Cleaning Carpet Stains

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated May 4, 2015)

A common problem that many homeowners face is finding a stain in their carpet that they had no idea was there. When this happens, it can be extremely annoying to try cleaning the stains, only to find that the same stains reappear a few days later. Never fear, though; by following these simple guidelines, you will soon find yourself successfully cleaning carpet stains no matter how mysterious they may be.


  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner or substitute
  • Rubber gloves
  • Stiff nylon brush
  • Clean rags
  • Bucket
  • Safety glasses or goggles

After gathering the materials listed above, it is time to begin cleaning your carpet stains. These general guidelines can be easily followed by even the most novice of home cleaners. Best of all, this cleaning method will help save money by not having to either replace the carpeting or renting large (and often expensive) cleaning tools.

  • Cause. Reappearing stains actually happen quite often. There is even a semi-technical term for it, called "wicking." Wicking is when a stain that has reached down into the very base of the carpet fibers, or even the pad underneath, begins to come back up. This is due to a capillary action similar to what you see in lantern or lamp wicks, and hence the name. Keep in mind that these stains are not permanent, though it will take some work to get them out.
  • Identify. Surprisingly, with older stains it is not as important to identify what the stain was made from. Keep in mind that the most common mystery stains are water-based due to drinks getting spilled.
  • Remove. The easiest way to clean a mystery stain is to use something called Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) cleaners. This type of cleaner can be purchased at any local home improvement store like Lowe's or Home Depot. Best of all, these types of cleaners are relatively inexpensive, since a 4-1/2 pound box (usually all that is needed) will cost less than $10. Mix the TSP in a bucket according to the instructions on the packaging. Make sure that you wear rubber gloves since this cleaner can really dry out your hands. After mixing, test the solution in an inconspicuous area of the carpet to see if there will be any adverse reaction. Work the solution into the carpeting with a stiff nylon brush, and allow it to sit for fifteen minutes. While the solution is working on the carpeting, rinse out the bucket and refill it with clean water. After the time has elapsed, rinse the affected area with clean water, and then blot dry with a clean rag.

Voila! You have now completed removing the stains. All that is left to do is simply take care to ensure that no more stains appear. Simple precautions can help keep any similar stains from returning, the most simple of which is that you refrain from allowing any eating or drinking to take place in carpeted areas of your home.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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