9 Easy Tips to Remove Carpet Stains

By
Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated April 6, 2022

Don’t let a spoiled carpet spoil your day!

Don’t let a spoiled carpet spoil your day!

White high pile carpet in a room

Do your kids spill food on your rugs? Do your pets smudge your carpeting? Is professional carpet steam cleaning too expensive?

Don’t worry! You can do it yourself. If you use the right products and follow the right procedures, most stains will come out.

We know it can be tricky to get stains out. But with our list of 9 easy steps, you can remove carpet stains quickly and efficiently.

How to Get Stains Out of Carpet

Removing stains from carpet can seem daunting, especially if they’re notoriously stubborn, like wine or blood. But we’ll show you how to get stains out of carpet, whether the spots are water-, oil-, or protein-based.

1. Protect Yourself

When cleaning carpet stains, you want to protect yourself both from whatever caused the stain and the chemicals you use to clean it up.

To do this, make sure you wear the right clothing. Depending on the mess, you might want to wear gloves (disposable), a mask, and an apron.

Another thing to keep in mind is chemical fumes. Mixing or neutralizing chemicals can produce dangerous gases.

To prevent harm, work in a ventilated area and try not to breathe in these fumes.

In addition, some chemicals, like solvents, are flammable. Keep them away from outlets or open flames.

2. Act Quickly

One of the best things you can do to remove a carpet stain is to act quickly, preferably within 24 hours. It’s much easier to remove new stains than old stains.

If the carpet is dry, first use a vacuum to remove any particles or debris, like ash, dirt, or printer toner. Sometimes, you can make the problem worse if you put liquid on dry particulate.

3. Use the Right Water Temperature

If you don’t know what the stain is, don’t use hot water.

Keep In Mind

For protein stains, such as blood, milk, or egg, the heat will cause the protein to coagulate. In other words, it will stick more strongly to the carpet fibers.

However, once the stain is gone, you can use a damp cloth or paper towel to gently clean the spot with warm water.

Additionally, make sure you use the correct water temperature for whatever detergent solution you choose. This is a guide for water temperatures:

  • Cold water: 65 – 75 degrees F
  • Warm water: 85 – 105 degrees F
  • Hot water: 120 – 140 degrees F

Don’t use water colder than 60 degrees F because it will prevent the cleaning solution from being as effective as possible.

4. Avoid Dark Cloths

The best material for blotting carpet stains is a white cloth. If you use a dark-colored one, you may make the stain worse.

Also, make sure the white towel you use isn’t linty or shedding. You don’t want to add extra particles to the mess.

5. Choose the Right Carpet Stain Remover

When choosing a carpet cleaner, opt for the mildest one. This will ensure that you won’t ruin the carpet fibers with chemicals.

Try Water First

When it comes to water-soluble stains, try tap water first before using any chemical carpet stain remover. Usually, tap water has a neutral pH level of 7.0, so it won’t harm the carpet fibers.

If the water itself doesn’t work, try an alkaline cleaner. These have a pH between 7 and 10.

When you use one of these, however, make sure that it’s mild and diluted.

But for unknown spots, always apply a dry solvent first. Water-based cleaning solutions form a barrier that will prevent the dry solvent from reaching the stain.

Solvents to Solve the Problem

For certain types of protein carpet stains, like blood, solvent cleaners can be very helpful. They are also useful for petroleum stains, such as grease, oil, tar, lubricant, shoe or furniture polish, cosmetics, lotion or sunscreen, paint, markers, crayons, or ink.

You probably already have several solvents around your house. These products include lighter fluid, isopropyl or rubbing alcohol, odorless mineral spirits, and acetone.

If you have stains that have set in the dryer, or stains that are older than 2 days, solvents can help.

Harsher Chemicals

If you have tougher carpet stains, you can try using hydrogen peroxide or ammonia. But keep in mind that these can bleach fabric, so only use them on light-colored carpeting.

Additionally, some cleaning solutions can be harmful when combined. For example, bleach and ammonia form toxic chlorine gas when combined, which is dangerous when inhaled.

