As a mother of both children and dogs, I have lots of experience getting stains out of the carpet. Here are my tried-and-true tactics.
Dealing With Old Carpet Stains With Homemade Carpet-Stain Remover
Sometimes when people buy an older home or move furniture in their house, they discover an old carpet stain. Or maybe you have a child who didn't want to tell you about something they spilled on their bedroom carpet (exactly what happened at our house), and therefore a stain on the carpet was not able to be cleaned right away.
Cleaning spills and messes off of your carpet right away is truly the only way to actually get items completely out of your carpet. With many old stains, you can clean the area, but you will likely still see a little bit of the stain. Sometimes when old stains are cleaned, the area of the carpet around the stain has normal dirt, and then it makes that extra clean area stand out more.
If you do find that you have an old carpet stain to deal with, I recommend using natural ingredients and avoiding costly, chemical-based cleaners. I have used many different types of store-bought and homemade cleaners, and honestly, it's the time and the scrubbing that works. There isn't a product on the market that works without the help of good ol' elbow grease. Whether you want to save money, save the Earth, or just save your animals or kids from breathing in chemicals, try using simple ingredients in your home to clean old carpet stains.
Cleaning an Old Carpet Stain With Baking Soda and Vinegar
What Ingredients Do You Need to Make a Homemade Carpet Cleaner?
Here is a list of ingredients you can find in your home to clean different types of carpet stains:
- Baking soda
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Liquid dish soap
- Fels-Naptha bar soap
- Club soda
- Vegetable oil
Carpet Stain Remover Kit
Although you may have many of those ingredients in your home, it is best to have a homemade carpet stain remover kit ready at all times. I recommend buying travel-size empty bottles and filling those with various carpet cleaning materials. Keep everything in an easy-to-carry caddy so when a carpet accident occurs you are ready to go! Here is what should be included in your kit:
- Empty travel size spray bottle
- Small bucket
- 2–3 sponges
- 1–2 microfiber towels
- Old rags and 1 old towel
- Small travel size bottle of vinegar
- Small travel size bottle of rubbing alcohol
- Small container of baking soda
- Travel-size bottle of hairspray (non-aerosol)
- Medium-size cleaning brush
- OPTIONAL: Small bottle of vegetable oil, small bottle of unopened club soda, bar of Fel-Naptha soap, powdered detergent
Do Homemade Cleaners Really Work?
As you can see by the pictures of my daughter's bedroom carpet, homemade cleaners do work. My daughter went away for camp and I started moving things and giving her room a good cleaning; that is when I discovered the stain in the first picture. She has a carpet that is a blend of blue and beige colors and the spots were an obvious brown and well set in.
I took the pictures as I cleaned the stain and it only took a few minutes to scrub out the stain. I did have to repeat the baking soda and vinegar and scrubbing two times. Once the carpet dried and I vacuumed the area, the stains were gone. (You will notice the carpet still has the beige and blue colors but not the dark brown stains).
I did realize that once you scrub an area like that, the rest of the carpet looks so dirty. If you do have a large area with a stain it may be a good idea to give the entire carpet a steam cleaning after you clean the stain. You can steam clean carpets without the chemicals and still get a lot of dirt out of the carpet.
Although I focused on the carpet stain from my daughter's room, I do have three dogs that have made numerous stains on my carpets. I've used homemade cleaners to clean vomit, animal waste, mud, and food stains out of my carpets and they have always worked well.
The only carpet stain in my house that I have never been able to clean is silly putty that got stuck in the carpet. Luckily it is not in the middle of my living room! It's one of those stains you cover up with furniture or an area rug until you feel like replacing the whole carpet. For all other stains, refer to the chart below to clean them effectively with safe ingredients found around your house.
Household Ingredients to Remove Stains
Grease- or oil-based stains
Rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and hot water
Use a microfiber towel to blot the stain with rubbing alcohol and then once most of the stain is absorbed, clean with a sponge dipped in a 50/50 water and vinegar solution
Mud or dirt
Vinegar, cold water, and dish liquid or Fels-Naptha bar soap
In a bucket mix 1 cup of vinegar to 2 cups of cold water and add a squirt of dish liquid; mix well and then use a sponge to scrub the mixture into the mud stain, use old towel to wipe and dry and repeat as much as necessary. Fels-naptha bar soap can also be dampened and rubbed right into the carpet and then rubbed clean and dry with old towels.
Red juice or wine
Hydrogen peroxide and dish liquid
Pour a little bit of the peroxide on the stain and then a drop of dish liquid, rub into the stain with a toothbrush and quickly dab with a clean dry towel. Let the stain alone for a few hours and if needed, repeat.
Cold water and vinegar
A 50/50 mix of cold water and vinegar will clean up blood stains but you may have to repeat this several times and you will need to NOT over-saturate the stain or it will spread.
Baking soda and vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and powdered detergent
After cleaning up the waste with a paper towel you can clean the remains by sprinkling with baking soda and then adding vinegar and scrubbing with a brush and blotting dry with a towel. Hydrogen peroxide and dish liquid mix and scrubbed into the stain work as well.
Club soda, dish liquid, vinegar, and baking soda
Clean up the vomit with a paper towel. Pour a small amount of club soda on the stain and then use a drop or two of dish liquid and a toothbrush or large cleaning brush to scrub the area. After scrubbing the area, sprinkle baking soda on the area and let it sit for several hours. Vacuum the area and repeat scrubbing if needed.
Hairspray and rubbing alcohol
Spray the carpet with some hairspray and then use a microfiber cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol to blot away the ink stain.
Vegetable oil, rubbing alcohol, and water
Pour a little bit of vegetable oil on the lipstick stain and use a rag dipped in a 50/50 rubbing alcohol and cold water mixture to rub and blot up the stain. Continue to clean the rag and repeat.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Paul Levy from United Kingdom on January 05, 2016:
The key is definitely to combat the spillage as quickly as possible. I believe anything can be solved with water and a cloth if you get it early. This is great advice for those tough ones that have set in.
chrissieklinger (author) from Pennsylvania on July 19, 2012:
I am pretty good at catching stains before they set, but I have found vinegar and baking soda and lots of scrubbing to many things can work wonders after the fact. If the stain really doesn't come out, consider ripping up the item and using it for cleaning rags or use part of it to refashion a new shirt. I have a friend who has really gotten into refashioning shirts. She changes the buttons and necklines and sometimes other areas. You can also make neat purses and reusable grocery bags from old clothing as well. Good luck!
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on July 18, 2012:
I may have to try some of these homemade stain cleaners. I have one completely stubborn stain that commercial cleaners won't get out, so maybe the selected cleaning solution from your table will work - no harm in trying. Thanks for the great information.
chrissieklinger (author) from Pennsylvania on July 07, 2012:
The important thing is also teaching my children to clean this way so that their generation will help reduce the amount of chemicals being used for cleaning. Thanks for reading!
Sean Jankowski from Southern Oregon on July 07, 2012:
Information like this is so awesome. Good hub Chrissieklinger. Really cool that you know how to do this.
chrissieklinger (author) from Pennsylvania on July 07, 2012:
Glad you liked the cheat sheet. If it was up to me I would get rid of all the carpet in our home. With kids and dogs it is hard to keep it lookinh nixe all the time.
Brad Masters from Southern California on July 06, 2012:
Thanks for all that great information, and while I knew some of them, I didn't know all of them.
Thanks also for the cheat sheet.