How To Spot Clean Carpet And Remove Stains

Does your carpet need a bit of cleaning? Red wine, chocolate, Indian food – you may love it, but your carpet definitely does not.

Maybe you don’t need a full carpet clean, perhaps there’s just one spot that’s really bad, but the rest of your carpet is fine.

Instead of spending an entire day cleaning the whole floor or hiring a company to clean your entire carpet, you can quickly and easily tackle that one spot at home with what is known as a ‘carpet spot clean’.

Spot cleaning is a great way to deal with localised stains on delicate pillows, mattresses and you guessed it – carpets.

how to spot clean a carpet

How to Remove the Most Common Types of Carpet Stains

Some of the most common carpet stains are juice, blood, coffee, and pet stains.

While these may seem like particularly difficult stains to remove, they’re actually not that bad as long as you have the right cleaner on hand and know how to treat the stain.

Different carpets call for different cleaners and treatment – but as a general guide to deal with spills, stains and odours start by blotting the area gently with a dry white paper towel as soon as you notice the issue. Make sure to blot it, though, and not rub it as rubbing can make the stain worse. The quicker you deal with a spill, the easier it will be to remove.

Once you’ve blotted the stain, grab your cleaner of choice and thoroughly soak it into the stain. In some cases, you may want to let it sit and soak for about 5 to 10 minutes. After letting it soak, blot dry the stain again and gently rinse it with warm water. Repeat this process as needed.

You always need to check your cleaning codes to make sure your cleaner won’t damage your carpet as some solvents and substances will destroy certain rugs and carpets.

As long as the cleaning code allows, here are some great ways to clean some specific stains:

Juice And Other Water-Soluble Stains

Make a cleaning mixture of 1/4 teaspoon bleach-free detergent (or liquid soap) with 32 ounces of clean water. If you don’t want to use a detergent, white vinegar works well too.

Once you have your detergent solution, follow the cleaning steps we listed above.

Along with Kool-Aid and other juice stains, you can use this detergent solution with stains from club soda, alcohol, berries, grape juice food dyes, ice cream, excrement (both child and pet), jelly, and washable markers. 

Coffee and Hard Water Soluble Stains

Make your mixture with 1 tablespoon ammonia and 1 cup of cold water. Be careful, though. This mixture shouldn’t be used on wool carpets. Read further below for how to treat wool carpets.

In addition to coffee stains, this mixture can help remove pet stains, blood stains, chocolate, tea, vomit, pet messes and white wine stains.

Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of checking your cleaning codes first before applying any kind of cleaner to your carpet.

How Do You Remove Old Stains From Carpet?

how to remove old stains from carpet

Maybe you didn’t notice the stain right away, maybe it was hidden by furniture, or maybe you just didn’t have the supplies on hand to clean it. Once the stain is old, it may seem less possible to remove it from your carpet. 

The good news is that there are definitely ways to remove carpet stains that are old and heavily set in. You may need to try a few different methods before one works, but an old stain should be removable once you find the right cleaning mixture.

Homemade Cleaning Solutions

If you want to try homemade carpet stain remover solutions first, here are a few ways to make one.

Water and mild dishwashing liquid is what we recommend to try first. The soap is generally easy on carpets, yet strong enough to take care of most stains. Use warm, not hot, water and apply it to the stain. If it isn’t strong enough, mix in about a tablespoon of white vinegar. This can help with tougher stains.

Baking soda and vinegar is a great choice for grease stains. Take the time to test it on a hidden part of your carpet, though, just to make sure it doesn’t hurt the carpet.

Instead of mixing them together, you’ll first want to sprinkle the baking soda over the stain. Mix the vinegar with water and even some dish soap then pour it over the baking soda.

Let the solution sit for an hour then vacuum it up.

What is the Best Homemade Carpet Cleaning Solution?

In many cases, homemade carpet cleaning solutions are just as effective at removing stains as commercial carpet cleaners.

If you don’t have the time to go to the store or simply don’t keep commercial carpet cleaners at home, this can be really good news.

But which homemade solution is the best?

Baking soda and vinegar is one of the best homemade cleaning solutions – for carpets and most other household items! (as long as your carpet can handle it, that is). As always, you’ll want to test a hidden, out of the way area of your carpet before using it on a stain to make sure it won’t hurt your carpet.

If you want to steam clean the area, the best natural solution to use is a mixture of vinegar and water.

You’ll need to know what type of material your carpet is made from first, though. If you have a wool or natural carpet, use equal parts water and vinegar. If your carpet is synthetic, then use two parts water and one part vinegar.

