If you’ve got carpet or a rug, you’re bound to have some sort of soiling or staining. Sure, you take every precaution to protect what’s underfoot but accidents happen. And sometimes these mishaps occur unknowingly like when coffee dribbles down your mug and drips onto the floor.
Obviously, the easiest way to remove a stain is to deal with it as soon as you can before it soaks into the carpet or rug fibres. However, this isn’t always possible. In this case, here’s what you should do, keeping in mind that not all stains respond positively to removal efforts.
First, try to identify what caused the spot or stain.
Was it coffee, Kool-Aid, pasta sauce, ink or from your beloved pet that couldn’t hold it any longer?
Look at the texture of the spot and its shape. If the spot was caused by something oily or gooey food, then the stickiness of the substance will attract dry soil and cure hard. Oil-based spots are also typically irregularly shaped, while ‘water-based’ spots have rounded edges and are relatively circular in shape.
If still unsure of the origin, add a drop of water to the spot and give it sniff.
The reason for identifying the source of the spot is that this can help with ridding it from your rug or carpet. For instance, a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol works best on ink stains, whereas a mixture of vinegar, water and a gentle non-bleach detergent is ideal for coffee stains.
Once the stain has been identified, first try vacuuming the spot extensively. In many cases, this proves successful or it will at least lift some of the soiled matter. Then, use a dampened cloth and blot the spot, watching for soil transfer. If there is no transfer, repeat the process with a little homemade mixture of white vinegar, dish soap and water. (Mix 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon dish soap in a spray bottle and then fill with water). Spray the stain liberally and let soak for 5 to 10 minutes before blotting with a clean, dry cloth. Once transfer is identified, work on the spot starting from the outside of it and moving toward the middle.
If the stain is particularly stubborn, try a carpet stain removal product like one of Bissell or Resolve’s carpet cleaning formulas or even OxiClean. Use these products as directed and then repeat with the vinegar-soap mixture until the stain has vanished. Remember to test a small area of the carpet before product use to assure there will be no reaction or negative impact on your carpet or rug.
With any stain, the removal process can be accelerated with the heat of an iron or steamer. Always add the spot remover, whether homemade or a purchased product, to a clean cloth first and then apply the cloth directly to the spot before adding heat.
Once the stain has been removed, apply an absorbent towel to extract any excess liquid. Skipping this step is to the carpet or rug’s detriment, as the source of the stain still resides at the base of the yarns. If too much water is left in the carpet, it can cause wick-back of soils from the base of the fibres and rapid re-soiling of the carpet or rug.