Why do you need to clean carpet? Imagine yourself coming home to a place that has well maintained carpet. It’s like checking in a 5-star hotel every day. Walking on a soft, clean and fresh smelling carpet will help ease out stress from work, the great thing is you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars just to experience it.
You won’t see it but carpet is a catch basin for all types of dirt like dust mites, allergens, hair, sand, dead skin and all the nasty stuff that comes from our bodies, pets or environment.
Second is cost. Installing new carpet isn’t cheap, replacing them will be much more expensive if you include the labor costs so you’ll want to make sure it will last as long as possible. Unfortunately a lot of people neglect cleaning it because they’re either lazy, too busy, think that the cost of having it professionally done is expensive or say to themselves that it still looks clean.
How To Removing Stains On Carpet
Some commercial spot removers take off the protective coatings or break down dyes that are found on most carpets, but the remedies listed here do not. Note: Be sure to follow the instructions for spot-cleaning, “blot,” “soapy water,” and “rinse.”
Stain Type: Organic blood, berries, candy, chocolate, soft drinks/coffee, gravy, ice cream.
Cleaner: Hydrogen Peroxide bleaches these stains without breaking down carpet dyes.
Mix: Buy 3 percent solution at a drugstore and use full strength.
Technique: Scoop up solids with a spoon. Blot liquids. Rinse repeatedly. If stain persists, use soapy water, then rinse. Repeat. If improvement stops, dab on hydrogen peroxide. Wait one hour. Repeat as needed.
Mud: Allow spill to dry. Break off pieces and vacuum. Rinse with soapy water. Go to hydrogen peroxide if needed.
Stain Type: Alkaline cat urine, beer.
Cleaner: White Vinegar, a mild acid, neutralizes alkaline spills.
Mix: 1 cup white vinegar in 1 cup water.
Technique: Blot up spill and rinse. If stain persists, use soapy water, then rinse. Repeat until spot is gone; if stain persists, apply vinegar solution with a spray bottle or a saturated towel. Blot with a dry towel; rinse. If stain persists, repeat.
Stain Type: Acidic ketchup, cough syrup, mixed drinks, soy sauce, watercolor paint.
Cleaner: Ammonia, an alkali, neutralizes acidic spills.
Mix: 1 tablespoon in 1/2 cup water.
Note: Never use on wool; it can destroy the fibers. Instead, dilute spill with plain water.
Technique: Blot up liquid spills. Scrape off solids with a spoon or knife. Apply ammonia solution with a spray bottle or a saturated towel. Blot out excess with dry towel. Rinse. If stain persists, use soapy water and rinse. Repeat until improvement stops. If stain persists, use hydrogen peroxide. See instructions above.
Caution: Ammonia is toxic. Use good ventilation.
Stain Type: Oily/Waxy asphalt and tar, wax and crayon, metal polish, grease, hand lotion, ballpoint ink, makeup.
Cleaner: Rubbing Alcohol, a mild “dry-cleaner,” dissolves oily or waxy materials and is much safer than solvents in commercial spot removers.
Mix: Use full strength from bottle. Do not let it puddle; it may destroy the carpet backing.
Technique: Blot up or scrape off as much as possible (then, for wax, cover area with a brown paper towel, and transfer the wax by ironing on warm). Apply rubbing alcohol with a towel or cotton ball. For deep stains, blot with a clean towel, and repeat until towel remains clean. If spill is on the carpet tips, work material out by gently rubbing in one direction rather than blotting, which might drive the stain deeper. If stain persists, blot with soapy water and rinse; repeat. If needed, switch to hydrogen peroxide, as detailed above.
Stain Type: Chemically Reactive Acidic toilet-bowl cleaners, acne medication, lye-based drain cleaners, chlorine bleach, hair dye, iodine, insecticides, mustard with turmeric, plant fertilizers
Cleaner: Stain is permanent. For wall-to-wall carpet, call a professional to cut out the damaged area and patch with carpet from a closet or other hidden area. Alternatively, move furniture or set out pillows to cover stain. With area rugs, rotate so stain is in a less noticeable position.
