Removing stains from carpet

Prevent spills and stains from damaging your carpet. Follow these tips for cleaning and removing some of the most common tough stains.

The carpeting in your home can last for years if properly cared for. Routine vacuuming and regular cleaning will help to maintain the beauty of your carpets. Yet even in the most carefully maintained homes, occasional spills and stains are inevitable and require immediate removal to prevent permanent damage. Since stain removal will vary somewhat according to the type of carpeting you have; check with your carpet manufacturer for any special instructions.

The most important rule in stain removal is to deal with the spill as soon as possible. The longer a stain is allowed to set, the more difficult it will be to remove. First, remove any excess fluid or solid matter. For liquids, blot the stained area with absorbent cloths or paper towels. Avoid scrubbing or rubbing the stain, as this will damage the carpet fiber and may also spread the stain to a larger area. For solid matter, use a spoon to carefully scrape the excess. For dry spills, such as powdered drink mix, vacuum thoroughly before using any liquid cleaner.

After you have removed as much of the spill as possible, assess the nature of the stain. For the sake of your carpet, you'll want to use the mildest effective treatment. For example, a very light stain might be dealt with satisfactorily by spraying lightly with water and blotting until the stain disappears. Before using any cleaning agent, test a few drops in an inconspicuous area of the carpet to be sure the agent won't damage or discolor the carpet. Use the smallest amount of cleaner or water possible to avoid saturating the carpeting pad underneath, as this may damage the pad. It's important to rinse after using a detergent solution or the area will become a magnet for dirt and soil.

Club soda is an old stand-by remedy that works well for many food-based stains if used immediately. Apply a small amount of club soda on the stain and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Then blot gently until the area is dry.

Since a quick response to stains is so important, it's a good idea to have an emergency shelf stocked with stain removal agents. Keep these items together in a box or cabinet so that you can find them easily. Here are some items you might want to include on your emergency shelf:

1. A spray bottle containing water only.

2. Club soda.

3. A spray bottle solution of 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and 1 cup of water.

4. A spray bottle solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water. ALWAYS test first in an inconspicuous area.

5. A spray bottle solution of 2 tablespoons household ammonia and 1 cup water. ALWAYS test first in an inconspicuous area.

6. A commercial spot removal agent or dry cleaning solvent.

7. Absorbent white cloths and paper towels.

GENERAL PROCEDURE:

Remove as much of the spill as possible. Scrape solid matter with a spoon or dull knife. Vacuum any dry matter. Blot liquid spills with a clean dry cloth. Apply solution of dishwashing liquid and water to the remaining stain and blot with a clean dry cloth. Rinse with water and blot dry. If stain remains, repeat the procedure with another stain removal agent, always testing first in an inconspicuous area. When carpet is dry, brush and vacuum to restore appearance.



FOOD COLORING, including colored drinks, cough syrups, etc.:

This type of stain is difficult to remove unless dealt with immediately. Remove as much of the stain as possible by blotting with paper towels. Next apply solution of dishwashing liquid and water. Blot with clean dry cloth. Rinse and blot dry. If some staining remains, repeat the process with vinegar solution, rinse with water, and blot with clean dry cloth. Consider using a commercial spot removal agent if stain remains.

GREASY STAINS, such as gravy or salad oil:

As always, remove as much of the material as possible. For greasy stains, you may wish to use a commercial dry cleaning solvent (TEST FIRST). Or try using solution of dishwashing liquid and water. Blot with clean dry cloth to remove the stain, then rinse and blot until dry.

FINGERNAIL POLISH:

Remove as much of the polish as possible by blotting gently with paper towels. Using a non-oily nail polish remover (TEST FIRST), apply the remover to a clean dry cloth and gently blot the stain, being careful not to saturate the carpeting. Use a clean area of cloth each time you blot the stain. When stain is removed, follow with solution of dishwashing liquid and water. Blot with clean dry cloth. Rinse with water and blot until dry.

CHEWING GUM:

Place an ice cube over the gum for 10 - 15 minutes. Then carefully scrape as much of the gum as possible. Use a commercial dry cleaning solvent (TEST FIRST) to remove the remainder of the gum.

INK:

Apply isopropyl alcohol (TEST FIRST) to a clean dry cloth and blot the stain gently. Work carefully to avoid spreading the stain. Repeat until stain is removed, moving to a clean area of cloth each time. Once stain is removed, apply solution of dishwashing liquid and water and blot with clean dry cloth. Rinse and blot until dry. OR, use a commercial spot removal agent (TEST FIRST).

PROTEIN STAINS, such as blood, milk, or eggs:

Remove as much of the stain as possible. Then apply solution of dishwashing liquid and water to the stain and blot with clean dry cloth until stain is removed. Rinse with water and blot to remove moisture. If some staining remains, repeat process with ammonia solution (TEST FIRST). Rinse and blot with clean dry cloth.

URINE:

As always, remove as much of the matter as possible. Spray with solution of dishwashing liquid and water and blot with clean dry cloth. Rinse with water and blot until dry. Repeat this procedure with vinegar solution (TEST FIRST). Rinse and blot with clean dry cloth. OR, use ammonia solution (TEST FIRST). Rinse and blot with clean dry cloth.

VOMIT:

Remove solid matter by scraping with a spoon or dull knife. Blot with paper towels to remove as much of the stain as possible. Spray with solution of dishwashing liquid and water and blot with clean dry cloth. Rinse with water and blot dry. If stain remains, repeat this procedure with ammonia solution (TEST FIRST). Rinse and blot dry.

© High Speed Ventures 2011