Keeping your carpet clean not only makes your home more appealing, it also extends the life of the carpet. When you vacuum or use a carpet cleaner, you’re reviving your carpet’s luster and getting rid of dust and allergens. But even with regular healthy cleaning, there is one thing that can undo all your work—carpet stains.

Let’s face it: If you have carpet in your home, you’re going to have stains. If you have kids, maybe a lot of stains. The family dog has an “accident,” one of the kids spills their ice cream, or you or your spouse drops a glass of red wine—spills are inevitable. In an instant, your beautiful, unblemished carpet can have its appearance ruined—unless you know how to get stains out of carpet.

There are several methods for cleaning carpet stains. Common household items like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and white vinegar are safe and natural remedies that work well. For more challenging stains, you’ll need carpet stain removers that get the job done without damaging your carpet.

Once you get the hang of how to remove stains from carpet, you’ll be ready to leap into action when the inevitable mishap occurs. Keep reading to learn how to remove stains like a pro!

How to Clean Carpet Stains 101

In the carpet stain removal game, speed counts. The faster you act, the less time the stain has to set or spread. The first step is to use a fork or spoon to remove any solid portion of the mess, like fruit from ice cream or cereal. Be cautious so you don’t push the stain further into the carpet fibers.

Start with natural stain removers and then move on to other stain removers if needed. Whether your carpet is made with synthetic fibers or natural fibers, you can always use dish liquid and cool water safely.

Dab the stain gently with a dry cloth or paper towel to soak up the liquid. Now you can dampen the stain with a cloth soaked in warm water and grab your stain remover. Work your solution into the carpet fibers gently—never scrub. Blot away any remaining residue with a clean, damp cloth and dab the area dry with a dry cloth.

This method works for getting stains out of carpet in most situations. For tougher carpet stains, you’ll need a little more firepower.

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Carpet

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Cool water
  • Dish soap
  • Small bowl
  • Clean white cloth

 

Blot 

If you have just spilled coffee on your carpet, act fast. First, blot as much of the liquid up as possible using a clean white cloth. Work from the outside to the middle so the liquid doesn’t spread. Don’t rub or scrub. Once all the liquid is absorbed, pour a small amount of cold water on the stain and blot to dilute it. Don’t use warm or hot water—they can cause the stain to set.

Clean

Mix 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1/2 teaspoon dish soap in a small bowl. Most carpets have a solution dye, so they won’t discolor when they come into contact with the hydrogen peroxide. If you aren’t sure, test a small, inconspicuous area first.

Dab the liquid cleaning solution onto the stain using a clean cloth. Allow the solution to sit on the stain for 5-10 minutes to work its magic. Use a dry cloth to absorb both the coffee and the cleaning solution. If the stain remains, repeat this step.

Rinse and Dry

Rinse away remaining residue with a little cool water and dry your carpet with a clean cloth. If you have a wet/dry vac, use it to soak up any remaining moisture.

How to Get Red Stains Out of Carpet

Your first step for getting a red stain out of carpet is to understand the differences between a natural and synthetic stain. You need to attack red wine in one way and a cherry popsicle in another, for example. Once you know which type of red stain you’re dealing with, you can choose the best cleaning approach.

Among synthetic red stains, red juice drinks, and frozen treats are two of your worst stain offenders. Because of the strong dyes used in these products, stains can set quickly; your best bet is to remove them as soon as possible. Liquid cough medicines, candy, lip gloss, and many other household items fall into this category.

To clean a synthetic red stain, you’ll need a reducing agent that contains a common ingredient like sodium metabisulfite. Reducing agents work faster if you use a damp cloth and steam and they are safe for most carpets.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Reducing agent
  • Cold water
  • Steam iron or steamer
  • Clean white cloths

 

Blot 

Blot as much of the liquid up as possible using a clean white cloth. Work from the outside to the middle so the liquid doesn’t spread. Once all the liquid is absorbed, pour a small amount of cold water on the stain, and blot to dilute it.

Clean

Mix your reducer per the manufacturer’s instructions and apply it to the stained area, letting it work on the stain for the recommended amount of time. Wet and wring out a clean white cotton towel and place it over the stain. Pour enough reducing mixture onto the towel to soak through to the stain and into it. Work the reducing agent into the damp cloth gently with your fingers.

Heat

With the iron on a low-medium setting, gently press the iron over the spot where the stain is under the damp cloth. Do this for about 30 seconds, then check the cloth.

The stain should wick up into the white towel easily. If the stain needs to be dissolved more, place the iron back on the damp cloth and give it a couple of shots of steam.

Repeat

Repeat this process using clean sections of the towel until you get as much of the stain as possible. Most red stains will respond to the steam method very well if you catch them early enough.

Rinse and Dry

Rinse the reducing agent residue from the carpet using a small amount of water and then dry the carpet with a clean cloth or a wet/dry vac.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Carpet

Are you hosting a movie night, a party, or anything else that involves relaxing with a glass of red wine? Your carpet is in danger! Red wine stains are infamous for being difficult to remove, but with the right approach and proven stain removers, you can get the job done. Always test a hidden area on your carpet first, regardless of what stain remover you’re using.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Cold water
  • Stain remover
  • Clean white cloths

 

Blot

Use a clean white cloth to blot up as much of the red wine as you can right away. Alternate parts of the cloth and work from the outside of the stain inwards. Don’t use too much pressure or you could push the stain further into the carpet.

