How to get rid of tough carpet stains (yes, even cat pee)

Rough carpets stained with dog urine, grease, and food are difficult to handle. Don’t just throw them in the trash. First, try to reverse the damage yourself.

This guide lists the tools, techniques, and materials you will need to remove ugly stains and bad smells from carpets. You will also find out immediately what to do in the event of an accident to minimize the damage. I’ll also show you the effects of three common types of pollution, from red wine and bad smells to heavy food stains. Then I’ll do my best to clean them up, so hopefully you can too.

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Basic stain removal

The faster you act, the more likely you are to successfully remove a carpet stain. Speed ​​can also prevent a stain from appearing in the first place. As soon as you notice a mistake, move quickly.

If there is any physical buildup, first remove it with a fork or spoon. Be careful not to apply a lot of pressure. You want to avoid pushing material deeper into the carpet fibers. Then carefully dab with a damp cloth or paper towel. Use regular fabric or paper towels with no paints or prints and gently press them into the stain. This process can take several minutes. So be patient.

Now pre-treat the area with a stain removal solution. The Carpet and Rug Institute maintains a list of the cleaning products it has certified. You can find similar ones too Products sold online and in supermarkets. Finally, rinse the area with cold water – never warm – and dab again to dry.

You may have to repeat the process several times for stubborn spills.

A red wine stain can really ruin your carpet’s day.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Dealing with red wine

It’s a cliché, but it happens. Someone dropped a tall glass of red wine on your beautiful, light-colored carpet. What now? First, blot the spill with a damp cloth or paper towel. The point here is to remove as much wine from the ground as possible. Any remaining wine should also be diluted with cold water using a cloth or towel.

Now you want to apply a carpet stain remover. They usually come in spray bottle form as well costs about $ 11. I’ve found that the formulas labeled “Pet Stain Remover” or some similar language work best.

Before you apply the solution, you should check your carpet for color fastness. Find a small spot hidden under the couch or sofa, for example, and hit it with some stain remover. If nothing changes after a few minutes, you’re good to go.

Now apply enough stain remover to coat the stain. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then dab again with another damp paper towel or cloth (again with cold water, not warm). Repeat the process if necessary. For stubborn stains, it takes several rounds.

Spray stain removers alone will not remove wine stains. The 24-hour mark (right) was particularly hard.

Brian Bennett / CNET

In my tests, I found that cleaning was not enough. Only after several sessions did all traces of the red wine color disappear completely. It was also much easier to clean up recently spilled wine (within 5 minutes) than if it stood overnight. As I expected, both carpet cleaners were better at pulling wine residue out of the depths of the carpet fibers.

Electric carpet cleaners like this Hoover SmartWash are really powered by residual wine stains.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Removing stains from dog and cat urine

Dogs and cats are adorable, but often they can be a big headache – like peeing on your carpet or rug. Strong and harmful, you need to be extra careful with urine from Fido and whiskers. According to the CRI, never use a steam cleaner to treat urine stains. The high heat from this device will likely set both the stain and odor.

The CRI recommends treating the problem area like other spots and spills initially. Dab with a color-safe material (white, no patterns or prints) to absorb as much moisture as possible. Next, use a stain remover designed for animal testing. Always remember to dab rather than scrub to work in the detergent. Repeat the process until the stain and odor are gone.

Another option is to use a home carpet cleaner, also known as a wet vacuum cleaner. You can then rinse the area with cold water.

Get rid of carpet odors

To rid your carpet of bad smells, first dab heavily affected areas with a damp cloth. Then pat the area dry with a clean (dry) cloth or paper towel. Now give the carpet a healthy pinch of baking soda. After 30 minutes, vacuum with a standard vacuum cleaner with the carpet. Repeat if the odor still persists.

For this test, I used white vinegar as a contaminant. I’ve had some success with the homemade method. A recent odor (within 5 minutes) was easier to neutralize. Leaving vinegar overnight took more work to eliminate. In both cases, I had to do numerous baking soda applications to significantly reduce the flavor.

With mechanized solutions, it may have been the combined power of odor-fighting shampoo and strong suction. Whatever the reason, both electric cleaners managed to banish all traces of the funk on my test carpets.

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Oh man, this is a bad mess.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Handling vomit

One of the worst things you can do to contaminate carpets is vomiting. Whether it’s a dog, cat, or human, vomit is sure to ruin your carpet if you don’t act quickly. First, remove all solids. Gently use a fork or spoon to remove the matter, being careful to apply a light touch. Too much pressure can cause the material to penetrate deeper into the carpet.

Next, treat the exposed area with plenty of stain removal solution. After sitting for at least 5 minutes, dab it with a damp cloth or paper towel. Again, be ready to repeat the process if necessary.

Gently scrape off the solid parts with a fork or spoon.

Brian Bennett / CNET

To test this technique, I created a mixture to simulate the harmful properties of vomit – homemade nacho dip. The ingredients were spicy cheddar cheese and spicy diced tomatoes. I applied equal amounts of the material to my test carpet in two sections. I cleaned one of them after 5 minutes to the best of my ability. I didn’t touch the other one for 24 hours.

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After all of my cleaning efforts, I had largely managed to remove the quickly cleaned nacho cheese stain (left) while leaving much of the night stain (right).

Brian Bennett / CNET

I was unable to fix the damage even after cleaning with spray solution and carpet machines. Still, I had better luck clearing the quick burial. The section of carpet that has hardened overnight and appears to be permanently soiled.

Much DC

Prevention is also good medicine for carpets. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends vacuuming at least once a week and up to twice a day in high traffic areas. The industry group also says carpets should be professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months.

The $ 199 Hoover SmartWash shampoos and dry carpets automatically.

vacuum cleaner

Consider a carpet cleaner

Another method is to clean carpets with a carpet cleaning machine. These devices look like regular vacuum cleaners, but they work very differently. Machines like this pump detergent liquid into the carpet underneath as you slide it forward.

Spinning brushes scrub carpet and carpet fibers (mixed with the shampoo liquid) along the way. If you pull the machine backwards over the same area, it can suck up the remaining remaining solution along with the loosened dirt.

They only cost $ 100 for a base model like that Bissell TurboClean PowerBrush pet. You can also enjoy the new $ 199 Hoover SmartWash. In contrast to the PowerLifter, the SmartWash mixes its detergent concentrate with water on the go.

As a nifty additional function, the SmartWash automatically switches between shampoo and drying mode when you slide it forwards and backwards. Other cleaners, including the PowerLifter, require you to do this manually.

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