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Remove Any Carpet Spot or Stain in Two Steps or Less

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In this post, I’ll show you how to remove virtually any carpet spot or set-in stain in two steps or less. Step one is called spot removal and step two is called stain removal. 

Each of these steps contains a closely guarded secret of professional carpet cleaners. By simply copying these two secrets, and using the two steps, you too will be able to remove nearly any spot or stain like a professional carpet cleaner!

SKIP TO:

- Step 1 - Spot Removal

- Step 2 - Stain Removal

- Video Instructions

How to Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet

Step 1 - Spot Removal

Spot removal is the process of physically removing spots and stains, such as food, drink, or pet accidents, from carpet. Successful spot removal starts with a great cleaning agent, referred to as a spotter. An exceptional spotter will break-up, dissolve, and lift unwanted contaminants away from the carpet fibers. 

Over many years, I have tested countless spotters, both professional grade, homemade spotters, and ones you can buy at the store, and what I have found is that the absolute best spotter is a simple homemade recipe that is cheap, easy to make, and made from simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. 

I call this recipe "DIY Spotter". Here's the recipe:

  • Water: begin with 1 cup of water as your base.

  • Liquid Dish Soap: add 1 tsp of dish washing soap, renowned for its prowess in battling all kinds of soils, grease and oil-based stains.

  • Isopropyl Alcohol: add 2 cups of 70% isopropyl alcohol, a robust degreaser with the ability to dissolve a multitude of petroleum based stains.

Together, these ingredients create a supercharged spotter capable of removing nearly any carpet spot. After mixing, DIY Spotter has a very long shelf life, provided it is stored in a closed container. 

I previously mentioned that professional carpet cleaners have two big secrets. Here is the first secret: professional carpet cleaners are using extraction to remove spots, stains, and contaminants from carpet. 

Extraction is a form of suction or vacuum power that can suck and lift spots and stains out of the carpet.

Picture this: your pet has an accident on the carpet, and you rush to blot it with a towel. Much of the mess gets pushed deeper into the carpet. Extraction, however, defies gravity by lifting and sucking away the offending substance.

Professional carpet cleaners often wield expensive truck-mounted extraction units, but you can harness this mighty power on a smaller scale with a simple, inexpensive mini wet/dry vacuum.

Why extraction triumphs over blotting?

  1. Blotting with a towel can lead to fraying of carpet fibers, potentially resulting in permanent wear marks in your carpet.

  2. Extraction removes significantly more of the contaminants than a traditional spot and blot method. 

  3. Extraction allows you to rinse the spotter residue from the carpet using water, enabling the use of cleaning agents, like dish soap, that may not be suitable otherwise.

  4. Common spotters often leave behind residues that can, over time, attract dirt and soil. Extraction's rinsing action prevents re-soiling.

 

Step 1 - Spot Removal - Step-By-Step Instructions

 

In this demo, we are going to remove 14 different spots and stains. The seven on the right are set-in stains. The seven on the left are just spots. Let's see what we can do with our spot removal method. 

 

14 Different Spots and Stains In Carpet

YOU WILL NEED:

1) Mini Wet/Dry Vacuum (USA, UK, CAN)

2) 2 Spray Bottle (USA, UK, CAN)

3) 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (USA, UK, CAN)

4) Dish Soap (USA, UK, CAD)

If you own a Mini Extractor (USA, UK, CAN), you can use it instead of using a mini wet/dry vacuum. If you are looking for the least expensive option, stick with the mini wet/dry vacuum. 

 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 1

Step 1 - Gather your supplies. You will need 1 spray bottle filled with water, one spray bottle filled with DIY Spotter, and a mini wet/dry vacuum. 

DIY Spotter Recipe: mix 1 cup of water, 1 tsp liquid dish soap, and 2 cups of 70% isopropyl alcohol. DIY Spotter will keep for years if stored in a closed container. Give it a stir each time before using as the alcohol and water will separate over time. 

 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 2

Step 2 - Spray DIY Spotter over the stained areas liberally. 

 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 3

Step 3 - Using a mini wet/dry vacuum or carpet spot extractor, extract the spots and stains from the carpet. 

 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 4

Step 4 - Here is the result after 1 round of spot removal. Keep repeating steps two and three until all of the removable contaminants have come out of the carpet. Typically, two to three repetitions of steps two and three are needed to remove most spots. 

 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 5

Step 5 - Light agitation can help loosen the spots and stains from the carpet fibers. After applying the DIY Spotter, with the wet/dry vacuum turned off, use the nozzel of the vacuum the gently agitate the stained areas, before extracting.

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 6

Step 6 - When finished using the DIY Spotter, rinse the carpet with water. Rinsing is important because we want to remove the soap residue from the carpet. Soap is an excellent cleaning agent but soap residue can, overtime, attract dirt, and cause resoiling. 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 7

Step 7 - After spraying water liberally over the affected areas, use a mini/wet/dry vacuum to extract the water from the carpet. Rinsing one time with water is enough to adequately remove the soap residue. 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Spot Removal - Step 8

Step 8 - This is the result after completing step one, spot removal. As I mentioned, the seven stains on the right are set-in stains. Let's see if our stain removal method can remove these seven set-in stains. 

Step 2 - Stain Removal

Stain removal is the process of using a chemical reaction to break down set-in carpet stains. 

A set in stain is caused by unwanted dyes or pigments that have become permanently bonded to the carpet fibers. If these pigments or dyes cannot be removed using a spot removal method, we can use a chemical reaction, called an electrochemical reaction, to break them down. 

