How To Clean Carpet Stains

Man spraying solution on carpet stain.To clean carpet stains blot, don't rub.

Got kids? Then you've got carpet stains. Rather, you are going to have to know how to clean carpet stains.

Carpets are one of the most popular choices for living areas. Advantages are that it's warm and soft and makes a room feel cozy.

Carpet also softens sound, and that, as any parent knows, is a distinct plus. Drawbacks are that it's difficult to keep clean and comparatively easy to stain. And unfortunately food and beverages seem to be attracted to carpet like magnets. 

Here's how to clean carpet stains quickly.

How to Clean Carpet Stains: The 5 Most Common

Most manufacturers put a stain-resistant finish on carpets, but it can only do so much. Deal with spills immediately. The longer you wait, the more the carpet absorbs them.

Scrape up any solids first. Then bot up stains with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Don't rub. Put a small amount of stain remover on a clean cloth and lay it over the stain for 10 minutes. Then begin blotting from the edge of the stain to the center. Rinse the area with cold water and blot dry.

Put a stack of clean white towels on the spot and weight them down with a heavy object for six hours to soak up excess moisture. Caution: If you don't remove all of the cleaning agent, a worse said can result. Don't skip this last step!

Below are recipes for cleaning five common carpet stains:

1.  Ink Stain Removal

Pour a little rubbing alcohol onto a clean dry cloth and blot on the stained area.

2.  Fingernail Polish Spills

Some little lady's in big trouble! Remove the polish with a non-acetate nail polish remover using a clean cloth. Work from the edges to the middle and leave the remover on for a few minutes. Then blot dry. It may take several tries.

3.  Carpet Burns

Okay not exactly a stain - but a carpet blight to be sure! If a large section of carpet is burned, you'll need to patch the carpet.

However, small burns can be disguised by cutting away the burned tips with scissors and trimming the surrounding tufts to disguise the cut.

4.  Blood Stain Removal

Someone get a boo-boo? After you kiss it well (and apply a happy face Band-Aid), go to work on the spot. Rub an ice cube on the stain. As it melts, so will the spot. Don't let the area get too wet, however. Blot up the stain with a clean, white towel.

5.  Pet Stain Removal

Dog on carpet with nose near liquid stain.

Urine is the worst. And once it soaks into the pad, you've got a big problem. First, blot up as much as you can. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent in 1 cup of lukewarm water, and blot it onto the stain with a clean cloth. Blot dry using a second clean cloth. Rinse. Blot dry.

Keep repeating those steps until the spot is gone. Then mix 1/2 cup of white vinegar in one cup of water and blot again.

Finally, put a pile of paper towels on the spot and weight it down with a heavy object until all moisture is absorbed. (Don't use too much liquid, or you will inadvertently spread the urine into the pad yourself.)

Now that we've gone through all that, here's the bad news: it may not work.

Pets' urine changes chemically depending on factors ranging from diet to medication to reproductive cycles. Also, urine can react chemically with some dyes and leave the affected area a different color.

Here's more bad news: Odors from cat urine are difficult to remove completely. For cat stains, you might want to call in the pros. Sometimes you have to patch the carpet. Sometimes you even have to take up the sub-flooring. No kidding.

If you have cats, and you're getting new carpet (brave you!), check into the type with a special backing that prevents spills from going through to the underlying pad.

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