Angie’s List: Carpet Cleaning 101


Different spots may require different cleaning methods, but regardless of the substance, there’s no time to waste.

If you discover a stain on your carpet, you want to act quickly, but don’t be too hasty. You want to make sure you’re using the right tools. Use a dry, clean cloth and blot – don’t rub – the stain, otherwise, it might lead to a lasting stain,” Founder Angie Hicks said.

Blood can be one of the trickiest things to get out.

If the blood has coagulated and started to clump, you’ll want to take a spoon or a very dull-type instrument – a butter knife, something of that nature – and remove it first, and then start to blot it out with a soap-and-water solution,” Professional Carpet Cleaner Mike Swinson said.

Use cold water for blood stains, but Swinson recommends a cup of warm water mixed with a quarter-cup of dishwashing liquid for just about everything else. There’s also another trick when dealing with a spilled glass of red wine.

Red wine can be one of the toughest stains, but it can be solved. So what you need to do is first, blot the spot where the red wine has been spilled, and then, if you actually sprinkle some white wine on top of the red wine, you’ll improve your chances of getting that spot out,” Hicks said.

For deep stains that seep through to the padding, especially pet urine, blotting and cleaning will only do so much.

Obviously, you won’t be able to get all of it that way. The best way to do it is to use an extractor of some sort. A little, small hand extractor can save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars in carpet cleaning,” Swinson said.

You can find a small, portable spot lifter for under 100 dollars; a more powerful extractor could run several hundred depending on the suction power and recovery tank capacity.

Still, Angie recommends leaving it to the pros when it comes to ink, bleach or kool-aid.

Those all make the “tough stain” list and you can damage your carpet if you aren’t careful.

Also, try any home remedies in an inconspicuous spot before attempting to clean something in a highly visible area.

Cleaning Stubborn Carpet Stains:

  • Red wine stain: Quickly absorb as much of the liquid as possible with towels to keep it from getting deep into the carpet. Dribble white wine on the remaining red wine stain. Rinse and repeat. Blot the excess with a damp, clean towel.

  • Lipstick: Gently place petroleum jelly on the smudge, then mix a teaspoon of dish soap with one cup of warm water. Blot the smudge gently then scrape jelly off with a knife.

  • Ink:  Use rubbing alcohol, but do not pour it directly on the stain. Instead, dampen a towel, add alcohol and repeatedly blot ink stain with the cloth.

  • Pet stains: Mix a half cup of white vinegar with a half cup of warm water. Soak the stain thoroughly. Sprinkle a handful of baking soda on the stain. Mix a half cup of hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of dish soap, then pour the mixture over the baking soda. Work into the carpet thoroughly. Allow area to dry completely, then vacuum.

  • Fruit punch, Kool-aid or ketchup: Blot as 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 against the stain for 15 seconds. Let sit. Mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups water, dampen cloth and press against stain for 15 seconds. Let sit for 15 minutes. Blot with a clean dry towel.

  • Oil and grease: Remove excess quickly with 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.

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