You regularly vacuum, dust occasionally, and handle other cleaning tasks each week, but what do you do when you find a giant stain on your carpet, floor, or upholstery?
Before you take that spray bottle of spot remover out of the cabinet, here are a few ways you can prevent a bad stain from becoming permanent.
Plentiful Pet Stains
You love your pets, but they do have a habit of leaving tons of fur on your clothing and furniture, as well as the occasional bathroom accident. Unfortunately, pet pee is often an insidious stain that isn’t noticed until it’s too late, and the urine smell has made its way into the padding underneath your carpet.
Even hardwood floors aren’t immune to pet stains, and if an accident isn’t cleaned up swiftly it could result in a permanent stain on just about any type of flooring.
Step One: Blotting
Blotting the area where your pet had its accident is your first step, and you’ll want to do this immediately. You can soak up more liquid if you step on the absorbent rag or towel you use for cleaning the mess.
Keep blotting until the rags you’re using don’t soak up any more liquid. If you don’t have rags dedicated to pet stains, your regular towels should work just fine. Just throw them in the washing machine immediately after using them for cleaning the urine.
Step Two: Applying solution
Your pet store, as well as some grocery stores, will stock a special pet stain remover that’s made of bacteria and enzymes. These special spot removers are meant to lessen the smells that come out of the carpet even when you’ve thoroughly cleaned the area.
You’ll want to leave the solution on the affected area for a while when you’re applying it to the carpet. Your carpet has a pad underneath it that’s meant to create a softer surface against the wood or cement floor. You’ll want the solution to soak into the pad under the carpet.
Tip: Cover the area with a piece of plastic to keep the solution moist and active. The longer the area remains moist, the more time the enzymes will have to work their way into the carpet.
Step Three: Neutralizing odors
There’s a good chance that the solution won’t get rid of the smell entirely, and sometimes it’s impossible to remove it fully. However, you may choose to use a solution made of vinegar and water to try and remove the rest of the smell.
You’ll want to use a solution comprised of one cup of vinegar and a gallon of water. After using the vinegar solution, you may choose to use another application of your enzyme solution.
Remember: Pets don’t always choose to have their accidents in plain view. Check regularly behind and under furniture if you have a pet that’s prone to peeing outside the litter box or who can’t wait to go outside for potty time.
Removing Most Stains from Carpet
Different carpets hang onto stains differently, and you’ll need to treat a flat, dense area rug differently than a plush wall-to-wall carpet. However, the most common activity you’ll perform for all stains is blotting. No matter what type of stain has marred your carpet, blotting the stain is the best way to reduce the likelihood of a permanent stain.
Important: Never, ever scrub the carpet. Doing so can harm the fibers by breaking them, which is just as unsightly as a stain. In addition, scrubbing can actually let the stain make its way deeper into the carpet.
Your cleaning solution will vary depending on the type of stain. For example, you may have a water-soluble stain like alcoholic drinks, milk, latex paint, or mud. This Old House offers a simple option for getting rid of water-soluble stains:
“Use a simple cleaning solution made up of 1/4 teaspoon of nonbleach detergent (or white vinegar) mixed with 32 ounces of water.”
There are many other types of vicious stains that aren’t water soluble and which will each need to be treated with a different solution. Here are a few ways to reduce the impact of things like wax and nail polish:
- Glue: Use a soft cloth doused in rubbing alcohol and press it to the gluey area. You can wipe the glue away once it’s moistened.
- Nail Polish: Nail polish remover can remove the polish from the floor. Test a hidden area of the carpet before applying the remover to make sure it won’t harm the carpet.
- Wax: Cover the affected area with a paper towel and iron the towel on the warm setting. The wax should stick to the paper towel and come up off the carpet.
And, as always, if you find you can’t remove a stain completely, it’s best to make an appointment with a professional. Don’t try to scrub the stain out of existence, or you risk irreparable damage to your carpet.
Need Help Cleaning Big Stains?
Hiring a cleaning service helps you keep your carpets clean, and reduces the impact of stains. If you’d like help and information on hiring a cleaning service, download our FREE House Cleaner Hiring Guide.