpets, stick to essential oils because cinnamon and cloves can discolor light fabrics.
I want to make the simple carpet cleaning powder but I don’t have the lemon essential oil. What other oil can I use in place of the lemon? Thanx for your help
Hi Ginny! You could use another citrus oil such as lime, grapefruit, orange etc., try lemongrass, or swap in lavender if you enjoy that smell. Happy making!
This sounds wonderful. Like you, I have dogs, and without a doubt I’ve become “nose blind” to their dogginess, so I was thinking of giving it a try. However, in adding up all the ingredients (for the more complex of the two recipes, and excluding the scents and a container) I’m coming up with a cost that’s about triple what I’d pay for a premixed powder such as the “Good Natured” product I’m also considering (and, obviously, the latter would also be a lot less work). I’m wondering what you feel the advantage of the DIY version is. Is it more natural? Less toxic/safer? More effective? Less residual? Better for the carpet or vacuum? Does it have greater antibacterial properties? Nicer scent options? Just curious why you’d recommend this versus commercial versions. Thanks!
Hi Tracey! Great questions! It all comes down to personal preferences in my opinion. I prefer to create my own cleaning supplies because I have peace of mind knowing exactly what is and isn’t in them. If that means paying occasionally more, I am happy to do so.
Material costs also depend on buying something in bulk and where you buy it from. For instance, you can find good-quality, non-GMO cornstarch at the supermarket for a more affordable price than list in the post.
Since you mentioned the carpet powder from Good Natured, which is a great product, let’s do a little math. It contains only baking powder, lemon EO plus eucalyptus EO, so we need to compare it to my simple carpet powder recipe, not the advanced formula. 31-oz (their smallest offering) cost $19.99.
By contrast, 31-oz of the DIY version cost only $9.28: $7.74 baking soda + $1.00 lemon EO (75 drops) + $0.54 eucalyptus EO (45 drops). That’s less than half the price! I always have baking soda and the two essential oils on hand, so it’s actually a lot cheaper to make this product myself. Plus, there is no plastic packaging.
Even the advanced version costs less. 31-oz add up to $13.76: 5.29 baking soda + $2.48 cornstarch + $5.99 zinc oxide.
I admit that the initial costs of purchasing supplies (especially essential oils) is often higher, but keep in mind that you don’t need a whole bottle of lemon essential oil, just a few drops.
Hopefully, this helps to shed some light on why I shared these recipes.
Please let me know anytime in case you have more questions!
Thanks for your wonderful, thorough response. And you’re so right about the packaging. Thanks so much!
You are most welcome, Tracey!
I just spoke to my vet and she said no essential oils are good for cats especially. Can you let us know where you got the information on the cat safe and dog safe oils? Ps I love the carpet powder recipes I’m just a little nervous about my fur babies.
Hi Anna! As a cat mom myself, I fully understand and appreciate your concerns. I am a certified aromatherapist and the oils I mentioned in the post were recommend during my training. Still, you and your vet know your cats best. If she doesn’t recommend using essential oils around them and you feel hesitant, absolutely trust your own judgement.
You can use the carpet without essential oils, too. The oils provide scent and some cleaning properties, but the bulk of the cleansing action comes from the baking soda and zinc oxide. I hope this helps and happy making!
Tea tree oil is toxic for (at least) dogs, so I’ve read (they say everything in Australia is trying to kill you, ha). I didn’t see any others that I recognized as potentially unsafe but I haven’t paid as much attn to what’s bad for (only) cats.
Thank you for you input, Alex! Tea tree essential oil is indeed toxic for dogs and cats when its ingested or absorbed through the skin, even in a diluted form.
Hello. Is there a blend that you know of that is safe for both cats and dogs? I have one of each in my home. Thanks so much!
Hi Victoria! The cat blend is also safe for dogs. You can also try the following blend with sweet marjoram: 40 drops sweet marjoram + 20 drops rosemary + 10 drops rosemary. Sweet marjoram has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which make it a great addition to carpet powder. As I’ve mentioned in the post, keep your pets away from the area you’re deodorizing. I hope this helps you out and happy making!