How to Get Soap Residue out of Carpet [3 Easy Ways]

Cleaning can be quite a big undertaking for some of us. If you don’t clean very often, or don’t have much of a sixth sense for what will work and what won’t, it can be a daunting task to try something new or tackle an area you don’t have experience with.

Sometimes, things go wrong, and you step onto the carpet you cleaned yesterday just to find there’s some kind of icky residue left all over it! When this happens, it’s likely because you weren’t able to fully remove the cleaning agents you used on your carpet.

To remove soap residue left behind on your carpet, the best method is to use warm water and white vinegar. There are also other great alternatives like steam cleaners, wet and dry vacuum cleaners, and even surprising things like absorbent kitty litter!

If you have found some excess soap stains on your carpet, then look no further. This article will give you all the knowledge you need on how to get soap residue out of carpet!

how to remove soap residue from carpet

Is Soap Residue Hard to Remove out of Carpet?

Soap is an all-around cleaning agent that is made to be applied and washed away easily with water. When you find soap residue on your carpet, it’s most likely because you used too much carpet shampoo or another kind of soap when cleaning your carpet, and weren’t able to wash the entirety of it away. 

This is an easy mistake to make because we can’t just dunk stuck-down carpets into a big tub of water, or put them in the washing machine. Getting rid of the soap and cleaning soap residue is probably the hardest part of the job. 

But if this happens to you, it’s not the end of the world. Soap residue is still soap, and it can be removed without major expense or effort. 

Things You Need to Remove Soap Residue From Carpet

There are a range of different methods you can try to get the soap residue out of your carpet, and a good way to know which method might be the easiest for you is to take a quick look at the lists of things you’ll need for each one and see which has the most accessible items for you. Rest assured that most of these will be easily found in your household!

Things you’ll need for Method 1:

  • White vinegar
  • Clean towels
  • Bowl or container
  • Warm water
  • Sponge

Things you’ll need for Method 2:

  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Carpet cleaning machine
  • Dry cloth

Things you’ll need for Method 3:

  • Kitty litter
  • Clean towels
  • Warm water

Steps to Remove Soap Residue out of Carpet

Once you get soap spills on your carpet, it’s not going to look all nice and lovely until you give it a thorough clean. Here’s a quick guide on how to get soap out of your carpet fiber.

Method 1 – By Hand with White Vinegar

Member's Mark Distilled White Vinegar Jug, 1 Gal

This method is best for removing soap residue that has already been on the carpet for a while and has dried out. White vinegar is a natural, non-toxic cleaning agent that is used all over the house. Its acidity makes it really great at tackling stains and dissolving icky messes—and it’s particularly good at dealing with soap residue! 

There are some cases in which you shouldn’t try this method, though. If you have a carpet made of wool or other natural fiber carpets, you should not use white vinegar to clean it. The vinegar will almost definitely harm the fabric of your carpet if you do.

Natural fiber carpets are very expensive and very delicate, so if you’ve gone to the trouble of paying to have one, it’s best for you to pay for a professional cleaner to clean it when a spill happens. 

Step 1 – Prepare the solution

The first thing you need is a nice big bowl or container to keep your cleaning solution in. You can choose whatever you want for this, just make sure it’s clean and doesn’t have any other chemicals on it leftover from any previous cleaning jobs. 

White vinegar can be quite strong, and too much could harm even synthetic carpets. If you’ve used vinegar with your carpet before, you might know what it can handle, but if you’re unsure, it’s best to start with a small amount.

A safe amount to start with would be one part vinegar to two parts water. If you’re worried about hurting your carpet, you could apply a small amount to a well-hidden part of the carpet first to see what happens. This is called a patch test, and it’s generally recommended that you perform one whenever you try to clean your carpet.

Fill your container with one part white vinegar to two parts warm water. The temperature of the water should be mild enough to comfortably keep your hand in it indefinitely. You can also store your container in a spray bottle. This will help you apply an even layer of cleaning agent to your carpet stains without using too much water. You can even store the spray bottle after you’re finished with it and use the leftover liquid cleaning agent for another job.

