Can You Use Laundry Detergent in a Carpet Cleaner?

Having a carpet cleaner is a super convenient way to keep the carpets in your home sparkling all year round.

However, this comes with the frustrating problem of running out of your expensive carpet shampoo just as you go to use it. When this happens, it can be tempting to glance over at your laundry detergent and wonder, can you use laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner?

Laundry detergent can be used in your carpet cleaner if it is the correct kind and it is mixed with other ingredients.

In my eyes, since laundry detergent cleans fabric and carpets are fabric, it makes sense that you can use detergent in your carpet cleaner. However, it’s always best to check whether a detergent is designed to work in your machine.

In this article, I am going to help you figure out if you can use your laundry detergent in your carpet cleaner and how to do this safely.

Gomestic Fact: Did you know that you can mix some laundry detergents? Find out how to do this correctly here.

What is Laundry Detergent?

So to figure out if you can use laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner, I think we need to know what it actually comprises of.

There are three primary forms of laundry detergents:

  • Powder
  • Liquid
  • Capsules

No matter what the form, all laundry detergents are made up of four main categories of ingredients:

Builders- These act as a water softener to optimize the wash and create the perfect cleaning conditions.

Surfactant- This is the ingredient that is responsible for the majority of the cleaning. They absorb and emulsify the dirt to remove it from the fabric so it can be flushed away.

Bleach- This is a very mild bleach that won’t cause staining on your clothing. It is responsible for brightening whites and stain removal.

Enzymes- These are present for stubborn stain removal and make your detergent more effective.

Depending on the brand, there may be added ingredients to this general outline, including fragrances.

Looking at all these facts made it clear to me that laundry detergent would make an effective carpet cleaner with all these ingredients doing their job.

Can You Use Laundry Detergent in a Carpet Cleaner

It is safe to use laundry detergent in a carpet cleaner if it is the correct kind and mixed with other ingredients.

After finding this out, it might seem tempting just to add your laundry detergent to your carpet cleaner and get going, but I’m here to advise a little caution.

Firstly, you need to consider the type of detergent. Liquid detergent is the best for this purpose, so I wouldn’t recommend using powdered or capsule detergent for this purpose. The capsule wouldn’t be able to dissolve, and the powder may foam and be hard to dissolve.

Secondly, you need to determine whether this detergent is marked ‘HE.’ This stands for high efficiency, and it is the only laundry detergent that I would recommend for this purpose. One of the main reasons for this is that it causes less bubbling, which could spell disaster for your carpet cleaner.

Lastly, I recommend making sure your carpet is well-vacuumed before you start. This will remove any loose dirt and help the cleaner get to work on the more stubborn dirt.

While you can use detergent as is, I don’t like this method because it can be very strong without being diluted. Instead of just using straight detergent, I like to mix it with some other beneficial ingredients to help it do the best job possible.

Here is how to make an easy homemade carpet cleaner using laundry detergent:


  • 2 tbl liquid laundry detergent
  • 1-gallon hot water
  • 3 tbl liquid oxygen bleach
  • 1 tsp fabric softener
  1. Combine all the chemicals in a plastic bowl that is not used for food.
  2. Slowly add this mixture to the hot water.
  3. Allow the chemicals to dissolve fully before use.
  4. You can also store this mixture to use at a later date, but it should be shaken well before you use it.

Add this mixture to your carpet cleaner as per the instructions, and your carpet should end up sparkling clean, feeling soft, and smelling fresh.

Using laundry detergent not only saves you a lot of money on expensive carpet shampoos but also saves you from having to buy the harsh chemicals needed for some carpet cleaners. Instead of having to go to the shops, you can simply make your own cleaner using items that you already have at home.

If you use an eco-friendly detergent, this is also a less harmful, natural way to clean your carpets.

Gomestic Tip: If your detergent isn’t marked ‘HE,’ it may foam up in your carpet cleaner and damage the machine.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I put fabric softener in my carpet cleaner?

I don’t recommend using only fabric softener in a carpet cleaner.

It’s the wrong consistency, and it won’t clean the carpet at all. The best way to add fabric softener is using the formula for a homemade carpet cleaner that we provided above.

Can you put vinegar and dish soap in a carpet cleaner?

The answer may surprise you, but yes, you can use vinegar and dish soap in a carpet cleaner but only when they are part of a homemade carpet cleaner that is focused on removing stains.

Using them undiluted may leave behind a residue and cause foaming.


Carpet shampoo is expensive and a real pain to keep replacing. That’s why it’s handy to know what other household items you can use instead.

Laundry detergent can be used in a carpet cleaner, but only if it is the correct kind and has been mixed with other crucial ingredients.

I hope this has helped you avoid a trip to the shops and inspired you to mix up your own laundry detergent-based carpet shampoo.

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