Therefore, never mix chemicals together.

Say “No” to Bleach

Most importantly, don’t use chlorine bleach on your carpet. It’s a very strong chemical that will damage most fibers.

If your carpet is silk or wool, the bleach will dissolve the threads. And if it’s linen or cotton, the bleach will lighten and yellow the fibers at first, and slowly weaken them over time.

So if you want to use a whitening chemical, try hydrogen peroxide first because it is much gentler than bleach.

Chemical Tips

Regardless of the cleaning product you choose, always make sure you read the product label.

Note

Also, keep in mind that some name-brand cleaners can change the color of your carpet’s dye, so stay away from those. This includes “Oxy” brand cleaners.

6. Always Test the Cleaning Product Beforehand

Before you pour a chemical cleaning solution on your carpet, always test the product in an inconspicuous spot. That way, if the mixture damages the fibers, it won’t be noticeable.

Dampen a small area with the cleaner, and then gently blot it with a white cloth. Wait for a few minutes and keep an eye out for changes in the carpet’s color.

Also check the cloth to see if any carpet dye has come off on it. If you see color on the white cloth, don’t use that cleaning solution.

7. Use These Techniques

First, make sure you get as much liquid out of your carpet as you can. For this, you can use a wet vac if you have one, or you can use the blot method with a cloth or paper towels.

Once you’ve removed the maximum amount of moisture, then you can use a liquid cleaner or water. If you use a cleaner first, you can spread the problem deeper into the carpet, saturate it, and damage the carpet pad.

Second, use a gentle blotting motion to clean the carpet stain.

But if you need more pressure, you can rub the stain 10 times in one direction and then 10 times in the opposite direction. Keep alternating directions, and try to brush as little as possible.

Also, never scrub back and forth. You can damage or distort the carpet with this motion.

Third, make sure you blot from the outside of the stain towards the center. This will prevent the stain from spreading outwards; otherwise, you could make the stain larger.

Fourth, rinse all of the cleaning solution from the carpet fibers by blotting the spot with a damp cloth. Then remove as much liquid from the carpet as you can with a dry towel, dry cloth, or wet vac.

Finally, make sure you completely remove a stain before you press or iron fabric. The heat from an iron will cause most stains to set.

8. Apply the Product Wisely

Since you don’t want to put too much carpet stain remover on the fibers, the best way to apply it is with a spray bottle. That way, you can control the amount of liquid going on your carpet.

If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can apply the solution to a clean white cloth or white towel and use the blot technique.

Never pour chemicals directly on your carpet because you can easily use too much and make carpet stains worse.

9. Rinse & Repeat

If the stain remains after only one pass, don’t worry! Just repeat the process until the stain comes out.

But you don’t have to repeat every single step to remove stains. Only follow the steps that work the best for that stain, since the less you fuss with the carpet, the better.

However, always make sure you end with the rinsing step so that you don’t leave chemicals that could damage the fibers.

An acid rinse with white vinegar can also help. Acid helps remove detergent residue and can reverse browning caused by high-pH cleaning products, such as ammonia.

Removal Procedures for Common Stains

Follow our tips to easily remove these common stains from your carpeting!

Blood

Removing blood stains can be a bit tricky, but it’s not impossible!

First, use a clean cloth to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Next, add some clean water to dissolve the blood remaining in the carpet.

Then, use a second clean cloth to blot once more. After, carefully use a carpet cleaner.

Finally, rinse it with clean water, let it dry, and then run the vacuum over it. Your blood stains should be gone!

Coffee or Tea

To help you remove coffee stains, first blot the excess liquid with a clean cloth.

Next, mix 2 cups of warm water with 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap, and lightly soak the stain.

Once again, use a clean cloth to remove the extra liquid. Then rinse the spot with clean water.

Finally, let the stain dry and then vacuum it.

Candle Wax

For candle wax, first harden the wax by filling a bag with ice cubes and placing it over the spot.

