Is there anything worse than trying to get a stain out of your favorite carpet? No matter how hard you try to keep your house clean; stains happen. Sometimes the stain can be serious enough that it completely ruins your carpet, or makes it unpresentable.
Thankfully, the damage is often not as bad as it seems and there are several cleaning methods that you can employ, based on the type of stain. As rugs vary in design and materials, we recommend that you first research the type of carpet you own to see if the manufacturer states whether any particular substance should never come into contact with it.
1. Liquid stains
Stains in this category often include soft drinks, juices, soup, and gravy. One of the first steps you should always take when cleaning up a liquid is to soak up as much of it as possible with paper towel and then blot (but do not rub) the area with wet paper towel.
After this, mix together ½ cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of liquid dish detergent, and some warm water in one container. Pour that into a spray bottle and follow by spraying a generous amount of the liquid onto the stained area. Blot it with paper towel, soaking up both the soapy water and the stain; repeat as needed.
For liquids that create tougher stains, such as coffee, follow the steps above. However, substitute laundry detergent for dish detergent. If this does not work, bleach is an option, but do some research first to make sure that that the bleach will not permanently alter the color of your rug, leaving you with a worse situation than you have already.
2. Dirt stains
If you have children, they have probably tracked mud through the house at some point. While one typically tries to soak up as much of a fresh stain as possible, you should actually let the mud dry completely before trying to remove it. Vacuum or otherwise collect as much of the mud residue as you can. For any stain that remains, mix some laundry detergent and water and blot the area with that mixture using a paper towel. Repeat as necessary and then rinse the area with water to remove any remaining soap.
3. Food stains
These can vary in complexity depending on the type of food. A mixture of laundry detergent and water works best here. Remove any of the spilled food as quickly as possible from the rug and spray your cleaning mixture on the spot. Blot the area with water and paper towel and repeat as needed, removing any leftover soap afterward.
4. Glue stains
These require a different approach as dried glue can be quite difficult to get rid of. Try and remove as much of the glue as you can without damaging the rug. Cover what remains of the glue with a cloth and go over that area with a warm iron. This heat should cause the leftover glue to loosen and adhere to the cloth, leaving little or none remaining on the carpet.
5. Pet stains
Pet stains can be a particular challenge because they not only cause embarrassing and ugly stains, but also leave a lingering odor. For urine accidents, try and soak up as much of the urine as possible before it dries and hardens. Rinse the area repeatedly with soap and water until the stain is eliminated. You will then employ a product designed to neutralize pet odors. Be sure to check and see whether the urine has soaked through to the under padding; if so, you may find yourself having to replace it.
For feces stains, the sort of laundry stain remover used on clothes will help here. After removing the poop and cleaning the spot with water, spray on the recommended quantity of stain remover. If the area remains discolored, try scrubbing it with a brush and yellow laundry soap. Repeat these steps until the stain is gone and then remove any soap residue with water.
6. When all else fails
If you do not feel confident about mixing your own solution or do not have the time to do all of the required cleaning steps, there are a number of carpet cleaners on the market that you can instead buy.
Most of these carpet cleaners use chemicals as their main cleaning agent. While these are often effective, these present potential problems for those with animals in their homes, as left over residue can harm them. If you have pets, we recommend that you try one of the suggestions above instead.
You have no doubt seen a few carpet cleaners at your local supermarket, and luckily for you, they can be rented for use in your home. The rental almost always includes the cleaning solution recommended by the manufacturer; if you use something else and the carpet is damaged, you will likely have to cover the cost of replacing the rug yourself.
Follow the supplied directions as far as the amount of solution and the number of treatments to give the area in question. These machines (some of which employ steam) can be quite good at removing embedded dirt.
If you have not had success with the methods we have suggested or do not feel you have the time or elbow grease to try them, there are professional carpet cleaning services available to help. They are used to dealing with all different kinds of stains and have effective methods to eliminate them.
Professional cleaners can be especially helpful if the stain happens to cover a large portion of your rug. If you have pets, take a second to check that the cleaning solutions they use are not toxic to animals.
Carpet stains can be a vexing problem, but rest assured that there are few instances where you will find yourself having to replace the rug. Various effective carpet cleaning products are on the market, but if you like to tackle problems yourself, try one of the homemade solutions we have suggested. Whichever route you take, lean more about what sorts of solutions that should or should not go on to your carpet to ensure that your efforts do not result in further frustration.