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How to clean stains from carpet ”

If you have carpet in your home, there’s a good chance you will need one of these cleaning hacks at some point. Whether it’s a coffee spill, a pet stain, permanent marker from your artistic children or something else, you should know how to clean stains from carpet. Prompt and immediate attention to any spillages or stains is essential to avoid the penetration of a stain into the carpet fibers. Liquids (particularly hot liquids) must be attended to immediately. If allowed to cool or dry, the stain will be almost impossible to clean. In this stain removal guide, I will try to give you tips and tricks for removing the most common stains from carpet. And the great part is that these tricks will also work for upholstery cleaning!

  • How do you get old stains out of carpet?
  • How to clean yellow stains from carpet
  • The best homemade carpet cleaning solution
  • Does vinegar and baking soda clean old stains from carpet?
  • Does Vinegar discolour carpet?
  • Why do carpet stains keep coming back?
  • Tips for cleaning the most common stains from carpet

How do you get old stains out of carpet?

You might think an old stain on carpet would be easier to clean than a fresh one, but the opposite is actually true. Old stains are harder to clean for laundry and the same is true for carpet. The longer an old stain sits on the carpet, the smaller the chances to clean it. The trick is to rehydrate the original stain, to go back in time to when the stain was fresh. Once you rehydrate the old stain, you can clean it as though it just happened. 

Many people admit to moving furniture around to cover old stains as they didn’t feel in the mood to clean them. Unfortunately, this is a mistake and there are various things you can try on an old stain.

When it comes to cleaning old stains, patience is the key.


Water and dish soap is the safest method to start with. It’s safe enough for wool blend carpets and it will not leave a stain. This method is ideal when you don’t know what type of stain you are dealing with.

Mix a cup of room temperature water with a few drops of dish soap. Use a white towel or a microfiber towel to work it into the stain. Don’t get it too wet or it could soak through the carpet pad. Remember not to rub, you just need to blot. Let it sit for a few minutes and then use a clean cloth and fresh water to blot the stain. This is to get the soap out of the carpet. 

If this method doesn’t work, next you should try a mixture of water, vinegar and dish soap. By mixing 2 cups of water with a tablespoon each of vinegar and dish soap, you can tackle water soluble stains, such as milk and juice spills.

If you are dealing with a grease stain, try using baking soda mixed with vinegar. Sprinkle a layer of dry baking soda on the stain. Then, mix a cup of white vinegar with a cup of water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. The vinegar will foam when it hits the baking soda which will clean the stain. Leave it to sit for a few hours. It will harden, but you can break it up and use your vacuum to suck it up. 

How to clean yellow stains from carpet

There are various reasons why carpet can turn yellow, and depending on what’s causing it, the method to remove the yellow stains from carpet will be different.

Tar oil stains

Tar oil stains can leave a yellow cast on your carpet. If that’s what’s causing the problem, you can clean the stain using the following method:

  1. Scoop up the tar.
  2. Blot the area with a towel. 
  3. Vacuum the area.
  4. Apply a carpet cleaning solution or dishwashing liquid to the stain. Start from the outer part of the stain and move inward. This will ensure the tar stain doesn’t spread. 
  5. Rinse the area. 
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 until the stain has been removed.
  7. Dry the carpet with a hand dryer or place a clean white towel on the affected area and leave overnight. 
  8. Vacuum the spot again to ensure there is no tar residue left.

Pet urine

Yellow stains on carpet can be a direct result of pet urine. The best way of tackling them is:

  1. Blot the affected area with a white piece of cloth – this absorbs the wetness.
  2. Wet another white cloth with isopropyl alcohol.
  3. To ensure effectiveness, test the alcohol on the part of the carpet that is not visible. 
  4. After that, you can apply it to the stain.

Unknown yellow stains

Unidentified yellow spots on carpets with synthetic or woolen fiber can be removed using lemon juice and salt. The process is simple:

  1. Pour a mixture of lemon juice and salt on the spot. 
  2. Rinse. 
  3. Use a white towel to dry the area.

The best homemade carpet cleaning solution

The first thing you need to do before choosing the best homemade carpet cleaning solution, is to identify the type of carpet. What you use to clean stains from carpet will be a result of the fiber, which can be synthetic or natural.

What is the best homemade stain cleaner for synthetic carpet?

  • Detergent solution: Mix ¼ teaspoon of a translucent liquid dishwashing detergent into one cup of lukewarm water.
  • Vinegar solution: Mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups of water.

What is the best homemade stain cleaner for natural carpet?

  • Detergent solution: Mix one teaspoon of translucent liquid dishwashing detergent into 1 cup of lukewarm water.
  • Vinegar solution: Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with ¼ cup of water.
  • Ammonia solution: Mix one tablespoon of clear household ammonia with ½ cup of lukewarm water.

Does vinegar and baking soda clean old stains from carpet?

Vinegar and baking soda are miracle stain removers for most types of stains. Pour a small amount of vinegar on the stain, followed by a sprinkle of baking soda. The vinegar works to saturate and soften up the offending mark while the baking soda does the lifting and deodorizing. Together, they bubble a little and work as a team to lift the stain to the surface. If you have a minor stain you can just leave the mixture until it dries and vacuum it up, or you can let it sit for 30 minutes or so and rub or blot up the stain with a damp cloth if it’s a little more of a stubborn stain. Let it dry thoroughly and then vacuum.

Does Vinegar discolour carpet?

