How to Restore Old Carpet

Melynda Sorrels

Old, worn carpet can give a room a generally unclean feeling. Over time, carpet is subjected to dirty shoes, spills and various other accidents caused by kids and pets and may begin to show its age before you’re ready to replace it.

Sometimes a thorough cleaning is a much more practical alternative to purchasing new carpet.

Restoring old carpet can bring new life to your floors if you’re willing to invest the time and effort. Establishing how old, badly worn and stained the carpet is will determine in the end if the old carpet is salvageable.

  1. Remove all furniture from the room to have full access to the carpet without things getting in the way.

  2. Vacuum the carpet thoroughly to remove any loose dirt, dust, and debris.

  3. Pretreat most food and pet stains, using a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water and a clean cloth or sponge.

  4. Remove grease and oil stains by scraping away hardened grease with a dull plastic utensil or blotting up fresh grease with paper towels. Cover the stain with baby powder or cornstarch, and leave it to set for three to four hours before vacuuming it up. Treat the residual stain with equal parts vinegar and hot water.

  5. Hide small burns in the carpet by cutting away small pieces from unnoticeable areas of the carpet in different areas. Dab a small amount of glue into the hole, and fill it with the freshly cut carpet fibers. Give it time to dry undisturbed for a couple of hours before you trim away any pieces that stick up too high.

  6. Deep-clean the carpet with a steam cleaner. If you don’t own one, you can rent a steam cleaner at your local home improvement or grocery store. The hot water extraction method, also known as steam cleaning, is one of the most effective and eco-friendly ways to clean dirty carpet. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully for proper use.

  7. Eliminate lingering odors by sprinkling baking soda over dry carpet and leaving it to sit overnight. Vacuum it all up in the morning after giving the baking soda adequate time to draw odors out of the carpet and absorb them.

  8. Tip

    For badly stained carpet that steam cleaning and spot treating won’t fix and carpet damaged by fire or floods, contact a professional carpet cleaner, or look in your phone book under "flood or fire damage." If you opt to use a commercial stain remover, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.


    Make sure the carpet is thoroughly dry by using fans to circulate air through the room and by opening doors and windows before placing furniture back on it. Damp carpet can lead to mold and mildew growth, which is a health hazard.