How To Clean Upholstery And Carpet Stains

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No matter how careful you are, spills and stains are bound to happen. Knowing how to remove common stains from carpet and upholstery protects your investment and keeps your home looking its best.

Convenient Stain Removal Solutions

Having what you need for stain removal readies you for a quick clean up with a minimum of stress. You may already have many necessary ingredients at home. Here are a few basics for popular spotting solutions you'll want have on hand:

  • Sodium perborate or hydrogen peroxide for bleach solutions (Don't use chlorine bleach.)
  • Colorless, gentle dishwashing liquid detergent
  • Grain alcohol or clear rubbing alcohol
  • Household ammonia
  • Dry-Cleaning Solvent
  • Clear white vinegar
  • POG(A commercial solution available in hardware stores, POG removes point, oil and grease)
  • Enzyme Detergent,

Eating up Food Stains

Every delicious meal presents an opportunity for spills and stains. Be prepared with the right cleaning recipe. For each of the following, begin by scraping off excess food and finish by sponging on cold water and blotting:

  • Butter or margarine: Sprinkle with baking soda or cornstarch. After 10 to 15 minutes, vacuum and apply dry-cleaning solvent and blot. Repeat and blot until the stain is gone. For carpet only, if the stain remains, apply a one-tablespoon each of liquid detergent and vinegar mixed with two cups of warm water and blot.,
  • Ketchup or chocolate: Sponge area with cool water. Sponge on a solution of one tablespoon of liquid detergent with two cups of warm water and blot. Repeat until stain is gone. For carpet only, if stain remains, sponge on a solution of one tablespoon of ammonia mixed with one-half cup of warm water and blot.,
  • Eggs or mustard: Apply detergent solution using one tablespoon of liquid detergent and two cups of water (cool for upholstery and warm for carpet.) Blot and repeat until stain is gone. For remaining stains on carpet, try a solution of one tablespoon of ammonia and two cups of warm water. Apply and blot.,
  • Jam: For upholstery, apply one tablespoon of white vinegar with two-thirds of a cup of alcohol. Sponge, blot and repeat. For carpet, use a solution of one-tablespoon liquid detergent and two cups of warm water. Sponge, blot and repeat. If carpet stain remains, apply one tablespoon of ammonia mixed with two cups of warm water. Sponge, blot and repeat.,
Ready for Planting Finished Product

Beverage Stains

Drinks are easily knocked over and spilled, creating some challenging stains. To get them out, start by blotting up as much liquid as you can and then try these recipes:

  • Beer: For carpet, mix a solution of one tablespoon each of liquid detergent and white vinegar with two cups of warm water. Sponge, blot and repeat. For upholstery, mix a tablespoon of liquid detergent with two cups of cool water. Sponge, blot and repeat.
  • Coffee: Clean black coffee spills as you would beer stains. If the coffee had milk or cream in it, however, be sure to use an enzyme laundry detergent in your solution.
  • Grape juice: For carpet, mix one tablespoon of liquid detergent and two cups of warm water. Sponge on, blot and repeat. If some stain remains, use one tablespoon of ammonia and two cups of warm water. Sponge on and blot. For upholstery, use a mixture of two-thirds of a cup of rubbing alcohol and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Sponge, blot and repeat.,
  • Milk: For carpet, use one tablespoon of liquid detergent and two cups of warm water. Sponge, blot and repeat. If stain remains, try one tablespoon of ammonia with two cups of warm water. Sponge, blot and repeat. For upholstery, use only the liquid detergent and water solution. Sponge, blot and repeat.,

For all drink stains, finish by sponging with cold water and blotting.,

Pet Stains

Commercial enzymatic cleaners specifically designed for pet stains are a great choice for getting rid of all evidence of pet accidents or sickness. If you prefer to make your own cleaning solutions for pet messes, here are a few ideas:

  • Urine: Mix one cup of warm water with two tablespoons of white vinegar. Rub solution into stain with a rag or paper towel.
  • Feces: For upholstery, one tablespoon of liquid detergent with two cups of warm water. Sponge, blot and repeat. For remaining stain, apply a few drops of hydrogen peroxide and then ammonia with an eyedropper. For carpet, add a tablespoon of vinegar to the detergent solution and follow the same steps.
  • Vomit: Surprisingly, use the same method you would for butter or margarine stains.

Other Household Stains

To make these other common stains disappear:

  • Grease/motor oil: Clean as you would butter or margarine.
  • Toothpaste: Use a solution of two cups cool water and one tablespoon liquid detergent. Sponge, blot and repeat.
  • Shaving cream: Same method as toothpaste, only use warm water.
  • Mud: Let dry and vacuum. Then clean as you would stains from shaving cream.

Tips for Successful Stain Removal

To get the most from your stain removal recipes:

  • Be patient. Stain removal can take time.
  • Blot gently rather than rubbing or brushing the stain.
  • Use small amounts of solution; don't over wet.
  • Check area for colorfastness before trying to remove stain.

Keeping Your Home Stain-Free

Although removing stains may seem involved, the time and effort spent is well worth it to keep carpets and furniture looking like new. Knowing which solution is best for each type of stain will help your home stay stain-free no matter what spills.

Last Updated: September 14, 2011
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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