Carpet stains are difficult to prevent, even if you have practical rules in place like “No shoes inside” or “Keep snacks in the kitchen.” Luckily, most carpet stains aren’t permanent. If you notice an unsightly splotch on your carpet, don’t panic. Whether your toddler knocks over a cup of juice or your hubby tracks mud across the hallway, you can tackle most common carpet stains without professional assistance.
How to Remove Juice Stains
Kids are notorious for spilling sugary drinks all over the floor. Light-colored juice without dye, such as apple juice or lemonade, may just need a few squirts of water, but brightly colored juice stains may require something a bit stronger.
Start by blotting the stain with a clean towel. Spray the stained area with water if the stain is small and from a light-colored juice, and then blot with another towel. Repeat until the stain is gone.
For tougher stains, combine 1/4 cup of white vinegar with a tablespoon of Dawn liquid dish soap and a cup or two of water. Apply this mixture to the blotted stain, and then let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. From there, blot the stained area with another dry towel, and let it air dry.
How to Remove Coffee Stains
Many of us chug our morning coffee in a sleep-deprived haze. If exhaustion leads to spilled coffee, quickly grab a towel and blot the area dry.
Spray the stain with water, and blot it with another towel. Repeat until the carpet is damp, not wet, and the stain disappears.
Stubborn stains may require a dollop of shaving cream. Make sure you use a foaming shaving cream, not a gel, and avoid colorful creams.
Spray the stain with water again, and blot until dry. When the carpet dries completely, use a handheld vacuum to clean the stained area.
How to Remove Red Wine Stains
A romantic evening can quickly become a stressful situation when someone spills red wine on the carpet. Remove the stain quickly by grabbing a dry, powdery substance that you can sprinkle on top of the spilled wine.
Here are some suggestions:
- Table salt
- Cat litter
- Baking soda
- Corn starch
- Talcum powder
Sprinkle the powdery substance on the red wine before you blot the stain. Powder attracts red wine, so it will migrate toward it. This helps prevent stains from settling in your carpet.
Depending on the size of your spill and the color of your carpet, you may not need to do much else. Gently dust away some of the powder, and peek at the stain. If it’s gone, you can run a handheld vacuum over the area the next day.
If you still see a stain underneath the powder, you may need an oxygen-based cleaner to lift out the stain. Follow the instructions on the package to make sure you treat the stain correctly.
How to Remove Blood Stains
You’ve warned the kids not to jump off furniture, but they didn’t listen — and now there’s blood on your carpet. Combine cold water with a few squirts of dish soap, and gently apply it to the stain with a small brush or your fingertip.
Make sure you use cold water, hot or warm water sets the stain in your carpet rather than removing it.
Blot the cold water and dish soap mixture off of the blood stain with a damp towel or sponge. Repeat with a dry towel until the stain is gone and the area is dry.
How to Remove Bubblegum
Many parents worry about kids getting gum in their hair, but that’s not the only place gum gets stuck. If you’ve got bubblegum stuck to your carpet, grab an ice cube and gently dab the sticky mess. This causes the gum to harden, so it’s easier to remove.
When your gum becomes hard rather than soft and sticky, use a scraping tool (like a credit card) to remove it from your carpet. When you’re sure that all the gum is gone, dab some cleaner on the area with a sponge to remove any residual stain.
If that doesn’t work, another option is to thoroughly wet the gum with WD40 and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Scrub the carpet with a brush, making sure to use the same left to right or right to left motion. Do not scrub in both directions. Repeat as necessary until the gum is gone. Then treat the area with a degreaser before rinsing with clean water to remove any stain.
How to Remove Mud Spots
Family members often forget the no-shoes rule, especially when it’s rainy or snowy outside. This may result in carpet-staining mud spots on your floor.
Before you tackle mud, make sure it’s mud rather than dirt. Mud is wet, and dirt is dry. Mud often comes from the bottom of shoes while dirt may flake off from the sides or toes.
It’s possible to clean your carpet with a mixture of dish soap and water, but it’s best to wait until mud dries into dirt. When this happens, you can vacuum the area and then treat any lingering debris.
To do this, mix two cups of water with two teaspoons of dish soap. Gently apply this mixture to the stained areas, and blot with a damp towel. Repeat as necessary, and when the stain is lifted blot the area with a dry towel.
How to Remove Dried Slime
Slime starts out as a gooey mess but quickly dries into a sticky stain on your carpeting. Water and a towel are usually enough to clean wet slime, but dried slime requires a bit more effort.
Start by scraping the dried slime out of your carpet with a dull knife or credit card. Work from each corner to the center of the stain to make sure you get all of the slime.
Clean the area with a handheld vacuum, and see if any slime remains. If it does, treat it with WD-40 or a citrus solvent according to the instructions on the package. Vinegar might also work in a pinch, but use a cleaner specifically designed to remove gooey substances if you have one on hand.
How to Remove Cat Urine Stains
It’s frustrating when your fluffy friend uses your carpet as their litter box. The unpleasant aroma often lingers long after the stain disappears, and your cat may attempt to re-mark the same area if you don’t clean it properly.
Start by blotting the urine with a clean, dry towel, and then spray it with an enzyme-based cleanser specifically designed for pet stains. Let the enzyme-based cleaner sit for 5 or 10 minutes, and blot it dry with a clean towel.
Vacuum away any leftover residue unless the enzyme-based cleaner advises against it.
General Tips for Carpet Stain Removal
Unfortunately, stains aren’t limited to the ones listed above, and eventually, you may find yourself with another substance mucking up your carpet. If this happens, it’s important to treat the stain correctly so it doesn’t become permanent.
Here are some general tips for carpet stain removal:
- Blot, don’t rub or scrub. Most stains spread or become more difficult to remove if you do anything other than blot them with a dry towel or a slightly damp towel.
- Choose the right cleaning solution. Sticky substances typically require oil-based solvents, and liquid spills often disappear after treatment with vinegar or a dish liquid and water mixture.
- Don’t get discouraged if the stain doesn’t disappear immediately. You may have to repeat your cleaning process several times before the stain goes away.
- Keep a handheld vacuum charged and ready for use. This helps you quickly clean up leftover dirt and debris around the stain so you don’t end up with a bigger mess.
Life gets messy sometimes, but you don’t have to live with stained carpets. Try the suggestions above if an unwanted stain makes an appearance in your home.
Need a vacuum to help protect your carpet from stains? Be sure to check our reviews of the best handheld vacuums from top brands.