The holidays are over and you’ve taken down and put away all the holiday decorations (or most of you have). Now it’s time to take a good hard look at your carpet and any spills and stains you may not have had the time to get to as they happened.
Even though they may have remained on the carpet a little longer than you’d like, it shouldn’t be much of a problem to get these stains out.
Before we get into cleaning stains, let me mention some of the cleaning ingredients I use and many of you may already have in the house.
Some of the Ingredients I Use
Here’s a short list of some of my go-to cleaning products:
Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
When I refer to a dishwashing liquid, for the most part I use Dawn dish soap. It’s always been what we buy. Dawn contains enzymes that will break up grease and proteins and is pretty effective in eliminating many kinds of messes. It’s cleaned up many of our messes around the house!
A tip when using dishwashing liquids: You only need to add a small amount to any recipe you’re using as a cleaning solution. If you use too much, it will leave a residue (in this case on the carpet fibers) that can be hard to remove if not rinsed completely, and even when dry it will attract dirt, eventually creating a new stain to clean.
If you don’t have a liquid dishwashing detergent on hand, you can use a liquid (non-bleach) laundry detergent or another mild non-bleach dishwashing liquid in its place.
In my home and our business, we use white vinegar quite a bit. Vinegar is great at killing germs and removing odors. It’s a disinfectant and deodorizer and works quite well on many different types of stains.
Although vinegar may be good for many cleaning projects around the home, do not use it on natural stone tiles, as it can damage them.
Baking soda is another great product with so many uses. I keep many boxes of this in my pantry. Among other things, baking soda is a natural deodorizer that is very effective. Baking soda does not simply mask odors—it absorbs and eliminates them!
Oops, I Dumped Too Much Water on the Stain
Well, this has certainly been something I have done a time or two. When cleaning, you want to be careful not to get the carpet so wet the liquid is saturating into the padding underneath. If it does happen, though, you can use a shop vac to help suck out the excess liquid.
I also have the Little Bissell Portable Carpet Cleaner that does a great job removing tough stains and spills. This is definitely a handy little tool to have in your arsenal of cleaning supplies.
When dealing with stains, I also try to use the mildest approach first.
Removing Gravy Stains
- Apply rubbing alcohol to a clean cloth and blot the stain. Repeat as needed.
- inse with clean water and blot liquids until dry.
If there is still a little stain remaining:
- Mix 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing detergent with 1 cup lukewarm water. Apply to the stain, then gently blot. Repeat as needed.
- Rinse with water, then blot to dry.
Removing Old Coffee, Tea and Red Wine Stains from Carpet
There are a few different things you can do to remove coffee, tea, and red wine stains from carpet:
- Take 1/4 scoop OxiClean and mix it with 2 cups of warm water. Mix until it is completely dissolved.
- Saturate the stain and let it sit for at least 5 minutes (it may require a few more minutes to sit, just don’t let it sit too long, and don’t let it dry on the carpet).
- With a clean towel, blot up as much of the liquid as you can.
- Rinse with clean water, blot again, and cover until completely dry.
- Reactivate the stain with some club soda. Do not over wet it; use just enough to cover the stain.
- Make a paste of baking soda and water, about the consistency of creamy peanut butter.
- Cover the stain liberally with the paste, then take a clean towel and gently blot or push the paste into the carpet and stain. Allow it to sit about 5 minutes.
- Take a clean section of the towel and start removing the paste by gently dabbing from the outside edges, working in towards the middle of the stain, lifting the paste up as you go.
- Mix a 50/50 solution of cold water and white vinegar. Pour some over the area, then gently blot (to avoid damaging the carpet fibers, do not rub or agitate the carpet). Repeat until you’ve removed as much of the paste as possible.
- With a clean, dry section of the towel, blot to remove as much remaining liquid as you can.
- Cover until dry, then vacuum.
Removing a Pumpkin Pie Stain or Sweet Potato Stain from the Carpet
- Make a solution of 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and 2 cups warm water.
- Apply to the stained area and blot using a clean cloth. Repeat as needed until the pumpkin pie stain is gone.
- Rinse with clean water and blot up liquid until it’s as dry as you can get it.
If any stain remains, mix 1 tablespoon ammonia in 2 cups of warm water. Blot the stain. Repeat if necessary. Rinse and blot dry.
Note: Do not use ammonia on wool carpeting. It can damage the wool fibers. If you are not sure what kind of carpet you have, stick to using detergent. Ammonia can also have a strong smell, so if using it, open a window or door to ventilate the smell from the room.
Removing an Older Milk Stain from Carpeting
If the spilled milk is a little crusty, first use a dull knife or something like the edge of a credit card to carefully get as much off as you can.
Using Dish Detergent and Water to Remove a Milk Stain
- Make a solution of 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid to about 2 cups of warm water.
- Pour a little on the stain (don’t over soak it) and blot up with a clean towel. Change to a clean section of the cloth when needed. Repeat as needed.
- Rinse the area of the carpet with clean water and blot up as much liquid as you can, getting it as dry as you can.
- Place a towel over the stain (so nothing dirty gets on it) until it is completely dry, then vacuum.
Using Rubbing Alcohol to Remove a Milk Stain
- Apply enough rubbing alcohol to the stain to rewet it.
- Use a clean cloth to blot up the milk stain. Repeat as needed, using a clean section of cloth each time.
- Follow steps 3 and 4 of the detergent and water method above.
Removing Any Lingering Milk Odors
If you notice a slight sour milk smell, you can remove the smell with a little baking soda applied to the stain.
- If the carpet is dry, give it a little spritz of water.
- Liberally sprinkle the baking soda over the area and work it gently into the carpet.
- Cover and let sit overnight.
- Carefully loosen and lift up as much of the dried baking soda as you can, then vacuum.
Removing an Old Soda Pop Stain from the Carpet
- Make a solution of 1/4 teaspoon dishwashing liquid to 2 cups white vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
- Pour a small amount of the water over the soda pop stain until it is thoroughly wet (but not soaking wet).
- Blot up the liquid with a clean cloth. Repeat as needed.
- Rinse with clean water, blot to dry as well as you can, then cover until completely dry. Once the carpet is completely dry, vacuum the area.
- If there is still a small amount of stain remaining, pour rubbing alcohol over the area, blot and repeat as needed. Rinse with clean water and cover until dry.
Removing Chocolate Stains
Prior to cleaning the stain, carefully lift any chunks of chocolate that may be on the carpet. Vacuum to remove any flakes that may remain.
- Mix 1 teaspoon mild detergent with 1 cup lukewarm water.
- Apply to the chocolate stain and blot, working from the outer edges in towards the center of the stain. You may need to repeat this step a couple of times. Use a clean area of the cloth each time.
- Rinse with a clean damp cloth to remove any residue from the detergent. Let dry.
If any stain remains, mix 1 tablespoon household ammonia with 1 cup water. Follow steps 2 and 3 above.
Note: Do not use ammonia on wool carpets, as it can damage the wool. If you are not sure what type of carpeting you have, stick to using a mild detergent. Ammonia can also have a strong smell; if possible, open a door or window to vent the area you’re working in.
If there is a slight stain remaining, you can also try using regular-strength (3%) hydrogen peroxide (test in inconspicuous spot first). Pour some over the stain. Cover with plastic wrap then put a towel on top of that. Check the progress after 1 hour. Repeat if necessary.
Now that we’ve gone over some stains and how to deal with them, here are a couple other articles that may help you with your holiday clean-up.
Cleaning Up After the Holidays
Organizing Holiday Decorations