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Cleaning Carpets and Rugs: How to Remove Stubborn Stains

Dirty footprints, spilled coffee, pet hair... Carpets & rugs sometimes seem to be stain magnets! Find out how to get rid of those pesky stains here.


cleaning carpets

Do you know how to tackle tough spots and stains on your carpet? Some techniques can actually make things much worse! Here’s all you need to know about rug and carpet cleaning and how to treat different types of stains.

If you get a spill on your carpet or rug, don’t panic! Act fast and the stain can be removed. Firstly, blot the area to lift as much of the spill as possible and then follow one of the cleaning methods included in this article.

How to Clean Carpets and Rugs 

There really is no single golden rule when it comes to cleaning carpets and rugs. Different stains and spots respond to different treatments and techniques, so one of the most important aspects of cleaning carpets is determining what sort of stain you’re dealing with, and knowing the right solutions for that particular problem. Remember, too, that different carpets may respond differently to different products.

Here are some common carpet stains and tips on how to treat them. Before using any new method or product, remember to follow the instructions on the label and test the product on a small area of the carpet or rug first.

Common Stains on Carpets

  • Natural Stains. Marks left from natural produce – such as cherries and berries, milk, or natural food colourings – are all water-based, and are some of the easiest stains to tackle. Remember to attack water with water, and use a small amount of washing detergent (or white vinegar if you want to take a natural approach) mixed with warm water.
  • Other Water-Based Stains. Anything that has water as its main component can be treated in exactly the same way as above. This includes fizzy drinks, ballpoint pens, and even jelly.
  • Heavy Duty Water-Based Stains. Some stains are more troublesome, and can leave a mark if simply treated with just water and detergent. These are usually very dark items such as coffee, and blood. Here, you can use a stain removal product, or counteract the stain with soda water or tonic water.
  • Oily Stains. Place an old cloth over the stain and use your iron to skim over it. Make sure you’re on a medium heat setting. The heat should help transfer the oily residue from the carpet to the cloth, which can then be laundered as normal.
  • Wax and Gum Stains. The trick to tackling wax and gum stains is the opposite to the technique for treating oily stains. Here, wrap an ice cube in a thin cloth and hold it over the stain to freeze it. Then use an object such as a spoon or a blunt knife to gently peel the wax or gum from the fibres.

How to Remove Stains From Carpets and Rugs

If you follow the tips above, you should find cleaning carpets and rugs to be quick and simple, but there are some ways you can make it even easier! Here are some handy hints for stain removal on carpets and rugs:

  • Always clean the stain as soon as possible after it’s been made. If stains are allowed to dry into the fibres, they’re much more difficult to get out. Fresh stains are usually still wet, and come out with much less effort.
  • Never wipe stains, as this will simply spread the mark to a greater area of the carpet. Instead, blot the stain, encouraging the dirt to transfer to the cloth rather than to other parts of the floor.
  • Use a microfibre cloth, a tea towel, or another type of rag that won’t dissolve upon contact with water. Paper towels may seem like a good idea, but once they start to break up, small pieces of the tissue can become stuck to the carpet fibres.
  • Vacuum regularly to make sure carpets and rugs are as dust free as possible. The more dust and dirt that’s lingering on the carpets, the more surface the stain has to cling on to.
  • Always test any new product or stain removal method on a small, inconspicuous area of the carpet first.

Originally published