Stain Type: Special Cases chewing gum, rust, nail polish
Technique: For chewing gum: Freeze with ice cubes. Break off bits, and pick them out. If that doesn’t work, go to a janitorial supply store for a spray that freezes gum instantly and allows you to chip it off. For rust: Apply soapy water. Rinse. Repeat until improvement stops. If stain persists, call a professional who will have access to more powerful cleaners. For nail polish: Dab on non-oily nail-polish remover with a cotton ball. Do not get it on carpet backing. Blot and repeat.
Ways to keep your carpets green and clean without using toxic products
- Don’t install carpet if you have a choice.
- Leave your shoes at the door to keep outdoor pesticides and toxins out of your home.
- If you do have carpets, use a HEPA (high efficiency particle air) vacuum cleaner to ensure better air quality. Micaela over at Mindful Momma just invested in a HEPA vacuum cleaner and has some good tips.
- Rent or buy a steam cleaner. I have done this a few times. Before using a rental make sure you rinse out the cartridge that holds the cleaner with warm water to try and remove any residue from conventional cleaners.
- Buy non-toxic carpet cleaning products. These products are much more costly than the do-it-yourself version. Make sure to read the ingredient list and look up ingredients that look suspicious in the Healthy Child Healthy World Household Products Database. I use Earth Friendly Carpet Shampoo. I also like Bio Kleen Bac Out Enzyme Cleaner.
Remove wine stain in carpet: blot (don’t rub) and then throw on some coarse salt and leave overnight. The salt will absorb the color and keep it from setting, Mix 1 cup cool water, 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) and a very small squirt of dish-washing soap. Spray on the area, and gently blot up, working the stain out. Don’t saturate the carpet. Once done, put a clean white rag or towel over the area to wick up the moisture.
Coffee and other spot cleaning-blot and then use a mixture of water and distilled white vinegar (I use this for cleaning most things). Let sit for 15 minutes then blot again with damp cloth.
Shampooing carpet: According to 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar-straight up vinegar and warm water will do the trick.
To remove a stain, simply blot the spot and dry working from the outside in, rinse thoroughly with clean water, then blot again. Never scrub the carpet, or you risk ruining the carpet fibers or letting the spill soak through to the carpet pad.
For more specific advice, find your type of stain below. In addition to these methods, there are several spot removers on the market; before you try one, test it out in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it doesn’t discolor your carpet.
wet or latex paint
Use a simple cleaning solution made up of 1/4 teaspoon of nonbleach detergent (or white vinegar) mixed with 32 ounces of water.
Special Water-Soluble Stains
Try 1 tablespoon of ammonia mixed with 1 cup of water (but not on wool or wool-blend carpet; instead use mild detergent and water). If that doesn’t work, you can try one part chlorine bleach to five parts water, but only on solution-dyed carpets, such as polypropylene. Bleach will harm other types of carpets; check with the manufacturer if you are unsure what type of carpet you have.
Fat, Oil, and Wax
Place a paper towel over the carpet and iron on warm setting. The wax, fat, or oil should come up off the carpet and stick to the paper towel.
These can be removed by gently rubbing the pile with the edge of a hard and flat surface, such as a dull knife.
Moisten a cotton ball or soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and press it on the affected area. Once the glue residue is thoroughly moistened, gently wipe it off and repeat until the carpet is clean.
Wax and Gum
Use ice to freeze the wax or gum, then shatter it with a blunt object, such as a spoon. Vacuum before the pieces soften, and blot the carpet with a white towel.
Blot the area with a rag dipped in nail polish remover.
Absorb as much as possible with white towels, then blot with a damp, cool cloth. Next, spray or blot with a solution of one part white vinegar to one part water. Finally, apply a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of clear, mild, nonbleach detergent mixed with 32 ounces of water, rinse, and blot dry. If the urine was the result of a dog’s accident, you may also want to try a housebreaking aid such as No-Go.
