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How to Get Out Carpet Stains of All Types

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Note: This is our "basic procedures" page for removing carpet stains of various types. It will give you an idea of what to do about most spills and stains. For more detailed instructions on removing specific stains, see the list on the homepage.

The first thing you need to know is to act fast, while it is still a spill or a spot rather than a stain. Many carpets today come treated with stain-resistant substances, so spills can be removed easily if you get them right away. The longer you delay, the more difficult removing those stains becomes--and there are no stain-proof carpets (at least not yet).

Carpet cleaners will tell you that "spots" are removable, while stains are permanent. We will not stick to the technical definitions, and in any case, the appearance of carpet stains can be improved even when the stain cannot be fully removed. Just follow the guidelines below, and check the alphabetical list on the home page for directions for specific types of problems.

Liquids

When it is a liquid spill, blot it up carefully; don't rub or you may make it worse. As much as possible try to always use clean white cotton cloth or plain white paper towels (ones that do not have any colored designs printed on them). Just put the cloth on the spot and let it soak up the liquid, pushing down gently and starting with fresh rags or paper towels as necessary.

When you have removed as much of the liquid as you can in this way, rinse the spot with water and blot again until dry. Don't pour too much water on the area though. Dribble it on carefully or use a spray bottle. Repeat if necessary to remove more of the stain, but don't scrub the area, or you may damage the carpet and set the stain in more permanently.

The following video looks at how to get liquids and liquid-based stains out of carpet.

Semi-Solids

Peanut butter, pudding and other semi-solid substances can be scraped and lifted gently with a spoon or dull butter knife. Rinse the remaining spill out and blot dry. Repeat the rinsing until you get no more transfer of the substance to the cloth and can no longer smell it in the fibers (get your nose down there).

Dried Solids

If semi-solids have already dried they should be broken up and vacuumed first. Use your fingers to break them up or carefully pinch them between two spoons. Continue breaking it up and vacuuming until it is essentially gone. Then rinse the spot with water and blot dry.Repeat the rinsing if needed.

Use Water for Most Stains

Whenever you are not sure how to get out carpet stains, try water first. One exception to this rule is when the staining substance consists of certain types of glue, like Gorilla Glue. If you need something more, go to the page on Carpet Stain Removers.

When using a cleaning solvent, apply it to a cloth first, then work it in from the outside of the stain to the center, so you don't spread the spot. The procedure is to apply the cleaner, extract (blot), rinse, extract, and repeat until you can't get out more of the stain. Always extract solvents completely.

The Importance of Fast Drying

Dry the carpet quickly when you are done cleaning something up in it. If there is any stain remaining deeper down in the carpet, quick drying prevents it from wicking up to the surface. Blot up all the rinse water you can with paper towels or cotton cloth. One technique that will get most of the remaining moisture is to stack paper towels on the spot with some weight on them (a brick, a gallon-sized jar of something, etc.). Replace the paper towels as they get wet. Final drying is helped by having a fan blow on the spot for a couple hours.

Stain Removal Secret

One of the most useful tools for removing carpet stains is a shop-vac. With a wet/dry vacuum cleaner you can quickly suck up spills, but more importantly, you can repeatedly flush the area with water and suck it out. This is much more efficient than blotting with a cloth, and less likely to cause damage to the carpet.

How to Easily Get Rid of All Carpet Stains

There is one last suggestion you might want to consider. It will alleviate all problems related to stains in your carpeting. It is this: get rid of the carpet!

It is easier to care for hardwood or tile floors, and you can still have area rugs where you want something softer for your feet. Tile or hardwood can last a lifetime if cared for properly, and that care is usually cheaper than regular carpet cleaning. Health benefits are another reason to consider this radical solution. Dust mites thrive in carpets, causing allergic reactions in some people, and new carpeting releases fumes for months, which also irritates some people.

How to Remove Carpet Stains | Get Out Carpet Stains of All Types