Common carpet stains – and how to get rid of them

Carpets can be a luxuriously warm and cosy option but can be a pain to keep clean – the fibres can trap dust and debris while spills and stains can be hard to remove.

How often should I clean my carpets?
Don’t wait until the carpet looks dirty – it’s important to vacuum carpets regularly as dirt and debris can easily build up. You should vacuum carpets at least once or twice a week, while high-traffic areas such as hallways will need cleaning more often.

How do I deep clean my carpets?
Occasionally you may need to give carpets a deeper clean than vacuuming alone. You can rent a carpet cleaner from DIY stores, tool hire shops and online. Carpet cleaners wash and shampoo carpets using specially formulated shampoo, which lifts embedded dirt.

How do I remove stains from carpets?
Most stains can be cleaned with one-off treatments and don’t require a full carpet clean. Here are some common carpet stains – and top tips to remove them…

– You’ll need paper towels or a clean white cloth – white is best as a coloured cloth may transfer dye to the carpet
– Always test your cleaning solution on a hidden area of your carpet before you use it, to ensure it won’t cause damage.

  • Coffee
    Although coffee is dark in colour and can be tough to remove, it is water soluble. First, blot the stain with a paper towel or clean cloth to remove as much liquid as possible. Mix mild non-bleach detergent with warm water – avoid using hot water, as this can make some stains worse. Use your detergent mixture to rinse the area, being careful not to soak the carpet too fully, and gently blot dry with a clean cloth. Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone.


  • Red Wine
    Try to treat red wine spills as soon as they happen for the best chances of removing the stain. If you have some, soda water is a tried-and-tested trick for removing red wine stains – simply blot the area with a clean, dry cloth, pour on a small amount of soda water and blot again, then repeat as necessary.

    If you don’t have soda water, try mixing a tablespoon of washing up liquid, a tablespoon of white vinegar and 500ml of water and blot as above.

  • Paint
    Whether it’s finger painting with a little one or a DIY decorating mishap, you’ll need to act quickly to remove paint spills from carpet. Carefully scrape away as much of the paint as you can, then blot the stain with a paper towel.

    To remove water based paint, moisten the area with warm water then scrub with mild washing up liquid – it will begin to form a lather, keep scrubbing until the paint begins to dissolve then rinse with clean warm water and repeat with a clean cloth.

    Oil based paint can be harder to remove – wet a clean cloth with a small amount of white spirit or other paint remover and test on a hidden area of carpet. If the carpet’s colour does not lift, you can try blotting the stain until the paint begins to break down. Remember to keep the area well ventilated, open windows and doors or use a fan to keep air circulating. Don’t soak the stain as the paint remover could damage your carpet’s backing or underlay. When the paint has dissolved, gently sponge with warm water and washing up liquid.


  • Mud   
    Always let wet mud dry thoroughly before trying to remove it – rubbing the area with a cloth may deepen the stain, while rubbing too vigorously can damage carpet fibres.

    First, vacuum over the area to remove most of the loose dirt. Mix one teaspoon of washing up liquid with 250ml warm water and blot over the area until the stain is gone.

    Top tip: Interior doormats are great for preventing dirt being walked through the house, but only if they are regularly cleaned! Once a week, shake off loose dirt outside and vacuum thoroughly before machine washing on a gentle setting in accordance with the care label instructions.