Step 2 – Apply it to the stain

Once you have your warm water and white vinegar solution ready, you can apply it to your carpet. The best way to do this is with a clean towel or sponge. Simply dunk the towel or sponge into the cleaning solution and apply it to the problem areas of your carpet.

If you have a lot of hardened soap residue in one area, you can also wet the entire towel and lay it on top of the area. This will allow the vinegar to make contact with the soap residue and begin to dissolve it, without directly soaking the carpet.  Paper towels can also be used for this.

Step 3 – Rinse the carpet

Once you have dissolved the soap residue, you’ll need to thoroughly rinse the affected area of the carpet. This part is important, because if you don’t rinse it well enough, you’ll just find yourself in the same situation again once the carpet dries!

To rinse the carpet well, you’ll need a lot of towels or paper towels. The best method, we find, is to dampen a towel in clean water and use it to wipe away the soap on the carpet. Use clean sections of the towel each time, and when a towel is fully used, move on to a new one.

During this process, it is also good to use a dry towel every so often to remove excess water. Getting the carpet too wet is never a good idea, and soaking up used water will also mean soaking up some soap. Just place the dry cloth down over the wet carpet and apply pressure to help it absorb the water.

It can be hard to tell when all the soap has gone because it isn’t very visible, but one thing you can do to check is scrub the affected area and see if any foaming and soap bubbles appear. If they do, you need to keep working. If they don’t, then all the soap and detergent residue has gone. 

Step 4 – Dry the carpet

The last thing you need to do when there is no soap residue left is dry your carpet. Firstly, use another clean dry towel or a thick dry cloth to soak up as much excess water as you can. You can even pace over the towel to use your weight to help speed up the process.

When you’ve removed all the water you can with that method, the best thing to do is let your carpet dry naturally. You can place a fan pointing at the area to help speed things along, but there’s no need to do anything more than that. 

Method 2 – With a Machine and White Vinegar

Hoover Pro Clean Pet Upright Carpet Cleaner, Shampooer Machine for Home and Pets, FH51050, Grey

Another way to use diluted vinegar to remove soap residue is to put it into a carpet cleaner. It’s possible that using a carpet shampooing machine (with too much shampoo added) is what got you into this mess in the first place. But even if that’s true, it can also help you solve the problem. If you don’t have one, they’re readily available on Amazon.

Step 1 – Prepare your carpet cleaner

This is an easy method that just involves using the carpet cleaner as you usually would. The only difference is that you add vinegar to the carpet cleaner machine’s water reservoir instead of shampoo.

Make sure not to use too much vinegar as it could cause damage to your carpets. One part vinegar to two parts water is a good and safe amount!

Step 2 – Use the machine

Use the carpet cleaner to clean the parts of your carpet with soap residue on them. The water and vinegar mixture will dissolve the soap and the machine will lift it from your carpet.

Step 3 – Rinse the carpet

Once everything looks good, it can be a good idea to rinse the carpet to make sure there’s no soap left and you got rid of all the excess shampoo.

You could do this by hand (with the same process as the previous method—by using a damp cloth or another kind of clean cloth), but since you have a carpet cleaner right there, you could fill its separate rinse water reservoir with plain clean water and use it to rinse the carpet. 

Step 4 – Leave to dry

To dry the carpet, use towels to soak up as much excess water as possible and then leave the carpet to air dry. You can turn on fans, dehumidifiers and air conditioning to help speed the process up.

Method 3 – Kitty Litter

Fresh Step Outstretch Advanced Concentrated Clumping Litter with Febreeze Freshness, Lasts 50% Longer, Activated Carbon, 16 lb (Pack of 2)

This method is perfect for removing a wet spill from your carpet—in other words, removing soap residue from your carpet before it dries. If you drop soapy water, like dish soap water, onto your carpet by accident, or realize that you’ve used too much carpet shampoo while you’re still in the process of cleaning, you can use this method to help you out. 

