If you’ve ever owned a lightly colored carpet, especially one that is high-quality and/or expensive,
you know the feel of having your heart skip a beat as someone’s red wine teeters dangerously
close to spilling from their glass. If you’re unlucky, you also know the subsequent feeling of
disappointment when said wine actually does spill and you’re left with a very obvious and
unattractive stain. What comes next? Do you hurry to the phone to call the carpet cleaners? Run to
the kitchen for some club soda and towels? Grab some carpet spot treatment? The answer really
depends on the stain. Not all stains are created equal, so here are some tips for getting out all sorts
Water-soluble stains could be anything from wine, beer, coffee, tea, soda, mud, ink, and most food.
For these kinds of stains, you should use a combination of two solutions – one with water and dish
detergent and one with water and vinegar. The water should be slightly warm. You should alternate
between these two solutions, blotting and padding with an uncolored paper towel. This should
work for both synthetic and natural fiber carpets.
Wax, Oil, & Fat
Wax, fat, and oil-based stains include salad dressing, lipstick, motor oil, and more. To clean these
stains, you should first blot (carefully, as not to rub the oil further into the carpet) the area with an
uncolored paper towel. After your blotting towels are no longer absorbing the stain, apply some
rubbing alcohol to another wet paper towel or cloth and press it onto the stain. For a larger stain,
it’s better to use a spot treatment solution or dish detergent rather than rubbing alcohol.
Some wax and fat-based stains include a solid element, like candle wax or lard. For these, you
should first scrape off as much as you can with a dull knife. Then, place a paper towel over the
carpet, and then place an iron on low or warm setting on top of the paper towel. The solid wax, fat,
or oil should stick to the paper towel with this method.
So, what about weirder stains or blemishes that might not fit into either of these categories? Don’t
worry; we have pointers for these miscellaneous stains, too. For a cigarette burn, scrape the burned
parts from the carpet fibers with a dull knife. Depending on how badly the burn has damaged the
carpet fibers, you may be able to lift all of the burned parts off by just gently rubbing them with the
flat part of the knife.
You can use a towel dipped in nail polish remover to remove nail polish stains from carpet. Just
make sure that it isn’t an especially heavy-duty type of nail polish remover, so your carpet won’t be
damaged. For gum stains (and this will sometimes work for wax as well), place ice over the stain
until the stain is thoroughly frozen. Then break the frozen gum or wax up into small pieces with the
back of a spoon. After this, vacuum up the pieces quickly before they unfreeze again.
Try some of these handy tricks the next time you get a stain on your carpet, and see how they work