Getting a persistent stain out of your carpet can be tough. It seems like you only do more damage, like spreading the mess, when you try to get it out yourself. You wonder how your neighbors and friends have such well-kept carpet. Perhaps they know something you don’t: Stains are unique. Because different stains have different components, they all need to be treated differently. Therefore, doing your “stain homework” ahead of time can really help you get those evil stains out of your carpet before they do major damage.
Here are a few common carpet stains and effective ways to get them out.
Many of the stains we have to contend with are water-soluble stains. These include most drinks, mud, and latex paint. If you encounter such a stain, try making up a solution of white vinegar and water. Use ¼ teaspoon of the vinegar and fill the rest of the bottle up with water. If you don’t have white vinegar, you can also use non-bleach detergent if you have some on hand. Then simply blot the stained area, being careful not to ruin the carpet fibers or spread the stain by rubbing it. You may need to repeat the process a few times, but with a little persistence, you should be able to completely remove the stain.
Special Water-Soluble Stains Such As Coffee and Vomit
Some water-based stains need a bit of a different treatment. These include coffee, vomit, and mustard. To deal with these messes, try mixing one tablespoon of ammonia with one cup of water. Blot the area. If that doesn’t quite work, you can also try chlorine bleach mixed with water. However, make sure you know what kind of carpet you have before trying these treatments, as some react poorly to them. For example, if you have wool or wool-blend carpet, don’t use the ammonia approach. And only try the bleach approach if you have solution-dyed carpet. If you are unsure what kind you have, research online or call your carpet retailer.
Fat, Oil, and Wax
If you happen to have a stain caused by fat, oil, or wax, you may be at a loss for what to do. But don’t panic. It just takes a slightly different approach than you may be expecting. Place a paper towel over the stained area and iron with a warm (not hot!) iron. The substance should stick to the paper towel and be lifted out of the carpet, leaving your carpet mess-free.
A unique approach can also be taken with gum. To remove it from your carpet, you can do a few things: First, try freezing the spot with an ice cube. Then shatter the gum into pieces using a hammer and vacuum it up. If this doesn’t work for you, try using peanut butter. Massage it into the gum, wait for a few minutes, then scrape it up with a butter knife or putty knife. If you use this approach, you’ll obviously have to remove the peanut butter stain (just blot with dishwashing detergent or white vinegar.)
About the Author: David Glenn is a freelance writer who is currently involved with carpet cleaning in Anaheim, California. He specializes in DIY home improvement techniques and interior design consulting.