The Natural Way to Remove Stains from Carpets
By Elizabeth Tumbarello, eHow Contributor
There are many different ways to clean a carpet stain, ranging from commercial products to solutions that are made from everyday items at home. Almost every method of stain removal depends upon the type of stain and the type of carpet. With these variables in mind, the following are the best ways to clean carpet stains:
Caring for Spills Immediately:
One of the easiest ways to remove stains is to clean them while they are fresh. If you notice a fresh spill or stain, blot the area with paper towels or a cotton cloth. Rubbing the stain will grind it deeper into the fibres of the carpet. Gentlyblotting with freshpaper towels or cloths will maximize how much of the liquid is absorbed. When you feel as though you have blotted up all that you can, rinse the area with a little water and blot some more.
If the stain is from a semi-solid item, like peanut butter,lift as much of the item off as possible with a spoon and then blot as you would for a liquid stain. Semi-solid items that leave stains are often easier to clean than liquid stains, since semi-solids do not have as much time to sink into the carpet fibres.
Commercially Available Household Cleaners:
There are a number of commercial cleaners that are formulated for removing carpet stains. Depending on the type of carpet you are cleaning, a commercial solution maydamage or discolour the fibres. Manufacturers recommend always testing a carpet cleaner on an inconspicuous spot first before using it to clean any stains.
When using a commercial carpet cleaner, follow the manufacturer's instructions. Work the recommended amount of solution into the carpet stain and gently rub with a clean cloth from the outside in. This will prevent the stain from spreading over a larger area and making even more of a mess for you to clean.
When using commercial carpet cleaners, do not rub too hard. These cleaners often contain chemicals that open up the fibres of the carpet and rubbing too hard can lead the fibres to soak up more of the stain. Blot the area every so often and apply more cleanser as needed.
Continue in this manner until the cloth you are using no longer picks up any leftovers of the stain. If the stain is not gone, try other commercial cleaners, but again, test them in an inconspicuous spot first! Rinse the area with cold water and blot to remove any stain remover prior to using a different cleaner. Some chemical mixtures, like ammonia and bleach, can release toxic gases when mixed, so it is important to make sure one cleaner is removed before another is tried.
Cleaners Made From Household Objects:
A lifestyle choice where chemicals are objectionable leads some people to seek out homemade solutions. A solution of one part vinegar to one part water comes highly recommended, as does a solution of dish washing detergent and water. Be aware that vinegar may leave your house smelling like a salad for a little while, but many people have had great success with it. Sprinkling baking soda on the stain before applying vinegar may also work for tougher stains. Blotting and rinsing is still an important part of the process.
Be aware that carpet stain removers made from household items often need to sit longer than commercial solutions, as they are often not as concentrated and harsh. Lemon juice and isopropyl alcohol are sometimes used in cases of hard to remove stains, but these are very harsh solutions and should be used sparingly, if at all. These solutions are generally a last resort, and should be used as such.
A Word about Pet Stains:
Dog or cat urine on carpeting is some of the hardest stains to remove. Urine, because of its ammonia content, can not only penetrate the carpet, but the padding and flooring below it. Even when the initial stain is gone, the smell may remain because of this. Never use ammonia based cleaner on a pet urine stain, as this will encourage further urination in the area. A commercial cleaner with natural enzymes, living organisms that break down the stain and its components, is recommended for urine stains.
When to Call a Professional:
When you cannot remove a stain it may be time to call a professional. A professional carpet cleaner has access to chemicals and equipment that you may not. Even if the stain is gone, but an odour remains it may be a good idea to call a professional carpet cleaner.
A professional carpet cleaner also has a working knowledge of how different fibres react, reducing the chances of damaging the carpet. Natural fibre rugs are particularly easy to damage with both commercial and household cleaners. Wool and other animal fibers may disintegrate when exposed to certain cleansers. Natural fibers treated with dyes may bleach easier, even with the mildest of cleaners. A professional is trained to deal with all different sorts of carpet fibres and even if you decide not to hire one, they may be willing to give you advice on what to do next.