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How to Get 7 of the Worst Stains Out of Carpet

We love carpet in our homes — it’s soft, comfortable, and cozy — but eventually, something is going to spill on the carpet that might cause a permanent stain. When that’s the case, you might scramble to grab the nearest cleaner, not knowing that the wrong product can do more harm than good. So the next time you have a bad carpet spill, follow these tips and tricks to minimize the damage.

Be Prepared

First, it’s a good idea to buy a stain-resistant carpet if you live in a home that has pets, small children, or if you’re simply prone to spills. The best form of carpet treatment is applied in the factory — this treatment coats every single fiber before it’s turned into yarn or woven into carpet, so it can’t wear out or wash away.

Second, prepare a spray bottle of homemade carpet cleaner. Put 1/4 cup of white vinegar, a tablespoon of Dawn dish soap, and 12-16 ounces of water in a spray bottle and mix it thoroughly. Keep that on hand and apply it to any stain to keep it from setting while you find the best way to clean it.

Act Quickly

The longer a spill sits untreated, the more likely it is to turn into a permanent stain. If you spill on your carpet, do something about it immediately! There’s an old saying: “The solution to pollution is dilution.” Your first step is to remove the offending liquid from the carpet. Fold a towel, lay it on top of the stain, and weigh it down with books, weights, or simply by standing on it.

The Cleaner-and-Towel Method

Next, spray the area down thoroughly with the homemade carpet cleaner that we mentioned above, then repeat the folded towel strategy. Do that until the stain is completely gone. For many spills, including coffee, wine, and tomato sauce, the cleaner-and-towel technique is good enough to remove the stain completely, but there are some spills that require a little extra attention.

Colored Drinks

For sugary drinks like Kool-Aid and fruit juice, the important thing is to get rid of the sugar in the carpet, which can accumulate dust, mold, and other fungus if left. Use the cleaner-and-towel technique at least half a dozen times to make sure that the liquid and sugar has been completely absorbed, then see if the stain is still visible.

If so, use an oxygen-based cleaner like OxiClean, which will help loosen the stain, as directed on the package. Once you’ve finished, repeat the cleaner-and-towel method.

Chocolate

If chocolate has melted into your carpet or ground into your carpet, your first step is to remove any solid component of the chocolate. Scoop, blot, and vacuum up as much of the solid chocolate as you can.

Next, mix liquid dish soap into warm water. Don’t use hot water, which will cook the proteins in the chocolate — the water shouldn’t be so hot that you can’t put your hand in it — but warm water will help loosen the stain. Rub the outer edges of the stain with warm, soapy water and a dish towel, working your way toward the center of the stain. Blot the area dry thoroughly, then use the cleaner-and-towel method.

Chewing Gum

We all know what a nightmare it can be to get gum out of someone’s hair, but it can be even worse when it comes to the dense fibers of carpet.

Start by putting an ice cube in a plastic bag, then rubbing it on the gum. This should cool the gum and harden it. Once the gum is hard, you should be able to remove it in one piece, being careful not to pull out any carpet fibers in the process. If there is still residual gum coloring in the carpet, use the cleaner-and-towel method to remove it.

Crayons and Candle Wax

If the crayon or candle wax has hardened into the carpet, start by folding a dish rag in half and placing it on the spill, then running a warm iron (hot enough to melt wax) over it several times. This should melt the wax and let it absorb into the towel.

Then, sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and gently scrub the affected area. Baking soda is mildly abrasive, so it should help remove the wax coating from the carpet fibers. Finally, finish with the cleaner-and-towel method to get rid of any remaining wax.

Blood

Blood is a surprisingly complex substance, containing proteins, fats, and other sticky materials, so it doesn’t just come out with water. Start with cold water — hot water will cook the proteins in blood, fixing the stain in place — and dilute as much of the stain out of the carpet as possible.

From there, use a grease-fighting dish detergent mixed with water to dilute and blot the stain. This will break down the lipids and proteins in the blood, helping you to remove it. Finally, finish with the cleaner-and-towel method like you would for colored drinks.

Play-Doh

This advice comes straight from Hasbro themselves!

“When attempting to remove Play-Doh, do NOT use hot water or cleaning solutions of any kind. To remove Play-Doh from carpets or fabrics, allow it to dry completely, then loosen with a stiff brush. It may be necessary to vacuum clean or wash with gentle soap and cold water. You may need to repeat the process in order to completely remove the Play-Doh.”

Animal Waste

We love our pets, but they can make some unpleasant stains if they have accidents on the carpet. For both solid and liquid waste, the basic strategy is the same — pick up any leftover solid particles, dilute the stain, and blot it dry.

The important thing to remember when it comes to pet stains is the smell. If your dog can smell the last place they went potty on the carpet, they’re more likely to do it again. Instead of our homemade carpet cleaner, use an enzymatic cleaner from the store. This will break down the scent molecules in the residual dog waste and keep them from repeating their accident. After the carpet is dry, sprinkle a little baking soda on it and let it sit for 10 minutes, then vacuum it up.

The Best Stain is No Stain

Of course, the best way to keep stains out of your carpet is to avoid spilling in the first place! Potty train your dog, give your kids sippy cups, and don’t leave lit candles near the edge of the coffee table.

Eventually, of course, all carpets wear out their usefulness. If your carpet is simply beyond fixing, come see us at Sloane’s! We’ll find a new carpet to have your home looking fresh and clean again, all under your budget.