Spotting Tips

The most important thing about spot removal is never scrub the spot! Always blot the area with a light colored cloth or plain white paper towel. Aggressive scrubbing with a brush or towel will almost always set the stain and distort the carpet face yarns.

Unfortunately, carpet spotters that appear to work miracles on television will not perform nearly as well in your home. It is impossible to completely remove large spills of any substance other than water by simply applying a cleaning agent and blotting. Some residue will undoubtedly remain in the pile, and the spot will probably reappear in a few days. Deep spills need to be extracted from the carpet fibers. Small spills can generally be removed by the homeowner.

Most spots you find on your carpeting are going to be either water based or oil based spots. Water based spots are caused mostly from dropped food or spilled beverages. Oil based spots are usually the result of tar or oil being tracked in on the soles of shoes.

Another type of stubborn spot is a tannin stain which is commonly caused by spilled coffee or tea. Red wine stains are common and can be very difficult to remove. Pets account for a lot of spots on carpeting as well. Sometimes they have accidents, and the resulting spots can be difficult to remove. Spots caused from vomit can also be stubborn, especially if any substance containing food dyes were ingested. If these types of spots haven't been set by previous attempts to remove them, we can almost always remove them completely!

Many liquid medications and beverages such as Kool-aid contain strong acid dyes and cannot be removed by using standard spotting procedures. Spills of this nature are best blotted to remove the bulk of the substance, then left alone until a professional can remove them. Attempting to scrub these stains with normal spotting solutions can permanently set the stain and distort the carpet's pile.

Some ink is water soluble and can be removed using common spotting procedures. Ball point pen ink is not water soluble and should be removed by a professional.

Latex paint is extremely hard to remove if it is allowed to dry. Paint penetrates the carpet's pile quickly and needs to be flushed out quickly. This job is best left to a cleaning professional.

Candle wax can usually be removed by using the heat transfer process. Apply several layers of white paper towels over the wax and heat the wax with an iron. Change the paper towels often, and do not get the carpet fibers too warm or they will melt! The pigment found in colored candles will permanently stain the carpet even though the wax is easily removed.

Most water based spots can be removed by following this procedure:

To Remove Water Based Spots

Step 1

  • Use a spoon or dull knife to remove solid materials.
  • For large stains, work from the outside of stain to the center to prevent spreading.
  • Blot up liquid spills with a white towel or paper towel.
  • Mix a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of clear hand dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of water. Stir gently.
  • Apply detergent solution directly to a white cloth. Dampen the carpet fibers in the stained area with the cloth. Avoid saturating the carpet.
  • Wipe gently. Turn cloth frequently. Never rub, scrub or use a brush. This may damage carpet fibers.
  • If necessary, use your fingertips to work the solution to the base of the stain.
  • Wet the stained carpet fibers with clear, lukewarm water to rinse.
  • Cover the spot with an absorbent white towel or paper towel and apply pressure to blot.
  • Repeat the rinsing and blotting procedures until you are sure all traces of the detergent have been removed.
  • If the stain is gone, place an absorbent white towel or paper towel over the area cleaned, and weigh towels down with a heavy, color-fast object, such as a weighted plastic wastebasket.
  • Change towels or paper towels until carpet dries.
  • If stain remains, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2

Do NOT use on coffee, tea or urine stains.

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of non-bleaching, non-sudsing household ammonia with 1 cup of lukewarm water.
  • Apply ammonia solution, rinse and blot as outlined in Step 1.
  • Do not dry with paper towels. Proceed to Step 3 to neutralize the ammonia solution.

Step 3

  • Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water.
  • Apply vinegar solution, rinse and blot as outlined in Step 1.

A good, general purpose spotter that we recommend is clear Windex. Do not use the Windex solution that has a pigment added to it. The ammonia in Windex is a great spotting agent, and there is very little soap residue left in the carpet after blotting up the spot.


To Remove Oil Based Spots

In general, most solvents used to remove paint from nylon paint brushes can be used on carpet for purposes of spot removal. However, keep in mind that carpet utilizes a synthetic latex backing to laminate the secondary backing and secure the carpet tufts in place. Pouring any dry solvent directly onto carpet may allow liquids to reach the latex thus breaking down the adhesive properties. Always apply dry solvents to a cloth and apply to the carpet to limit carpet damage.

A common spotter that is inexpensive and very effective in removing oil based spots is mineral spirits. Most hardware stores sell paint thinner which is a low grade of mineral spirits. This product works great on tar, grease, lipstick, crayon, chewing gum, and a variety of other oil based substances.

Apply solvent to clean white cloth and blot lightly. Turn the cloth frequently to avoid transferring the spot back onto the carpet. After the spot is removed, flush area with a mild detergent solution and rinse.

Latex paint is extremely hard to remove if it is allowed to dry. Paint penetrates the carpet's pile quickly and needs to be flushed out quickly. This job is best left to a cleaning professional.