When it comes to carpet, stains happen.
Even with ultra-vigilant regular vacuuming, so does a gradual buildup of dust, microscopic debris, and dirt.
To help ensure that your carpet remains in tip-top shape, here are professional tips on how to treat carpet stains of every sort — and how to avoid a few common mistakes that could accidentally make your stain worse.
The Best Way to Get Wine or Juice Out of Your Carpet
They say there’s no reason to cry over spilled milk.
But, depending on your carpet (or the vintage), wine and juice are a different story.
To help keep red stains from setting, here are two different methods that can be used depending on what treatments you have on hand.
Wine and Juice Stain Treatment #1: Dish Soap and White Vinegar
To treat any color juice or wine stain with dish soap and white vinegar on hand, follow these steps:
- Blot as much liquid as possible in up and down motions.
- Don’t rub — or you’ll end up grinding the liquid deeper into fibers, which increases your chances of a stain.
- Start from the outside of the affected area, moving inwards. This keeps the stain from spreading.
- Once the pooled liquid is sopped up, make a solution of one tablespoon liquid dish soap, one tablespoon vinegar, and two cups of water.
- Grab a clean cloth, and dab at the stain with your mixture until it’s gone.
Wine Stain Treatment #2: White Wine and Baking Soda
When treating stains, one trick is to use a similar substance to lessen the effects of what was spilled. That’s the theory behind this tip that uses white wine to dilute red, though cold water can be substituted:
- Blot as much of the spill as possible, starting from the outside of the stain.
- Pour a dry white wine in roughly half an ounce at a time over the affected area. Carbonated water or cold tap water can be used as a substitute.
- Continue adding and blotting until the stain is completely diluted.
- Don’t use a sweet dessert wine, as they’ll leave a sticky residue.
- Make a paste of three parts water to one part baking soda and work it into the stain.
- Allow the paste to sit for several hours, ensuring it’s completely dry before moving to the next step.
- Once dry, vacuum the area. The baking soda will have lifted the stain and removed any lingering odors.
A general rule for you’re dealing with red liquids is that the application of another, clear liquid after initial blotting can decrease the condition of the initial spill. Just remember to keep adding white wine, soda water, or cold water until the stain is diluted.
The Best Way to Get Gum Out of Your Carpet
Did your child accidentally track in some gum or, worse, lose track of a used piece? Getting gum unstuck from your carpet fibers takes a few steps.
But thankfully, it doesn’t require scissors if removal is performed with a little patience.
First, you’ll need to adjust how you remove the bulk of the chewing gum depending on your carpet type:
Have Synthetic Carpets?
Use ice to make the gum solid and brittle. Double-bag five or six ice cubes (so as to prevent condensation from making the situation worse), and place it over the gum for 20 minutes.
Then, use a butter knife to scrape the bulk free from your carpet.
Are You Treating Natural Fibers?
Use a hair dryer to soften the wad. Turn a hair dryer on the gum, starting first on low heat then moving up.
Once softened, this will allow you to pull most of the gum from the carpet fibers. Be warned that heat can damage man-made carpets, so this method is best left for natural rugs, such as sheepskin or wool.
Once you’ve removed the bulk of the gum, it’s time to get out any sticky residue. There are two ways to do so, and it’s important that you test each in a hidden patch before proceeding to prevent additional staining.
If You have Dark Colored Carpet, Consider Using Oil
Rub a small amount of peanut butter or vegetable oil into the gum. Use your fingers to loosen the remaining gum from the fibers.
This method may stain your carpet, so it’s best used on dark fibers. Be sure to test it in an inconspicuous spot first.
If You Have Light Colored Carpet, Consider Vinegar
Pour a little white vinegar onto the gum and let it soak for 15 minutes. Scrape off the remaining gum with a butter knife.
Vinegar can make the dye in your carpet bleed, so test this method before using it in a noticeable area of your carpet.
Finally, after the gum is completely removed, use a mild dish soap and warm water to clean the oil or vinegar out of the carpet.
The Best Way to Remove Wax from Your Carpet
Accidentally tip over your tea lights? Not to worry — removing wax from your carpet is much easier than you’d think.
This method can even be used for crayons that have melted into your floor covering after being allowed to sit in a sunny spot. Just follow these steps:
- Whether candle or crayon, make sure that the wax is completely dry before attempting any cleaning. Otherwise, you risk spreading the stain.
- Place a paper bag over the wax area.
- Allow a clothing iron to heat to medium (make sure the steam setting is turned off), and iron the area as you would your clothes.
- Apply pressure until you see wax start to transfer to the bag.
- When one area of the bag is saturated, move the paper so that a fresh spot can soak up more wax.
- Repeat with clean sections of the bag until the wax has completely transferred, shifting the direction of the piles to different angles to ensure a thorough cleaning.
Once complete, a thin bit of residue might remain on your carpet’s fibers. If so, use a butter knife to scrape it off.
