When to Fight Carpet Stains—And When to Surrender

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How to clean carpet stains

Source: Thinkstock

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance it’s already too late and you need to call a carpet cleaning professional. Unless you had the insight to rush to your computer and haven’t yet tried your own carpet stain removal, you probably have a permanent carpet stain.

What You Can Try

First, remove as much of the staining substance as possible. Then, using a clean towel or rag, put isopropyl rubbing alcohol on the towel and gently blot the affected area. If this doesn’t begin to work, stop. If you rub the alcohol in too deeply, you may damage the latex backing. Next, try non-lanolin, non-bleach dish washing detergent. Mix 1/4 teaspoon with a quart of water. Again, blot with the towel. Using a spray bottle rinse the stain and blot dry. Then, spray again lightly, this time allowing the carpet to dry under a weighted paper towel. If the stain still isn’t gone, moisten the spot with a 3% mix of hydrogen peroxide and leave to dry for one hour. If that doesn’t work, it’s probably time to call a professional.

Have You Made the Carpet Stain Worse?

If you’ve already tried carpet stain removal and it didn’t work or got worse, you may have inadvertently made the stain permanent. These are some of the activities that can cause a stain to set, meaning you might need to invest in carpet cleaning:

  • Scrubbing the stain
  • Applying heat to the affected carpet
  • Ignoring the stain
  • Drowning the carpet in cleaning solution
  • Failing to remove any excess substance

It’s also important to use a clean, dry cloth, and you should always pretest the carpet in an inconspicuous spot. Apply the cleaning solution to the cloth—not directly on the stain.

Carpet cleaning tips

Source: iStock

Did You Ever Have a Chance?

Some carpet stains are created by compounds that irreparably change your carpet’s color. When this happens, your only recourse is to call your service professional. More than likely, the stained area will need to be replaced with extra carpeting or a patch cut from an inconspicuous place in the carpet. Some of the compounds that issue this death sentence are fertilizers and insecticides, hair dyes, iodine, bleach, alkaline cleaners, acne medication, and acid toilet bowl cleaners.

What to Do Next Time

Before another carpet stain happens, you should read the carpet manufacturer’s manual on carpet stain removal. It’s entirely possible your carpet should be handled in a specific way when it’s stained to protect the carpet. Also, have a small amount of pre-mixed dish washing solution: the longer you let the stain sit, the harder it’s going to be to remove.

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