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How to Clean Every Type of Carpet Stain

Posted by Johnine Larsen on May 23, 2016
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Maybe you had renters. Maybe you had kids. Or maybe a guest dropped a glass of wine, or you spilled spaghetti, or your dog didn’t take to potty-training quite as well as you had hoped. At any rate, your carpets aren’t what they used to be.

A clean house is essential if you plan on selling—you want to make the best impression possible on potential buyers—and even if you don’t plan on settling, you might just want to get that “new house” feel back beneath your feet.

If you partner with us to sell your house, we take care of all the prep work: carpet cleaning, window cleaning, staging, professional photography, and even basic landscaping. But if you’re looking for an immediate fix for your carpets, without further ado, here are all the tricks we’ve learned over the years for restoring carpets to pristine condition.



• Method 1

cold water and a sponge.

scrub from the outside in

blot dry

• Method 2

sprinkle the stain with pepsin powder or cover with a thick paste of raw starch and water

○ let dry

brush off residue

○ repeat if necessary


Candle Wax


• freeze and harden wax with an ice cube

• scrape wax away (gently!)

• use a small amount of carpet cleaner to remove excess residue


Cat or Dog Urine


• use a cleaner specifically made to neutralize cat urine (the stain can be removed with regular carpet cleaner, but the smell will remain without specialized cleaner)




• Method 1

let stain harden (use ice if necessary)

scrape off as much chocolate as possible.

mix 3-5 drops laundry detergent with 3 cups water

blot the stain with the mixture (work from the outside in)

blot dry with paper towels

rinse with clean water (work from the outside in)

• Method 2

cover stain with paper towels

iron the area using the lowest setting (the heat will draw the stain up into the paper towels)

The heat from the iron should draw the stain up into the paper towels.


Coffee or Tea


• Method 1

blot the area with a clean paper towel or cloth to draw up excess liquid

spray cold water and keep blotting

• Method 2

mix 1 teaspoon mild detergent with 1 cup lukewarm water

blot the area with a clean cloth or paper towel

mix 1/3 cup white vinegar with 2/3 cups lukewarm water

sponge the area with a clean, white cloth

sponge the area with clean water and blot with a clean towel


Fruit Juice or Berries


• blot up as much juice as possible

• wet a white cloth with any of these options:

1 teaspoon mild detergent with 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 quart cold water

¼ cup baking soda and 2 cups cold water.

¼ teaspoon mild, non-bleach detergent with 1 liter cool water

FOR CRANBERRY JUICE: 3% hydrogen peroxide, then ammonia

• place the cloth over the stain, and gently press into the area (work from the outside in)

• repeat with a clean cloth each time

• rinse with water

blot with cloth until dry




• Method 1

vacuum area (removes loose debris)

blot with a damp white towel

combine laundry detergent and water into a paste

rub the paste into the area with a stiff brush.

rinse with water

blot with paper towels

• Method 2

wet a cloth with rubbing alcohol

rub the area

• Method 3

rinse with a solution of 5 parts water and 1 part vinegar

place a towel over the area and weigh down with a heavy object until dry




• blot the area with paper towels (removes fresh grease) or scrape away dried grease

• sprinkle baking soda, baby powder, or cornmeal over the area (completely cover the stain)

• leave powder on the stain for 6 hours

• vacuum up the powder.

• wet a clean cloth with isopropyl rubbing alcohol and rub the stain from the outside in.

• scrub with water and a grease-cutting dish liquid

• rinse with a cloth dipped in equal parts warm water and white vinegar

• blot the area with a clean, dry towel

• cover with baking soda, cornmeal, or baby powder; vacuum up once the area is completely dry




• freeze or harden the gum with an ice cube

• remove as much of the frozen gum as possible

• dab extra strength Ben-Gay to remove the leftover gum

• clean any residual stains with regular carpet cleaner or a mixture of a gentle laundry detergent and water

• scrub gently, rinse with cool water, and blot dry


Hair Dye


• Method 1

blot area to remove excess dye.

mix 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 tablespoon dish liquid, and 2 cups warm water

blot mixture with a white cloth until the stain is no longer visible

rinse the area by blotting with a clean cloth

• Method 2

blot area to remove excess dye.

mix 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon dish liquid, and 2 cups warm water

blot mixture with a white cloth until the stain is no longer visible

rinse the area by blotting with a clean cloth




• Method 1

spray with a can of alcohol-based hairspray

blot with a clean cloth


• Method 2

sponge the area with a dry-cleaning solvent

mix 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 2 cups warm water

sponge stain with this mixture, then blot until liquid is absorbed

sponge with cold water and blot dry to remove the detergent/vinegar mixture


Ketchup/Tomato-Based Sauce


• scrape up excess sauce with a butter knife

• blot gently to soak up as much sauceas possible.

• rinse with cold water and blot dry.

• Method 1

spray with white vinegar, and let sit for 20 minutes

blot dry

• Method 2

spray with a mixture of 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide and 3 tablespoons cold water, and let sit for 10 minutes

rinse with water and blot dry




• spray with WD-40 and blotting gently (don’t rub!)

• clean the area with a mild laundry detergent and a some of warm water and blot again

• rinse with warm water and blot dry




• blot with rubbing alcohol or alcohol-based hairspray, then blot with a paper towel

• (once stain is removed) moisten the area with water, then blot dry with a clean towel




• wet the area with cool water and soak-dry with towels

• use a commercial carpet cleaner to remove remnants

• FOR DRIED PAINT: remove as much as possible with water and an old toothbrush.




• scrape off excess vomit

• sprinkle area with baking soda, cornstarch, or other absorbent

• let stand 15 minutes before vacuuming

• sponge area with 1 tablespoon liquid hand soap or dishwashing detergent, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 2 cups warm water

• blot until liquid is absorbed

• sponge with cold water to remove solution, then blot dry




• Method 1

blot with a clean cloth

pour a small amount of water and blot again.

make a paste with 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water

apply paste directly to stain, let it dry, and vacuum it up

treat with a regular carpet stain remover

• Method 2

pour white wine (a small amount!) over the stain to bring the color out

blot with a clean cloth.

mix warm water and mild detergent, then blot with a sponge

sponge with cool water

blot dry

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