As a modifier for carpet shampoos and the like, an aqueous composition containing a polymer component comprising an aqueous dispersion of an acrylic polymer, polyvalent metal ions, ammonia or a volatile amine to solubilize the copolymer, and optionally CO.sub.3 .dbd., HCO.sub.3.sup.-- or an anion of an amino acid. The acrylic polymer is a low molecular weight copolymer of 20-60 parts butyl acrylate, 0-25 parts styrene, 0-15 parts methyl methacrylate, and 40-60 parts of at least one of methacrylic acid, acrylic acid, and itaconic acid. Preferably the polymer contains at least about 5 parts of styrene, the styrene:butyl acrylate ratio being no more than 1:1. The pka of the polymer component is less than about 6.7 and the number average molecular weight of the polymer is about 2500-100,000. The viscosity in centipoises at 25% solids of polymer in water at 35.degree. C. and containing at least two equivalents of ammonium cation and at least 0.8 equivalents of zinc as zinc oxide, is preferably below 3,500 cps, more preferably below 1,500 cps.