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Most Common Carpet Stains

removing carpet stains text overlaid on photo of white carpet with dirty footprints tracked in

Before you call an expensive professional carpet cleaner, we want to tell you about some trusted DIY cleaning methods to treat 10 of the most common carpet stains. 

Cleaning carpet seems like an impossible task to tackle but the trick lies in the type of stain you’re dealing with. Cleaning up wine is a very different process from cleaning up blood. But you know, there’s some good news: the tools you need to clean most messes are probably right in your cupboard. 

No matter what solution you’re looking for there is one tip that applies across the board: when cleaning a spot off carpet, dab at the stain. Do not rub it. Rubbing the stain into the carpet only serves to make the stain larger and worse. Get a clean cloth and use one of the following carpet cleaners to attack these 10 most common carpet stains.


Mix one tablespoon of ammonia with one cup of cold water in a spray bottle if possible. Spray it on the area and blot it dry. If you find that it doesn't get rid of the stain, try ⅕ cup of chlorine mixed with ⅘ cups of water. Make sure you’re not using ammonia on wool or wool-blend carpets and don’t use chlorine on dyed carpets. 

Chewing gum

Use ice in a plastic bag to cover the gum and freeze it. After leaving it on top of the gum for around 15 minutes, use a blunt object like a knife to hit it. Then vacuum and blot with a towel. 

Coffee or tea

Coffee and tea stains seem like mission impossible but you’d be surprised that beer can be used to lift the stain from your carpet. Just pour a bit of beer on top, dab it lightly into the material, and the stain will likely disappear right before your eyes. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times to ensure all traces of the stain are removed from the carpet. 

You can also combine equal parts white vinegar and water and blot the stain with a cloth that’s been dipped into the mixture. 

Fruit and fruit juice stains

Mix 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent with 1 ½ tablespoons of white vinegar combined with two cups of water. Work the solution into the stain and blot. 

Grease or oil stains

Put a paper towel over the grease or oil stain then set a warm iron over top. The grease should attach to the towel and lift right up. 

If you don’t find that it works, sprinkle cornstarch liberally over the stain, let it sit for several hours then vacuum it up. You’d be surprised how useful cornstarch is; it can be used to soak up a lot of different types of stains. 


A ketchup spill on carpet requires you to act fast because once ketchup dries, it’s nearly impossible to get out. You’ve likely experienced that with clothing. Sprinkle salt over the spill and let it sit for a few minutes then vacuum. Sponge up any excess and continue this process until the stain is completely gone. 


Using a solution of ¼ teaspoon vinegar and water, soak a paper towel and blot the stain. 

Mysterious stains

Not sure what the unidentifiable stain is but still want to get rid of it? This homemade carpet cleaner is sort of a catch-all solution. Mix a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a little cream of tartar or a dab of non-gel toothpaste. Rub the paste on the stain with a soft cloth. Rinse. Whatever it was, should be gone now. 


To clean up spilled paint, clear away the excess paint using a table knife and paper towels to blot at the stain. Soak a clean rag in isopropyl rubbing alcohol and rub the area clean. Make sure not to use circular motions; just blot up and down. 


Immediately upon spilling wine on carpet, blot up the spill. Apply a mixture of ¼ teaspoon of white vinegar or non-bleach detergent with 32 ounces of water to neutralize the wine then blot dry. If that doesn’t remove the stain completely, use one tablespoon of ammonia with one cup of cold water and blot dry.