GIMME SHELTER- Stain pain: A solution is the solution

Jeremy Drumheller
Co-owner, Albemarle Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners


Q: Help! My kids are quickly turning my white carpet into an ugly shade of brown. What can I do to get all these stains out and keep it clean?

A: If you think your kids are bad, imagine this: I once went to a house where a dog had gotten into a printer cartridge and dragged it all over a 2,500-square-foot house, including the walls and the furniture. Because the owner called us right away and we got to the stain that day, we were able to remove about 85 percent of it.

Many stains, however, can be treated using simple household products such as club soda and vinegar. The trick is finding the source of the stain and then treating the stain appropriately. With any stain, be sure to remove as much excess as you can before you begin. If you have a wet spot, for example, try to blot the liquid out with towels.

To treat a water-based stain, such as red wine or coffee, mix 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and 1/3 cup of vinegar with 2/3 cup warm (not hot) water. Apply the solution and work it into the affected area using a spoon. Blot the area with a clean towel, rinse with cool water or club soda, and begin blotting again. Repeat the process as needed until the mark disappears. 

For protein-based stains such as blood, chocolate, or vomit, mix one cup of cool water with 1/2 teaspoon ammonia and 1/2 teaspoon dish soap. Apply the solution like you would for a water-based stain, but if the spot persists, you can try using diluted hydrogen peroxide by adding one tablespoon peroxide to three tablespoons warm water.

If you have an oil-based stain like butter or tar, you should use a dry cleaning solvent that can be purchased at any grocery store or cleaning supply business. Follow the instructions on the container, but be careful not to over-apply the product, as doing so can cause damage to the carpet backing. 

But what if your spot is of unknown origin? In that case, try the oil-based method first, followed by water-based and then finally protein-based. If none of these home remedies work, it's probably time to call a professional. It's best to have your carpet professionally cleaned every eight to 12 months and have a carpet protection applied every other cleaning. Carpet protection is a Scotchguard spray that will help prevent spills from permanently coloring your carpet. New carpets are protected, but the protection wears off in two to four years.