Carpet Stain Removers
By Steve Gillman
Of all the carpet stain products that are available, water
is the one to try first. Virtually all others have the potential
to damage your carpet (water will generally only hurt if it is
not dried up and so allows mildew to grow). Many cleaning products
are caustic, like bleach, and will remove the dye from the carpet
if not used properly. They generally don't become inert, so they
continue to damage your carpet over time if they are not rinsed
out completely. So try water first.
When Water Isn't Enough
Many of the commercial carpet stain removers work well, but
some are designed for particular types of stains. Read the label
Also, some will work better or worse on a particular type
of carpet. Read the label for warning about use on any particular
carpeting (wool is easily damaged by some products), and pretest
the product in an inconspicuous area. To do do this, apply several
drops of the solvent to your carpet, then press a white cotton
cloth on the area for fifteen seconds. Examine the cloth to see
if there is color transfer from the carpet, and examine the carpet
for color changes or other damage. If there is any color transfer
or damage at all, try a different stain remover.
To treat a spill or carpet stain, apply the cleaning agent
to a white cotton cloth and work it into the spot gently. Work
from the outside towards the center, so you don't spread the
spot, and don't rub too hard. Blot the stain after a few minutes,
then reapply the solvent. A shop-vac, if you have one, works
better than blotting. Continue in this way until you no longer
get a transfer of the stain to the cloth. If this doesn't remove
all of the spot, other carpet stain removers can be tried.
Once you have removed as much of the stain as possible, rinse
the area with cold water. Blot up the water or use your shop-vac.
Repeat, until you are sure all of the stain remover is out. You
can use a stack of plain white paper towels with a weight on
them to soak up the last of the water. Also, a fan will help
speed up the drying time. Fast drying prevents any remaining
stain that is deep down in the carpet from wicking up to the
Dawn dish washing detergent (a few drops in a cup of water)
makes a decent carpet stain remover. It works especially well
on greasy stains (maybe a teaspoonful to a cup of water). Use
the original blue Dawn, and follow the process outlined above.
For a better idea of what to use on specific stains, see the
list on the Homepage.
When to Avoid Water
Water can make matters worse with some types of glue spills.
For more on how to get these out, see the page How
to Get Glue Out of Carpet.
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