Homemade Cleaners to Remove Pet Stains & Odors
Getting that coffee or tea stain out of your rug may seem impossible, but you can literally lift it out by pouring a bit of beer right on top. Rub the beer lightly into the material, and the stain should disappear. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times to remove all traces of the stain. Here are some other surprising uses for beer (that aren’t drinking it).
Lift out stains from carpeting and upholstery by sponging them with a solution of 1 cup clear ammonia in 1/2 gallon (2 liters) warm water. Let dry thoroughly, and repeat if needed. Here are some other things you had no idea could remove stains.
Vinegar is the superhero of stain removal (and cleaning in general!). Try these different formulas for homemade carpet cleaners to remove a variety of common stains:
Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum.
For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture and use in the same way.
For tough, ground-in dirt and other stains, make a paste of 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and rub it into the stain using a dry cloth. Let it set for two days, then vacuum.
For spilled paint, use a solution of 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons laundry detergent, and two cups water; sponge away the paint before it sets in and rinse with cold water.
For fruit and fruit juice stains, mix 1 tablespoon laundry detergent with 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar and combine with two cups of water. Work the solution into the stain and blot.
For coffee and tea stains, combine equal parts white vinegar and water and blot the stain.
Your little one is very sorry for spilling a little juice on the carpet, so make it “all better” with some shaving cream on the spot. Blot the stain, pat it with a wet sponge, squirt some shaving cream on it, and then wipe clean with a damp sponge. Shaving cream also works great on grease and oil stains; simply work the cream into the stain, let dry, and rub off with a damp soft cloth. Here are some other things that can remove grease stains.
Oh no, ink on the carpet! In this case, a little spilled milk might save you from crying. Mix the milk with cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the ink stain. Allow the homemade carpet cleaner to dry on the carpet for a few hours, then brush off the dried residue and vacuum it up. Cornstarch is also great for soaking up grease and oil stains. Sprinkle the spots liberally, let sit for several hours, and vacuum up. These other household items can remove ink stains as well.
Use a sprinkle of salt to boost the power of other homemade carpet cleaners:
Don’t panic if you spill red wine on your white carpet. While the red wine is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the color. Then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area with salt and wait about 10 minutes. Now use best vacuum cleaner for carpet and up the whole mess.
For greasy food stains on carpet, mix up 1 part salt to 4 parts rubbing alcohol and rub it hard on the grease stain, being careful to rub in the direction of the rug’s natural nap.
Ketchup spill on your carpet? Act fast because once this one dries, it will be nearly impossible to get out. Sprinkle salt over the spill, let sit for a few minutes, and vacuum. Sponge up any residue and continue salting and vacuuming until the stain is completely gone.
Thoroughly dampen the stained area, then rub in some borax. Let the area dry, then vacuum or blot it with a solution of equal parts vinegar and soapy water and let dry. Repeat if necessary. Don’t forget to first test this DIY remover on an inconspicuous corner of the rug or on a carpet scrap before applying it to the stain.
Can’t tell what that stain is? Still want to remove it? Don’t worry, homemade carpet cleaners can remove mystery stains too. Try this sure-fire homemade remover: Mix a teaspoon of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a little cream of tartar or a dab of non-gel toothpaste. Rub the paste on the stain with a soft cloth. Rinse. The stain, whatever it was, should be gone. Here are some other uses for hydrogen peroxide.
Out of all homemade carpet cleaners, baking soda is your best choice to quickly clean vomit or urine stains from your carpet. Wipe up what you can, then pour baking soda over the affected area and pat with a paper towel. Let the homemade mixture dry completely before vacuuming up the residue. Baking soda will clean, sanitize, and deodorize the messy spot. Baking soda can also be used to lift grease stains when combined with equal parts salt. Sprinkle the mixture over the grease spot, and use a stiff brush to work the powdery concoction into the spot. Let sit for 4 or 5 hours and then vacuum up to completely remove the stain. You can clean your oven glass using baking soda as well!
Scraped knees leave blood stains on your carpet? Cover the stain with equal parts cold water and meat tenderizer and let this homemade remover stand for 30 minutes. Sponge off with cold water. Check out these other ways to remove blood stains as well.
