This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
If you've got guests coming over and your carpet is looking less than fresh, there's an easy way to brighten it up in around an hour with a few cheap items you probably already have around the house -- no steam cleaner required.
This process is affordable and easy, and all you need is shaving cream and baking soda. (You can also learn how to clean your window AC unit, and how to clean your blender.)
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How to remove stains with a blast of shaving cream
First, your carpet probably needs a spot-clean. An easy, low-cost solution to get rid of carpet stains is shaving cream. Spray the stain with some foam shaving cream (not the gel kind) and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Then, blot it with a clean cloth. This solution works on a wide range of stain types, including grease. Before you tackle the stain, do a test patch in an inconspicuous area of your carpet to ensure it won't cause any discoloration.
Freshen up your carpet with some baking soda
Next, sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda on the carpet and let it sit for 10 minutes. How liberal? You'll need around one box of baking soda per 10 by 10 feet (3 by 3 meters) room.
The baking soda will absorb odors and cling to dirt particles, making them easier to remove. After the 10 minutes is up, just vacuum like normal. Your carpet will be extra fresh and looking clean.
If you have stains in your carpet (even pet pee), we've got tips on getting rid of them.
Bonus tip: Get rid of pet smells
Pet smells are almost impossible to get rid of, but there is a solution. Mix 16 ounces (about 500 ml) of warm water with 10 drops of peppermint essential oil (you can use two tablespoons of peppermint extract instead). Then, spray the stinky area with the solution and let it dry.
For more, check out how to clean your kitchen in under 15 minutes, and how to clean your phone screen the right way.