The unwanted dyes that are stuck in the carpet have unique color properties due to their molecular shape. By oxidizing these unwanted stains, using an electrochemical reaction, we can break down their structure, and cause them to lose their color properties. 

 

To do this, I am going to teach you how to use a color safe stain removal method. The term color safe means this reaction can remove most set-in carpet stains, but it is not strong enough to break down the dyes that are used to color our carpets, i.e., this method will not bleach colored carpets. 

Now, you may recall I promised to reveal two secrets wielded by professional carpet cleaners. Here's the second one: hydrogen peroxide is a professional carpet cleaners best friend! It's not the everyday hydrogen peroxide you might find in your medicine cabinet. For stain removal, we are going to use salon grade hydrogen peroxide, known as 20 Volume Clear Developer. 

Similar to how salon grade hydrogen peroxide can break down melanin pigments in your hair, to give a lighter hair color, it can also break down all kinds of pigments that are found in foods, beverages, food coloring dyes, and most natural pigments. This is why hydrogen peroxide is such a handy tool for removing set-in carpet stains. 

Step 2 - Stain Removal - Step-By-Step Instructions

 

In this second demo, we are going to remove the remaining seven set-in stains. Before we begin, I want to advise that you should never skip step one. With every carpet spot, or stain, there is always a part of the stain that is removable. We always want to remove as much of the contaminant as possible before resorting to a stain removal method. 

 

Notice in the photo below, the stains appear to be significantly lighter after performing our spot removal method. Now that we have removed the removable portion of the stain, the stain removal process will be much easier. 

Spot Removal Before & After
Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 1

Step 1 - Liberally spray the 6% Hydrogen Peroxide / 20 Volume Clear Developer over the stained areas. 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 2

Step 2 - Add a few sprays of household ammonia, maintaining a ratio of three parts hydrogen peroxide to one part household ammonia. The ammonia is needed because it activates the hydrogen peroxide. 

Household ammonia goes by a few different names: clear ammonia, pure ammonia, cloudy ammonia, or household ammonia. Any of these will do the trick. 

 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 3

Step 3 - Cover the damp areas with a piece of plastic wrap.

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 4

Step 4 - Place a pot of lukewarm water on top of the stains. Make sure the plastic wrap prevents the hydrogen peroxide from coming into contact with the bottom of the pot. 

 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 5

Step 5 - Check the stain removal progress every 30 minutes to an hour. After 2.5 hours, most of the hydrogen peroxide will have been consumed in the reaction. If the stain is still present after 2.5 hours, use a dry white towel to absorb the remaining hydrogen peroxide from the carpet. 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 6

Step 6 - If the stains are still present after the first round of stain removal, repeat steps 1 to 5. Before you start, absorb as much of the weakened solution as possible using dry white towels. Then add fresh hydrogen peroxide and ammonia to the stained areas.

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 7

Step 7 - Once again, cover the stains with a piece of dry plastic wrap, then cover the plastic wrap with a pot of hot water (I am using 70C water the second time around). The water temperature can range from lukewarm to a maximum temperature of 70 degrees Celsius. Using water temperature closer to 70C will result in more stain removal power, meaning stains will come out faster, and you will be able to break down more difficult to remove stains. 

An easy way to make 70 degree Celsius water without a thermometer: Mix 1 part lukewarm water (comfortable to touch), with one part boiling water, to make two parts 70 degree Celsius water. 

CAUTION: do not use water above 70C, as it could damage your carpet. 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 8

Step 8 - Here is the result after 1.5 hours, using 70C water. The Powerade (blue), food coloring, cream soda, and coffee stains look like they are mostly gone. Watch the video below to see how I repeat this simple method on the remainder of the set in stains. 

Remove Spots and Stains From Carpet - Stain Removal - Step 9

Step 9 - This is the final result after doing spot and stain removal. There is a tiny red spot remaining because I missed spraying this area with hydrogen peroxide. Other than that, the results look really good and with these two simple steps, we were able to remove all 14 spots and stains. 

How to Remove Virtually Any Spot or Stain From Carpet - Video Instructions

Notes

 

  • No Dilution Needed: Do not dilute the 6% hydrogen peroxide or household ammonia. Use them as-is for optimal results.

  • Handle Delicates with Care: Avoid using these methods on delicate materials such as wool, silk, or other natural fibers. For these items, it's best to consult a professional cleaner.

  • Test in an Inconspicuous Area: Always test any stain removal method in an inconspicuous area on your carpet before full application. This can be done on a scrap piece of carpet or in the corner of a closet.

  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Stain removal should not be conducted in direct sunlight. Close the blinds to prevent exposure to harsh sunlight when using hydrogen peroxide.

  • Ventilation for Ammonia: Household ammonia can have a strong odor. We recommend opening a window to enhance ventilation and reduce the odor. Rest assured, the ammonia odor dissipates completely as the carpet dries.

  • Safety First: During spot and stain removal, it's best to keep your children and pets in another room to ensure their safety.

  • Protect Your Skin: Always wear plastic gloves to shield your skin when handling hydrogen peroxide.

  • Never Mix with Bleach: Never mix household ammonia cleaner with bleach. This combination produces a toxic gas called chloramine, which can lead to shortness of breath and chest pain.

  • Use at Your Own Risk: These methods are offered for informational purposes, and we recommend using them at your own risk.

 

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