If you've ever stained something of value to you, there are several effective stain removers, in your home and at your local grocery store that can tackle even the toughest stains. One of the guests at your latest dinner party spilled a glass of red wine all over your brand-new carpet. Your not-yet-housebroken puppy had an accident on your living room floor. In your morning rush to get out the door, you accidentally knocked your coffee off of the table, spilling it on the carpet.
First, there are a few guidelines to follow for the most effective stain removal. Act quickly. The sooner you attempt to remove the stain, the more likely you will be successful. Make sure you do not rub the stain further into the carpet. Instead, gently blot the affected area.
There are several different categories of stains. It is important to identify which kind of stain you are dealing with, since different stain removers better tackle specific kinds of stains. Protein stains are those that come from animals and humans. These include urine, blood, egg and vomit. Tannin stains are common stains caused by drinks like coffee, wine and juice. Oil-based stains include salad dressing, bacon grease and mayonnaise. Dye stains have pen ink, berries, and grass as their culprits. These are typically the most difficult stains to remove completely. There are also several stains that combine multiple categories like dye and oil or oil and tannin. Lipstick and other makeup, as well as chocolate and barbecue sauce fall into these categories.
There are several ways to make your own effective stain remover using items you probably already have around the house. To tackle dye-based and tannin stains, create a solution of ¼ tablespoon of white vinegar and 32 ounces of vinegar. For protein and chocolate stains, try mixing 1 tablespoon of ammonia with a cup of water. With a wool-based carpet, however, substitute mild detergent for the ammonia, as the ammonia may cause damage to your carpet. Bleach-based detergent can also be used to combat these stains, however, be sure to avoid bleach on dye-treated carpets as it can damage the color. Oil stains can be removed by placing a paper towel over the affected area and going over it with a warm iron. The heat will cause the stain to stick to the paper towel, safely removing it from the carpet.
Those with pets and small children have probably encountered a urine stain or two in the past. To combat these stubborn and undesirable stains, blot the area with a damp cloth. Next, mix a solution of white vinegar and water and apply it to the stained carpet. Finally, rinse the area with a mixture of ½ tablespoon of non-bleach detergent and water.
If these do-it-yourself stain removers just aren’t getting the job done, there are several high-rated brand-name cleaners that can come to your rescue.
This 18-ounce aerosol spray can be purchased for around $10. It is an excellent option for quickly removing fresh tannin and oil stains, and also works well on older stains, leaving behind a fresh scent. While primarily used for removing carpet stains, it is also safe for upholstery.
Wine and food stains are no match for this 14-ounce spray. It works on both new and existing stains, and comes with an angled spraying mechanism that can easily target specific areas. This $6 spray can be used on all types of carpet.
Although not ideal for older stains, this cleaner is great for removing fresh stains. Ideal for removing protein, oil-based and dye stains, Weiman Carpet Cleaner also works well with most tannin stains. For those looking for an environmentally friendly cleaner, this is the one for you. Recognized by the EPA’s Design for the Environment program, this biodegradable stain remover uses natural elements and is non-toxic.
This 14-ounce spray can be bought for as low as $4. Ideal for pet stains, Spot Shot is also known for its ability to combat tannin, dye and lipstick stains, both old and new.
Although meant for dishwashers, dissolving a few drops of blue Dawn in a cup of water will yield an effective carpet cleaner. Its status as a dishwashing liquid makes it especially fit to fight against oil-based and grease stains.
For those stubborn stains that just don’t seem to go away, consider steam-cleaning your carpet. Steam cleaners do not use chemicals found in typical stain removers. Instead, they rely simply on water, as the power of the heat and steam is sufficient to combat the stain. You can hire a professional service such as Stanley Steamer to do steam clean your carpet. You may also purchase or rent one from companies such as Bissell or at a home supplies store.