Club soda works wonders on pet urine and other tough stains. Immediately blot up excess urine with paper towels; then soak with club soda; blot again; and scrub with diluted carpet shampoo. Club soda also removes spilled coffee and tea stains; simply pour liberally over the stain and blot to dry. Here are some other genius uses for club soda.
Use baby wipes to blot up spills from your rug or carpet; they make great homemade carpet cleaners, absorbing both the liquid and the stain. Wipes can also be effectively deployed as a homemade stain remover when attacking various spills and drips on your clothing and upholstered furniture.
Removing a stain can be a pain, especially one that has soaked deep down into soft fibers. To remove those deep stains, try using a soft-bristled nylon toothbrush, dabbing it gently to work in the stain-removing agent (bleach or vinegar, for example) until the stain is gone. Here are some other things you should be cleaning with a toothbrush.
Vinegar-Baking Soda Spray
It doesn’t get much easier than this spray. Most of the time, this is the one I choose to use. It’s simple, inexpensive, and works a treat on blood and urine stains in particular.
White vinegar is a miraculous substance that will get rid of even the old accident stains that might have been missed if a dog did a “ninja-pee” behind the bookshelves or something. Baking soda is nature’s odor remover, and teamed up with vinegar, does a great job at getting rid of odors!
You will need…
-2 cups white distilled vinegar
-2 cups of lukewarm water
-4 generous tablespoons of baking soda
-Spray bottle (optional)
Thoroughly blot up as much of whatever it is you’re cleaning up. I can’t emphasize the importance of this step enough. Fold up a rag over it, place a heavy book on it, and stand on the book to make sure you really get it all out (sounds extreme, but it does a good job!) Mix 2 cups of white distilled vinegar with 2 cups of lukewarm water in a large bowl.
Add in 4 heaping tablespoons of baking soda, adding it in smaller amounts if it threatens to fizz over (and it really does fizz!) Pour into a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the area. Let sit for 5 minutes, then gently rub and blot up with a soft cloth. You can also simply pour some straight from the bowl over the stain if you don’t have a spray bottle.
*To clarify these numbers do not refer to “number 1” or “number 2”-they both work for either!
As with the first step, blot or clean up as much as possible. Mix 2 cups of lukewarm water with 2 cups of white distilled vinegar. Instead of adding the baking soda to the liquid, sprinkle it dry liberally over the area where the accident occurred. Let it break down and deodorize for about 5 minutes, then vacuum. Apply the water/vinegar solution as in the first set of directions.
Mix up your water and vinegar solution. After blotting up any excess fluid, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the soiled area. Pour the water and vinegar solution directly onto the baking soda to create a mini cleaning volcano that will actively eat away at the stain. Blot and rub gently dry with a soft cloth after letting it sit for 5 minutes.
2. Hydrogen-peroxide/baking soda mixture
Hydrogen peroxide is another great substance when it comes to breaking down the “crystals” of urine and pulling out stains. Combine it with naturally deodorizing baking soda, and you have another great solution for cleaning up stains.
You will need…
-Paper towels or rags
-A cup or so of baking soda
-1/2 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
-1 teaspoon eco-friendly dish liquid
Cover the stain with paper towels or rags and walk lightly over or place something heavy on top to soak up any excess liquid. Sprinkle a generous handful of baking soda over the stain when no more liquid can be pulled up, and mix together ½ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of dish liquid. Slowly pour the solution over the stain and baking soda. Gently scrub the mixture into the carpet fibers with a scrub-brush or cloth, and then let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Vacuum the area thoroughly. For tough stains, repeat the above steps.
3. Citrus-enzyme cleaner
Popular stain removal products often have lengthy labels telling about how they use “enzymes” to digest and break down stains and odors on a molecular level. It sounds mighty fancy, but with a little time and patience you can easily make your own.