Hydrate

Pour a small amount of cool water onto the red wine stain and continue blotting. The water dilutes the red wine, which makes it easier to absorb more of the stain. Do not pour too much water at a time. Use more dry cloths for blotting if needed.

Clean

Mix a paste with a three-to-one ratio of baking soda to water in a small bowl. Apply the paste to the carpet stain, gently working it into the carpet fibers with your fingers. Wait for it to dry, and vacuum up the dried paste. If the stain is still visible, rehydrate the stain and repeat this step.

Dry

Use a clean dry cloth to absorb any remaining moisture; alternatively, you can use a wet/dry vac.

How to Get Urine Stains Out of Carpet

Dogs and cats may be part of the family, but the messes they make can sometimes test our patience. If your beloved pet just couldn’t wait and urinated on your carpet, the potent, noxious odor may prompt you to grab your steam cleaner to tackle the stain. Don’t! According to the CRI, using a steam cleaner to treat urine stains isn’t a good idea. The high heat from steam equipment can set the stain and the odor for good. Here’s how to get pee stains out of carpet the right way.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clean white cloths or paper towels
  • White vinegar
  • Cool water
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide

 

Absorb and Blot

Soak up the urine stain using paper towels or a dry cloth. Press firmly into the stain to absorb as much urine as possible. Switch to another dry cloth and blot up the remaining urine.

Clean

Mix white vinegar and cool water in equal parts in a small bowl. Pour the vinegar and water solution onto the urine stain to saturate it. Using a scrubbing brush, work the stain solution deep into the carpet, scrubbing vigorously. For most stains, scrubbing isn’t recommended, but this is one time you’ll need to. Let the stain remover sit for about 10 minutes. The white vinegar will clean the area and neutralize the ammonia in the urine. Sprinkle enough baking soda to cover the damp area completely.

Dry

Once the baking soda has absorbed excess moisture and dried, vacuum it up. Use a dry cloth to absorb remaining moisture.

How to Get Greasy and Oily Stains Out of Carpet

Whether it’s mayonnaise, peanut butter, or hamburger grease, oily and greasy stains can ruin a carpet if they aren’t treated right away. These stains are hard to treat because fats and oils don’t respond to water and will soak into carpet fibers very quickly.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Baking soda or cornstarch
  • Butter knife
  • Clean white cloths
  • Dish liquid
  • Warm water

 

Remove Excess Grease or Oil

Remove excess liquid or solids from the grease or oil stain by gently scraping with a butter knife. Be careful to not push the stain deeper into the carpet or make the stain larger.

Clean

Sprinkle the stain with cornstarch or baking soda and let it sit for five minutes to absorb the oil or grease. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the powder into the carpet, particularly where the fibers attach to the mat. Allow the powder to sit on the stain for at least 15 minutes and then vacuum it up.

Mix one tablespoon of hand dishwashing detergent in two cups of warm water. Use the soft-bristled brush to brush the cleaning solution into the carpet fibers. Repeat this step if needed to remove the whole stain.

Rinse and Dry

Rinse the area with a wet cloth to remove residue, pat the stain dry with a clean cloth or a wet/dry vac.

How to Get Old Stains Out of Carpet

Stains in your carpet are unsightly and are a pain to clean. But no stain causes as much dread as old, dried up blotches that have been sitting for who-knows-how-long. For starters, it’s tough to tell what caused a stain when it’s so old. And how do you know which carpet stain remover to use if you can’t identify the stain?

We’ve got you covered. Before you throw in the towel and start pricing new carpet, here are field-tested tips to help you get old stains out of carpet. The trick to getting old stains out of carpet is to bring the stain back to life by rehydrating and then using a compatible carpet cleaner to remove it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Cool water
  • Clean white cloths
  • Dish liquid
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Spray bottle

 

Identify the Stain

Figuring out what kind of stain you’re dealing with can be hard. You could take a guess based on the color or composition of the stain, but that’s risky. Fortunately, there are only so many types of stains most homeowners will encounter, and most of them are water soluble.

A water-soluble stain can be dissolved with water. The stains in this category include berries, sodas, food dyes, ice cream, jelly, mud, washable ink, milk, and some paints. Some water-soluble stains are special and fall into a category that includes blood, chocolate, coffee, mustard, wine, and vomit. These special stains require specific stain removers.

Rehydrate

​Fill your spray bottle with cool tap water and spray it on the dried stain. The key is to “revive” the stain without soaking your carpet. If you overdo it, the water can soak under the carpet onto the padding and even spread to the floor underneath—the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Let the stain rehydrate for 30 minutes.

Clean

For water-soluble stains, you can use a simple cleaning solution of equal parts white vinegar, dish liquid, and water. For tougher, special water-soluble stains, you may need the extra cleaning power of hydrogen peroxide. Pour a small amount of stain solution onto the stain but don’t soak it. Gently work the solution into the fibers with a clean cloth. If the stain is still visible, rehydrate and repeat this step.

Dry

Use a clean dry cloth or a wet/dry vac to absorb any remaining moisture.

Whether it’s a fresh spill or one that’s been sitting for months, cleaning carpets doesn’t have to be difficult if you know what you’re doing. You probably already have most of the carpet stain remover tools you’ll need in your home, so you’re armed and ready to keep your carpet looking its best. The next time someone drops a bowl of cereal or a popsicle on your carpet, relax. You’ve got this!


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