Man cleaning carpet.

How To Get Stains Out Of Carpet Quickly

Michelle Giorlando7-Minute Read
April 20, 2022

Carpeting adds warmth and color to your home’s decor, and it can make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud. However, one of the least-fun aspects of having a home with carpet is dealing with the inevitable stains!

Different stains require different treatments, and we’ll cover the most common types, and how to fix them. Let’s look at how to get stains out of carpet quickly so you can go back to enjoying your un-stained floor coverings.

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How To Remove Stains From Carpet The Right Way

If your home has any kind of carpeting, it’s nearly inevitable that at some point, you’ll end up with a stain that needs cleaning up! Having kids or pets will only increase your chances, as neither tend to be known for their stellar cleaning and hygiene habits.

There are many ways to remove stains from carpet, but the best methods will vary, depending on what type of stain you’re dealing with. The process generally remains the same, though.

The tools you use can affect your stain as well. Keep a white or other light rag around, preferably one without lint. This avoids fabric dyes and lint being ground into your carpet. White vinegar and baking soda are both excellent tools to keep on hand, too.

Pick Up What You Can

Your first step to fixing any stain is to pick up what you can! This is an essential practice regardless of the type of flooring you have, but it’s especially important if you have rugs or carpeted floors.

Start by cleaning up the initial spill or potentially staining substance as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is to pick up any solids with a paper towel, and then blot any excess liquid gently with paper towels or an old fabric towel. Gently is the key word here - don’t scrub it hard, as that can grind particles into the carpet and make stains harder to get out. Blot from the outside of the stain inward, so the stain doesn’t spread unnecessarily.

Give The Stain A Good Deep Cleaning

Once the excess substance is picked up or blotted up, you’ll want to treat the remaining stain itself.

If you don’t have a bottle of carpet cleaner handy, or it’s not in your budget, you can make your own from items you may have around the house. These have the added bonus of being natural cleaning solutions and won’t contribute harsh chemicals to your home.

Here are some common combinations you can make:

  • Vinegar and water: Mix one part vinegar to two parts lukewarm water in a spray bottle. Avoid using hot water, since it can set stains. If your stain is particularly stubborn, increase the amount of vinegar.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and water: Mix a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts warm (not hot!) water. You may want to test this in an inconspicuous place to make sure it doesn’t bleach your carpet.
  • Vinegar and baking soda: It’s not just for making a volcano! This combination disinfects and dissolves stains, as well as deodorizing and absorbing them. Start by covering the stain with white vinegar and then sprinkle baking soda on top. You may have to wait overnight, but once the vinegar is dry, vacuum up the baking soda.
  • Vinegar and salt or cornstarch: Much like baking soda, salt or cornstarch will help absorb and deodorize any stains. Just wait until the vinegar has dried completely before vacuuming it up.
  • Dish soap and water: This solution is great for water-soluble spills. Mix a half teaspoon of clear dishwashing liquid (without bleach!) into 32 ounces of water.

You can also buy pre-made carpet stain removers. These come in different forms with different purposes; you can find them for pet stains, grease, red wine and even old stains. They also come in all-purpose forms for general stain coverage. Make sure the type you’re buying is suited to your carpet and to the method you’re cleaning with – spray bottles are best for treating smaller stains, while liquids and powders are more suited to overall cleaning. 

Blot The Stain Up

Once you’ve got your carpet stain solution on the stain itself, don’t let it sit indefinitely. The purpose of the solution is to loosen the stain from the carpet fibers. To complete the stain removal process, you’ll have to blot the solution up. Just like you did when blotting the initial excess stain liquid up, blot gently from the outside in.

Once you’ve finished blotting, check the stain. If it’s still visible, you may want to try the entire process again!

Hire A Professional

If the above steps don’t work for a particular stain and you don’t want to DIY it again, you can always hire an experienced carpet cleaning company to remove the stains. This will cost you more than just buying a bottle of carpet cleaner, but they’re experts who know exactly what to do. They’ve seen every type of stain! As a bonus, you can get your entire carpet cleaned and enjoy a refreshed floor covering.

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What Are The Most Common Types Of Stains?

There are several common types of carpet stains that you will likely encounter during your years of homeownership. Let’s look at what they are, and at some tips and tricks for preventing and treating these particular types of stains.

Pet Stains

If you feel like experiencing a wealth of different stains, get a pet! Our furry friends add so much joy to our lives, but inevitably also add messes. Different types of pet stains include urine, feces, vomit and tracked-in mud and dirt.  