Pro tip: This same spot-cleaning solution works for glue. But, before you go through the trouble of heating up the area with an iron, be sure to check to see if the glue product isn't washable, in which case soap and water will do.
The Best Way to Stop Coffee Spills from Staining Your Carpet
No matter how carefully you walk, little drops of coffee always seem to find their way onto the carpet. To ensure that those stains don’t set, follow these steps:
- Mix a teaspoon of odor and dye-free dish detergent in a quart of warm water.
- Apply a bit at a time, using a spray bottle if possible.
- Gently work the cleaning solution into your carpet with your fingers.
- Blot the area dry with a color-safe rag.
If you’re only treating a few drops, repeat until you’ve used a half to a full cup of the mixture. If you’re treating an entire spilled cup of coffee, repeat until you’ve used the whole quart.
The above will remove most of the coffee’s oils, but a solvent is needed to ensure that your coffee spill doesn’t stain. Follow up those initial steps with the following:
- Mix three ounces of plain white vinegar in six ounces of water and apply this to the stained area several times.
- Using a clean rag, blot up the substance until there is no longer any color transfer to the rag.
Again, when cleaning up an entire cup’s worth of coffee, you’ll want to finish the vinegar and water solution to make sure there aren’t any hidden particles.
How to Stop Blood Stains from Setting in Your Carpet
Whether it’s a scraped knee or an injured pet paw, blood occasionally lands on your carpet.
While your flooring might be protected by a stain-resistant treatment, acting fast is still important:
- Apply cold water to the stain with a clean cloth. (Be sure that it’s cold, as hot water will encourage the stain to set.)
- Blot the cold water with your cloth, making sure to work from the outside in, so as not to spread the stain.
- Keep repeating the cold water until the stain is successfully removed.
Faced with a larger blood stain? Our pros suggested first pouring salt on the area to absorb as much as possible. Then, blot with a towel dampened with hydrogen peroxide solution (2 parts water to 3 parts hydrogen peroxide). Rinse by blotting with a clean, damp towel.
If you own a wet/ dry vacuum or a shop vac, this is a perfect time to plug it in. Otherwise, lay a clean, dry rag over the area and blot dry. Then, rope it off to ensure that no one walks over the area until it’s completely dry.
What are Common Mistakes When Cleaning Up Carpet Stains?
You can clean up a stain with the right solutions.
But, stopping it from soaking into your carpet’s padding, only to reappear later? That requires some additional know how.
Here are three common mistakes made when cleaning up carpets — and how to avoid them:
1. Scrubbing Your Carpet When Treating a Stain
It’s difficult to resist the temptation to apply pressure back and forth while removing the offending substance from your carpet, but doing so can damage the floor covering fibers while working liquid further into the fabric.
Go easy on the pressure and blot instead.
2. Allowing the Stain to Sit Untreated
Particularly when it comes to treating wine and juice stains, time is of the essence.
One way to ensure that you’re Johnny-on-the-Spot is to have a stain remover kit preassembled — particularly if you’re hosting a gathering in the near future.
Here’s a quick recap of what to have on hand:
- Wine and juice stain removal: Premixed dish soap and white vinegar solution, baking soda and white wine or soda water, at least two clean cloths.
- Gum stain removal: Peanut oil, vegetable oil, or white vinegar.
- Wax removal: Paper bags and a clothing iron.
- Coffee stain removal: Premixed dish soap and water solution, plus a white vinegar and water solution. At least two clean cloths.
- Blood stain removal: Several clean cloths.
Remember, the longer a stain is allowed to sit, the more difficult it is to remove.
3. Not Testing Your Cleaning Solutions Beforehand
Homemade carpet cleaning solutions made from vinegar, baking soda, and the other ingredients above are gentler than store-bought solvents.
However, the wrong solution can cause irreparable damage to your carpet. So, it’s important to test cleaning solutions before they’re urgently needed.
When reassembling your carpet cleaning, try each of the above-listed solutions on a carpet swatch. If none is available, try to find a discrete spot in the back of a closet to test a quarter-sized squirt to learn how your carpet will react.
Finally, Don’t Forget to Call a Professional Cleaner Once a Year
Dirt, dust and other debris can become deeply embedded in your carpet, decreasing your indoor air quality and your carpet’s appearance.
We’ve shared the importance of regular vacuuming for minimizing build-up.
However, professionals encourage scheduling a deep clean every 12 to 18 months to keep your carpet looking fresh for many more years than DIY treatments alone.
According to our research, carpet cleaning cost varies depending on where you’re located and how many carpets require professional cleaning.
Some companies charge per room, while others charge per square foot. Depending on the size of your rooms, one of these might be better for you than the other.
Carpet cleaning methods also affect costs. Average rates can run from $25-75 per room or 30-50 cents per square foot.
To find a carpet cleaning professional in your area, check Yelp to read reviews on local businesses. Or, you can search a specialist directory, such as Restoration Master, for certified professionals nationwide.