To get rid of an odor, use a dry solution such as baking soda and a fragrant spice. Sprinkle first the baking soda then the spice over the area. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour then vacuum it up.

vacuuming carpet stains

How to Spot Clean Carpet by Hand

Cleaning a carpet by hand isn’t that hard. It usually won’t even take that long.

First, make sure to blot the stain with a clean, dry towel. It’s best to use a white or light colored towel to prevent accidentally transferring color to the carpet.

Blot from the outside of the stain towards the middle. Blotting the stain more than once can further help remove residue, so use half of the towel for the first round of blotting and the other half for the second round.

Once you’ve blotted the stain on the carpet fibers, apply your cleaning mixture using a spray bottle for even coverage. Let it sit for around 10 minutes or leave it longer if the stain is quite old.

After you’ve let the stain soak, get another clean towel and gently blot away the solution. Next, you’ll want to rinse the area with warm water and blot it again.

It’s important that you never rub at the stain as this can damage the carpet. Always make sure to blot the area until all the liquid and stain has transferred to the paper towel.

Now that you’ve treated the stain, let it air dry. If the stain is still there, repeat the process or try again using a different cleaning mixture.

How to Spot Clean Wool Carpet

Wool carpets should be treated very carefully to avoid wrecking them. They are particularly delicate.

While you can use homemade cleaning solutions, you’ll need to adjust the proportions and avoid certain ingredients. Fortunately, it is still possible to spot clean a wool carpet.

If you catch the stain as soon as it happens, you have a pretty good chance at getting rid of it. Blot the area immediately to remove carpet stains before they settle. Move from the outside of the stain towards the inside to avoid spreading the stain.

Use warm water to remove any remaining part of the stain. You may need to do this a couple of times before blotting it dry.

If the stain remains, mix 1 teaspoon of wool carpeting cleaning solution with 1 tablespoon vinegar and a liter of warm water. If you don’t have a cleaning spray on hand, make your own with 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. 

How to Spot Clean Carpet Naturally With Vinegar

Most carpet stains can be taken care of naturally with vinegar.

Add in some baking soda and you have a very effective homemade cleaning solution. It’s natural and won’t leave any potentially toxic, harsh chemicals in the treated area.

Even as a natural cleaning solution, make sure to test it in an inconspicuous area to test it. You don’t want to accidentally damage your carpet.

When using vinegar and baking soda to naturally spot clean your carpet, make sure to only use white vinegar. Other vinegars may further stain your carpet, but white vinegar won’t leave any color behind.

There are two ways to spot clean using vinegar.

You can wet the stain with vinegar first and then sprinkle baking soda over the area, or you can sprinkle dry baking soda on the stain then pour the vinegar over it. It doesn’t matter which order you choose as both will react in the same way. 

Tips to Maintain Your Carpet

In order to keep your carpet looking as fresh and new as possible, there are a few maintenance tips you can follow.

Spot cleaning will certainly help your carpet look nicer for longer, but it’s not the only thing you can do to maintain your carpet. 

In addition to spot cleaning, you should get your carpet fully cleaned every 12 to 18 months. You can have this done professionally or you can buy your own carpet cleaner machine and do it yourself.

If you do, make sure you let your carpet dry for about 6 hours after the cleaning and use plenty of fans to help speed up the drying process.

Use doormats! Doormats aren’t just a fun way to decorate the outside of your house, but they’re also a great first step to keeping dirt from being tracked inside your house.

If you already have a doormat, make sure to regularly clean it. While this isn’t necessarily a carpet maintenance tip, keeping your doormats clean will prevent dirt from building up.

This is obvious, but clean doormats are much more effective at keeping dirt outside than dirty mats are.

Last but not least, this excellent video from HGTV will give you some great extra pointers on spot cleaning and maintaing your carpet. Worth the watch!


Spot cleaning your carpet can be an easy DIY home project and helps your carpet stay fresh.

Even if you don’t catch stains as soon as they happen, you can still get them out with the right cleaning solution, either homemade or commercial.

Create your carpet cleaner solution, get some clean towels, and start blotting that stain. With a bit of elbow grease, you’ll have a completely clean carpet once again!

About Darcy O

A.) Likes: Good design, form and function. Strong coffee and getting outdoors. A space that makes you feel like you belong. B.) Dislikes: Clutter. Inefficiency. Spending unnecessary time cleaning. On the eternal quest for more A, less B.

Leave a Comment


How To Spot Clean A Pillow (ANY Pillow)

How To Spot Clean A Mattress