Note: This is our "basic procedures" page
for removing carpet stains of various types. It will give you
an idea of what to do about most spills and stains. For more
detailed instructions on removing specific stains, see the list
on the homepage.
The first thing you need to know is to act fast, while it
is still a spill or a spot rather than a stain. Many carpets
today come treated with stain-resistant substances, so spills
can be removed easily if you get them right away. The longer
you delay, the more difficult removing those stains becomes--and
there are no stain-proof carpets (at least not yet).
Carpet cleaners will tell you that "spots" are removable,
while stains are permanent. We will not stick to the technical
definitions, and in any case, the appearance of carpet stains
can be improved even when the stain cannot be fully removed.
Just follow the guidelines below, and check the alphabetical
list on the home page for directions for specific types of problems.
When it is a liquid spill, blot it up carefully; don't rub
or you may make it worse. As much as possible try to always use
clean white cotton cloth or plain white paper towels (ones that
do not have any colored designs printed on them). Just put the
cloth on the spot and let it soak up the liquid, pushing down
gently and starting with fresh rags or paper towels as necessary.
When you have removed as much of the liquid as you can in
this way, rinse the spot with water and blot again until dry.
Don't pour too much water on the area though. Dribble it on carefully
or use a spray bottle. Repeat if necessary to remove more of
the stain, but don't scrub the area, or you may damage the carpet
and set the stain in more permanently.
The following video looks at how
to get liquids and liquid-based stains out of carpet.
Peanut butter, pudding and other semi-solid substances can
be scraped and lifted gently with a spoon or dull butter knife.
Rinse the remaining spill out and blot dry. Repeat the rinsing
until you get no more transfer of the substance to the cloth
and can no longer smell it in the fibers (get your nose down
If semi-solids have already dried they should be broken up
and vacuumed first. Use your fingers to break them up or carefully
pinch them between two spoons. Continue breaking it up and vacuuming
until it is essentially gone. Then rinse the spot with water
and blot dry.Repeat the rinsing if needed.
Use Water for Most Stains
Whenever you are not sure how to get out carpet stains, try
water first. One exception to this rule is when the staining
substance consists of certain types of glue, like Gorilla Glue.
If you need something more, go to the page on Carpet
When using a cleaning solvent, apply it to a cloth first,
then work it in from the outside of the stain to the center,
so you don't spread the spot. The procedure is to apply the cleaner,
extract (blot), rinse, extract, and repeat until you can't get
out more of the stain. Always extract solvents completely.
The Importance of Fast Drying
Dry the carpet quickly when you are done cleaning something
up in it. If there is any stain remaining deeper down in the
carpet, quick drying prevents it from wicking up to the surface.
Blot up all the rinse water you can with paper towels or cotton
cloth. One technique that will get most of the remaining moisture
is to stack paper towels on the spot with some weight on them
(a brick, a gallon-sized jar of something, etc.). Replace the
paper towels as they get wet. Final drying is helped by having
a fan blow on the spot for a couple hours.
Stain Removal Secret
One of the most useful tools for removing carpet stains is
a shop-vac. With a wet/dry vacuum cleaner you can quickly suck
up spills, but more importantly, you can repeatedly flush the
area with water and suck it out. This is much more efficient
than blotting with a cloth, and less likely to cause damage to
How to Easily Get Rid of All Carpet Stains
There is one last suggestion you might want to consider. It
will alleviate all problems related to stains in your carpeting.
It is this: get rid of the carpet!
It is easier to care for hardwood or tile floors, and you
can still have area rugs where you want something softer for
your feet. Tile or hardwood can last a lifetime if cared for
properly, and that care is usually cheaper than regular carpet
cleaning. Health benefits are another reason to consider this
radical solution. Dust mites thrive in carpets, causing allergic
reactions in some people, and new carpeting releases fumes for
months, which also irritates some people.