How to Clean Carpet Stains
Outlinist's team and our families are supported thanks to affiliate commissions that we may earn when you buy through links on our site. Read more

How to Clean Carpet Stains

Updated: January 28, 2020

Carpets get dirty. Tea, coffee, wine, grease, and even your pet’s pee, it happens. You can save it by knowing how to clean carpet stains left behind.

For that, you need the right carpet stain removal products and the proper method.

It is no secret that carpets can be costly; whether laid throughout your home or just in the form of an area rug. Constant spilling and wear and tear can deteriorate it very quickly and decrease its life.

Also, it just doesn’t look right. But it’s unrealistic to think that it will never get dirty, especially if you have kids or pets in the house.

What helps? Knowing what to use to remove carpet stains, along with immediate action, can help prevent long-term damage to the carpet.

What You Need to Know Before Starting

Before discussing how to remove carpet stains, there are some prerequisite things one should know: learning about the different types of stains, and what products to use for cleaning each, along with the right technique to use.

Carpet stain removal is not rocket science. Whether the stain is dry or wet, you can begin by merely blotting it with a rag or paper towel to remove any moisture.

At this stage, avoid using a harsh brush to scrub the carpet. This may damage the fibers of the rug, or it may allow the spill to soak further more in-depth into the pad.

Also, you need to be careful about the products you use. While we will mainly discuss homemade remedies, there are some spot cleaners available in the market.

However, be cautious when using these. Some formulas may contain corrosive chemicals that can fade or damage the carpet’s fibers. Make sure you test the product on an inconspicuous part of the carpet before using it elsewhere.

Cleaning Water-Soluble Stains

These types of stains are some of the most common ones. They are caused by water-soluble elements, making them the easiest to clean.

Since they are water-soluble, you can clean them with a simple cleaning solution. You won’t need to keep rubbing or use powerful chemicals to get these types of stains out.

Some examples of what might cause these stains include:

  • Wine and other alcoholic beverages,
  • Kool-aid and other beverages,
  • Berries,
  • Soda pop or fizzy drinks,
  • Excrement (pets or children),
  • Food dyes,
  • Gravies,
  • Icecream/yogurt,
  • Jelly,
  • Milk,
  • Mud,
  • Washable ink,
  • Wet/latex paint.

One important thing to remember here is that these stains can become increasingly difficult to clean if left in place for too long. You have to get to them as soon as possible to prevent them from seeping deeper.

You can clean the carpet with vinegar. More specifically, white vinegar mixed in water. For 32 ounces of room temperature water, 1/4 teaspoon good quality white vinegar should suffice. Use the mixture to blot the stains.

Tougher stains

Mix 2 tablespoon regular table salt in half a cup of white vinegar to make a paste. Rub the mix on the spot gently and then let it sit until it’s dry.

You can then use a portable carpet cleaner or vacuum to remove the salt.

Darker water-soluble stains

Add two tablespoons of borax powder to 1/2 cup vinegar and two tablespoons of salt. Use the paste in the same method as explained above.

Dirt and mud stains

Dissolve one tablespoon of corn starch in one tablespoon of vinegar. Make a thick paste and rub it on the stain with a dry cloth until the carpet absorbs the moisture from the paste.

Once applied, let it work for a maximum of 2 days and then vacuum it off.

Fruit juice stains

Add one and a half teaspoons vinegar to one tablespoon laundry detergent and dissolve in two cups of water. Slowly pour the mixture wherever the stains are and then blot to loosen it up.

Wet or latex paint

Make a solution with one and a half teaspoons of vinegar and equal parts laundry detergent mixed in about 2 cups of water. Using a sponge, gently scrape away the paint and then rinse it off with cold water.

Make sure to do this before the paint dries and sets.

Other Water-Soluble Stains

Other water-soluble items can stain carpets. These typically leave a deeper stain that you can’t clean with a simple non-bleach solution.

