How to Remove Common Stains From an Area Rug

Area rugs are an excellent way to accent your home decor. And Oriental and Persian rugs are definitely an investment!

If you have an area rug long enough, you will eventually get some sort of stain on it. Food, children, pets, guests, etc. – these are all common rug violators.

You could have the rug professionally cleaned, but that comes at a cost. Having a small stain professionally cleaned could set you back $50-$100.

how to remove stains from an area rug

Fortunately, there a number of DIY solutions available – most of them within your pantry already.


The best method – Be prepared

If you’re taking on the responsibility of owning a fancy rug, you need to be ready at all times to tackle a stain. Like every other type of garment that you own, the sooner you take action, the more likely that the stain will come out.

This means having a carpet or rug cleaning product on hand.

The best rug cleaner that we have come across is the Carpet Miracle Carpet Cleaner and Deodorizer from Sunny & Honey.

remove stains from area rug with carpet miracle from sunny & honey

The Carpet Miracle carpet and rug cleaner can be used both in carpet and upholstery cleaners, but as a spot cleaner as well. It works fabulously on all types of stains like coffee, cosmetics, pet stains, dirt, food, etc. 

Simply dilute the concentrated cleaner to a 1 ounce of cleaner to 1 gallon of water ratio, and apply to the stain. Either run your carpet cleaning machine as usual, or spot clean using a rag or towel. 

We’ve found that it’s best to pinch the stain out, rather then rubbing – that just spreads the stain out further.


When you aren’t prepared

You might find yourself in a situation where you need to remove a stain immediately, but don’t have any suitable cleaners. While it’s always best to use the correct cleaning product, there are a few household products that you can get away with in a pinch – they just require a bit more elbow grease.

We suggest testing out the following solutions on a small corner of your rug or carpet before applying to the stained area. If all goes well, and it doesn’t seem to the the color or the fabric of the rug, apply to the stain directly.

With that said, here are some common stains, along with the corresponding household items that you can use to tackle most of the cleaning issues you might come across.


Blood

Blood is just about the most stubborn of stains to remove. The reason for this being that blood contains multiple substances – proteins, nutrients, salts, etc. Each of these components in blood can require their own cleaning method. There are three approaches that should remove most of, if not the entire stain.

Use: Water, ammonia, and dish detergent
1.)
Remove as much as you can by gently blotting the area; try not to push it further down into the fabric. You should be able to neutralize the remaining stain with a solution containing 1/2 a cup of water, mixed with 1 tablespoon of ammonia.

2.) Blot again with a paper towel to remove what you can.

3.) Apply a mixture of 1 quart cool water, and 1/4 of a teaspoon of detergent; let sit for a minute or so.

4.) Alternate between gently scrubbing to agitate the stain, and rinsing with water. Blot with a towel after rinsing.

5.) If you were able to completely remove the stain, stack a few paper towels, or a terry cloth towel on top of the area, and weigh it down with book, or other heavy materials. This should absorb the excess moisture.

If all of the stain does not come out, feel the stained area with your fingers. Is the stain crusty, or thick? You have a protein-heavy stain. In which case meat tenderizer can work:

1.) Mix (powdered or granulated) meat tenderizer with enough water to form a light paste.

2.) Apply to the area and let sit for 30-60 minutes.

3.) Alternate between scrubbing, rinsing with cold water, and blotting.

If the stain is light in texture, but color-heavy, hydrogen peroxide can also work:

1.) Apply hydrogen peroxide to stain and let it set for 1 hour. 

2.) Alternate between scrubbing, rinsing with cold water, and blotting.

 

Wax

Wax might sound scary, but it’s surprisingly easy to remove. Lighter fluid, or a bit of heat should do the trick.

Use: Lighter Fluid

1.) Apply lighter fluid (or kerosene) and let sit 5-10 minutes.

2.) The wax should be dissolved enough to wipe off with a towel. 

