Carpeting is wickedly expensive to replace, and that’s why it’s important to know how to clean carpet stains. On a day-to-day basis, a stained carpet can make your home look dirty even when everything else is clean. Then comes the day when you’re ready to think about moving and realize your house will never sell with stained carpets.
When we bought our house, it had wall-to-wall ivory-colored carpet. It wasn’t long before kids, cats and company had taken their toll, turning our carpets more of a speckled beige. Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning carpet stains.
Here’s what’s worked for me, even on old carpet stains I didn’t know about until my kids finally confessed.
How to Clean Carpet Stains
General carpet stain removal
Fresh carpet stains from food, beverages, pets, grease, and other substances will usually come up warm water and a small amount of liquid dish detergent. (Dawn Original (Fairy Dishwashing Liquid in the UK.) If this doesn’t completely remove the stain, immediately move onto one of the methods below, so the stain doesn’t have a chance to set.
Foods, feces, mud and latex paint: Clean any remaining stain with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts hot water. Spray the area and blot the stain away with a clean, white cloth. Rotate the fabric as you work so you aren’t spreading the mess.
Blood, chocolate, wine, ketchup, and coffee: Blot up as much of the spill as possible, then dab with club soda and a clean cloth. For stubborn stains, mix 1 tablespoon of clear household ammonia in 1/2 cup of water. Spray on stain, but not so much that you soak the carpet padding beneath. Dab at it with a clean cloth, rinsing and changing your cloth often as the stain transfers to it. Once the stain is gone, clean the area with fresh water to remove the remaining ammonia and blot dry.
Greasy carpet stains: Blot the area until it’s dry to touch. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of baking soda and rub this into the stain with a stiff-bristled brush. In a mixing cup, combine 1 cup hot white distilled vinegar, 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3%), and 1/2 teaspoon Dawn liquid dish detergent. Have a stack of clean, white cloths handy. Slowly pour the soapy vinegar over the stain. It will bubble as the vinegar and baking soda react and pull the stain out of the carpet fibers. Once you’ve finished pouring, begin blotting the stain away. Let dry then vacuum.
Wax and gum-based carpet stains: Use the methods here.
Nail polish carpet stains: Follow these steps.
Urine stains: Here is a step-by-step guide.
Old Carpet Stains You Just Found
1. First, see if warm water with a few drops of liquid dish detergent can lift the stain out. Use a clean, white cloth and change it frequently as you work.
2. Next, spray the area with 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts warm water, then spread a towel over it and go over the carpet stain with an iron using the steam setting. This will transfer the stain to your cloth, so you’ll need to change it out often as you work. Let dry, and vacuum to restore the carpet’s fluff. (You can see how well this worked on my carpets.)
3. Stain still there? Use 1 part clear household ammonia and 3 parts hot water. Spray on, scrub into the rug with a stiff-bristled brush, and use the ironing-transfer process described above. Be sure to spray with clean water and blot to remove the ammonia after you’re done, then let it dry and vacuum thoroughly.