Any type of vinegar has mild acetic acid as part of its contents which on its own can lead to discoloration of unstable fabric, especially dark coloured ones, especially if it is left on the fabric for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, yes, vinegar can stain a carpet, depending on the carpet and the time the vinegar was left to soak on it.

For the best results, you should dilute the vinegar with water before applying it to your carpet. Never pour undiluted vinegar directly onto the stain, as this will only serve to soak your carpet, spread the stain and possibly damage the fibers.

Ideally, you should mix about one half vinegar with one half water in a spray bottle, and mist the area gently. Let the solution sit for about five to ten minutes and blot it gently but firmly with paper towels. Repeat until the stain disappears.

Why do carpet stains keep coming back?

The most common cause for stains coming back shortly after you thought they were gone forever, is wicking. This occurs when the substance that was spilled on the carpet has soaked through into the backing of the carpet (and sometimes even the underlay). When you clean the stain, you are cleaning the surface of the carpet. But then the spill that is trapped in the backing and/or underlay can be reabsorbed by the carpet and make its way up the fiber strands, back to the surface—like traveling up the wick of a candle (hence the name).

Wicking typically occurs when the carpet is wet. This can happen if you have your carpet cleaned, and the carpet is left very wet . This is especially a risk if you choose to steam clean your carpet yourself because many rental units are not powerful enough to extract all of the water from the fibers.

Tips for cleaning the most common stains from carpet

No matter how hard you try to protect your carpet from getting stained, you are probably going to fail. And that is because some stains are so common that it’s hard not to get them. But hopefully with these easy hacks, you’ll be able to clean them in no time and keep your carpet nice and clean!

Grease stains

Grease stains on carpet will respond to various substances which won’t make any damage. In order to clean oily stains, all you need is some baking soda or cornstarch, dishwashing liquid, a soft bristled brush, a clean cloth and a vacuum cleaner. First, gently scrape the excess using a knife or blot with a paper towel. Then you have to absorb the moisture, spreading some baking soda or cornstarch over the stain will do that. Leave it for about 15 minutes, then vacuum the spot thoroughly. If the stain is still visible, then you’ll have to break up the grease with some warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Pour the mixture over the carpet stain, leave for a while, then gently brush it using back and forth motion, and blot the spot with a clean cloth.

Chocolate stains

Here’s something really important: You must never wash chocolate and candy stains using hot water, because just like tomato stains, the heat can set the sticky stains into the fabric permanently. When dealing with chocolate stains on carpet, first you need to place some paper towels on the floor and put the carpet (stain side down) on them.

Then mix 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with 1/2 teaspoon of ammonia and the water and agitate very well. Get a clean cloth, dab it into the solution and start gently blotting the stain from the back.  If the ammonia solution doesn’t work, you can try pouring some hydrogen peroxide on the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse the area thoroughly. Be very careful as hydrogen peroxide can dissolve dye from dark fabrics, so be careful.

Grass stains

First step in cleaning grass stains is to vacuum the carpet as much as possible, to remove the leftover grass or soil. In case of stains caused by vegetables, blot the excess moisture with a clean towel. Apply a small amount of laundry detergent directly onto the stain. Put some pressure on it, so you can clean as much of the colouring as possible. Rinse everything with some water and continue blotting. If the stain isn’t budging, you can try pouring some white vinegar onto it, leave it for a couple of minutes, then rinse with some water and blot dry the area.

Juice stains

As with any liquid stain, you need to blot as much as you can of the juice stain with a paper towel. Take a mild dishwashing detergent and mix it with 1 cup of warm water. Apply it to the carpet stain and blot for a while. Mix ½ cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water into a spray bottle and spray the stain thoroughly. You can then apply some more of the dishwashing detergent mixture. Clean the affected area with some water and a damp towel. You can also apply some paper towels and press them with something, so they can absorb the moisture.

Coffee and tea stains

First, blot the stain to remove the excess, using either a paper towel or a lint-free cloth. Mix one spoon of liquid soap, 1 spoon of white vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. Apply the solution onto the stain and leave it for 15 minutes. If the stain is old, you can also sprinkle some baking soda on top of it, it will start foaming, which will make the dried stain come off more easily. Get a bowl of cold water and a sponge and start gently sponging to clean the solution and the stain. If the stains are still visible, you can repeat the process.

Wax stains

Never try to tackle a wax stain while it’s still hot as it will only smear it all over the carpet and make it even tougher to clean the stain. You must wait for the stain to dry and only then try to clean it. After the wax stain is fully dry, put a piece of baking paper on top of it, and go over it with a hot iron. The wax will melt and automatically stick to the paper. If you can still see some staining, you should mix a few drops of laundry detergent with some water and shampoo the affected area.

Blood stains

Blood stains on carpet should always be treated with cold water, as the hot one will make them permanent. Apply cold water and dab the stain with a clean cloth. Some fresh blood stains will start fading after that. Make a paste from baking soda and some cold water, apply it on the stain and use the soft brush to scrub it gently. Rinse and dry. Repeat the process if necessary.

These tricks are meant to help you clean any type of stain as soon as it happens or and old stain, without professional help. But depending on the type of carpet, age of stain, and products used on that stain before, you may find it hard to DIY. In this case, it is probably better to call a professional carpet cleaning company, as they always have stronger products and more powerful equipment. Choosing the best carpet cleaners is not always the easiest process, but a good way to start is by asking your friends and family for recommendations, as well as to read the online reviews. When arranging an appointment with a professional, make sure you mention the type of stain and the methods you’ve used so they know how to prepare for the job.

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How to clean stains from carpet

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