Why Is Soap Bad For Carpets?

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You may have noticed a lot of articles on carpet cleaning that mention water and dish soap as a quick and easy cleaning DIY solution for tough stains or even general carpet cleaning.  While this can be effective method of cleaning, there is a downside that is less often discussed. In this article we will determine whether not carpet cleaning solutions and detergents are a risk worth taking.

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Soap and Carpets

Soap, in any form, is designed to attract dirt and grease and then break it down so that they can be washed away with water. This works quite well on dishes and clothing, but when it comes to carpets, we find ourselves in murky territory.  Carpets are not easy to clean, we cannot just throw them in a wash dry spin cycle and call it a day. Removing dirt and debris from a carpet is a  challenge. Completely removing soap, detergent or cleaning solution is a separate challenge in and of itself. 

Soapy Residue

The residue left behind by your soap detergent or cleaning solution acts like a magnet for dirt, grease debris and other unwelcome guests in your carpet. Each time that you wash your carpet with these cleaning solutions, another layer of residue is applied to your carpet, increasing the magnetic effect and speeding up the rate of which your carpet becomes dirty.

Soap and cleaning solutions are difficult to remove completely from a carpet using standard DIY-class cleaning equipment. Unlike your favorite t-shirt, we can’t thoroughly rinse out every last bit of soap by throwing it in the washing machine. Even the most powerful vacuum cleaners cannot remove all of the moisture and soap which leads to the long-term issues mentioned prior.

Damage To Carpet Fibers

Many soaps and detergents contain chemicals that react harshly with carpet fibers. Natural fiber materials like wool, silk and jute are especially affected by the harsh chemicals that can be found in some cleaners. Over time, the chemical agents in these cleaners will weaken the structural integrity of your carpet fibers and lead to wearing and fraying. This type of physical damage not only leaves your carpets looking worn out, it shortens their lifespan by physically wearing them out. 

As with all cleaning solutions, there is a very real risk of color bleeding and bleaching. If you’re going to use a cleaning solution, you should first test it on a very small spot or inconspicuous patch to confirm or deny it’s a fact on the dies in your carpet. 

Air Quality Concerns

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

For the more sensitive individuals out there, cleaning solutions can have a pretty nasty effect on those  with sensitive allergies. The volatile organic compounds and other chemicals left behind easily become airborne and can wreak havoc on one’s respiratory system. Symptoms ranging from headaches, migraines, congestion, difficulty breathing, insomnia, and nausea can result from allergic reactions to the residue of certain cleaning solutions. 


Not only does soap and detergent trap dirt and a variety of particles, it also traps moisture which can boost the overall humidity level in your carpet beyond the 40-50% safe zone.  Depending on the type of mold, Individuals can have mild to severe toxic reactions that may require hospitalization. 

No Soap Alternatives

If at this point you are sold on not using soap, don’t worry, there are a number of highly effective alternatives, to include: 

  • Water and white vinegar: Vinegar works in a similar way to break down grease dirt and other unwelcome particles, and is a natural deodorizer. 
  • Steam cleaning: Steam cleaning is the gold standard of non-soap cleaning practices. the extreme temperatures quite literally cause the dirt, grease and grit to vibrate and loosen their grip on your carpet fibers at which point they are sucked out of your carpet by a high powered vacuum.
  • Dry cleaning powders: similar to soap, dry cleaning powders attract dirt and debris and encapsulate them. The key difference with these cleaners, is that they are able to be completely removed with a vacuum without leaving trace amounts behind. 
  • Professional carpet cleaning services: As you would guess, a professional carpet cleaning service is by far the most effective way to clean your carpet, particularly when it comes to non-soapy methods, like hot water extraction. 


Should you use soap, detergents or cleaning solutions to clean your carpet? it depends. We wouldn’t go so far as to completely ban detergents, but we would certainly err more on the side of the water-only purest.  While there are some ”non-dirt-magnetic” carpet cleaning solutions that can be concocted, professional carpet cleaning equipment is by far the most effective non-soap method of cleaning your carpet. If you’ve already turned your carpet into a soapy dirt-magnet, we have the professional grade equipment to thoroughly extract all layers of residue and attached dirt. Give us a call!

Get Started With Hialeah Carpet Cleaner Now

Hialeah Carpet Cleaner is your go-to professional carpet cleaning service. We’ll keep your carpets vibrant and spotless. Give us a call at (786) 733~4183 or visit our website, or check us out on social media: facebook, twitter, instagram

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