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Carpet cleaning: Removing Stains 101

Carpet cleaning

You may have bought the best machine among all best machine among all the carpet cleaners for sale, but not even it can help you remove stains if you don’t know the basics. If you often find yourself wondering how to effortlessly remove the stains from a client’s carpet, here are some quick ways to get rid of different stain types. 

The basic stain removal process

The most basic stain removal process is blotting the area and cleaning it. This is known by most homeowners and all carpet cleaners. Here’s how you can do this type of spot removal:  

  • The first step, blot the spot with a tissue or a cloth
  • Work from outside to inside, dry the area as you blot
  • Now, rinse the area gently with clean and hot water. 
  • Make sure to never scrub the spot. Doing so will get the stain deeper into the fibres, making it harder to remove. 

While this works for most immediate stains, the success rate is not always in your favour. Therefore, it’s always better to know other removal hacks as listed below. 

Eliminating water-soluble stains

Water-soluble stains are easy to remove. These dissolve in water and naturally get cleaned with water. Some examples of this type of stain include,

  • Excrement
  • Food dyes
  • Berries
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gravy
  • Ice cream
  • Colas
  • Jelly
  • Milk
  • Wet or latex paint
  • Mud
  • Washable ink

You can easily clean water-soluble stains through a cleaning solution made of ¼ teaspoon white vinegar or non-bleach detergent and 32 ounces of water. Make sure to test a small area of the carpet first before proceeding with the rest. Doing so allows you to know if the solution will discolor your client’s carpet or not. 

Dealing with tougher (water-soluble)stains

Despite being soluble in water, some stains are more difficult to remove. These require more than water to clean because of their thicker consistency. Some of these strains include, 

  • Blood
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Vomit
  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Mustard

You can remove these stains by mixing 1 cup ammonia with 1 cup of water. However, the ammonia needs to be replaced with detergent for wool or wool-blend carpets. Alternatively, you can try a solution made of one part chlorine bleach and five parts water, but this can be used only on solution-dyed carpets.

Removing other common stains

  • Dirt and mud: Remove the mud from the carpet by letting it dry first, followed by vacuuming the dirt, and finally bloating the spot with warm water.
  • Cigarette burn: Ashes from cigarettes can be removed by gently rubbing the pile with the edge of a flat and hard surface like a knife. 
  • Nail polish: Easily remove nail polish stains by blotting the area with a rag dipped in nail polish remover.
  • Glue: Using a cotton ball moistened with rubbing alcohol, moisten the glue stain before wiping it off. Repeat the process until the fibres are clean. 
  • Urine: Start by blotting as much urine as possible with white towels before spraying one part vinegar and one part water on the spot. Follow this up with a mix of non-bleach detergent and 32 ounces of water; rinse and dry.
  • Wax and gum: Freeze the wax or gum with ice. Once frozen, break it into pieces and vacuum them before they soften. Then, blot the carpet with towels.


Your client doesn’t care what machine or fancy cleaning technique you use if it doesn’t help them get rid of stubborn stains. From being water-soluble to be tougher to remove, carpet stains come in different types, each differing in removal technique. Therefore, being handy with different stain-removal techniques is a necessary asset for a carpet cleaner.

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