How to Remove a Fresh Carpet Stain

Ariana Kyl 7

They must have had a really big stain…

You should know how to remove a fresh carpet stain before it sets in.

This is a little trick I picked up in college from a roommate after a certain party where certain “friends” decided keg stands were in order… *memories*

This trick has worked without fail every time (and there have been a lot of times over the years thanks to a certain dog whose tail is ideal for knocking down any and every drink placed anywhere in the house… but I do love her so).

First, get out the salt!  I don’t mean the salt shaker; I mean I hope you’ve got a full thing of Morton’s salt on hand, because timing is critical on this.

Immediately after the spill (as quick as possible) pour copious amounts of salt onto the spill area so that all you can see is dry salt (the more the better).

Now wait… (and while you’re waiting, get out the vacuum… and maybe pour a glass of wine, what the heck; you aren’t driving!)  Within 5-10 minutes, you’ll see the salt will no longer look dry, as it absorbs the liquid.

After this happens (maybe give it 15 minutes, just to be sure), vacuum up the salt with one of the vacuum attachments (not by just running the vacuum over it, as you don’t want to rub anything in, which the brushes will do).

Now re-apply the salt if you still see some stain.  Repeat as necessary until either the stain’s gone, or nothing more is coming up from salt applications.

For me, this has always sufficiently got out the stain so that it wasn’t apparent anymore, except one time when a certain dog knocked over a full double big gulp.  As I did not have a tanker truck of salt on hand, I did not have an adequate supply of salt to cover it sufficiently.  In this case, it still did enough that after a carpet cleanings with my trusty home carpet cleaner, the stain was gone.

Some people also recommend trying to blot as much of the moisture out first before adding the salt, but this seems counterproductive, as you’ll inevitably rub the stain in a bit by doing this, even if you’re careful.  The salt will absorb the moisture anyways, so what’s the point?

I’ve also heard the opposite recommended. If the stain isn’t completely up, but the salt has absorbed nearly all the moisture, while the stain is still very fresh, pour cold water on the area and repeat the salt trick.  However, I’ve never tried this and I can’t personally vouch for this doing anything.

Do you know any other carpet stain removal tricks or carpet cleaning tips?  If so, please share the knowledge in the comments below!

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7 Comments »

  1. Mike July 1, 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

    I saw my mother-in-law spill a glass of wine once. She immediately dumped a full pitcher of water on it (to dilute the wine), then proceeded to soak it up with towels. Worked like a charm.

    I tried the salt trick once when I myself spilled a glass of wine. Maybe I didn’t use enough, but there was still a small stain. Luckily, it was between the wall and the couch.

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey July 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm - Reply

      @Mike: Yep, you’ve got to use a boatload of salt. Completely bury the stain, then wait.

  2. Jacinda July 14, 2013 at 3:13 am - Reply

    For nail polish spills you hair spray it immediately and then use heaps of rubbing alcohol and dab away (although salt MAY work more efficiently). The hair spray stops the nail polish from setting in the carpet.

    I’ve had to do this a few times after nail polish has broken on the carpet at work – it works fairly well but probably wouldn’t be good on white carpet.

  3. Scott December 17, 2013 at 4:43 am - Reply

    I’m just wondering if, in saving the carpet, you’ll rust out the vacuum cleaner innards with all the salt?

  4. PCL March 14, 2014 at 11:14 am - Reply

    I’ve been able to get rid of most stains by just diluting them with vinegar and a scrub brush, then vacuuming the residue. But a really sticky or greasy stain would probably respond better to salt. Baking soda will also work, but it might bleach some carpets. Any of these options is easier than getting out a carpet cleaning machine and I don’t imagine that most modern (mostly plastic) vacuums will be terrible bothered by salt.
    PS: As for Jacinda’s suggestion, alcohol is great for cleaning, but, at least with the 91% concentration, no vacuum cleaner should be anywhere near it until it is dry. I’d wait for the 70% variety to dry also, but I’m sure it’s possible to dilute either enough to make them safe. Vacuums, along with many other motorized appliances, produce electrical arcs which will ignite any flammable liquids.

  5. Rod B Maestas May 11, 2014 at 11:40 am - Reply

    For non-chemical stains, which are already dried and regular foot traffic stains, use-1 part distilled white vinegar to 3-parts water and spray directly onto the stain until it is soaked. Use an old towel, wet it and wring it out until just damp, place onto the stain. Using any household steam iron, on highest steam setting, slowly iron the towel on the stain. You’ll see the towel absorb the stain like magic!

  6. jkd June 22, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

    We use hydrogen peroxide with one quarter teaspoon of ammonia per cup of hydrogen peroxide. Pour on stain scrub lightly and lay on a wet absorbent towel and let it completely dry. Works every time.

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