How to REALLY clean your carpet

Old 05-16-2013, 02:07 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 20
Year: 2001
Model: Cherokee
Engine: I6 4.0
Default How to REALLY clean your carpet

Tools needed:
3/8" Ratchet
3/8" breaker bar
3" extension
13mm socket
11mm deep socket
18mm deep socket
T50 Torx
#2 Phillips screwdriver
Flathead screwdriver
Spray bottle
Stiff bristle brush (tire cleaning brush... this is the one I have
Black Magic 5051506 Pro-Clean Tire Brush : : Automotive Black Magic 5051506 Pro-Clean Tire Brush : : Automotive
Made by "Black Magic")
Garden hose
Garden hose spray nozzle
Wet-Dry Vac (optional)

Supplies needed:
Purple Power (
Garbage bag (for old jute padding)

Time: All day event with drying (I'm sure it will be longer because you will find more problems to fix. Like, where is the water coming from, rusty floorboards, etc... :-)
Removing seats - 15 minutes
Removing center console - 15 minutes
Removing trim - 10 minutes
Removing carpet - 10 minutes of wrestling (depends how soaked the jute padding is... more soaked = heavier = more wrestling)
Removing padding from carpet - 20 minutes
Cleaning carpet - 1 hour (depends on how bad it is)
Wet-Dry Vac carpet - 20 minutes
Drying carpet - rest of the day in the sun

I have been without a Jeep for about five years. I live in MN and decided I was sick of white knuckling it every time I drove my Mazda 3 in the snow. I started to keep an eye on Craigslist and found a 2001 Cherokee with 184k miles for $1500. Couldn't pass it up. The previous owner was a smoker and had some sort of mutt that rode around in the vehicle... it's fur was everywhere. I couldn't smell much when I test drove it as it was a little colder outside.

First attempt
I rented a carpet cleaner with the upholstery attachment and went to work on the carpet. What came out of the carpet was nothing short of disgusting. The water was pretty much black. I've included some pictures for your viewing pleasure. :-)

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As it's going down the drain...

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And the remnants... Gross.

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Now, did I have to show you that? Probably not, but I needed to show you what I was dealing with. After cleaning the carpets and running the Ozone machine (also rented) in the Jeep for 20 minutes, it was better. The carpet was dry for the most part. Then it rained... and the carpet on the passenger side was soaked. Eff. I decided that if I really wanted the carpet clean I would need to take it out. I wanted to get rid of the lingering smoke smell, the wet dog hair smell, the pet urine smell, the musty smell and I wanted to fix the leak (still working on that).

I had an '88 Cherokee for 8 years and replaced the drivers side floor pan. I decided to see how bad it was under the carpet of the passenger seat.

Remove seats
Out come the seats. You will need a 13mm and a 18mm deep socket. Three bolts are 13mm and the one nut is 18mm. There were no electrical connections under my passenger seat but there was one electrical plug under my drivers seat (seat belt sensor?). Make sure to disconnect that before yanking the seat out. I removed the trim piece and the kick panel and peeled back the carpet. It wasn't rusted all the way through. There were some pin holes... nothing like the pictures I've seen on the forum. I plan on cutting out the majority of the cancer and just welding in some 16ga steel plates. Here's what it looked like:

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Removing center console
Well, the pad is soaked and it isn't going to get dry anytime soon. Once the seats are out, remove the center console. All you need is a phillips screwdriver and a little brute force for the automatic shift handle. I believe there are two screws in the center console storage compartment, one under the transfer case cover and one more under the transmission shifter (just pop the covers off, you can usually get them with your finger... might need a flat head screwdriver). To remove the automatic shift handle, straddle the transmission hump, grab the shift handle with your dominate/strong hand, brace yourself on the dash with your free hand and give it a firm, quick jerk. It will pop right off.

Note: Block the tires right now. Throw some 2x4's or wheel blocks behind and in front of the tires. The reason is we will be shifting the transfer case into neutral and you don't want your Jeep to be rolling away as you set down the successfully removed center console. I know we can engage the e-brake, but in case you forget that the t-case is in neutral and drop the e-brake... lets just block the wheels. In order to snake the large part of the center console out engage the e-brake all the way and put the transfer case in neutral or low (it may also help to put the tranny in neutral as well). Lift from the back end, it should come up freely assuming you have all the screws removed. You'll have to wiggle it around a little to clear the e-brake, tranny and transfer case shifters. After it's removed there will be a duct under the center console. That duct provides heat for the back seats. It's just free floating there. Should be able to just grab it and toss it on top of the jeep roof.

