When it comes to condiments, ketchup consistently ranks as a top contender, with many countries (yes, countries) rating ketchup as their best-selling and most beloved condiment.
It’s hard to distinguish what it is that makes ketchup so popular, though it might have something to do with it being just tangy enough to offer its own unique flavor.
Ketchup may have the right type of sweet to bring down some foods’ spiciness, and the right kind of consistency to pair well with certain crunchy foods (like french fries).
But while so many people love ketchup on their foods, one place that we absolutely don’t want it on is on our carpets.
Of all types of stains, tomato-based stains, such as those caused by spilled ketchup, are one of the hardest blemishes to clean.
Especially when those stains happen on carpets, it’s because tomatoes contain tannins that can easily set and discolor fabrics.
They also contain oil, which means that certain types of cleaners won’t’ readily work on them.
And finally, tomato-based products leave a distinctive, pungent smell that leaves odors long after the stain has set. Which when a tomato-based stain is also a ketchup-based one, it has a further frustrating pattern of being hard and crusty.
So, when you have ketchup stains on your carpet, you have to take a unique approach to rid yourself of them. Get started now with the following steps.
Home Remedies for Removing Ketchup Stains
The steps below involve household items such as vinegar and mild dish soap. If these steps do not remove the ketchup stains, then you’ll have to move to a more potent carpet cleaning solution.
Step 1: Act Quickly Wherever Possible
The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to get rid of ketchup stains on carpet is you must act quickly.
The longer you wait to remove this type of stain, the harder and more frustrating it will be to get out as the oils and tannins will seep through the carpet fibers themselves and thereby require you to use more intensive methods to get them out.
You’ll also be more likely to get that pungent odor that will stick around along with the crusty stain. These are all unwanted things, and so it’s vital to act as quickly as you can.
Step 2: Scoop & Scrape
Grab a spoon or a soft-edged knife (such as a butter knife) and a bowl or a similar type of instrument for storing the discarded ketchup.
With your instrument of choice, you are going to lightly, very lightly scrape off as much of the ketchup or dried-on ketchup you can.
If it’s a wet stain, take care to only go for the excess globs on top that you can easily grab without smearing or smashing it deeper into the carpet fibers.
Step 3: Blot or Vacuum
Next, you’re going to try and clean up what you can before you proceed to more intense methods.
The choice on whether you choose to use a blotting technique or the vacuum cleaner will depend upon whether you are dealing with a fresh, more liquid stain or an older, crustier stain.
- For fresh stains, take a clean dish rag or paper towels and carefully blot away any existing ketchup. To blot, you’re going to lightly grab the towel and press it into the stain, then pull it away cleanly without smearing to sop up the liquids. Repeat this technique until you no longer pull up any remaining ketchup.
- For older stains, set your vacuum cleaner’s hose and upholstery attachment so that you can lightly sweep over the dried up stain and remove what you can from the ketchup stain without pressing it further into the carpet fibers.
Step 4: Mix and Apply Your Cleaning Solution
There are a ton of specific carpet-based cleaning products that will work effectively on stains like ketchup. However, if you are trying to work fast or you’re trying to stay on a budget, then there are some handy, effective cleaning solutions that you can mix using just the products you have in your own home. The following two are those we most recommend:
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap labeled mild (avoid any product with fragrances) mixed with 1 cup water.
- Two tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with 4 cups of water.
Please choose one of the above cleaning solutions and pour it into a clean spray bottle. Then, spritz your chosen concoction directly onto the stain until the carpet beneath is damp to the touch.
Use cold water whenever possible because hot (or warm) water may cause the tannins to set on the fibers.
Step 5: Wait
Allow your cleaning solution to remain on the stain for about five minutes. For tough stains, we recommend around 15 minutes.
Step 6: Blot Out the Solution
Scroll back up to step three for that blotting technique and use it to clean up your stain. Remember to use a clean cloth or paper towel and replace it as needed.
When you’re blotting a post-cleaning solution, the cleaning solution is working with the technique to pull out the stain from carpet fibers.
Keep blotting until nothing of the ketchup stain or cleaning solution pulls up.
Step 7: Repeat as Needed or Vacuum to Finish
If there is still a lingering ketchup stain on your carpet, then don’t despair! Because the above home remedy solutions don’t utilize harsh chemicals, it can take a few repeat sessions to extract all the ketchup stains.
But so long as you’re dealing with your standard ketchup and carpet fibers, then those solutions will work — you may need to repeat the above steps several times.
Once the stain is no longer visible, then all that is left is to vacuum the area once dry to restore the carpet’s texture and fiber alignment with the rest of the room.
Do ketchup stains come out?
Yes, removing ketchup stains is possible, but you’ll have to act fast. Fresh ketchup stains come off easily and household ingredients like vinegar or dish soap may be enough to remove it. For tough stains that have set, you may need a more potent cleaner like Oxyclean to address these blemishes.
Only use cold water when cleaning tomato-based stains like ketchup. Warm or hot water will set the stain into the fabric strands.
Will vinegar remove ketchup stains?
Vinegar can be effective on fresher ketchup stains that have not set. White vinegar is the most effective as it has higher acetic content (4 to 7%) than apple cider vinegar and doesn’t contain any dyes, which could potentially discolor the carpet.