If you love your new carpet that matches your decor and is soft under toes, you may know the horror of seeing something spilled on it—something like:
- wine, beer, rye and coke
- ketchup, tomato sauce
- coffee, tea, milk
- berries, chocolate, hard candy
- juice, soda pop, Gatorade or Kool-Aid
To remove one of these common stains, your instinct might be to start scrubbing away at the spill to try to get rid of it quickly. Some people believe if you scrub it hard enough, fast enough, you’ll remove it. Wrong!
Actually, the first thing you should do is to get a clean cloth or white paper towels and cover the spot, then press down firmly to absorb as much of the spill as possible. Keep blotting—not scrubbing. Repeat with clean paper towels until you’ve absorbed as much of it as possible.
How to remove common stains
1. Mix one-quarter teaspoon of a translucent liquid dishwashing detergent into one cup of warm water.
2. Make a white vinegar solution by mixing one cup of white vinegar with two cups of water.
3. Dip a dry white cloth (or white paper towels) into the detergent solution, blot repeatedly and then press and hold the cloth on the spot for a few seconds.
4. Leave that detergent solution on the carpet for 15 minutes while the stain breaks down. Then soak up the excess liquid with a dry white cloth.
5. Dip a dry cloth into the vinegar solution, blot repeatedly and then press the cloth on the spot for a few seconds.
6. Leave that vinegar solution on the carpet for 15 minutes while it removes any residual detergent. If left in the carpet, this detergent will attract dirt.
7. Rinse by blotting with a cloth soaked in warm water.
8. Wait one hour for the carpet to dry.
9. If the stain is still there but lighter, repeat these steps until it’s gone. If it’s not getting lighter, you could try scrubbing with a commercial stain remover, but watch out for bleach and the potential to lighten your carpet color.
What to do if the stain isn’t coming out
If blotting and scrubbing is not removing the stain, call a professional home services company that does carpet cleaning. They will have the needed expertise, cleaning products and steam cleaner to remove the stain and restore your carpet to its original condition. Call as soon as possible after realizing you’re not going to be able to remove it to give the professional cleaner the best chance to remove it.
Final tip (this one might be a surprise)
Some people try to save money by renting a steam cleaner. These machines do not have nearly the cleaning power of the truck-based carpet cleaning machines used by most home services companies. If the method above has not removed the stain, it’s not worth gambling on a rented machine. The sooner you bring in the professional cleaner, the more likely they will be able to get your carpet clean again if it’s possible.