You will need…
-7 tablespoons of brown sugar
-1 ½ cups of lemon and orange peels/scraps
-1 liter of water
-a bottle or clear container large enough to hold the liquid and peels/scraps
Funnel 7 tablespoons of brown sugar into your container, and add the fruit. Next, add the water, and tightly screw on the cap, giving everything a good shake to mix it around. Loosen the cap and leave it on halfway to release the gases and ensure your bottle doesn’t explode due to the build-up. After 3 months, you’re natural enzymatic cleaner will be ready to use!
How to Clean Stubborn Carpet Stains with an Iron and Vinegar
All you need is White Vinegar, Water, a Spray Bottle, A Rag, and an Iron.
Spray the spot with a solution of 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water.
Lay a damp rag over the spot.
Iron on the steam setting for about 30 seconds. If the stain is really stubborn, repeat the steps, but try it, chances are it will work!
Step 1 – Prep
Start by plugging in your iron to let it preheat. (Plug it into an outlet that’s as close to the stain as you can get, or grab an extension cord to make sure the iron will reach all the way to the stain later on.)
Next, fill your spray bottle with a mixture of one part ammonia and one part hot water. Screw the top onto the spray bottle and shake to combine.
Step 2 – Spray
Spray the diluted ammonia mixture liberally onto your carpet stain, then spread one of a clean towel over the top of it.
Step 3 – Iron
Place your iron onto the towel, moving it around slowly to avoid singeing the carpet. After a few seconds, pull back one edge of the towel and have a look. If all goes well, you should see that quite a bit of the stain has come out of the carpet and is now on your towel!
Step 4 – Repeat
Spray more of the ammonia and water mixture onto the stain as needed to keep it moist, then repeat the ironing process using a clean towel. It may take a few towels, depending on how severe the stain is, but eventually the whole stain should come up out of the carpet!
Generally I try to feature “real world scenarios” in the photos here on the blog, but none of us had any carpet stains when we wrote this post! So in order to demonstrate this stain removal technique, we went ahead and created a stain on a small square of carpet. (We made the stain using quite a bit of blue craft paint, if you’re curious. We figured this was a realistic scenario, because who hasn’t spilled craft paint on their carpet at some point??)
And as you can see, that VERY blue stain was no match for this miraculous stain remover!
General Tips for Carpet Stains
When a spill happens, you want to work fast to minimize the extent of the stain. A fresher stain will always be easier to remove than a stain that has sat around for a while.
If whatever you spilled is solid (or a thick liquid like craft paint), use a paper towel to scoop or scrape the excess mess off the carpet. Don’t using a wiping motion at this point, or you could risk making the stain worse. Once you’ve removed as much of the spill as possible, move onto the stain removal method outlined above.
If you spilled a thin liquid like a drink, firmly press a few kitchen towels into the spill to sop up as much of it as you can. Once the spot is no longer saturated, apply the ammonia mixture and start ironing the stain out.
Vinegar, baking soda mixture removes old carpet stain
When I moved in there were a couple dark spots on the carpeting between my kitchen and my bathroom. Since that is probably the heaviest traveled chunk of carpeting in my apartment, I have accidentally added to those original dark stains. But I could never get them out with the carpet cleaner I bought at Target. So I didn’t have much hope for the post on Pinterest saying that baking soda, dish washing liquid and vinegar would get the stains out.
The post says to sprinkle baking soda on the stain and let it absorb, then vacuum it up, but since my stains were so old I kept the baking soda on the spot to add to the power of the mixture. Then combine a tablespoon of clear dish washing liquid, a tablespoon of white vinegar and two cups of warm water. I doubled the amounts because I had about a dozen spots the size of an apple I planned on attacking. The post says to use a wash cloth to sponge the stain with the solution, and blot it until all of the liquid is absorbed.
With the addition of the sprinkle of baking soda, the spots on my carpet fizzed a little and then the soapy mixture started to suds. I used more water to scrub the soapy mixture out of the carpet and had to dab the spots for about 10 minutes or so to get the soapiness to go away. The whole process definitely took longer than the post suggested, but once the carpet was dry the dark spots were gone!