Here are some ways to avoid pet stains on your carpet:

  • Don’t leave your pets unattended for extended periods of time, as this can cause them to have accidents. If you can, gate pets in an uncarpeted area, like your kitchen.
  • Vacuum often! This prevents dirt and grime from being ground into your carpet fibers as people and animals walk over them.
  • Pick up messes as soon as they happen. Don’t allow urine or feces to soak into the carpet. Pet urine contains chemicals that cause the urine to decompose slowly, and it contains hormones that will remind your pet where they had their accident. Your pet will think of this as their spot and will likely continue treating it like a bathroom.
  • Use an enzyme-based cleaner to break down the smells of pet stains.

Mud And Dirt

Mud and dirt get tracked into the house, no matter how hard you work to prevent it! Both humans and animals contribute to this problem, and dirt and mud can unfortunately stain carpet very easily.

There are several ways to prevent mud and dirt stains from becoming a problem:

  • Encourage people to take their shoes off before entering the house, and provide a place to store the shoes, such as on a plastic shoe tray that you can easily clean.
  • Keep doormats by all exterior doors so people can brush the dirt off their shoes before they enter.
  • Keep an old towel or rag by the door to wipe your dog’s paws when they come inside. This also works for barefoot children!
  • Vacuum, sweep and mop high-traffic areas several times a week. This prevents dirt from spreading and being ground into your carpet’s fibers. This can not only stain the carpet, but it can weaken the backing and even damage wood floors beneath.

Spilled Beverages

Drink spills can happen often and without warning! Many types of beverages can leave stains behind in a matter of minutes and are some of the worst carpet stains you’ll deal with.

Want to prevent spilled drinks? Try these tips:

Encourage household members to keep dark-colored beverages in the kitchen.

  • Clean up spills as soon as they happen so the stain doesn’t have time to set.
  • Consider investing in a stain-resistant carpet coating, especially if you have children or enjoy coffee in abundance!
  • Think about buying a bottle of red wine stain remover before having a party just in case.
  • Have your toddler use a sippy cup if she’s going to be lounging on the carpet with her juice.

Grease

Greasy or oily stains, whether they’re from food spills or tracked in from the garage can be a pain to remove, as anyone who’s ever eaten salad dressing while wearing a plain shirt probably knows. Water just won’t cut it.

Here’s how you can prevent grease and oil stains from permanently soiling your carpet:

  • Avoid eating greasy or oily foods in carpeted rooms.
  • Make sure anyone who walks through the garage removes their shoes before coming into the house.
  • Blot any stains with baking soda, as this will absorb the excess oil.
  • Use a detergent that will bond to the compounds in oil or grease and prevent them from spreading, such as dishwashing soap 

Blood

Blood and other bodily fluids can be stubborn stains. While prevention is hard (no one expects to cut their finger!) there are several things you can do to stop the stain:

  • Clean it up as quickly as you can; dried blood is harder to erase!
  • Use hydrogen peroxide or ammonia to spritz the stain.
  • Avoid using bleach. Even though it can remove blood stains, it’ll likely discolor your carpet. And never use bleach on urine stains – the ammonia in urine reacts with bleach to form a toxic gas.

Ink

Markers and newspapers and pens all have potential staining power. A broken pen can be a small object with a big impact. Ink contains chemicals that make stains a pain to remove.

Keep ink from spoiling your carpet with these tips:

  • Don’t let kids do coloring projects with markers while sitting on carpet!
  • Keep receipts and newspapers off the carpet, as their ink can stain.
  • Soak up water soluble ink from markers or pens with dishwashing liquid.
  • For ballpoint or permanent ink stains, after you’ve gently blotted excess ink up, soak ink stains with denatured alcohol.
  • Use a toothbrush to gently scrub the denatured alcohol into the ink stain.

The Bottom Line

By having carpeting in your home, you’re vulnerable to carpet stains. However, removing stains is doable – you just need some common supplies, patience and a gentle touch. Prevention is key! Encourage other household members to remove their shoes, drink their coffee in the kitchen, and to let the dog outside when she’s scratching at the door. Keeping vinegar, baking soda and white rags handy can help you attack any stains as they happen!


Keeping your carpets clean and stain-free is just one aspect of routine home cleaning. Learn other ways to spruce up your home without breaking the bank!

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Michelle Giorlando

The Rocket Homes blog is here to bring you all you need to know about buying, selling and making the most of your home. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, selling your current home or looking to keep your place in tip-top shape, our writers and freelancers bring their experience and expertise to meet you right where you are.