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24/7 Emergency Service

Carpet Stain Guide

Treat Stains Immediately

The longer a spot remains, the more difficult stain removal will be.

  • Remove solid materials with a rounded tablespoon, spatula, or edge of a dull knife.
  • Blot up spills with clean, white, absorbent materials (towels, napkins, tissues, etc).
  • Work from the outer edge of the spot towards the center to prevent rings. Keep blotting, and repeat as necessary.

Always Pretest Stain Removal Agents

Start in an inconspicuous area (under a sofa cushion, on an area of carpet under or behind a piece of furniture) by applying several drops of solution and blotting gently with a clean white towel. If color transfers to the cloth or a color change occurs, a professional cleaner should be consulted. If no color transfer occurs, apply the solution again, wait half an hour to an hour, if possible, and inspect for any damaging color changes.

Treat the Stain

Follow the instructions until the stain is removed. Do not over wet. Use small amounts of the cleaning agents and blot frequently. Always blot, do not rub or brush. It may not be necessary to complete the entire series of steps. The final step is always to rinse carefully the area with water, and then absorb all the remaining moisture with absorbent towels.

Be Patient

Some stains respond slowly. All spots and stains cannot be removed from every fabric due to differences in fibers, dyes, constructions, finishes, composition of the stain, length of time the stain has remained on the article, etc. Some stains require professional treatment.

Build an Emergency Stain Removal Kit

  • ALCOHOL - ­ Use neutral spirits grain alcohol or clear (uncolored) rubbing alcohol. Methanol, ethanol, and isopropanol are appropriate alcohols to use.
  • AMMONIA SOLUTION - ­ Mix one tablespoon of clear household ammonia with one-half cup of water.
  • BLEACH - ­ Use hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborate, present in Snowy or Clorox II. Do not use chlorine bleach.
  • DETERGENT SOLUTION - ­ Mix one teaspoonful of a colorless, mild detergent or dishwashing liquid in a cup of lukewarm water.
  • DRY-CLEANING SOLVENT - ­ Volatile dry spotter or a commercial spotter such as Carbona, Energine, K2R. Use in small amounts - can be harmful to sizing, backing or stuffing materials. Do not use gasoline, lighter fluid or carbon tetrachloride.
  • ENZYME DETERGENT - ­ Mix a solution of enzyme detergent following the directions on the label. Do not soak or overwet. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for the recommended length of time before removing. (Professional cleaners may prefer to use digestors separate from detergents.)
  • POG - ­ Paint, oil and grease remover, available in hardware stores.
  • VINEGAR SOLUTION - ­ Mix one-third cup of white household vinegar with two-thirds cup of water. (Professional cleaners may use up to 28% acetic acid solution.)

*Always be sure and follow the pretest procedures before applying any solution to a spot or stain.

STAIN:
Colorless to light yellow, slightly stiff
CONTAINS:
Hops, malts, alcohol, albumins, tannin
  1. Apply detergent solution and blot
  2. Apply vinegar solution, blot frequently
  3. Rinse with water, blot until dry
STAIN:
Reddish when fresh, dries to dark brown with irregular edge
CONTAINS:
Albumin, fat, fibrin, iron
  1. Apply cool detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply cool ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply enzyme detergent, blot
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
  5. If stain remains, apply rust remover or oxalic acid solution.
  6. Bleaching with 3-5% hydrogen peroxide may be necessary.
STAIN:
Greasy, yellowish-red, sometimes built-up
CONTAINS:
Vegetable dye, corn oil, milk, salt, preservatives, vegetable fats
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  2. Apply detergent solution, blot until dry.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Stiff and built-up
CONTAINS:
Petroleum, animal fats and oils, vegetable fats and oils, basic dyes
  1. Try freezing the wax with an ice cube, then breaking and removing the frozen pieces.
  2. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  3. Apply POG, blot.
  4. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
STAIN:
Reddish-brown, absorbed and built-up
CONTAINS:
Tomatoes, salt, sugar, spices, tannin, vinegar, onion
  1. Apply cool detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  4. If stain remains, bleach with 3-5% hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborate.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Grayish or pink, rubbery, sticky, built-up
CONTAINS:
Chicle flavoring, sugar
  1. Harden gum with an ice cube until it is brittle enough to scrape off with dull knife or spatula.
  2. Apply dry-cleaning solvent to remove remaining traces.
  3. OR Use a commercial chewing gum remover.
STAIN:
Brown with irregular edge, absorbed or built up
CONTAINS:
Oil, grease, cocoa, butter, coloring, sugar, milk
  1. Scrape off as much as possible with spatula or dull knife.
  2. Apply cool detergent solution, blot.
  3. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  4. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  5. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with water and blot until dry.
STAIN:
Colorless or light brown, absorbed
CONTAINS:
Alcohol, tannin, sugar, food colors
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  3. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Brown with irregular edge, darkening with heat and age
CONTAINS:
Tannins, sugar, fatty acids, alcohol, oils, milk, cream
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot. (Use enzyme detergent if cream was present.)
  2. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  3. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  4. Rinse with water, blot until dry.

