Carpet Care and Removing Stains (carpetcare)

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Carpet Stains

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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Keeping the floors and carpets clean this time of year can be a challenge. Tracking in of dust, dirt, sand and water is hard to eliminate. Placing a mat outside the entry doors or just inside the door helps reduce the amount tracked through the house. Removing shoes by the door also saves from carrying soil and dampness throughout the house. Regular sweeping and vacuuming is especially necessary to keep the floors and carpet in the best condition during any time of the year. It is important to remove loose soil while it is on the surface of carpet so it doesn't work into the pile of the carpet. For other types of flooring it will help eliminate scratching.

Deep cleaning of the carpet is suggested to remove stubborn or embedded soil. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends carpet be dry- or wet-extraction cleaned a minimum of every 12 to 18 months before it shows soiling. This can be done professionally or you can purchase or rent a cleaner.

Spots and stains can usually be removed from carpets if treated soon after it happens. Products to have on-hand for cleaning carpet stains are: cleaning solvent, detergent solution, weak acid solution and an ammonia solution. A stain removal chart is also helpful.

The letter after the solution is when that solution is used for cleaning in the following suggestions.

Cleaning solvents (S) are Goof Off or Goo Gone can be purchased at grocery stores or other stores that carry cleaning supplies.

The detergent solution (D) is ½ teaspoon non-bleaching, powder detergent to 2 cups lukewarm water. A liquid carpet shampoo would, also, work.

For a weak acid solution (V) use 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water.

The ammonia solution (A) is 1 tablespoon household ammonia to 1 cup water.

Plain water is (W).


  • Alcoholic beverages D, A, W
  • Chocolate D, A, V, W
  • Coffee and tea D, V
  • Food stains S, D, A, V, W
  • Inks S, D, A, V, W
  • Mud D, W
  • Oils (butter, fats) S, D, A, W
  • Soft drinks D, A, V, W
  • Wine A, V, W

General Guidelines to follow in cleaning are:

**Act promptly. Remove as much of the staining material as possible

**Test each solvent in an inconspicuous place, behind draperies, inside closet (to check for colorfastness).

**Use small amounts of recommended solvents.

**Work from edges toward center of the stained area.

**Use repeated applications of each recommended solution as long as any staining material is removed. Use a blotting technique, DO NOT RUB.

**Dry the cleaned area by covering with a pad of clean, white, absorbent material and weighting it down. Air drying may cause a ring to form.

**When the area is dry, vacuum or brush by hand to restore pile.

Floor care is important to keep carpets and other flooring in top condition. Remember to remove stains immediately and clean floors regularly.

Ask Lorene

(This resource was updated December 2007 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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