Try as you might to prevent them, spills, drips and splatters in your house are inevitable. Whether you, your family or your guests are the culprits, stains happen. Most, if not all, are treatable, especially if you act quickly and use the right stain-removing technique.
If there’s an accident on your carpet or a rug, start by scooping up any solids and soaking up any unabsorbed liquids. Then, blot the stain with a white cloth or paper towel. You should work from the outside in so you don’t spread the spill, and dab at it instead of rubbing or pressing hard.
You also can try spot cleaning with a soapy water mix. Dilute a ¼ teaspoon of clear hand-dishwashing soap with 1 cup of lukewarm water. Spray the solution on the stain, and mist the area with clean water or blot with a wet towel. Then blot the area with a dry towel. Repeat this process until you get as much residue out as possible.
Follow these specific instructions for cleaning up the more stubborn stains and sticky spots on your floors:
- Red wine: Begin with the same three steps—blot, apply soapy water and rinse. Then, dribble very hot water from a sponge onto the spill. Continue to blot with a clean towel, and repeat until the carpet no longer shows any red.
- Soft drinks and coffee: Begin with the same three steps—blot, apply soapy water and rinse. Then dab on hydrogen peroxide. Wait one hour before repeating the process. Hydrogen peroxide bleaches a stain without breaking down carpet dyes. Use a 3 percent solution, which can be found at a drugstore, and apply at full strength.
- Candle wax and chewing gum: These are easiest to remove when hot or cold. For the cold method, harden the spot by rubbing it with an ice cube inside a plastic bag. Then, carefully scrape off the residue with a dull knife or a plastic card, such as an expired credit card. For the hot method, apply paper towels over the waxy area, and then use a clothes iron on low heat to soak up the wax. Replace the paper towels until all the wax is removed. Use a hair dryer to heat gum. Then with a plastic bag over your fingers, pull the goo off.
So the next time your carpeting endures a nasty spill, rest assured that it doesn’t have to become a permanent stain. With these simple tips, you can keep your carpets and rugs looking great for years to come.