    Note: Ammonia will set stains on wool and silk but may help in removal from other fabrics.

STAIN:
Usually absorbed with an irregular edge, sticky when wet, stiff when dry.
CONTAINS:
Honey, sugar, syrup, menthol, alcohol, flavoring, coloring matter
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Built-up, sometimes shiny
CONTAINS:
Wax, grease, pigment, coloring matter
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  2. Apply POG, blot.
  3. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Apply detergent solution, blot. 5. Rinse with water, blot until dry
STAIN:
White and/or yellow, built-up, coagulates with heat
CONTAINS:
Albumin, oils, fats, coloring matter
  1. Blot up as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
  2. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  3. Apply cold ammonia solution, blot.
  4. If stain remains, apply enzyme detergent and keep moist.
  5. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Absorbed, irregular edge
CONTAINS:
Coloring matter, propylene glycol
  1. Apply detergent solution, blotting frequently. A dried stain will probably spread when wet.
  2. Repeat step 1 until color is no longer transferred to the towel.
  3. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water and blot until dry.
STAIN:
Light yellow or characteristic color of fruit, absorbed and splotchy with irregular edge
CONTAINS:
Tannin, acids, pulp, sugar, coloring matter
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
  5. If stain remains, apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  6. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Brownish or reddish, absorbed, with irregular edge
CONTAINS:
Petroleum distillate, coloring matter
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  2. Apply POG, blot.
  3. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  5. Rinse with water and blot until dry.

Note: This stain is almost impossible to remove completely.

STAIN:
Stiff and shiny, usually built-up
CONTAINS:
Starches, gelatins, albumins
  1. Apply water, blot.
  2. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  3. If stain remains, heat the detergent solution slightly and repeat step 2.
  4. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Green and/or brown smudges
CONTAINS:
Tannin, acids, oils, chlorophyll
  1. Apply amyl acetate, if available, to remove chlorophyll, blot.
  2. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  3. Rinse with water, blot.
  4. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  5. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  6. Rinse with water, blot until dry.

Note: Bleaching (or professional stripping) may be necessary.

STAIN:
Brownish, absorbed and built-up
CONTAINS:
Meat extracts, starch, proteins, milk, flour, seasonings
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  5. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Grayish or brownish, absorbed or built-up
CONTAINS:
Oils, sometimes soils
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  2. Apply POG sparingly, and blot.
  3. Alternate steps 1 and 2.
  4. If stain remains, apply detergent solution, blot.
  5. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  6. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  7. Rinse with water, blot until dry.

* Bleaching (or professional stripping) may be necessary.

STAIN:
Absorbed and built-up, stiff when dry
CONTAINS:
Cream, milk, egg, sugar, fruits, extracts, coloring matter
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Apply enzyme detergent, keep moist, and blot.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry
  6. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
STAIN:
Can be any color, usually blue or black, absorbed
CONTAINS:
Basic or soluble aniline dyes, insoluble organic solvents, oils, resins, gums, binding agents such as shellac, varnish or petroleum
  1. Apply alcohol and blot, or use wet/dry vacuum.
  2. Repeat as needed.
  3. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Apply amyl acetate, if available, or acetone (except on acetate fibers).
  5. If stain remains, apply rust remover or oxalic acid solution.
  6. Bleaching (or professional stripping) may be necessary.
STAIN:
Absorbed, usually black
CONTAINS:
Pigment (carbon black) dispersed in water with a binder
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  2. Apply POG sparingly, blot.
  3. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  5. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  6. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Reddish or bluish, absorbed and built up
CONTAINS:
Pulp of fruit, sugar, tannin, preservatives
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  3. Rinse with water, blot.
  4. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  5. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Red, pink, orange, soft and greasy
CONTAINS:
Pigment or dye in fats, waxes and oils
  1. Scrape off excess with spatula or dull knife.
  2. Apply POG, blot, making sure not to reapply stain onto fabric.
  3. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Apply detergent, blot.
  5. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  6. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  7. Rinse with water, blot until dry.

Note: Try to avoid wet-cleaning on wool. Use POG and dry-cleaning solvents as long as possible.

STAIN:
Orange-red, absorbed
CONTAINS:
Eosin dye in alcohol solution
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Grayish or brownish fungus with black spots

* May permanently damage fibers

  1. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot.
  4. Apply solution of oxidizing bleach (chlorine or perborate).
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
  6. Do not use chlorine bleach on wool or silk.

Caution: Some color loss may occur from the bleach.