Remove back seat
You just need to remove the easy part. The seat cushion. The part you plop your rear on. One lever and it comes right out. Once the seat is out, there are two plastic push clips securing the carpet. Use a pliers or screwdriver to pop up the middle piece then the whole clip should easily push out from the under side. There is one clip on each side of the Jeep.

Remove trim
Remove the lower door trim from both sides. All you need is a phillips screwdriver. The kick panel on the drivers side is also just held in by a screws. On the passenger side remove the cover to access the fuses and then remove the cheap nut holding the kick panel (11mm).

I had to remove the bolt holding the seat belt retractor mechanism in because a small part of the carpet was under the metal bracket. Since I had to remove the bolt I also removed the trim piece completely by pulling the seat belt through and then just threaded the bolt back into the body to hold the seat belt in place. You'll need a T50 torx to remove the seat belt bolt.

Remove carpet
Now you can finally remove the carpet. I started at the back, in the middle and lifted up. Once I cleared all the levers I pulled the passenger side over to the driver side then yanked it out the drivers door. It probably would have made more sense to pull it out the passenger door and not deal with the steering wheel being in the way.

Since the pad was soaked... it was freaking heavy. Now, I thought I would hang it in the garage and let it dry and reuse the pad. Don't even bother. Just start pulling the pad off right now and tossing it in the garbage. The musty/wet smell will never leave the pad and it holds way more water than anything else. I'm still searching for a pad replacement alternative. Some have suggested bubble foil insulation available at Lowe's... others suggest neoprene type pad. I'm open to suggestions. I do plan on cutting the bad parts of the rust out of the floor pan, then using POR-15 on the not so bad parts, welding in new piece of 16ga sheet metal and then Herculiner, then pad alternative then carpet. I ran without carpet in my '88 and it got way to hot. It was a little louder. But the heat was killer. I'm not planning on mudding with this, so, carpet is going back in.

Before Shots

Driver front
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Passenger Front
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Passenger Rear
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Driver Rear
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Overall view
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That bright spot on the transmission hump on the passenger side... that's not the sun. My best guess is that it was some sort of ice cream. And it was right where the passenger seat belt rests. Here's a close up... again, this is for your viewing pleasure. (notice all the fur as well... yummy)

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How to really clean the carpet!
Now that the carpet is out, the real fun begins. Here's what I used:
Purple Power diluted 10-to-1 in a spray bottle (10 ounces of water to 1 ounce of Purple Power)
Stiff bristle brush
Garden hose set to "stream" (basically a focused blast, not a pressure washer but water pressure at our house is around 70psi... good enough for blasting carpet)
Wet-dry vac

I sprayed down the passenger side with the Purple Power and then went to town with the brush. I worked the Purple Power into every fiber of the carpet. Then I let it sit for 10 minutes. After that I took the hose and started from the top of the passengers feet and worked my way back. I was methodical about it because I wanted to remove all the Purple Power and blast all the dog hair/smoke/dirt/grim off the carpet as well. For craps and grins I soaked the carpet with Purple Power again, let it sit for 10 minutes and blasted the carpet again with the hose. You can then take the Wet-Dry Vac and suck up as much water as possible. Or, is it's a sunny day let the sun do it for you. I used 22 ounces of Purple Power/water mix just on the passenger side... did the same for the drivers side. You can tell when the majority of the crap and Purple Power is out because the water the collects at the bottom will actually start to look clear instead of gray.

Here is the passenger side done (scrubbed, hosed and Wet-Dry vacced)
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Then I did the drivers side...
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So to summarize. Ditch the jute padding right away. Peel it off the back of the carpet and immediately toss in the garbage. Get Purple Power (I picked mine up at Wal-Mart) and a stiff bristle brush. You'll spend some time putting "elbow grease" into the carpets but it'll be worth it. Cheaper than buying new and easier than trying to find a decent replacement carpet in the junkyard.
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