If you stain a shirt, chances are, you can either scrub the stain with some laundry detergent or just spend $15 on a new one. While clothing stains are annoying, they are at least manageable.
Staining your carpet, however, is a whole different beast. Even small area rugs can cost over $100, and wall-to-wall carpeting is a far greater hassle to replace.
Luckily, there are some strategies you can use to lift or conceal tough stains. Before you panic, try the following hacks to restore your carpet to its former glory:
Basic Stain-Removal Steps
Step 1: Remove the Substance Immediately
Once an unwanted material has marred your carpet, take quick action to prevent the stain from becoming serious. Scrape off excess solids with a butter knife. If the stain is from a liquid, try to sop up the fluid with a spare rag or paper towels. Use gentle blotting motions, and work from the outside in to prevent the stain from spreading.
Step 2: Use Your Stain Remover of Choice
If you've bought a commercial carpet stain remover or have one handy, read the instructions on the bottle and follow the appropriate steps. Or, use a vinegar, dishwashing liquid, and warm water mixture. Dampen the area and let the remover sit for ten minutes.
Step 3: Blot 'Til You Drop
Once the mixture has had time to work its magic, take a white absorbent cloth and press the stain repeatedly. Avoid rubbing motions, which will push the stain into the carpet. Continue blotting until the stain no longer transfers to your cloth.
Uncommon Strategies for Common Stains
While the above methods work for general stain removal, different stain types are best tackled using specific strategies. Here's how to take on some common stain culprits:
Urine, feces, and vomit are never fun to clean. Try mixing stain-fighting laundry soap with water and spritzing the area. Then, blot and rinse with warm water. The scent of the soap will mask odors, and the stain-fighting chemicals will lift discoloration.
Cold water works best for removing blood stains because blood coagulates with heat. Scrub gently and blot persistently with cold water and dish soap.
Fatty stains can come from all sorts of substances, like butter, gravy, and oily meats. Even soft ice cream, which contains 50% air, can leave a frustrating discolored spot. To lift fatty stains, try sprinkling the area with baking soda. Let the soda sit for six hours, then vacuum and blot using a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol.
Wine and Juice
Though these deep red stains are scary, they can be removed fairly easily. Spritz with club soda, blot, and repeat until the stain is gone.
Sometimes, the best way to remove carpet stains is to prevent them. Don't place fluffy or valuable rugs away from high-traffic areas where spills are likely. As general rule, keep the edges of an area rug at least 12 to 14 inches from the walls of a room, or even more for walking space. Don't allow shoes inside, and shop around for a stain-resistant carpet protectant. These treatments will help keep your carpet from absorbing unwanted substances.
If your rug has developed a stain, don't panic! Try the above methods. With patience, diligence, and careful prevention strategies, you can keep your carpet looking lovely for years to come!