How to Remove Old Stains from Carpet

It only takes a second to turn a spill into a carpet stain—and a few minutes of learning how to remove stains from a carpet—to prevent it. This “how to” works for odorous carpet stains (and stained area rugs) too. There is hope for getting those stains out too!

As with any kind of carpet stain, the best way to prevent a stain from setting in is to tackle the clean-up as soon as possible. (This was the key to removing a carpet stain for our carpet cleaner when he got a 9-1-1 from a home owner who accidentally spilled paint on her new area rug.) To make carpet clean-up easier for everyone—-especially after a wine spill or food drop—keep carpet cleaning supplies near every room with a carpet or area rug.

If the carpet spill or stain is incredibly smelly, you may need to contact the pros for carpet cleaners specifically designed to remove the odor. These products are very helpful, especially when dealing with pet urine stains. (Be aware, though, that the urine may have soaked through to the carpet pad.)

Carpet Cleaning Supplies

  • Soft cloths
  • (Floor manufacture approved) Carpet Cleaner
  • (Optional) Odor Remover

Things to Know Before You Start

  • ALWAYS test the carpet cleaner (even if made with household ingredients) in a small area (i.e. closet or under furniture) to see if it fades or damages carpet fibers.
  • Avoid using too much elbow grease during cleaning. Scrubbing carpet too hard can damage carpet fibers.
  • Use a manufacturer-approved carpet cleaner to avoid warranty issues later. (Visit local flooring pros to get the cleaner that the manufacturer recommends.)
  • Don’t use a steam cleaner on pet stains (especially urine). The heat from the steam can make the stain and odor a long-term problem.
  • Use an odor-removing cleaner if the source of the stain is smelly.
  • Most carpeting manufacturers recommend that carpet be deep cleaned at least annually.

How to Remove Old Stains from Carpet

Choose the right carpet cleaner.

New carpet warranties come with specific requirements about how carpet stains can be removed and what products can be used. Because carpet stains are inevitable, always ask the local flooring pros about what carpet cleaners can be used—and keep it on hand for those just-in-case situations.

Test the cleaner in a hidden area.

Some carpet cleaners can fade or remove the color from a carpet. Even household ingredients can damage carpeting. Before apply the carpet product, test the product in a corner or area that most visitors don’t see. This can be a closet, behind a television cabinet, or under a piece of furniture.

Remove debris before cleaning.

If the carpet stain involves any kind of debris, such as vomit, gently remove as much of the debris as possible. Be careful not to damage carpet fiber; pick up the debris with a spoon or soft cloth before cleaning the carpet stain. If the debris is gum or wax, use an ice cube to harden the substance and make it easier to remove.

Soak up as much of the liquid as possible.

For stains with a lot of liquid, such as pet urine or wine, sop up as much of the liquid before applying the carpet cleaner. Gently blot the liquid with a soft cloth and wring out the liquid into another container until most of liquid is removed. If there is a lot fluid, use a wet/dry vac to remove the liquid.

Apply the carpet cleaner.

Once the liquid is removed, it’s time to apply the carpet cleaner to the stain. Follow the directions on the bottle; some carpet cleaners may need to sit for a few minutes before removal. If there are odors associated with the stain, follow any additional instructions on the odor-removing product. (Be aware that some odors may be in the pad under the carpet, not in the actual carpet.)

Blot (don’t scrub!) the stain.

Resist that temptation to scrub out the stain as hard as possible. Hard scrubbing can damage carpet fibers can cause permanent wear and tear. Instead, blot at the stain until it is removed. It may take several times to get all of the stain out. Some carpet cleaning products require a good vacuuming after the stain is removed.

Enjoy a clean carpet WITHOUT a stain.

If you don’t have time for the step-by-step process of removing a carpet stain, don’t hesitate to call in the carpet cleaning professionals. They can get out new spills, odors, and even some of those old carpet stains.

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