How to Remove Stains From Your Carpet and Furniture
It happens all the time. You’re enjoying a family get-together and someone accidentally spills a drink on the carpet. Or, maybe your toddler finds a marker and decides to turn the couch into a coloring book. Either way, stains happen.
So, what do you do? Whatever the stain is, Better Homes and Gardens suggests a basic method for cleaning fabric:
- Quickly wipe away any of the spill that has not soaked into the carpet or fabric.
- Use a clean, white cloth to blot (not rub) the stain, starting from the outer edges and moving into the center to help prevent spreading.
- Apply a cleaner made for that type of stain or fabric, but don’t soak the area as you may damage the carpet backing or fabric.
- Blot the stain again, starting at the edges and working your way in, to soak up the cleaner. Repeat this step with a clean cloth until the stain stops soaking into the cloth.
- Put cold water on a new cloth and dab the area.
- Use a dry cloth to soak up any excess moisture.
This basic process is a starting point for most carpet or upholstery stains, but variations of cleaners and tactics may be used for different types of stains, according to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. So, the next time you get a carpet or furniture stain, first determine what caused it and then decide which of the following home remedies might be most effective for removing the stain.
Dark Foods and Drinks
Edibles such as berries, chocolate and colored beverages may leave a dark stain if dropped or spilled on fabric. MarthaStewart.com suggests dabbing the stain with soapy water first. If additional stain removal is needed, dab 3 percent hydrogen peroxide on the spot and let it sit for an hour before blotting it with a wet cloth. It’s a good idea to do a spot test first on your fabric or carpet to make sure the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t cause discoloration. Overall, this process can be repeated as necessary until the stain is gone.
Greasy or Waxy Materials
For carpet stains caused by items such as crayons, wax, grease, lotion or makeup, MarthaStewart.com recommends using rubbing alcohol. According to the website, rubbing alcohol dissolves oily and waxy stains without damaging carpet. First, dip a towel or cotton ball in the alcohol and cover the stain with it. Then, blot the area with a new towel until there is no more residue. If the stain is still visible, MarthaStewart.com advises switching to soapy water, blotting and rinsing.
Unfortunately, children don’t always understand that they should draw on paper rather than the furniture or carpet. If your child has decided to take her artistic skills to household items, Good Housekeeping offers some DIY tips for removing marker from carpet and upholstery:
- Carpet: Start by combining 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, one tablespoon of white vinegar and 2 cups of cold water. Apply the mixture with a clean cloth and then blot with a dry cloth until the stain is gone. To soak up the cleaning solution, rinse the spot with water and blot again with a clean, dry cloth.
- Upholstery: Begin by combining 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 2 cups of cold water. Use a cloth to apply the mixture to the stain and let stand a minimum of 30 minutes while dabbing on more solution every 5 minutes. Then, rinse the fabric with cold water, blot up the liquid and apply some rubbing alcohol on what’s left of the marker stain, if needed. Finally, dab with cold water again and pat with a dry towel until no moisture remains.
If the stain on the fabric or carpet is from permanent marker, Better Homes and Gardens recommends wetting the stain with a little bit of rubbing alcohol or hairspray and using a towel to blot up the color. Once the color is gone, rinse with water and pat dry with a new towel.
From markers to food to makeup, accidents happen. Whether on carpet or furniture, you can help stains become a thing of the past with these simple tips.
Originally published on January 12, 2015.