Other water-soluble stains include:

  • Red wine,
  • Vomit,
  • Blood,
  • Chocolate,
  • Coffee and tea,
  • Mustard.

If you notice, most of these stains are caused by liquids that have some form of protein in them. For these stains, ammonia solutions work more efficiently.

Mix one tablespoon of ammonia in one cup of water and blot it on the stain, rubbing gently with a cloth or sponge. For wool-blend carpets, you can replace it with a mild detergent.

If the ammonia mixture is not sufficient, mix one-part chlorine bleach in five parts water and use that in the same way. Be very cautious when using bleach and use only on solution-dyed materials such a polypropylene.

You can talk to the manufacturer for further instructions as well.

Grease, Wax, Oil, Fat, and Other Stains

These types of stains can prove some of the most difficult. Let’s start with one of the most common one, chewing gum. It might be a tough one to remove from hair but easier on a carpet.

Chewing gum and waxes

Use ice cubes and rub them on the wax or gum residue on the carpet to freeze it. Once it’s frozen, shatter it with a blunt object, such as a butter knife or spoon.

Vacuum the debris before it melts and blots with a damp cloth or towel.

Glue products

Dampen a cloth or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol, pressing it into the stained area. The glue residue should loosen up and come off once it moistens. Gently wipe off and repeat until the glue is gone.

Grease and oil stains

An unusual solution but shaving cream can work on oil and grease stains. Squirt some shaving cream on the stain and rub it in with your fingers. Let the cream dry and wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Corn starch can also lift grease and oil from carpet fibers. Sprinkle a liberal amount of the powder on the grease stain and leave it for a few hours to let it soak the oil before vacuuming.

Similarly, an equal part of salt and baking soda can be used to lift grease out of carpets. You have to rub the spot and leave it for 4 to 5 hours before vacuuming it.

You can also sprinkle OxiClean on carpet stains.

For greasy food stains such as pizza, dissolve one-part salt in four-part rubbing alcohol. Rub it on the stain with a little force. Also, make sure to rub in the direction the rug’s fibers fall.

Dry-cleaning liquid is also useful for stains, such as butter, lipstick, oil, and grease. Blot the excess first and then rub the fluid into the carpet, moving from edge to center.


For any blood stains, mix meat tenderizing powder in cold water (equal amounts) and let it soak over the stain for half an hour. Use the dirty mixture with a sponge and rinse with cold water.

Use two tablespoons of ammonia mixed in a cup of water. Spray it on the stain and let it sit for 5 minutes before blotting it with a clean cloth.

A salt and water paste can be rubbed on the spot, left for 5 minutes, then cleaned gently without any harsh rubbing.

When nothing else works, hydrogen peroxide can be used to remove blood stains. Lightly moisten the stained area with hydrogen peroxide and leave for an hour before cleaning with a moist towel. Repeat until satisfied.


Before applying any DIY carpet cleaner, make sure you absorb as much of the urine from the carpet as possible. Use a towel or cloth you can throw away or use newspapers.

Then use a clean cloth and dampen it with cold water. Blot the stained area and then spray it with 1:1 white vinegar and water mixture.

While that soaks, mix half teaspoon of mild non-bleach detergent such as OxiClean in 32 ounces water. Rinse the stained area with the solutions and blot dry.

To clean animal urine, you can use special carpet cleaner shampoo.

Spilled ink

Mix enough cornstarch with a few tablespoons of milk to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to the ink stain and dry on the carpet for a couple of hours. Finally, vacuum the residue.

You can also use paint remover to remove ink or paint. Dab the remover gently after soaking up excess ink. Wipe with a moistened cloth afterward.

WD-40 can be used for ink stains as well. Spray the stain with the sponge and wait for about two minutes. Then clean the spot with a sponge dipped in warm water mixed with carpet shampoo.

Pin this article now!

Click this link to enjoy Exclusive SEPTEMBER 2021 Deals »