Important Tips on Old Carpet Stains
Before we dive into a few of our favorite stain solutions, let’s see some quick tips on getting old stains out of carpet:
- Always try to address a stain as soon as possible
- Paper towels fall apart when you scrub; use rag or scrub brushes instead
- Aim to rehydrate the old stain
- Bleach should always be a last resort
- When all else fails, contact a professional cleaning service
These few tips can help you get started, but knowing the basics of spot cleaning can give you a more in-depth look at cleaning old carpet stains.
The Basics of Spot Cleaning to Know
Spot cleaning old carpet stains is much more involved than wiping down a counter or dabbing at some spilled water. It’s critical to know these basics before you dive into DIY solutions.
First things first: every carpet is different. And in the same way, every stain is different, too. Whenever you’re preparing to test a DIY stain removing trick, it’s a good idea to do a quick spot test to ensure the cleaning agent won’t damage or stain your carpet. Pick a very small spot under a piece of furniture to test the cleanser. Leave it overnight and examine it in the morning.
Second: never scrub a stain vigorously. Scrubbing tough stains may seem effective, but doing so actually drives them deeper into your carpet, which ultimately makes them hard to get out. Plus, you can damage your carpet fiber in the process.
Third: always attack a stain from the outside in. When you start in the middle of the stain, you run the risk of pushing the stain out further and making it larger – i.e., everyone’s nightmare.
Water Soluble vs Non-Soluble Stain Differences
Not a lot of people realize this, but there are generally two different types of stains in this world. They are water-soluble and insoluble stains.
But what does this mean?
A water-soluble stain will dissolve in water. These are the ideal stains to work with because they’re usually the easier of the two to clean. A water-soluble stain can include:
- Dirt/mud stain
- Latex paint
- Water-based pens/markers
Non-water soluble stains are tougher to tackle as they do not dissolve in water. Some common insoluble stains include:
- Pet stain
- Coffee stain
- Blood stains
- Wine stains
- Grease stains
Stain removal for insoluble stains is more complicated than soluble stains. Your treatment options may change based on what kind of stains are present. If you don’t know what a stain is, it’s best to start with simple treatments and work your way up from there.
How to Remove Old Stains From Carpet
Before you call the first professional cleaner you find online, you can try a few DIY methods that have proven very successful in our experience. Our top three methods are below.
Try Water and Dish Soap First
Replacing an entire carpet is expensive, so it’s best to play it safe with a non-staining, carpet-friendly mixture to start.
Dish soap and water make the perfect mild detergent for working out stains without ruining carpets. All you have to do is mix one cup of room temperature water with just a few drops of dish soap.
Use a white rag or towel to clean the spot. White is the best towel choice because it eliminates the risk of colored dyes getting on your carpet.
Dip the towel in the soap water and work it into the stain from the outside in. Be sure to avoid soaking the carpet, as this can ruin the carpet pad beneath it.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, and take a clean cloth with clean water to blot and remove the soap.
Water, Vinegar, and Dish Soap
If you’re looking for a slightly more robust mixture that is still safe for your carpet, try adding some vinegar to your soapy water mix. Combine two cups of water with one tablespoon of vinegar and one tablespoon of dish soap.
Use the same method as above with a clean, white rag or towel to work out the stained area. This mixture is a fantastic option for water-soluble stains, and vinegar can give it a little extra cleaning power.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
Even tougher carpet stains need even more power with an additional ingredient that’s also safe for your carpet: baking soda.
Baking soda is easy to use on carpets, especially if you’re dealing with large stains. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda all over the stain. Take the same mixture as above – water, vinegar, and dish soap – and work at the stain over the baking soda.
The baking soda will foam when it comes into contact with the liquid, which can help the cleaning process. This time, let the mixture sit on the stain for several hours.
Once the baking soda has dried, you can suck it up with your vacuum.
Carpet Cleaning the Whole Floor
Spot cleaning your carpet can be an easy fix to make your floor look better, but it can also leave you with an uneven color. Cleaning your entire carpet might be the best solution if you’re dealing with a lot of spots.
To clean your whole floor, you’ll need some kind of carpet cleaner. You can purchase or rent these machines from local stores.
Use a DIY carpet solution to save a few extra bucks. Mix some OxiClean, hot water, liquid detergent, and an all-purpose cleaner to fill the machine. Be sure to let your carpet dry completely before you replace your furniture.