STAIN:
Usually white, sometimes lighter in the center with heavier buildup around the edges.
CONTAINS:
Fats, albumins, water
  1. Apply cool detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
  5. Apply enzyme detergent, blot.
  6. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
  7. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
STAIN:
Either built-up or slightly absorbed, stiff with an irregular edge when dry.
CONTAINS:
Albumins, animal proteins and gums
  1. Apply hot enzyme detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Grayish, brownish, or yellowish, absorbed and built-up.
CONTAINS:
Soil with greases and oils, clay, iron
  1. Brush or scrape off as much as possible.
  2. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  3. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
  5. If stain remains, apply POG and dry-cleaning solvent alternately, blot until dry.
  6. Note: Some red clay and mud stains may be difficult to remove completely.
STAIN:
Usually pink or red, stiff, shiny and built-up.
CONTAINS:
Red dye or pigment in a liquid cellulose acetate base, solvent, plasticizer.
  1. Apply amyl acetate, if available, or nail polish remover. PRETEST FIRST. Repeat as needed, with blotting.
  2. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  3. Apply POG, blot; apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. If stain remains, apply detergent solution, blot until dry.
  5. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  6. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  7. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Circular, elongated or cross-shaped, darkening with age
CONTAINS:
Petroleum distillate or vegetable oil, polyglycerides, methyl silicate, preservatives
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  2. Apply POG sparingly, blot.
  3. Alternate dry-cleaning solvent and POG, blotting frequently.
  4. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  5. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  6. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  7. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Usually built-up and stiff
CONTAINS:
Pigments, drying oils, resins, gums, volatile solvents
  1. Note: Check label on paint for specific thinner or solvent OR

  2. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  3. Apply POG, blot; apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Repeat step 2 until as much paint as possible is removed.
  5. Weight down the stain with towels dampened with dry-cleaning solvent for several hours to loosen, blot with solvent.
  6. Apply several drops of detergent solution and work into the stain, blot.
  7. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  8. Alternate steps 2 and 5 until stain is removed.
  9. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Absorbed or built-up, stiff when dry
CONTAINS:
Water, latex, pigments, emulsifiers, preservatives
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot. Repeat as needed.
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Rinse with water, blot until dry
  4. Apply POG on aged, hardened paint, blot.
  5. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot. Repeat as needed.
STAIN:
White or clear, built-up, possibly sticky or shiny
CONTAINS:
Rubber (synthetic or natural), resin, solvent
  1. Roll the glue off if it has hardened sufficiently.
  2. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  3. Apply POG sparingly, blot.
  4. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  5. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  6. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Reddish-brown, absorbed or built-up
CONTAINS:
Oxides of Iron
  1. Apply rust remover or warm oxalic acid solution.
  2. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Repeat with hot solution.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Usually black or brown, absorbed or built-up
CONTAINS:
Waxes, resins, solvents, dyes, shellac, alcohol, tannin
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  2. Apply POG sparingly, blot.
  3. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  5. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
  7. If stain persists, bleaching (or professional stripping) may be necessary.
  8. Some dark staining may still remain.
STAIN:
Colorless, yellowish, reddish, or brownish, darkening with age
CONTAINS:
Tannin, sugar, vegetable coloring, flavoring, fruit extracts
  1. Apply cold detergent solution, blot
  2. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Black spots or smudges
CONTAINS:
Carbon, sulfur compounds, sometimes grease
  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  2. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  3. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Black, shiny, built-up or absorbed, distinctive odor
CONTAINS:
Coal tar or petroleum, sulfur compounds, moncaptans
  1. Scrape off as much as possible with spatula or dull knife.
  2. Apply dry-cleaning solvent.
  3. Apply POG sparingly, blot; apply dry-cleaning solvent, blot.
  4. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  5. Rinse with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Whitish, greenish, or bluish (other colors possible), absorbed and built-up
CONTAINS:
Soap, bleaching compound, flavoring, fluoride compound, coloring
  1. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  2. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  3. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Yellowish or brownish, darkening with age; absorbed
CONTAINS:
Urea, uric acid, ammonia, organic acids, pigments, cholesterol, albumins, proteases
  1. Blot up as much as possible if still wet.
  2. Apply detergent solution, blot.
  3. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  4. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
  6. If stain remains, apply rust remover or oxalic acid solution.
  7. Bleaching with 3-5% hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborate might be necessary.

Note: Urine stains may cause permanent dye removal from fibers, and may damage wool silk or nylon.

STAIN:
Various colors, absorbed and built-up
CONTAINS:
Food, mucus, albumins, acids
  1. Blot up as much as possible.
  2. Apply enzyme detergent, keep moist, blot.
  3. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  4. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.
STAIN:
Reddish, purplish or yellowish, absorbed
CONTAINS:
Alcohol, sugar, tannin, coloring matter
  1. Blot up as much as possible. Repeat as needed.
  2. Apply cool detergent solution, blot.
  3. Apply vinegar solution, blot.
  4. Apply ammonia solution, blot.
  5. If necessary, bleach with 3-5% hydrogen peroxide or sodium perborate.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with water, blot until dry.