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 home 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. (For proof, check out the Before/After shots of the paint- and pet-stained carpet in my daughter’s old bedroom!)
Here’s what’s worked for me, even on old carpet stains I didn’t know about until my kids finally confessed.
What kind of carpet stain is it?
Carpet stains from liquid spills Never rub liquid spills, since this may just rub the stain into the carpet fibers. If you have a wet-dry vacuum, use it to get up as much of the spill as possible. For the rest, blot with clean white cloths (they won’t transfer dyes to your carpet) by placing the cloth over the carpet stain and pressing down to transfer the liquid from the carpet to the cloth. Switch cloths as each becomes discolored. Remember, carpet fibers are twisted and have four different sides, so change the direction you’re blotting from frequently.
Carpet stains from pet vomit or food should be gently scraped up with a spoon. Dab at the remaining stain with clean white cloths moistened in water. The idea here is to transfer the stain from the carpet to your cloth, so rinse and change your cloth often. Repeat until the stain is gone, then blot dry.
Carpet stains from candle wax requires a lot of elbow grease. That’s why I’ve written an entire entry on how to get candle wax out of carpeting.
Dry paint comes out of carpet with a little hard work. Here’s how.
More specific carpet stain removal
Try soap and water first. Most spills can be cleaned right away with warm water and a small amount of liquid dish detergent. (Dawn Original, not the scented stuff, works great. In the UK try Fairy or Sunlight.) If this fails, immediately try to one of the methods below so the stain doesn’t have a chance to set.
Most water-based carpet stains (foods, feces, mud and latex paint): treat with soap and water first and clean any remaining stain with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts hot water.
Certain liquid carpet stains (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: First rub corn starch into the stain with a stiff-bristled brush. Let this sit 24 hours so the corn starch can absorb grease. Vacuum well. If there’s any stain remaining, clean the area with very hot soap and water then place a clean cloth or paper towel over the area and go over it with a warm iron. Change the cloth several times as the grease transfers to it, and out of your carpet.
Wax and gum-based carpet stains: Use the methods here.
Nail polish carpet stains: Follow these steps.
Urine (Pet or Unruly Guest’s) carpet 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.
3. Stain still there? Use 1 part clear household ammonia and 3 parts hot water. Spray on, scrub into the carpet 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 well.
Equipment I Use For This: