How to Remove Stains from Carpet

How to remove stains from carpet

Stains and carpet, they go hand in hand, no matter how careful you are. Spills are inevitable, so you’ll have to be ready for it.

I have a 2-year-old at home, and he’s adorable. But he still doesn’t know where to pee and would occasionally do it on the floor if he isn’t wearing nappies.

Now you know what I mean.

If you like to host a party at home with lots of people having fun, expect a few spills here and there. The worst part is you won’t see some of the spills until a few days (or even weeks) after, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

I’ll have a section here that’ll discuss how to remove caked-on stains with the help of an iron.

Tip: Remember to always try these cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area of a carpet to see if there will be discoloration.

Know what type of stain you’re dealing with

For this guide, I’ll be going through the processes of cleaning different types of carpet stains. Each type will require a nuanced method.

I’ll update this article as I add different kinds of stains in the future, so please bookmark it if you want to get quick access just in case the inevitable happens.

Water-soluble Stains

  1. For water-soluble stains like sodas, alcoholic drinks, food coloring, ice cream, milk, jelly, latex paint, and excrement, mix in a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (like Dawn that can break down greasy stuff) and 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar to a quart of warm water.
  2. Saturate the area with the soapy water using a spray bottle.
  3. Let it sit for around 10 minutes, then blot dry with a clean white towel. Repeat until the stain is no longer visible.
  4. Rinse area will cool water then blot dry again with a fresh towel.
  5. Using a wet/dry vacuum will speed up the process.
  6. In case you don’t have one, cover the area with a half-inch thick layer of paper towel with a heavy object on top to help absorb excess moisture.

Hard to Remove Stains

  1. For tough to remove stains like blood, coffee, mustard, tea, vomit, wine, and chocolate, there will be a tweak to the cleaning mixture.
  2. Instead of using a dishwashing liquid, use ammonia instead.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon of ammonia to a cup of water.
  4. If your carpet is made from a wool mixture, don’t use ammonia but dishwashing liquid.
  5. If the ammonia concoction doesn’t work, try using chlorine bleach instead (one parts bleach to five parts water).
  6. Take note that this will only work on solution-dyed carpets.
  7. Remember to use bleach formulated for colored fabric, or you’ll end up with light spots on your carpet (if it’s colored).
  8. Again, put in cleaning mixture in a spray bottle, then mist the stained area, leave for 10 minutes, then blot dry. Repeat until the stain is no longer visible.

Bleach Stains

There are a lot of misconceptions about removing bleach stains on carpets, mainly on which methods are most effective. Most would recommend using ingredients like vinegar and dishwashing liquid. However, using these may not work and could worsen the stain since bleach is an active agent.

To tackle bleach stains, you’ll have to attack the source of the problem, which is the bleach itself.

  1. Obtain bleach neutralizing crystals. You can purchase this in pet stores. Kits are also available online that include the dying agent to restore the color of the carpet.
  2. Dissolve the crystals in hot water.
  3. Pour the solution only on the stained areas of the carpet.
  4. Leave it for 5 minutes.
  5. Use a wet/dry vacuum to extract the excess mixture.

Beer Stains

Cleaning beer stains may seem daunting, but if you act quickly, the process is simple, with ingredients available in your pantry.

  1. Act fast and blot as much beer out of the carpet as possible. Use a stack of paper towels or a clean white towel for this task.
  2. Add unscented dishwashing liquid and water into a spray bottle and use it to saturate the stain. Wait a few minutes, then using a blotting motion to dry.
  3. If step 2 doesn’t work, proceed to use vinegar. Mix one parts vinegar to five parts water, then pour it on the stain. Blot to remove the excess liquid.
  4. If vinegar doesn’t remove the stain, combine equal parts vinegar and baking soda to make a paste, then use a toothbrush to apply it on the carpet.
  5. Vacuum baking soda residue.

Blood Stains

Removing blood stains from the carpet will require a slightly different approach. But the most important thing is to act quickly for the best results.

  1. Avoid using warm or hot water when dealing with blood as heat will coagulate with it, so it penetrates the fibers more. To effectively remove blood stains, you’ll have to use cold water to prevent it from permeating into the carpet fibers.
  2. One method of removing blood stains is to use a liquid dishwashing soap with grease-fighting agents like Dawn. Add a few drops into cold water, then spray or pour the solution until it covers the whole stain. Blot dry the blemish with a paper towel and carefully observe if blood will transfer onto the sheet. If it does, repeat until the stain is no longer visible.
  3. Another alternative involves using a cleaner with oxygen like OxyClean, which is highly effective for bloodstains. This product needs warm water to activate the oxygen, but make sure to add cold water (for reasons stated above) then use the mixture to saturate the stain then blot dry.

Caked on Stains

I found this in Jill’s post (excellent blog, by the way). It is so simple that you wouldn’t believe your eyes when you see it.

This solution will work on caked-on stains that have been there for weeks or months.

  1. Mix one part ammonia (e.g., lemon ammonia) and one part water in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray liberally on the stained area
  3. Cover it with clean white terry or microfiber towel
  4. Iron the area using a steam iron
  5. Rinse and repeat with all the stains

Cigarette Burns

For small cigarette burns, this method may do the trick:

  1. Cut/scrape off the burnt part using a little sewing scissor
  2. Cut a new carpet fiber from another region.
  3. Carefully place the new carpet fibers onto the burnt part, then use epoxy or glue to stick the new strands of carpet on the base.

This method will easily save you $45 bucks per carpet burn if it’s done by a professional.

Coffee Stains

Stains from coffee are one of the toughest to clean on carpets, especially light-colored ones. Here are some methods to deal with coffee stains.

  1. If there is a fresh spill, act immediately by blotting the area. Use a clean white towel to remove as much of the liquid residue. Switch to a new sheet if it is soaked. You could use paper towels as the coffee stain will transfer to the white cloth.
  2. The first option would be using a mix of vinegar, water, non-bleach detergent, and saturate the stain using this mixture.
  3. For tougher stains, you will need something more potent, like a professional strength cleaning solution. Fortunately, these are available in online stores like Amazon and Walmart.
  4. Blot dry to remove excess moisture. A fan or a wet/dry vacuum will speed up the process.

Coke Stains

Yes, it is possible to remove old coke stains with the right combination of ingredients and some elbow grease. I’ll share with you one method below.

  1. Mix a quarter teaspoon of non-bleach detergent (OxyClean is a good choice) with lukewarm water in a bowl.
  2. Get another bowl, then mix combine vinegar and water (1:2 ratio).
  3. Soak a clean white towel over the detergent mixture. Make sure to wring out excess water. You only need it to be damp, not soaked.
  4. Use the towel to dab on the stain gently. Cover the whole area of the blemish.
  5. Wait for 15 minutes.
  6. Get another clean towel to pat the area until dry.
  7. Soak another clean towel on the vinegar mixture.
  8. Pat the stain similar to what you did on step 4.
  9. Wait for 15 minutes.
  10. Get another clean, dry towel to blot dry the area.
  11. Repeat until the stain dissipates.

Dish Soap Stains

Cleaning dish soap stains can be problematic if it isn’t addressed immediately. Fortunately, removing these stains is doable even with everyday household items. You may need a wet vacuum to speed up this process as dishwashing soap can stain and leave stains.

  1. Gather clean white towels, white vinegar, wet vacuum, fan, and a bucket of warm water.
  2. Use a dry towel to absorb as much of the liquid dish soap residue. Work from the outer portions towards the middle, so it doesn’t spread.
  3. Wring out excess water and repeat the process.
  4. You can speed up the process by using a wet vacuum instead of a towel.

Dry Erase Marker Stains

With COVID, more and more people have been starting to work at home. Dry eraser markers are one of the tools that you have been using for teaching your kids or for work.

Fortunately, dry erase marker stains aren’t impossible to clean. I’ll share one method that may help get rid of it.

Please test the ingredients in a small area if it discolors the carpet strands.

  1. You’ll need hairspray, alcohol, and paper towels. Using these ingredients may sound unorthodox, but some carpet cleaning companies do recommend it.
  2. Pour alcohol on the stain (enough to saturate it) then use a paper towel to blot. Avoid rubbing as it’ll make the blemish worst.
  3. After blotting with alcohol, spritz hairspray on the spot, apply enough to saturate, and wait for 15 minutes.
  4. Blot the area. You may need to repeat steps two and three until the stain is gone.

Glue Stains

  1. If the glue is still wet, try to use a paper towel, dabbing it over the stained area, and try to pick up as much glue as possible.
  2. For shaggy carpet, grab a second paper towel and try to get as much glue in between the fibers.
  3. If that does not work, use a towel dipped in white vinegar, then dab it over the glue-stained area and try to remove as much glue as you can.
  4. Just in case the glue dries up, cover the area with a clean white towel, and use an iron (turn off the steam setting) then go over it a few times.
  5. Remember not to keep the iron stationary but keep it moving, so it doesn’t burn the towel or carpet.
  6. If all goes well, heat from the iron will turn dried glue back to its liquid form, and the towel absorbs it.

Gum Stains

Gum is probably one of the more challenging objects to remove on the carpet, but with this technique, you can extract it without damaging the fibers.

  1. Boil water in a kettle.
  2. Using a shop vac (preferably one with a wet/dry function), position the nozzle in a 45-degree angle near the gum-stained area.
  3. Turn on the shop vac and pour water into the gum as you vacuum it.
  4. The heat from boiling water should slowly dislodge the gum from the carpet, and it’ll get sucked into the nozzle. Excess water on the carpet will also get sucked in.

Ketchup Stains

One survey reveals that ketchup is one of the most popular condiments globally! While it’s celebrated in the dining room, getting it on carpets can be a pain. Fortunately, if you act fast, removing ketchup stains shouldn’t be a problem.

  1. As soon as you spot a ketchup stain, act on it ASAP. The longer you wait, the hard it will be to clean.
  2. Scoop and scrape the ketchup stain using a spoon or blunt knife. If it’s fresh, don’t put any pressure as it’ll drive the ketchup deeper into the carpet strands.
  3. Blot any leftover ketchup from step 2. If you’re dealing with a dry ketchup stain, use a vacuum’s hose and upholstery attachment to remove any surface ketchup residue.
  4. Prepare a cleaning solution using vinegar or dish soap. Mix a quarter teaspoon of dish soap into one cup of water. If you’re going the vinegar route, add two tablespoons of white vinegar into four cups of water.
  5.  Spritz solution on the stain until damp.
  6. Wait for around 5 to 15 minutes for the cleaning solution to work on the stain.
  7. Blot the blemish with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  8. Repeat steps 5 to 7 until the stain is no longer visible.
  9. Dry the carpet using clean towels weighed down with a solid object (like a book) to adsorb excess moisture. Open fans and windows to speed up the process.

Kerosene Stains

The toxic fumes and flammability of kerosene make it imperative to remove every trace of it from the carpet. If you act early enough, removing kerosene from carpets is plausible with the right ingredients.

  1. Open windows to circulate the air and get proper ventilation.
  2. Lay clean cloths or paper towels on the perimeter to prevent the kerosene from spreading further.
  3. Sprinkle absorbent over the spill – baking soda, pet litter, or cornstarch.
  4. Remove the residue with a vacuum cleaner.
  5. Use a dry cleaning solvent to blot leftover kerosene stains.

Another option is using a product like Pink All Purpose Super Degreaser. Dilute it in water and mist on the stained area. Test it on a small area first to check if it discolors the carpet.

Use a clean cloth to blot the blemish. Repeat misting and blotting using there are no more traces of kerosene.

Kool-Aid Stains

Drinking Kool-Aid can be refreshing but a nightmare to clean without the proper tools. Fortunately, the task is doable with the right tools and procedures.

  1. Blot the stain using a clean white towel (paper or cloth) to remove excess liquid and prevent it from soaking through the padding.
  2. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, a quarter cup of vinegar, and water into a spray bottle and mist the area liberally.
  3. Wait around 5 1o 10 minutes for the mixture to dissolve and lift the stain.
  4. Blot the area dry using a clean, dry white towel.
  5. Repeat steps one to four until the stain is no longer visible.

For Kool-Aid stains that may have dried, you may need a use a carpet cleaning product for removing stains like the Folex Carpet Spot Remover.

Nail Polish Stains

Standard carpet cleaners will not work on nail polish. You’ll have two options here – acetone or fingernail polish remover, which also has acetone in it.

Do not pour acetone on the stain as this can damage the backing of the carpet.

  1. Saturate a clean white terry towel with acetone or nail polish remover.
  2. Blot the surface from the outside of the stain going in.
  3. Use the dry portion of the towel and blot the surface to absorb the excess cleaner.
  4. Spray affected area with an all-purpose spot remover like Bionex.
  5. With another clean towel, blot the area dry.

Oil and Grease Stains

  1. For these types of stains, you’ll need denatured alcohol, a water-based degreasing type of dish detergent, and a few white towels.
  2. Mix in a quarter teaspoon of dish detergent to around 4 ounces of water.
  3. Spray this mixture onto the grease stain then blot the area to absorb the stain.
  4. Repeat step 3 until the blemish is no longer visible.
  5. Use a clean towel to dry the area.
  6. Tougher grease stains may require a solvent-based cleaning agent (denatured alcohol).

Old Ash Stains

Do you live with a smoker? Chances are there will be ash stains somewhere. Fear not, cleaning it will be straight forward with simple ingredients available in your home.

  1. Sprinkle baking soda on the ash stains. Leave it for one hour to absorb odor and dislodge any debris stuck.
  2. Use a vacuum to clean baking soda residue. Go over the area several times to ensure nothing is left.
  3. Saturate a cloth with a dry cleaning solvent and use it to blot the stain.
  4. Continue blotting until the stain disappears.

Pet Stains

Owning pets can lift you emotionally but draining physically as these creatures tend to leave different types of pet stains. Pet owners should be aware of these trade-offs and prepare themselves with knowledge on cleaning these spots. These range from feces to pet urine so that each type will require a distinctive method.

  1. If you’re dealing with pet feces, put on latex gloves and pick up these contaminants using an old newspaper or plastic for easy disposal. Make sure to dispose of it in sealed bags and throw it outside for sanitary purposes.
  2. Liquidy messes like Diarrhea will have a slightly different approach. Use a carpet cleaning product that is formulated to treat pet stains like the Rocco & Roxie Stain and Odor Eliminator. Mist the area liberally with this product then blot dry. Since this product contains enzymes, these will feed on the ammonia residue from pet excrement to remove the odor.
  3. For pet odors, you can prepare a mixture using a quarter cup of white vinegar and a quart of water. Spray this mixture on the source of the smell, leave it for several minutes, then blot dry.
  4. The last option would be using stain-fighting laundry detergent. Mix these two ingredients into a spray bottle then mist the stain with it. Leave it for several minutes on the carpet to give the detergent time to deal with the stain. Rinse the area with water then blot dry using a clean white towel.


If your home has a traditional fireplace or a chimney, soot may be one of the issues you have to deal with constantly. Fortunately, dealing with it is straightforward with the right tools.

  1. Use a spoon to gather up large cinders or soot particles into a plastic bag. Don’t rub too hard as soot can disintegrate easily and go into carpet fibers.
  2. After removing the loose soot, sprinkle a layer of baking soda over the stained area. Don’t rub it but only leave it on the surface.
  3. Wait for an hour before moving to the next step.
  4. Remove the baking soda residue along with the remaining soot using a vacuum cleaner.
  5. Just in case there are remaining soot stains, blot them using alcohol and a sheet of paper towel.
  6. Repeat step six as needed for the remaining stains.


Kids love to play with slime. It’s one way to keep your children busy without having to rely on a digital device. However, playing with slime is messy, and clean up on carpet can be tough. Fear not, there are several methods to remove dry and wet slime from the carpet.

Fresh slime is easier to remove. If you catch it early enough, utilize a wet cloth to remove the slime before it dries. Blot the carpet afterward to remove any wet residue.

Dried slime is tougher and will require more steps.

  1. Add warm water in a spray bottle and saturate the slime enough to get it damp.
  2. Use a paper towel or cloth to extract the slime.
  3. If water alone isn’t enough, consider adding vinegar to the mix. Vinegar should re-activate its sliminess to dislodge it from the carpet fibers.
  4. Another alternative is to use something like Goo gone to counteract the stickiness of the slime and remove it.
  5. Use a brush tool and scrub to remove any slime residue left on the fibers. Don’t push too hard or in a circular motion. Scrub in a straight line in one direction, using enough force to dislodge the slime remnants.
  6. Vacuum to remove the remnants and to make the carpet fluffy again.

Wax Stains

The stick nature of wax can make it challenging to tackle, but with the correct tools and technique, it is doable.

  1. Wrap the ice cubes in a towel then apply it on the gum stain. This will help separate wax from the carpet fibers.
  2. Scrape the wax with a dull knife.
  3. Check for any residue. If the wax is still present, then cover it with a towel then use an iron to absorb the stain.
  4. Most likely, there will be wax dye stains left on the carpet, clean these up using a carpet cleaning solution or alcohol.
  5. Blot dry to remove any moisture.
  6. Vacuum the carpet to restore its fluffiness.

About the author: Garrick, the visionary behind Cordless Vacuum Guide, brings over a decade of hands-on expertise in cordless vacuum testing to his insightful reviews showcased on this platform. Beyond his passion for empowering consumers with informed choices, he cherishes precious moments with his family, exploring global cuisines and exploring different horizons with his beloved wife and son. Follow him on Youtube, Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram.

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  • Leslie Sep 4, 2017 @ 20:10

    How do I clean white out liquid paper out of wool carpet?