Removing Nasty Spots and Stains

Posted by: on March 27, 2017

With today’s stain resistant carpets, treating spots and stains has never been easier. With proper patience and prompt attention, most common household spills can be removed. Or, you could just avoid spilling on your carpet in the first place! (Realistic….right??)

Preventing soiling and spills is really all about planning in advance, whether for a party or for everyday living. But no matter how hard you try, spots and stains are bound to happen. What your carpet is made of will give you clues about which cleaning solution will work best. Natural fibers absorb more moisture than man-made fibers; therefore, drying takes much longer and the risk of tracking soil is far greater. Check the pH of the cleaning solution. Wool requires a neutral or slightly acidic pH. Man-made fiber can withstand more alkaline solutions, which cut grease and suspend soil faster. Check your manufacturer recommendations if you’re not sure what to use.

Removing Spots and Stains

Act quickly! Many spills can be removed when immediate action is taken. The longer you wait, the higher the probability that the spill will become a permanent stain. No carpet is completely stain proof. So to knock out spots, give them a one-two punch!

STEP ONE: Absorb the spill

Blot liquids with a dry, white absorbent cloth or plain white paper towels (no prints or colors) (Warning: Use of a printed or colored material may transfer ink or dye to your damp carpet!) Start at the outside of the spot and continue toward the center to prevent the stain from spreading. Blot until barely damp. Semi-solids like food spills may need scooping with a spoon. Solid, dried bits can be vacuumed up. (Warning: Do not scrub! Scrubbing can damage the carpet because fraying and texture change is the likely result. Use a soft white cloth to blot the spot.)

STEP TWO: Treat the spot or stain

Use a CRI Seal of Approval carpet cleaner. Make sure to add one to your shopping list before an emergency arises. Though these have been laboratory tested, make sure you have pretested any cleaner on a hidden area of your carpet.

Follow the product’s directions carefully. Generally speaking, apply a small amount of the cleaner to a white cloth and work in gently, from the edges to the center. Blot; don’t scrub. You may need to do this several times to remove the spot.

  • Use plain water: surprisingly, water often works better than untested carpet cleaners.
  • Use a detergent solution: Mix 1/4 teaspoon of a clear (nonbleach, nonlanolin) dishwashing liquid with 1 cup warm water. Try this on spilled wine and smeared chocolate. Never use laundry detergent; it may contain bleach or simply be too harsh. 
  • Use a white vinegar solution: Mix 1 cup white (not red wine or cider) vinegar with 1 cup water. White vinegar (5 percent acetic acid) is sometimes more effective on tannin (a weak vegetable dye found in tea and coffee), and it leaves no residue. However, be careful because acids can set some other dye stains.

Don’t overclean!

 Zealous people can get into trouble when trying to remove stains and spills from the carpet. Remember to:

  • Properly mix solutions so you don’t create too strong a concentration. In truth, more isn’t better
  • Use the right amount of water and don’t keep the carpet damp for long.
  • Use the right solution on the stain or spill.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions. In particular, test the product on a hidden spot of the carpet before applying it where all can see the results.


Question: What is one of the worst stains? Answer: Paint is high on the list. Don’t take chances. Use a drop cloth during any painting projects, covering every inch of carpet.

(credit: CRI carpet cleaning tips for dummies)




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