Simple advice to rid your carpet of stains

Poor carpets: they're always underfoot and being subjected to the worst spills and stains. Here are some carpet-cleaning guidelines, complete with tips to revitalize your carpet and remove troublesome splotches.

Simple advice to rid your carpet of stains

Live by these carpet-cleaning guidelines

There are some general principles that apply to nearly all stains on nearly all carpets. Here they are:

  • Move fast: The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to get out without leaving a trace behind.
  • Don't scrub: Scrubbing risks rubbing the stain in deeper and spreading it over a wider area. Instead, blot liquid spills with a cloth or kitchen paper to remove as much of the stain as possible. Work inwards, so that the stain remains contained. Don't add more liquid: you'll just make the job harder for yourself.
  • Soak it up: To lift a wet stain from a carpet, the best strategy is sometimes to place a layer of clean white rags or paper towels 1 centimetre (1/2 inch) thick over the spill, weigh them down with a heavy object and leave overnight so that the liquid is absorbed up and out.
  • Dry-clean grease: Dry-cleaning solvent is the best way to lift greasy stains. You can find it at most hardware shops.
  • Finish with a wash: A wash with carpet shampoo is a good final step in any carpet cleaning job. Apply it with a cloth, using just enough to moisten the area. Switch to clean sections of cloth as you soak up the stain.

Use this stain-specific guidance

  • Blood: Sponge with cold water, blotting with a towel as you go.
  • Candlewax: Let the wax harden, then scrape off as much as you can. Cover the residue with blotting paper, brown paper, or kitchen paper, and press with the tip of a barely warm iron. The wax will melt and be drawn into the absorbent paper. Take care not to let the iron scorch the carpet.
  • Chewing gum: Place a bag of ice cubes on the chewing gum to freeze it. You can then break the gum with a small hammer and lift off the pieces. Rub any residue off with white or methylated spirits added to a soft cloth.
  • Ink: Ink marks from a ballpoint pen should be dabbed with a cottonbud dipped in methylated spirits. Ink from a fountain pen should be thoroughly blotted and sponged with cold water before using a suitable stain remover. Some felt-tip pens are water-based: ink marks from these should be treated with carpet shampoo. If the felt-tip is spirit-based, treat the marks with methylated spirits.
  • Mud: Allow the mud to dry completely, then brush it out. Finish by vacuuming, and use carpet shampoo on any residual stains.
  • Tea and coffee: Blot thoroughly and treat with a carpet shampoo. Use a dry-cleaning solvent on any stubborn stains.
  • Urine: Blot with paper tissues and treat with carpet shampoo that has white vinegar added. Use 50 milliliters (1/4 cup) of vinegar for half a litre (2 cups) of shampoo. Use a pet stain remover to eradicate any smell.
  • Vomit: Scrape up any deposits, taking care not to spread them over a wider area. Blot thoroughly with kitchen paper, then treat with a carpet shampoo and a little disinfectant to remove any unpleasant odour.
  • Wine: Blot fresh spills dry and then use carpet shampoo. Despite what you may have heard, it's not a good idea to add white wine or salt to spilled red wine.

Carpeting can be expensive and difficult to install, so it's in your best interest to keep it looking clean and fresh for as long as possible. Follow these guidelines and your carpet will be at its best for years to come.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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