Carpet Cleaning Tips for Stubborn Stains

Need help with carpet cleaning and stain removal? Here’s how to get out everything from bleach to chocolate, blood and red wine.

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If you’ve got a seriously stubborn stain or are afraid of doing more harm than good to your carpet, you always have the option of hiring a professional carpet cleaner.

But here are some DIY tips on how to clean carpet that can help you tackle everything from bleach and red wine to blood and even nail police and pet urine smell using store-bought cleaning supplies or homemade carpet cleaner.

Red wine, grape juice and coffee

These two stains are generally considered the worst of the worst by carpet care experts, as they’re both acidic and have deep colors, making them almost impossible to remove if they’re not immediately caught.

If you see the stain happen or find it still wet, pour club soda or water over the affected area and blot it up with a cloth.

Do not rub or grind in the stain; blot the stain until it no longer remains. If the stain is still there after the carpet dries, use borax or baking soda paste in combination with cold water.

Candle wax

Candle wax can easily work its way into carpet fibers and create a slippery, oily mess.

If the wax is still hot when spilled, be careful cleaning it up. Use an ice cube or ice pack to freeze whatever is left over. Once frozen, the wax will clump together and you should be able to pick most of it out.

Motor oil

Hopefully you don’t have too many motor oil spills in your living room, but if this or another oil product ends up on your carpet, start by blotting up as much of it as you can.

Next, use shaving cream on the stain, and be sure to work the cream into the stain thoroughly using a brush.

While for most stains you want to avoid rubbing to prevent further contamination, the oil in these products lets them spread quickly throughout a carpet’s fibers, and you want to make sure as much shaving cream as possible is worked into the stain.

Make sure to use a shaving cream without added moistuizers because they can add oil to the carpet.

For more serious, oil-based stains, you may want to consult a professional carpet cleaner. Your type of carpet — Berber carpet, thick or thin frieze, natural or synthetic — will determine how aggressive you can be in stain removal and whether you need to call in outside help.

Other oils or grease

If you spill something oily or greasy, blot away the excess quickly with a clean paper towel.

Sprinkle salt or baking soda on stain and leave it overnight. Later, vacuum the salt or baking soda off of the stain area.

Ever wonder why spots that were removed “magically” re-appear? Here’s how to treat them to stop them from affecting your carpet.


Blood is thick and organic, which means it can easily stain your carpet.

Remove as much as you can with a spoon or cloth and use an enzyme-based laundry detergent to break the blood down. If the stain is already dry when you find it, apply hydrogen peroxide directly, let it soak in and blot with water.


Even the mot well-behaved dog or cat may want to leave their mark.

If you have a pet urine stain, absorb as much as you can with an unprinted paper or cloth towel.

Follow up with a solution that’s half white vinegar and half water.

Finish off the process with a solution that’s one-half teaspoon of clear, non-bleach detergent mixed with 32 ounces of water. Rinse the area and blot it dry one final time.

Quick answer: Dab the wet urine with paper towel, then use a vinegar solution to help remove odors from the carpet.


Whether it’s pen or marker, is ink usually intended to be permanent, so getting an ink stain can be one of the most challenging carpet cleaning tasks you could face.

The key is to immediately blot the area with a clean, white cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. Don’t pour the rubbing alcohol directly into the ink stain, since that can cause it to spread. Be sure to blot, don’t rub, which can also cause the stain to spread.

If you’re concerned about whether your carpet is color fast, test a small area first with the rubbing alcohol.

Nail polish

A little nail polish remover on a white rag or cloth can do the trick when it comes to removing nail polish, but test your carpet’s color fastness in a less noticeable spot before tackling a big stain.

Both light and dark carpet colors have their own pros and cons when it comes to stain removal. Find out more to choose the best carpet for your lifestyle.


Soda stains require immediate action due to their high acidic content. The acid loosens the fibers of the carpet and allows the stain to quickly settle in for a long stay.

Clean these spots immediately by absorbing all of the liquid with a heavy towel. Follow by scrubbing the area thoroughly with a mixture of dish soap and water.


There are few messes worse than a piece of chewing gum getting stuck in the carpet.

Make it a little less of a sticky situation by using a piece of ice to freeze the chewing gum before trying to remove it.

“Shatter” the frozen gum gently with a hammer or other blunt object. Then ise a vacuum to remove the pieces before the gum has time to reset.

Dirt or mud

Dirt, grime and mud are some of the most common stains found in carpets, and fortunately, they are usually the easiest to remove.

Allow the mud or dirt to dry thoroughly before you try to clean the spot.

Scrubbing the stain while it’s still wet can drive it deeper into the carpet.

Once the stain is dry, you can use a vacuum to remove the dirt. Then use a damp terry cloth to scrub the area.

Allow the area to dry once more and then vacuum again.

If your carpet has a bad smell, consider these five potential stinky sources that may require a carpet deodorizer or professional carpet cleaning.

Fruit punch, Kool-aid or ketchup

It’s easy to spill food and drinks, and it’s even worse when the stain is a dark color.

To get rid of stains left by fruit juice, fruit punch, Kool-aid or ketchup, blot much of the substance as you can as fast as you can.

Then mix warm water with dish soap, dampen a clean cloth and press the cloth against the stain for 15 seconds. Let it sit.

Mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups of water, dampen the cloth and press it against the stain for 15 seconds.

Let it sit for 15 minutes, then blot with a clean dry towel.


Had a mishap with your favorite lipstick?

To remove lipstick stains, gently place petroleum jelly on the smudge, then mix a teaspoon of dish soap with one cup of warm water. Blot the smudge gently with the cleaning solution, then scrape the petroleum jelly off with a knife.

Although you’ll never be able to keep your carpet entirely stain free, even the stains listed above aren’t impossible to defeat.

By using the right tools and cleaning supplies, as well as dealing with a stain as soon as it happens, you can limit the damage done to your carpet and prevent permanent discoloration.

If these remedies don’t seem to be working, don’t waste time trying to continuously remove the stain. Know when it’s time to give up on the household options and contact a highly rated professional carpet cleaner or cleaning services.