2 Ways To Deep Clean Car Carpets Without an Extractor

2 Ways To Deep Clean Car Carpets Without an Extractor


One cloudy workday, a torrential downpour soaked the streets and caused flooding in some. You come back to your car with clothes dripping wet, an umbrella with trickling raindrops, and shoes saturated with rainwater to the sole. 

Not the ideal day you would say. But what upsets you most is the day after where you open up your car doors to a musty smell circulating inside of your car. It took you a minute or so to realize the awful damp smell comes from your carpets that got soaked with all the drips from yesterday’s rain. 

Or, you may have gone for a drive and a swerving car made you hit the brakes abruptly causing your coffee, or your kid’s milk bottle to spill. The day after, there’s the stuffy mildew smell from the carpets too. 

This can happen to anybody. It can happen to you, or to your car detailing clients. 

The immediate solution you’d think of for this is using an extractor to deep clean the carpets. But what if you don’t have an extractor? What if you don’t have the budget for it?

In this post, we’ll talk about 2 effective ways to deep clean your carpets without an extractor.

After going through this post, you’ll then be equipped with a way to clean and remove the musty smells without using or buying any extra equipment. 

So let’s get right to it. 

Why You’d Opt-Out From Buying An Extractor

There’s no arguing, using an extractor is a proven method to deep clean car carpets and other car upholstery. 

So where’s the “but”. 

The “but” is, it can be very expensive. One extractor can cost up to $129.99. If you own a car detailing shop and cater to say, at least 10 customers at a time, you’ll need at least 3-4 extractors so you can finish detailing without unneeded delays and upset customers. 

extractor is expensive to deep clean carpets


That means spending over $500 just for this equipment. 

If you’re an average car owner, deep cleaning your carpets will likely happen just once or twice a year, buying an extractor won’t be economically wise. 

So how do you deep clean car carpets without breaking the bank? I’ll show you 2 ways you can do so after telling you what you should do first before doing the actual deep cleaning. 

Before Deep Cleaning Carpets

Prior to deep cleaning the carpets you should first remove large trash. Take a trash bag and throw all the wrappers, cigarette butts, and containers that don't belong inside the car. 

After the big bits are gone, use a vacuum, if you have one at home to remove smaller visible trash particles you can’t take off by hand. 

Remove the floor mats as well and clean them out of the car separately while you’re still treating the carpets with the cleaner. After removing the floor mats, go over the carpets again just to make sure particles that have fallen off from the mats get eliminated too. 

This won’t take more than 15 minutes of your time. 

Then assess what the carpet is made of and what makes it dirty? Is it made of natural or synthetic fiber? Was the stain just damp water, milk, or coffee stains? Or was there grease too? 

The carpet material and the kind of stain will matter when it comes to choosing what cleaner to use. 

Depending on your preferences, you can use DIY carpet cleaners or store-bought ones that fit the kind of material and stain you’re cleaning. 

Now for the actual deep cleaning part. 

Deep Cleaning Method 1

Most car carpet cleaners, especially if you’re dealing with stubborn stains and a strong musty smell, will require the cleaner to sit on the carpet surface for a while. 

The links I posted above have suggested carpet cleaners and the suggested treatment period for each cleaner. 

After letting the cleaner sit, use a stiff brush to agitate the stains and dust. The problem with using a brush is, you can over-exert yourself, especially when cleaning tight areas. You can end up with blisters and a strained back.

If you have a cordless drill, you can buy cheap brush attachments so you don’t have to scrub the carpet with your heart out. 

But I don’t suggest purchasing a cordless drill if you don’t have one lying around at home. These things are also expensive. The price is almost equal to buying an extractor.

expensive drills for deep cleaning carpets


After agitating the dirt and stains, rinse the carpets and let them dry fully by keeping the car doors open. This also releases the musty smell the car previously had.  

My big “but” with this method though is that agitate with a brush can loosen the carpet strands making more spaces for the dust to get trapped in. 

Deep Cleaning Method 2

The second method is arguably a better deep cleaning strategy. The method won’t loosen carpet fibers and it will pre-agitate the stain and dust when applying the cleaner. 

For the second method, you’ll need to use the car cleaning gun. For $64.99 you can deep clean your carpets without breaking the bank and without messing the carpet surface. 


car cleaning gun to deep clean car carpets


Spray the cleaner on the carpet surface using the car cleaning gun. The airpower that comes with will pre-agitate the contaminants so it’s easier to remove later on. 

After letting the cleaner sit, turn the dial to the air-only function so you can agitate the surface further without soaking the carpet. This step also gets rid of extra moisture that seeped into the material. 

After this is done, rinse the carpet using the car cleaning gun again, but this time, just with water on the container. 

When it’s completely rinsed off, use the air-only function of the car cleaning gun again to blow off the extra water. This helps the carpet dry faster than when you just leave it to air dry after cleaning. 

Again, leave the car doors open to hasten to dry the carpets thoroughly and so no further musty smell will develop. 


Deep cleaning your car carpets don’t have to break the bank. The wisest choice when it comes to detailing your car is to use and invest in equipment that is efficient, affordable, and versatile. 

A car cleaning gun won’t only deep clean your car carpets as good as an extractor, but it also does so for a lower price. Best of all, a car cleaning gun can also be used to clean other parts of the car like the seats, consoles, wheels, and every nook and cranny you can find. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

// Klaviyo web tracking // Klaviyo ATC snippet