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Remove carpet stains

Oops! Whether it be grape juice, a little present from Fido, or finger-paint artwork from your 3-year-old, it seems whatever is not supposed to get on the carpet always does. Here are a few tips on how to clean your carpets using products you can find around your house.

 


What you should know before you start

To remove a stain, simply blot the spot and dry working from the outside in, rinse thoroughly with clean water, then blot again. Never scrub the carpet, or you risk ruining the carpet fibres or letting the spill soak through to the underlayment.

For more specific advice, find your type of stain below. In addition to these methods, there are several spot removers on the market; before you try one, test it out in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it doesn't discolour your carpet.

Water-soluble stains

alcoholic beverages
berries
colas
excrement
food dyes
gravy
ice cream
milk
mud
washable ink
wet or latex paint

Use a simple cleaning solution made up of 1/4 teaspoon of oxygen bleach (or white vinegar) mixed with 1 cup of water.

Special water-soluble stains

blood
chocolate
coffee
mustard
tea
vomit
wine

Try 1 tablespoon of ammonia mixed with 1 cup of water (but not on wool or wool-blend carpet; instead use mild detergent and water). If that doesn't work, you can try one part household bleach to five parts water, but only on solution-dyed carpets, such as polypropylene. Bleach will harm other types of carpets; check with the manufacturer if you are unsure what type of carpet you have.

Fats and wax

Place a paper towel over the carpet and iron on warm setting. The wax, fat, or oil should come up off the carpet and stick to the paper towel.

Cigarette burns

These can be removed by gently rubbing the pile with the edge of a hard and flat surface, such as a dull knife.

Glue

Moisten a cotton ball or soft cloth with rubbing alcohol (available at pharmacies) and press it on the affected area. Once the glue residue is thoroughly moistened, gently wipe it off and repeat until the carpet is clean.

Wax and gum

Use ice to freeze the wax or gum, then shatter it with a blunt object, such as a spoon. Vacuum before the pieces soften, and blot the carpet with a white towel.

Nail polish

Blot the area with a rag dipped in nail polish remover.

Urine

Absorb as much as possible with white towels, then blot with a damp, cool cloth. Next, spray or blot with a solution of one part white vinegar to one part water. Finally, apply a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of oxygen bleach mixed with 1 cup of water, rinse, and blot dry.

Ongoing maintenance

Even if you don't have any mishaps, you should always have your carpet thoroughly cleaned every 12 to 18 months. There are many professional carpet cleaning services, or you can rent a steam carpet cleaner. They are usually available at your supermarket. If you decide to do it yourself rather than hire a pro, you need to keep a few things in mind.

  • Make sure the cleaning equipment you choose has enough vacuum power to allow the carpet to dry in 6 to 12 hours or you may risk damage from getting it too wet.
  • Use fans or a dehumidifier to expedite drying time after cleaning. Be aware that if your carpet is wet for more than 24 hours, you risk mildew and bacteria growth.
  • Make sure you remove all detergent after cleaning.
  • Double-check your warranty. Carpets with stain resistance must be cleaned with products formulated for them or you risk impairing their effectiveness and voiding your warranty.

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