You’ve just swept, mopped and vacuumed, and your floors look beautiful, like new almost. But then Fido tracks mud in, and Junior drops his toast on the carpet, somehow smearing grape jelly everywhere in the process. Oh well, you’ve already moved on to the laundry. . . . You’ll tackle those muddy paw prints and jelly stains later. Right?
Much as we may hate to rearrange our housework plans, experts say it’s always better to deal with a fresh carpet stain now rather than later. The longer a stain has a chance to “set,” forming a bond with carpet fibers, the harder it will be to remove.
But don’t rub or scrub! Start by carefully lifting any solid residue from the carpet using a spoon or the edge of a butter knife. To avoid spreading the stain, begin at the outer edge of the spill and work your way to the center. Be careful not to grind in the residue.
Once all solids are removed, press a clean, dry, microfiber cloth over the area to absorb the remainder of spill. Repeat with a fresh cloth until all liquid is absorbed. If you see a stain, work water into the area by using a damp microfiber cloth to blot gently until the stain is gone, changing cloths when necessary.
When water doesn’t completely remove the stain, or in the case of set-in stains like those listed below, try an enzyme-based carpet cleaner. This type of cleaner works well on organic stains and will help you avoid chemicals in your home.
Blood: Try cold water (or even club soda) first, blotting the area with a clean microfiber cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone. If you need something a little stronger, try an enzyme-based carpet cleaner.
Pet urine: Again, enzymes are your best bet with these types of stains. They help remove not only the stain but also any odor.
Fat-based stains (butter, margarine, gravy, etc.): Sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the stain first, allowing the powder to absorb for about 15 minutes, and then vacuum. If the stain persists, try diluting a bit of enzyme-based liquid laundry soap with water and spraying the stain. Blot with a clean, microfiber cloth until the stain is gone.
Gum: First, peel away as much as you can. Harden the remainder by placing a bag of ice cubes over it, then chip it away with a spoon or dull knife. Vacuum, then spot clean with a solution of equal parts dishwashing liquid and white distilled vinegar. Use a rubber brush to work a small amount of the solution into the stain and let it sit for up to 15 minutes. Blot with a clean, wet microfiber cloth until no more solution or residue appears on the cloth.
Wine or juice: Spritz the stain with club soda and blot with a clean cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.
Jelly: Mix a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with 2 cups of warm water. Use a microfiber cloth to dab the solution on the stain. Blot the stain with a dry area of the cloth. Repeat this process until the stain is gone, then sponge with cold water and blot dry.
Some cleaning products may cause carpet to get dirty faster and/or damage your carpet’s texture and color. Always be sure to test any carpet cleaning products on an inconspicuous place first.