Carpets deliver a level of warmth and comfort hard flooring simply can’t match. But there’s a downside. Carpets get dirty. And occasionally, they get stained too. To prolong the life of your own carpets, you always need to be prepared for the worst.
One of the ways to prevent staining is to act immediately. The faster you act, the greater the chance of preventing a spillage from becoming a permanent stain. A spilled hot drink, a doggy accident or some errant ink can ruin a carpet if you don’t know what to do.
Thankfully, most messes can be cleaned up from a carpet successfully. As long as you have the best vacuum cleaner for carpets and a few basic cleaning agents, you should be able to save your precious floor coverings from the scrapheap.
We’ve put together a list of the most common carpet stains in homes. As you’ll see, there’s a way of removing them all before they set in for good.
1. How to remove pet stains from carpet
Even the most well behaved of cats and dogs can have accidents from time to time. And more often than not, these mishaps happen on the softest, deepest and most expensive carpets in the home. The next time a doggy disaster strikes in your home, fast action is the key to successful stain removal.
The first job is to remove the mess as best you can. This involves either scooping up poo carefully or blotting urine. In either case, it’s vital that you don’t scrub. Doing so will simply spread the mess around and deepen the stain.
Spray the area with a solution of water and a little dishwashing detergent. After giving the solution a few minutes of contact time, blot it dry again with paper towels.
Create another solution of water and vinegar, and spray the entire area again. After a few minutes, continue the process of blotting the carpet dry.
The next thing to do is sprinkle the area with lots of baking soda. This will absorb both the odour and any remaining moisture. You can also sprinkle a few drops of your favourite essential oil on the stain. This will provide temporary masking until the smell dissipates.
If a stain remains, repeat the above steps. However, if you acted quickly enough, it should be gone. The final job is to vacuum the entire area thoroughly.
Tip: If you have a steam cleaner with a carpet attachment, this alone could be enough to remove any remnants of the mess — and prevent permanent staining.
2. How to remove coffee stains from carpet
Coffee can leave a carpet with a nasty, yellow-brown stain that’s usually permanent unless swift action is taken. The moment the spillage happens, blot the excess up with paper towels or microfibre cloths. Again, in your panic, avoid the urge to scrub.
Once the excess has been removed, spray the area with a solution of white vinegar and water (in equal parts). If the carpet is particularly light, you might need to use a non-bleach detergent as well. However, consult the cleaning instructions that came with your carpet first. If you proceed, treat a small test area first.
Blot up the excess moisture, and sprinkle the carpet with baking soda. At this point, it’s best to leave the stain overnight. In the morning, vacuum the powder and assess the stain. If it’s still there, repeat the steps above, but use a little ammonia if your carpet manufacturer allows it. Alternatively, you could use a little rubbing alcohol.
Tip: If you have a polypropylene carpet, you might be able to use a weak bleach solution. Alternatively, swift action with a steam mop might deliver results.
3. How to remove blood stains from carpet
Even the smallest amounts of blood can cause permanent brown stains if they’re not dealt with immediately. Your first job should be to spray the stain with cold water. Don’t use hot, as this could help the stain to set in. Blood coagulates with heat, which could double your problems.
Create a solution of cold water and dishwashing detergent, and spray the area liberally. Blot the stain dry with paper towels, rinse with clean cold water, and blot again. Keep repeating these steps, and you should start to see the blood stain gradually disappear.
Ink is very difficult to remove from carpets with natural fibres such as wool. But act quickly, and it’s definitely possible. To get the better of a tough ink stain, you’ll need to start by spraying the affected area of carpet with rubbing alcohol. If you don’t have any, use a little nail polish remover or hairspray. Just make sure you consult the carpet manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines before proceeding.
Give the alcohol-based solution you use around an hour of contact time, and gently blot it with a slightly damp microfibre cloth. When you’re happy that you’ve done all you can, blot the moisture up with paper towels. You can also use a hairdryer to dry the carpet afterwards.
5. How to remove red wine stains from carpet
Red wine stains are perhaps the most distressing of them all. Not only are they notoriously difficult to remove from lighter carpets, they signify that someone has wasted good wine. Again, swift action is the key to successful removal of wine stains.
Start by blotting any excess up with absorbent paper towels. Get a bottle of tonic water, and cover the stain with it — without drenching your carpet. With any luck, the bubbles will break up the emerging stain before it really takes hold. Blot away the tonic water, and then spray the stain with a solution of water and vinegar. Repeat the blotting process, and then cover the area with baking soda. After an hour or so, vacuum your carpet thoroughly.
6. How to remove chocolate stains from carpet
Chocolate stains look terrible, but they’re relatively easy to remove from most types of carpet. The important thing to remember here is that hard chocolate is easier to remove than melted chocolate. With this in mind, freeze the chocolate with ice cubes or a pack of frozen vegetables. Once it’s hardened, scrape it away gently with the side of a spoon. With any luck, this alone will do the trick.
If the chocolate stain has set in, you should start by spraying the area with a solution of water and dishwashing liquid. Dab it dry, and repeat the process. In most cases, this approach should remove the stain completely. Chocolate is a relatively simple stain to remove, so you won’t need to use any cleaning chemicals.
7. Chewing gum
Now, chewing gum doesn’t leave a stain as such, but it does leave a disgusting mess that can spell the end of a carpet. Fortunately, you can save your carpet if you take one of the following approaches.
This will take quite a bit of time, but it can result in removal of the gum without causing any lasting damage to the carpet fibres. Put some ice cubes in a sandwich bag, and place them on top of the chewing gum. After 30 minutes, lift them off, and start gently peeling the hardened gum from the carpet at the edges. If you need to harden the gum again at any point, fold over the edges you’ve already removed, and come back to it later.
Another way to harden chewing gum on carpet is to spray it with hairspray. You can then start to gently pick away at the edges with a blunt spoon. But beware, this is a painstaking process. And rushing it could result in damage.
The important thing to remember when disaster strikes on your carpet is to stay calm. As long as you act quickly and in the right way, most household stains can be removed.