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How to Remove Asphalt Stains

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If your carpet has fresh asphalt stains they can probably be removed, although carpets with natural fibers and some dyes might require professional help. How old a stain is makes a difference, as does the age and construction of the carpeting itself. Natural fibers in particular can be tough to get clean. It is usually best to call a carpet cleaner and ask for advice before trying to remove heavy asphalt stains on your own. But if you really want to do it yourself, here are the steps to take.

Blot up any excess with white paper towels if it is wet asphalt, and scrape hardened pieces out with a dull knife. Then put some isopropyl rubbing alcohol on a clean white cotton cloth (you can also use plain white paper towels, but they may not hold together too well), and dab at the stain to remove it. Don't use too much alcohol or it will drip down into the backing of the carpet and possibly cause it to delaminate. Dab and/or rub in one direction until you see no more stain transfer onto the cloth.

Avoid any heavy rubbing or circular motions. If there is still asphalt remaining, continue with the next step. Otherwise, dab the area with a water-moistened cloth, soak up the moisture with paper towels or cloth and repeat this process several times to remove all alcohol.

This video shows another method to remove tar or asphalt from carpeting using a commercial solvent...

If you still see a stain, mix a few drops of Dawn (R) dish washing detergent into a cup of warm water and apply it to the spot a little at a time using a clean white cotton cloth. Blot the solution up, reapply, and blot it up again. repeat this until you see the no transfer of the stain to the cloth. At that point you have removed all of the asphalt stain that is likely to come out with this method. Rinse and blot several times to remove the detergent. A spray bottle of plain water works well for rinsing.

Place a thick stack of folded plain white paper towels over the spot and put some weight on it. Allow this to soak up the remaining moisture for an hour or longer. If there is still some asphalt, there is one more thing to try.

Carefully apply hydrogen peroxide (3% - the common kind you get at any grocery store) to the stained fibers using a cotton swab. Let this remain for an hour, blot it up and repeat the process one more time if necessary. Blot up any remaining moisture.

How to Remove Asphalt - Part Two

If there is still some stain, and it is limited to a few of the fibers, or to just the top of the fibers, you might be able to cut it out. If just the tops are stained, trim the tops carefully using small scissors. Done right, the low spot in the carpet will not be noticed. You also might consider cutting out the stained tufts and gluing new ones in their place (the latter obtained from the corner of a closet where they won't be missed).

If you have general discoloring over large areas because of foot traffic coming in from an asphalt driveway or parking lot, a professional cleaner may be able to remove most of this as long as you don't wait too long.

Preventative measures are easier than removing stains, so limit traffic for a few days after the driveway or parking lot is resurfaced. At home you might just have a no-shoes policy, at least until the new asphalt on the driveway has cured for a while.

If you have small stains you can't remove and you do not want to pay for help, see our page on carpet repair. You maybe able to either snip out the stained fibers or replace a small piece of the carpet.

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