Household Cleaning Tips: How To Remove Food Stains From Carpet

Quick advice on removing food from carpets that can help you clean up.

Everyone loves a party, especially if good food is involved. Sometimes, however, people aren't very careful when carrying a plate full of goodies away from the dinner buffet. Accidents do happen, and while they're never intentional, (that's why they're called accidents, after all) they can sometimes leave a big mess behind. If you think a messy carpet can mean hours of scrubbing, or even worse, the end of your carpet, you couldn't be more wrong. Below are some great tips for cleaning food stains from the carpet.

The first thing you should know about cleaning any stain is that you must act quickly. The sooner you act, the less time the stain has to set into the carpet. First, pick up and discard any solid matter. If the stain is fresh, it should lift quickly and easily. Take a clean, damp cloth or sponge and blot at the stain until all the food disappears. Just dab, don't rub the stain because this will cause it to spread, and the last thing you need is a bigger stain. When you rub, you're also weakening the carpet fibers and this can cause a worn spot in the carpet. Also, never apply any type of heat to a stained spot. Heat will lock in the stain, causing it to set in permanently and making it almost impossible to remove. Always test a hidden area of the carpet, such as inside a closet or under a piece of furniture, to make sure your stain removal agent won't cause further damage.

Some of the best stain fighting remedies can be found in most people's kitchens. Vinegar is one of the best all-purpose cleaners around. Depending on the stain, it can be used diluted in warm water or poured straight onto the stain if it's set in deeper. Saturate the stain with the vinegar and blot using a cloth or sponge. When no more of the stain can be lifted, blot with a clean damp sponge to rinse. The smell of vinegar should leave the carpet in a day or two.

Another great stain fighter is baking soda. A paste of baking soda and water can be made and applied directly to the stain. After about twenty minutes, remove the paste and blot with a damp sponge or cloth. Also, if the stain is from a liquid, baking soda or a coarse table salt, such as kosher salt, can be sprinkled directly onto the stain. After about ten minutes, the liquid should be completely absorbed. Blot with a damp cloth or sponge after all the baking soda or salt is removed.

A mild dishwashing liquid or household detergent, one without bleaches or alkalis, also works well for minor stains. Mix a tablespoon or two of the soap with a cup of warm water and blot using a cloth or sponge. Once the stain is completely lifted, rinse by dabbing with a clean damp sponge or cloth.

Hydrogen peroxide is another good household stain lifter. Saturate a cotton ball with the peroxide and dab at the stain until it's lifted. Since this is also a bleaching agent, it's a good idea to test first if you have a dark colored carpet. Rubbing or denatured alcohol is another excellent household stain fighter. Saturate a cloth or cotton ball with the alcohol and blot until the stain is removed. Rinse by blotting with a clean damp towel.

Club soda also removes stains. It can be poured onto a cloth for blotting or poured directly onto the stain prior to blotting. The bubbles go to work before your eyes to remove the stain. When the stain is lifted, blot with a clean damp towel.

"Wicking" is when a stain reappears after the carpet is spot cleaned using a household cleaning product such as the ones mentioned here. Because most of us clean only the surface fibers of the carpet, not deep down into the backing or the padding, the fibers absorb the liquid left in the backing and the stain comes back. After using one of the above stain-fighting methods to clean your carpet, place a thick towel over the stain and weigh down with a couple of heavy books. This should absorb any excess liquid and prevent the stain from making a repeat performance.

If the stain is stubborn, you can try one of many commercial products on the market. Be sure to read the back of the can to make sure the product removes the type of food stain embedded in your carpet and follow the directions accordingly. If you're not confident of your stain fighting ability, or if you can't remove the stain using any of the methods listed here, contact the carpet's manufacturer to see what's recommended for the stain. If worse comes to worse, you can hire a professional carpet cleaner and have your whole rug looking like new in a matter of hours. Don't let careless dinner guests spoil your party. With a little elbow grease and some items found around the house, you're sure to get the stain out in no time.

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