If you are in this situation, the most important thing to do is start absorbing the water from the wet area straight away. Right now, the soap and the water are mixed together, so if you remove the water, you’ll remove a lot of the soap too. And the faster you act, the less time the water will have to seep deeper into the carpet fibers!

Using kitty litter might seem strange, but it’s a material that is made for absorbing and retaining liquid, so you can use it to absorb your soapy water. If you don’t have a cat, you can pick up any kind of cheap cat litter and it’ll do the job—you don’t have to invest in any of the fancy top-shelf stuff!

Step 1 – Apply to carpet

Apply the kitty litter to the wet area of your carpet. There’s no need to put it anywhere that isn’t wet, so you can use a spoon or ladle of some kind to apply the litter with precision to the affected area.

The litter will start to absorb the soapy water right away, and you can leave it to do its job. Once you notice that the kitty litter is completely saturated, you can remove it from the carpet with a dustpan and brush or with a vacuum cleaner.

Step 2 – Repeat if necessary

If the carpet is still damp, apply another layer of litter. This time, it might help to lay a clean towel or another kind of absorbent cloth over the kitty litter and apply some pressure to help it absorb the water that has sunk deeper into the carpet. When you’re done, remove the litter and dispose of it.

Step 3 – Clean up the litter

The kitty litter can leave some mess of its own, so it will be best to vacuum it up. If you have a wet-dry vacuum cleaner, you can do this straight away, since a wet dry vacuum cleaner can handle the carpet even if there’s still some moisture left.

If you only have a regular vacuum cleaner, you’ll need to wait until the carpet is completely dry before vacuuming. Until then, you can remove as much of the litter as you can with the dustpan and brush. All of the soap residues should be successfully removed by this point, so leaving the carpet to dry shouldn’t cause any problems.

If you are removing soap residue from an entire carpet (in the event that you had been cleaning the carpet and accidentally used too much soap), leaving the carpet to dry will take a long time. If you can rent, borrow, or buy a wet-dry vacuum to clean up the leftover litter, it would be worth doing. The wet-dry vacuum will also suck up water and help to dry the carpet as quickly as possible. 

Other things you can do to help the carpet completely dry is to turn on your air conditioner, fans, and dehumidifiers. You can also open the windows if the weather isn’t humid. 

What if You Leave Soap Residue on Carpet?

Since soap, (whether it’s a liquid soap, dish soap, liquid detergent, laundry detergent, carpet shampoo, or any other kind of soap you may have spilled) is a cleaning agent, you may think it wouldn’t be all that terrible to leave soap residue on the carpet. However, all cleaning agents can be dangerous when misused.

They are designed to break apart dirt and messes, which means they have dangerous chemicals in them that can harm other materials too. If left on your carpet indefinitely, the chemicals in soap residues could weaken your carpet fibers and even start to cause discoloration. 

Another problem could come from the moisture in the soap. Any kind of moisture you leave on your carpet will sink deep into the fibers where it can stay damp and avoid evaporating into the air. When your carpet is damp for an extended amount of time, molds and mildews will start to form in the fibers, and this will cost a lot of money and effort to remove. 


Soap residue can appear on your carpet in two main ways: either you washed your carpet with soapy carpet cleaners and didn’t rinse it off properly, or you caused a wet spill by dropping soap water onto your carpet. Either way, if the excess soap residue isn’t removed, it could cause damage and carpet stains.

Luckily, it’s not that difficult to get soap residue off your carpet. It can be done with a standard stubborn stain remover like vinegar, and normal household items like a sponge, a dry towel, an absorbent cloth, and a vacuum cleaner. If you have special equipment like a carpet shampooing machine or a wet-dry vacuum, you can also use these tools. And if you have a cat, you can even make use of your cat litter! 

No matter what is available to you, you should be able to safely remove your soap spill without too much time, money or effort. We hope that this article helps you get your carpet sparkling clean again!

Leave a Comment