In the absence of lighter fluid, you’ll need to apply some heat. A warm iron will work.

1.) Scrape off as much of the excess wax as you can.
2.) Place a damp white cloth on top of the stain –  a thicker cloth will prevent burning.
3.) Gently press the warm iron on top of the damp cloth. When the wax melts, and hardens again, it should adhere to the white cloth when the cloth is pulled off.


Grease

If you have a wet-vac, grease should be fairly easy to deal with.

how to remove grease stain from area rug

Use: Vacuum, water, and ammonia, liquid soap
1.) Mix 50% water and 50% ammonia. Add a few drops of the soap to create the solution.
2.) Spray on to the stain, and suck it all up with the wet-vac after a few seconds.
3.) Repeat as necessary until the stain is completely removed. 1 to 3 repetitions should do it.

If you don’t have a wet-vac, you can also try these products:

Paint Thinner: Using a thinner soaked toothbrush, lightly scrub until the stain has been removed. Wipe afterwards with a clean towel.

Club Soda: Pour a small amount of the soda on to the stain, and dab with a towel. Repeat as necessary until the grease is gone.

Pine-Sol: Use as you would the paint thinner.


Ink

Use: Rubbing alcohol

Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain. Blot using a clean white towel. Repeat as necessary until ink has been removed. May take 4-5 applications of fresh rubbing alcohol.


Lipstick

Use: Powdered laundry detergent

1.) Form a light paste using the detergent and water.

2.) Apply to the stained area and scrub gently.

3.) Blot the area with a wet towel to remove the stain and detergent paste.


Coffee 

Use: Club soda

Pour onto stain, and use a towel to blot dry. Repeat as necessary.

how to remove coffee stains from a rug


Mud

Use: Foamy shaving cream

1.) Spray the shaving cream on the affected area. Wait about 3-5 minutes.

2.) Blot the area with a wet towel until stain has been lifted. Repeat as necessary.


Fruit juice and other colored beverages

Like grease, fruit juice and other colored beverages are simple with a wet vac:

Use: Salt, vacuum

1.) While the juice is still wet, cover the stained area with salt.

2.) Use the wet-vac to clean.

If the beverage has dried, or if you don’t have a wet-vac:

Use: Hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and water

1.) Mix 50% hydrogen peroxide with 50% water. Add a few drops of the soap.

2.) Pour mixture over the stain and let sit for a few minutes.

3.) Blot using a clean towel – repeat as necessary.


Gum

Use: Vegetable or olive oil

How to remove gum from an area rug.

1.) Apply oil. The oil should  make the gum stiff.

2.) Let it sit for a few minutes. pick at the gum, using a spoon, to pick it apart.

3.) Use a wet towel to clean the area.

You can also use ice, lighter fluid, or WD-40.

Ice: Cover the gum with ice. This should freeze the gum and make it brittle, after which you should be able to break most, if not all of it off.

Lighter fluid: Apply lighter fluid on the gum and wait a few minutes. It should dissolve the gum enough to where you can wipe it out.

WD-40: Use as you would the lighter fluid above.


Pet Stains

Urine and poop stains should be treated differently. 

How to remove a pet stain from a rug

For urine: Pour rubbing alcohol over the stain, and wipe off. This will kill the bacteria and odor.

For poop: Pour baking soda, and let it sit. Once the poop has thoroughly dried, remove with a paper towel. Pour white vinegar or rubbing alcohol over remaining stain to clean; repeat as necessary until the stain is completely out.

 

Red Wine

Red wine, depending one with artificial additives can be a bit stubborn.

removing red wine stains from a rug

Use: Club soda or salt

Club soda – pour onto the stain, and then blot dry. Repeat as necessary until stain has been removed. This may take a few repetitions.
Salt – If you have a wet-vac, pour salt onto the stain, and then use the vacuum to suck it all up. For any remaining stain, use a towel dampened with club soda to remove.

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