Red wine spilling on carpet that needs to be cleaned.

How to Remove Carpet Stains

When it comes to removing stains from a carpet, taking fast action is one of the biggest keys to success.  As a general rule, it’s best to clean the carpet while the freshly spilled substance is still wet. This way it hasn’t had time to fully absorb into the fibers and carpet bed.  However, the removal process does take a little know-how.  Be aware that the wrong cleaning solution can make matters worse. It can set the stain, making it tougher to remove later on. In some cases you may even damage or destroy the carpet.  If you’re unsure, it might be a good idea to consult a carpet cleaning professional as they may be better equipped to identify the stain and properly diagnose the right cleaning method. Meanwhile, there’s a little science to carpet stain removal. Here is our general overview.

The Basic Method for Removing Stains:

So Larry’s retirement party was a laugh riot- that is, until the final toast of the evening when the cherry-apple punch bowl was hip-checked and slid off the table. What to do?!  First, identify the spilled substance, then get a wet paper towel or cloth.  Blot the stain.  Do not scrub back and forth.  The idea is to transfer the substance from the carpet back onto the wet cloth.  This is done with repeated compression, or dabbing.  Not a back and forth friction, which only makes matters worse.  Continue blotting until the spill is dry.  

Next, choose your cleaning agent.  See our Carpet Stain Removal chart below.  If possible, it’s always a good idea to do a test patch cleaning first.  Test a location such as underneath a sofa or other area where the carpet is rarely seen/exposed.  

Spray the cleaning agent onto a fresh, wet cloth.  Work from the outer edge of the stain first, moving toward the center.  Continue to blot.  Use light amounts of cleaning agent at first, and gradually increase if needed.  Sometimes numerous attempts are necessary.  Another fresh, wet cloth, with cleaning agent applied. Continued blotting until no more color transfer is seen.  

carpet spot cleaning with a detergent.

When the stain is removed, flush it a final time with water. Squeeze out a fully wet cloth or use a spray bottle.  Then blot for a final time. This will remove the cleaning agent.    If possible, place a fan beside the stain to move the air and speed up drying.

AlcoholRubbing alcohol is great for removing various inks.
Ammonia Mix one part of clear ammonia with four parts water. Mix thoroughly. Put this cleaning solution inside a spray bottle. Now you’re ready to get rid of the stains on your carpet. Note: Never mix with bleach.
Baking SodaCan neutralize acids such as battery acid.
Bleach A last resort. Generally not recommended. Bleach breaks down the color-producing particles and should not be used with colored fabrics. Do not use with wool carpet. Always dilute with water. Don proper gloves and wear goggles. Only use in a well-ventilated area.
Cleaning Solvent Use small amounts. Use in well-ventilated areas.
Hydrogen PeroxideCombine baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to make a powerful stain lifter. Mix one cup of baking soda with two cups of hydrogen peroxide.
Liquid Dishwashing detergentMix one-fourth (1/4) teaspoon of a liquid dishwashing detergent per 1 cup of lukewarm water. Great for coffee stains with cream and sugar.
Liquid Laundry detergentMix one-fourth (1/4) teaspoon of a liquid laundry detergent per 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. Great for cola stains.
Ginger AleCombine ginger ale and baking soda to make yet another DIY stain lifter.
Nail-polish removerIt is recommended to use the non-acetone and dye-free variety.
POGThis paint, oil, and grease remover is aggressive. Don protective gloves, mask, and eyeglasses. Use in a well-ventilated area.
Pet-Odor removerEnzyme based. Used as directed by manufacturer.
White VinegarMix 1/3 cup of white household vinegar and 2/3 cup of water.
Ready-to-use Carpet Spot cleaning productUse as directed by manufacturer.

Commonly Spilled Substances in Commercial Offices

AdhesivesUse an adhesive solvent. Nail polish-remover can also help. Apply wetting the affected area, scrape it off. Note: do not overuse these products because the pad’s adhesive underneath can become compromised.
Coffee (with cream and sugar)Use a carpet spot cleaning solvent. If the stain remains, use dishwashing detergent/water mixture. White vinegar solution can also be tried.
ColaBlot with liquid dishwashing detergent and water mixture. If the stain remains, try the vinegar solution.
Copier tonerSimply vacuum up the toner. Do not wet the toner or blot with water.
DirtVacuum it up. Then use carpet spot cleaning product.
FecesBlot with detergent solution, or carpet spot cleaning product. When finished use enzyme-based pet-odor remover or white vinegar solution.
GreaseBlot with cleaning solvent. If stain remains use dishwashing detergent solution, ammonia and vinegar solutions.
Ink Rubbing alcohol or cleaning solvent.
KetchupUse laundry detergent solution. If stain remains, try vinegar solution. A small amount of hydrogen peroxide can remove the trace amounts of stain remaining.
Paint (latex)Blot with warm water and laundry detergent solution. For excessive amounts of paint, call a professional carpet cleaning service.
RustBlot with dishwashing detergent solution. If stain remains use white vinegar mixture and salt. If stain is still an issue, use a generous amount of lemon juice and salt and apply directly to the rust stain. Flush with hot water.
TeaBlot with laundry detergent solution. If stain remains, try vinegar solution.
UrineIf it’s fresh, blot with ammonia solution. Then the laundry detergent solution. If it’s dry, blot with vinegar solution first, then detergent solution. Finally, use enzyme-based pet odor remover.
VomitScrape up as much as possible. Blot with dishwashing detergent solution. If stain remains try ammonia solution. Rinse with warm water. Use enzyme-based pet odor remover.
Wine (Red)Blot with water. Then blot with laundry detergent solution. A little hydrogen peroxide can remove the color.
Wine (white)Blot with water. Then blot with laundry detergent solution.

Final thoughts…

If you’re the company party planner and you’ve read this entire article we guarantee you’re better off for it. The next time you have a holiday party on the docket, eventually that pivotal moment will come….when spirits are high and cocktail glasses are clinking, and you won’t be sweating. Because you’ll be prepared- for whatever happens. You know how to remove carpet stains. Have additional questions on carpet spot cleaning? Our Service Consultants are happy to help. Cheers!

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