Carpet Stain Removal

by Amy Gordon
(last updated July 6, 2015)

Removing carpet stains can be a tricky challenge, because, unlike clothes and linens, you cannot just pick the carpet up and toss it into the washing machine or take it to a dry cleaner. Nor is it always possible to cover up carpet stains with pieces of furniture.

Carpets go through a lot of wear and tear, and they are subject to all kinds of marks and stains. Foods and drinks are dropped, kids' projects spill, or nail polish drips onto the carpet. If you have a special type of carpet, like wool, you should check the manufacturer's care and handling instructions before cleaning the carpet.

If you've dropped a liquid—juice, for example—start by blotting up as much of the liquid as possible. Be careful not to rub the spot, since rubbing can spread the stain. Once as much of the liquid as possible has been absorbed, apply a solution of one part dish detergent to three parts water. Rinse the spot with water—spray the water on with a spray bottle, or pour it in slowly. Use a towel to blot up as much of the liquid as possible.

Add a little more water to the mark by spraying lightly or dripping on a bit more water, then place a folded towel (or several paper towels) over the stain and press down firmly. Use some form of flat weight (like a heavy hardcover book) to press the towel down, and leave the towel or paper towels there until the carpet is completely dry.

If the liquid is ink, first put some rubbing alcohol onto a clean cloth and blot the ink out as much as possible, being careful not to let the alcohol get onto the carpet backing. The ink should transfer to the cloth, so use one that you don't mind inking up. Follow the alcohol treatment by blotting the stain with the dish detergent solution mentioned above and then pressing a towel into the mark to absorb the liquid.

If you've dropped or spilled something solid, such as chocolate, do not wet the stain. First blot away as much of the material as possible, then try spraying on a cleaning solution like diluted ammonia, and then follow the same drying method you would use for liquid stains. Another possible solution is to slightly wet the stain and then rub it with a bar of Fels Naptha soap.

If you've dropped a sticky solid, such as chewing gum or putty, freeze whatever you cannot blot or pick away. You can use ice cubes or, if available, dry ice. Once the offending item is frozen, use a kitchen knife to break the gum or putty into smaller pieces. A good hard hit should shatter the it. Once the putty or gum has been broken down, vacuum up the flakes.

For many carpet stains, variations on the above will work. If nothing seems to work, try calling your local carpet cleaning company in.

Warning: Avoid using bleach on carpet stains—many carpets are not colorfast, and bleach will leave a permanent mark where the carpet dye has come out.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...

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