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Red Wine

Cleaning Tips: The Five Toughest Stains

Stains are such an expected part of life that it can be easy to poke fun at people who fuss over the tiniest blemish on their carpet, wall or upholstery…until that stain is marking up our own home. Wanting to preserve the integrity of our investments and keep them blemish-free is human nature. That’s why the slightest drop of red wine on white carpet, chocolate on the couch cushion, or doggie mess on the area rug induces shouts of panic and a mad rush to find a clean towel and/or bucket of warm soapy water.

But before you start scrubbing away,

Consider these tips for cleaning five of the toughest stains to ensure you clean your carpet properly and preserve it for years to come:


Cleaning Kool AidNothing makes a kid happier on a hot summer day than a tall, cool cup of Kool-Aid (did you know they make Rhubarb flavor?). Unfortunately for parents, the rugrats can sometimes have the coordination of one of those wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men. Follow these steps to successfully to get that artificially colored sugar water out of your carpet:

  1. Immediately blot the stain with a clean, dry towel. Be careful not to rub, as this may smear it and work it deeper into the carpet fibers, even down to the carpet pad underneath.
  2. I’m a HUGE proponent of those cheap, plastic spray bottles you can buy at any hardware store. Fill one of those with a mixture of ¼ cup white vinegar, 1 TBS liquid dish soap (I prefer Dawn), and fill the rest of the way with water. Spray the area liberally and let it soak for about 5-10 minutes. Proceed with blotting with a clean, dry towel until the stain is removed.
  3. If the stain is stubborn, repeat this spritz method until the stain has vanished. Some commercial carpet stain cleaning products may help as well, and we recommend any that use oxygen bubbles.

Pet Stains

Clean the mess…keep the dog.

Clean the mess…keep the dog.

If you have pets, make no mistake…your house smells like animals. Accept it, and try these tips to help get rid of the odor of your best buddy’s little accidents.

  1. Of course, clean up the mess immediately (that should go without saying, but I’m saying it).  If it’s a Number Two, pick it up with gloves and dispose of it. If it’s just a wet stain, use the blot method from above and continue until it’s quite dry.
  2. Sometimes Spot’s spot will go unnoticed for a while, leaving it to dry in the carpet fibers. If you smell something foul, it’s time to go CSI! Turn off all the lights in the room and search for the stains using a small black light (again, you can usually find these at a hardware store). Moisten the spot with a cleaning agent specifically designed for pet stains.
  3. To neutralize the odor, avoid using ammonia, as that is a prominent ingredient in dog urine. Smelling that may encourage Rover to continue marking that area. Instead try a mixture of half white vinegar and half warm water. Spray it liberally onto the stained area and allow it to soak for several minutes, and then use the trusty blot technique until the stain is gone and the area is nearly dry.
  4. While the area is still a little damp, sprinkle a handful of baking soda over the soiled area. Mix half a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of mild liquid detergent (liquid dishwasher detergent works too), and slowly pour the mixture over the baking powder. Put on some gloves and work the dissolving baking soda into the carpet, first with your fingers then with a scrub brush. Let the area dry completely then vacuum.


If you don’t get at this stain properly, it can leave a dirty, yellowish brown stain that’s painfully obvious. After immediately blotting the dampness and coffee from the carpet, follow these steps:

  1. Try the vinegar mixture from the Kool-Aid section and use the spritz method. Be sure to rinse and repeat.
  2. You can try using a product that’s specifically designed for coffee stains, but only AFTER you’ve tested it on a less visible patch of carpet to make sure it doesn’t damage your carpet. Use as directed and wear gloves.


Bloodstain_main_0714_0Provided that it isn’t a Dexter-esque crime scene, blood isn’t as tough to clean as you might think. Quick response is key, and the faster you act the more effective these tips will be:

  1. Wear rubber gloves! It’s blood.
  2. Use cold water. Heat makes blood coagulate, and cold water will keep the blood from permeating into the carpet fibers.
  3. Mix two teaspoons of liquid, grease-fighting dish detergent into a full bottle of cold water and spray liberally on the blood stain. Spray until the stain is entirely submerged in the cold water solution. Use a paper towel to blot, or a dry cloth so that the blood is transferred to the cloth. Rinse with cold water and repeat as needed.
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide is ideal for bloodstains. It takes some doing to dissolve it in cold water, but mix it as well as possible and apply with either a spray bottle or pouring it directly onto the blood spot. Blot until dry, rinse and repeat as needed.


Trying to clean an ink stain improperly could spread the problem around. Like blood, the faster you act the easier it is to clean. Be sure to follow these effective tips:

  1. Dampen a clean cloth with isopropyl alcohol and dab the location of the stain. The higher the percentage of alcohol the better.
  2. Do NOT rub or scrub. This could spread the ink.
  3. Treat the carpet with alcohol again as needed. Rinse the area with water and blot, then vacuum dry with a wet vacuum until the spot is dry.

While these home remedies can be effective if cleaning stains quickly, the longer the stain sits the less effective they will be. Professional cleaning companies like Steam Action have the equipment and experience to treat your carpet and return it to a clean, healthy condition. Take a look at this stain removal tutorial by me, Bob Goodrich. When all else fails, be sure to give us a call!