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Carpet Stain Removal

The basics

Having a basic understanding of how to correctly remove a spill from your carpet can go a long way to maintaining your carpets appearance for years to come. Unfortunately many go about this the wrong way.

The first thing to know about stains is that sometimes they will be permanent and not possible to remove.

Whether or not a stain will be removable is dependent on a number of variables. Firstly how old is the stain? The longer the stain is left the more likely it will penetrate and permanently change the carpet fibre.

Has the stain been rubbed or scrubbed in an attempt to remove it? This will only serve to spread the stain across more carpet fibres and the heat caused from the friction of scrubbing can set the stain.

Many household stain removal products sold as a one solution to all stains simply do not work and can make things worse.

One of, if not the most important factor for whether a stain is likely to be removed is the combination of what the stain is from (water based or oil based) and what type of carpet fibre the carpet contains.

Carpet fibres are made from either natural fibres like wool or synthetic fibres like polyester, acrylic or polypropylene.

Natural fibres are considerably more absorbent to water than synthetic fibres. Therefore a water based stain such as coffee or wine penetrating a wool carpet will be very difficult if not impossible to fully remove. This is because the fibre will take on and be changed by the colours in the spillage. A synthetic fibre is less absorbent to water based stains and as such water based stains will be more likely to be removed successfully.


The opposite is true of oil based stains such as nail varnish or cooking oil. A synthetic carpet being made of oil/plastic based fibres will take on oil based stains and removal is far less likely than removing the same type of stain from a natural fibre carpet.

So what can be done to increase the chance of removing a stain before it sets and permanently damages your carpet?

The key is speed (removing the stain as soon as it happens) and technique which I will describe now.

To remove a water based stain from your carpet you will need a spray bottle of cool (not hot) water and a kitchen roll. This should not be attempted on Jute, Sisal, Seagrass or similar vegetable based natural fibres as any moisture will damage these fibres but will be fine on the wool and the synthetic fibres mentioned.


The first step is to fold a few sheets of kitchen roll together and place it over the stain.

Now press down on the stain with your fist and you will see that the stain is transferring from the carpet into the more absorbent kitchen roll.

Repeat the process again with another fresh piece of folded kitchen roll. Repeat this until no more stain is transferring from the carpet to the kitchen roll.

At this stage the moisture has acted as a carrier transferring the stain from the carpet in to the kitchen roll.

Now lightly spray the stained area with water avoiding penetrating all the way through to the carpet backing which could contain jute and result in cellulosic browning (especially on woven carpets like Axeminsters and Wiltons). Now gently work the water into the stain with your finger tips avoiding rubbing to hard.

The fresh moisture should release more of the stain from the carpet fibres mixing with the sprayed water.

Repeat the blotting process as before with fresh kitchen roll and spray as needed until no more stain is being transferred. If any of the stain still remains at this point call in a professional like ourselves.

For oil based stains contact us straight away.

So to summarise avoid hot water on the stain as this can lock the stain. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing as this will spread the stain and again the friction can lock the stain in. Act fast, treat the stain straight away and remember ... blot don't rub.

The method outlined above is a general method of removing water based stains however it will not work for all types of stains and if in doubt contact a professional carpet cleaner to treat the stain as soon as possible after the spillage occurs. The opinions expressed in this blog are of the author and readers follow information at their own discretion and risk.

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