Then, use a dull knife to scrape the wax off the carpet fibers. Following this, vacuum the spot to remove any extra bits.

Next, use a sponge or lightly spray the carpet stain with a dry cleaning solvent.

To finish up, dampen a cloth with warm water or another dry solvent (depending on the product you used – always check the label). Blot the spot. If you used water, dab it dry with an additional cloth. Otherwise, let it simply dry.

Chocolate

As with the candle wax, first use a dull knife to scrape as much chocolate off the carpet as you can. Next, use the vacuum to remove as much of the debris as possible.

If the chocolate is melted, use a bag of ice cubes to harden it, as you would with the wax, before you start scraping.

Then, mix water and detergent (dish soap), and let the solution soak in for 5 minutes. After, use warm water to rinse the stain.

Finally, let the spot air-dry and then vacuum dry.

Vomit

First, remove as much liquid as you can with a clean cloth.

Next, use water to dissolve the stain. When you’re done, use a second clean cloth to dab the spot dry.

Then, use a carpet cleaner, rinse it, and allow the stain to air dry.

Read Next: How to Get Throw Up Out of Carpet

Urine

As with other liquids, for urine stains or pet stains use a clean cloth to blot away as much excess moisture as you can. This method will work for human, cat, or dog urine.

Then, use a carpet cleaner and follow the instructions on the bottle. Rinse the cleaner with water and a clean cloth, and blot it dry.

Finally, let the spot air-dry and use the vacuum.

Wine or Juice

Wine, particularly red wine stains, can be difficult to get out of carpeting. But don’t worry!

First, blot the extra liquid. Then, add some water to dilute and dissolve the remaining stain.

Next, use a carpet cleaner, and then rinse it out with water and a clean cloth.

As with the other stains, let this one air-dry and then use the vacuum. This will help you remove a juice stain or white or red wine stain.

Nail Polish

First, dab as much extra polish off the carpet as you can.

Next, use acetone or a paint oil grease remover (may contain amyl acetate). These nail polish removers will help dissolve the stain.

Finally, rinse the spot with a dry solvent or water (check the product label). Let it dry and then use the vacuum.

Fat-Based Stains (Gravy, oil, butter, etc.)

First, you want to remove as much grease as possible. To do this, you can sprinkle an absorbent (baby powder or cornstarch for example) on the spot, as these will absorb some of the grease.

Let the powder sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum the absorbent up.

After, use a cloth to blot a dry cleaning solvent or detergent onto the spot. Then rinse it with water or another dry solvent. This depends on the product you applied – make sure to check the product instructions for rinsing.

Finally, let the spot air dry, and then use the vacuum.

Gum

Gum is similar to wax and chocolate, so use a bag of ice to harden it first. Then, you can scrape as much off as you can with a dull knife.

Next, use a dry cleaning solvent, and wait for a few minutes. Then rinse it off according to the product instructions.

Finally, let the spot dry and use a vacuum.

Related: The Best Way to Deep Clean Carpet

Carpet Cleaning and Maintenance

To keep your carpets looking fresh and new, every 12 to 18 months you should do a deep-clean. This will remove the dirt that has gotten stuck in the carpet fibers.

The easiest way to do this is to call a professional. You can also look for carpet cleaners who are SOA certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute.

If you want to do it yourself, here are some tips:

  • If you use a carpet cleaning machine, always follow the instructions. Never add extra chemicals or try to enhance the cleaning process in any way.
  • Be patient! Don’t add extra water to try to make cleaning faster.
  • In fact, you should remove as much water as possible.
  • Let your carpet dry completely before putting furniture back or walking on the fibers. This may take between 6 to 12 hours.
  • Have good ventilation, either from open windows or air conditioning (at a moderate setting of 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit). This will help your carpet dry faster and keep mold from growing.
  • Avoid using baking soda as carpet cleaner, it will do more harm than good to your carpet
  • Always check with your carpet’s manufacturer before cleaning. If your carpet is treated with a stain-resistant product, you need to use specific cleaners, or you could void the warranty.

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