There’s nothing quite like the luxurious feel of soft carpet beneath bare feet. Since it made its debut nearly one hundred years ago, wall-to-wall carpeting has become a mainstay of American homes. Today, carpeting accounts for half of all flooring sold in the US, and much of it is made right here in the States. Carpeting is great for insulation, keeping warm or cool air from escaping your climate-controlled rooms. It also insulates against the noise of stomping feet; one reason it is so common in apartments. And for a home with roughhousing children or older adults prone to falls, carpeting provides a soft cushion. But as much as Americans love their carpeting, it has one major disadvantage. Unlike most types of hard flooring, you can’t mop a carpet, and wet spills and stains are notoriously hard to treat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your carpets looking fresh and clean. All you need is a little know-how to get even the toughest stains out of your carpet.

General Carpet Cleaning

The most important thing you can do to keep your carpet clean is to vacuum regularly. Over time, dust and first carried in the air and on people’s feet can make a carpet look dull or muddy. Regular vacuuming keeps dirt from discoloring your carpet. The longer you let the dirt sit, the harder it becomes to get it all out. The same is true of stains. When fighting carpet stains, the number one most important tip is this: don’t wait. Carpets are made of fabric, and even the most stain-resistant fabrics are susceptible to absorbing colors if they sit in the dye long enough. So above all else, don’t let a stain sit untreated.

To treat most carpet stains, follow these simple steps:

  1. To start, you’ll need two spray bottles. Fill one bottle with cold water. In the other bottle, prepare a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon of gentle dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of warm water. Many professionals recommend Dawn Dish Soap, but any mild dish soap should work.
  2. Next, you need a clean, absorbent cloth. Fold the cloth and spray a small area with the detergent mixture in the second bottle. Never spray the carpet directly, to avoid over-wetting it. Use the wet part of the cloth to dab the stain gently. Never rub; rubbing a stain will work it into the carpet and make it harder to get out. As the stain begins to dissolve, use a dry part of the cloth to sop it up. Continue dabbing, switching between the wet and dry parts of the cloth until the stain is gone.
  3. Once the stain is gone, you need to wash away the detergent. Take another clean cloth and spray part of it with the cold water. Use the cold water to dab where the stain was, alternately sopping up the water with a dry part of the cloth.
  4. Finally, place a pile of paper towels over the wet spot of the carpet, and weigh them down with a heavy pot or another heavy non-porous item. Avoid using books, since the paper towel will absorb water that could damage the books. Let the paper towels sit overnight. The towels will slowly absorb the water, and any remaining stain still trapped deep in the carpet.
  5. The next morning, remove the paper towel and gently fluff the carpet with your fingers. Let the area fully air dry before you walk on it.

If this method doesn’t get the stain out, it may be time for another approach. Different stains require different techniques to remove them. Here are a few you can try:

Nail Polish

Doing your own nails can be relaxing, creative, and a great way to save a few bucks. But when nail polish spills on your carpet, it can seem like an utter disaster. However, even this frightening spill can be removed with the right approach.

  1. As with every stain, don’t let it sit. Sop up as much nail polish as you can with a paper towel, always dabbing and never rubbing.
  2. If there is dry nail polish, scrape it off with the side of a spoon or a dull knife. You want to remove as much dry polish as possible without damaging the carpet fibers.
  3. Grab some of that nail polish remover and wet the corner of a clean cloth. Never pour nail polish remover or any liquid directly on your carpet. Instead, use a clean cloth to dab the stain with nail polish remover. Don’t use too much nail polish remover because it can damage the latex backing on your carpet. Be persistent and keep dabbing the stain until no polish comes off on a clean area of the cloth.
  4. Continue with steps 3-5 of the general cleaning directions. This will wash away the nail polish remover and allow your carpet to dry.
  5. If you still smell the nail polish remover or any other unwanted smell, you can sprinkle the carpet with carpet freshener or plain baking soda. Let the powder sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then thoroughly vacuum the area.

Tricks to Get Stains Out of Your Carpet [infographic]


Whether it’s a bloody nose or an accidental cut, the stain is sometimes worse than the injury. If you’ve got blood on your carpet, you may feel like your home is an irreparable crime scene. But there are ways to get blood out of even a light-colored carpet. For blood, sometimes, you just have to use the right type of cleaner. Here’s how:

  1. Never, ever use hot or warm water on a bloodstain. The warm water can set the bloodstain and make it much harder to get out.
  2. First, if the blood is dry, use a stiff brush to remove as much dried blood as possible. Then, mix one teaspoon of gentle dish soap with two cups of COLD water. Put some of the mixture on a clean white cloth and use it to blot at the stain, never scrubbing. Using a white cloth makes it easier to see when you are getting the blood out.
  3. If the dish soap isn’t getting the blood out, it’s time to break out the ammonia. Add one tablespoon of ammonia to one-half cup of room temperature water.
  4. Use a clean cloth or a sponge to apply the ammonia mixture directly to the stain, then use another clean cloth—or another part of the same cloth—to blot the stain until the ammonia is fully absorbed.
  5. Use another sponge to apply cold water to the stain, then blot the stain until there is no sign of blood in the carpet.

Red Wine

Red wine is the perfect accompaniment to a delicious dinner or fancy party. But when a guest drops a wine glass and spills red wine all over your carpet, it may seem like you’re out of luck. However, there are some tricks for getting out even this tricky stain.

  1. One classic trick for removing a red wine stain is the generous application of club soda. Really, any carbonated water will work, as long as there are no other ingredients. Never pour liquid directly on the carpet, but use a soaked white cloth to blot with the club soda until the stain is gone.
  2. If club soda won’t do it—or if you just don’t have any—the next solution to attempt is dish soap and white vinegar. Combine one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of dishwashing soap, and two cups of warm water.
  3. Put some of the vinegar-and-soap solution on the clean cloth and dab the stain. Never scrub. Keep blotting the stain until there is no more sign of red wine.
  4. Continue steps 3-5 of the general cleaning. This will ensure all of the vinegar is out of your carpet or if you have a weird smell in your room.

Professional Carpet Cleaning

When all else fails, some stains require professional intervention. Whether you are trying to beat a tough stain, or just want fresh, new-looking carpets in your home, a professional cleaner can get your carpets looking like now. Contact a TrustDALE certified carpet cleaner to schedule your service today!

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