by Steve Gillman
Out of all the carpet stain removers available, water is the one to try first. Almost all the others can damage your carpet. Many are caustic, like bleach, and will remove the dye from the carpet if not used properly. Also, they generally dont become inert, meaning they continue to damage your carpet over time if not rinsed out completely. Try water first.
When Water Won’t Remove Carpet Stains
Many commercial carpet stain removers work well. Some, however, are formulated for particular types of stains, so read the lable. Some also work better or worse on particular types of carpet, so pre-test the product in an inconspicuous area.
To pre-test a product, apply several drops of the solvent to your carpet, then press a white cotton cloth on the area for about fifteen seconds. Examine the cloth and the carpet. If there is color transfer from the carpet on the cloth, or color changes or other damage to the carpet, try a different stain remover.
To clean a spill or carpet stain, apply the cleaning agent to a white cotton cloth. Work it into the spot gently, from the outside towards the center, so you wont spread the spot, and dont rub too hard. Blot up the stain after a few minutes, and re-apply the solvent.
If you have a shop-vac, it will work better than blotting. Repeat the process until you no longer get a transfer of the stain to the cloth. If this doesnt remove all of the spot, you can try other carpet stain removers.
Once you remove as much of the stain as you can, rinse the area with cold water. Use your shop-vac or blot up the water with a clean cloth. Repeat this until all of the stain remover is out.
Use a stack of plain white paper towels with a weight on them to soak up the last of the water. A fan will also help speed up the drying time. Fast drying is important. It prevents any remaining stain that is deep down in the carpet from wicking up to the surface.
A Cheap Carpet Stain Remover
Dawn dishwashing detergent makes a decent carpet stain remover. Use a few drops in a cup of water. It especially works well on greasy stains (maybe a teaspoonful to a cup of water). Use the original blue Dawn, and just follow the process outlined above.