There are reasons we are not interested in a vacuum cleaner at the moment. I'm sure the same applies for other people. Is there an alternative that can get rid of dirt as well as pick up bigger particles?

  • 5
    Please tell us why you don't want a vacuum.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 16:29
  • 2
    If you don't want a vacuum because they exhaust particles, consider either one with a HEPA filter, or a central unit, where the exhaust is usually in a garage or to the outside.
    – TomG
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 0:39
  • We really can't give you our best answers unless you know what problem you're trying to solve -- why a vacuum isn't a solution -- since without that our proposed alternatives may run into the same issues.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 5:02
  • If it's an area rug, simply take it outside, hang it over a line/fence/otherwise, and beat the ever living tar (and dirt, crumbs, dead skin and other cruft) out of it. Just like they used to do in "ye olden dayes". If it's wall-to-wall carpeting, that doesn't work so well.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 24, 2023 at 13:26

5 Answers 5


Use a carpet sweeper.

image of carpet sweeper
(source: wikimedia.org)

Bissell sells several models of mechanical manual sweepers -- an invention that's been around in some form since the 1880s. They work, but only to an extent. For deep cleaning you'll have to use a vacuum or roll up your carpet and take it in to the pros.

  • I used one of these in the fast food place I worked in years ago. They work well and they are silent, so they can be used around customers.
    – KeithB
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 20:53
  • @KeithB, can they be used to do deep cleaning on carpet? I guess not, because some kind of suction like vacuum has to be in place. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    – TPR
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 11:05
  • Probably not deep cleaning, and they work best on carpet without a deep pile, like you usually find in commercial settings.
    – KeithB
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 11:11
  • @KeithB, does it pick up bigger particles like crumbs etc?
    – TPR
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 6:36
  • @progtick That it does. That was the main thing I used it for, picking up crumbs during the day. We also had a regular vacum that was used after closing.
    – KeithB
    Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 15:25

In the "olden days" before there were vacuum cleaners you either swept (which still works to an extent -- tough bristles, short quick strokes are key) or took the carpet up and beat the dust and dirt out with a carpet beater (which also works, as long as your carpet isn't fitted).

Alternatively, there are machines that spray water and shampoo into the carpet and suck up the dirty water -- but these probably come under the heading of a "vacuum cleaner," and so aren't appropriate in your case. Also, they're not very useful for picking up bigger particles.

Beyond those options -- and keeping your carpet clean in the first place (Martha Stewart suggests lots of doormats) -- I don't think that there's another effective way of getting your carpet clean.

  • There is anecdotal medical evidence relating carpet cleaning fluids to Kawasaki disease in young children. And contrary to whatever you saw on "House", this disease is not exclusive to Asians. My otherwise healthy Caucasian son got it when he was 3. Treatment is 3 days in the hospital on a Γ-Globulin drip. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 13:31
  • lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/cardiac/kawasaki.html Ctrl-F for "carpet" -- Evidence is inconclusive. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 14:32

The purpose of carpet is two-fold. First, to make a nice, cushy surface for your delicate feet to tread upon. Second, as an insulating barrier from the extreme expressions of Maw Nature. The side-effect of carpet is a trap for disease, dead skin and all, plus an emitter of chemical emissions – a byproduct of materials used in the construction. The only logical resolution – to the chagrin of carpet manufacturers, is to rip it all out, insulate under the flooring and buy one of those wood floor sweeper-dusters as seen on TV. Hold out for the “wait, there is more” advertisements, best bang for the buck.

** ===== EDIT ===== **

As zero is a number, “you can’t” equally applies to “you cannot clean carpet without a vacuum.”

If you’ve never removed (ripped up and disposed of) carpet and/or padding in a regularly vacuumed environment, you are not qualified to answer, and especially not qualified to down-vote!! If you have removed carpet then you know, without a doubt, a vacuum of some type is essential to the maintaining a clean and healthy carpeted environment.

In the below diagram, please note the accumulation of dirt between the layers of the carpet, the padding and the flooring. These particles of dust (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust) dead skin (http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/questions/question/1643/) and itsy bitsy creatures such as dust mites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_dust_mite) are just some of the components of the yucky stuff labeled “filth and dirt” in the cheap artwork attached to this post.

enter image description here

The OP’s question is “There are reasons we are not interested in a vacuum cleaner at the moment. I'm sure the same applies for other people. Is there an alternative that can get rid of dirt as well as pick up bigger particles?”

I propose the following answer : “no.”

  • 2
    This doesn't answer the question.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 3:48
  • 5
    It answers the question precisely, in that there is no answer to the question of thoroughly cleaning a carpet. Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 3:59
  • Down voting because it doesn't answer the question. The question is specifically about alternative means to clean carpet, not alternatives to carpet.
    – Steven
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 13:04
  • 1
    The question is “What is an alternative to a vacuum cleaner for cleaning carpets?” My answer is “The only logical resolution – to the chagrin of carpet manufacturers, is to rip it all out…” and I stand by the answer. No vacuum cleaner? Not a (electric/mechanical) stand-alone, not a central unit, not a shop-vac with a 100ft hose? I think I’ll upvote ChrisF’s “took the carpet up and beat it using a carpet beater to knock the dust and dirt out,” because it’s the only applicable answer. (Afterwards, I’m heading to my garage-shop to develop a trash bag nanomites can use.)(grin) Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 14:46
  • 2
    analogous to asking how to bang one's head against a brick wall without it hurting.
    – mike
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 4:15

Lint rollers work on clothes and hard surfaces, and certain products also work on carpets. Consider, for instance, something like this large sticky-tape roller, called the Roll-O-Vac.


For a thorough carpet clean, you'll have to use a plug-in machine or call in the pros.

  • 1
    Definitely depends on the carpet. Your average loop-pile home carpet will be torn out by the roots, literally, with one of these. They'd be fine for low-pile commercial-grade carpet though.
    – KeithS
    Commented Aug 1, 2011 at 22:50

Buy carpet squares. Then take carpet squares outside and beat them. Then throw them in the wash machine.

Don't know how doable for you this is (but I think I am the only person to actually answer the question fully). I have seen people get out stains in carpet squares through washing so why not the whole floor...

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