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How to remove stubborn carpet stains (yes, even cat pee)

Brian Bennett / CNET

Clean carpet can really make a home cozy and inviting. Stinky carpets and rugs stained by dog ​​urine, grease and food do the exact opposite. But before you throw it out and spend something new, consider reversing the damage yourself.

This guide lists the tools, techniques, and supplies you need to remove unsightly stains and odors from carpets. You will also learn what to do immediately if an accident happens to minimize the damage. I'll also show you the effects of three common types of pollution, from red wine and bad smells to heavy food stains. Then I'll do my best to clean them up, so hopefully you too.

Simple Stain Removal

The faster you act, the more likely you are to successfully remove a carpet stain. Speed ​​can also prevent a stain from appearing in the first place. As soon as you notice a stain, you must act quickly.

If there is physical dirt, first remove it with a fork or spoon. Be careful not to apply a lot of pressure. You want to prevent material from being pressed deeper into the carpet fibers. Then gently dab with a damp cloth or kitchen paper. Use plain fabrics or paper towels without colors or prints and press gently on the stain; this process can take several minutes, so be patient.

Now pre-treat the area with a stain removal solution. The Carpet and Rug Institute maintains a list of cleaning products it certifies. You can also buy similar products online and from supermarkets. Finally, rinse the area with cold water ̵

1; never warm – and pat again to dry.

You may have to repeat the process several times for persistent leaks.

A stain with red wine can really ruin the day of your carpet. [19659011] Brian Bennett / CNET

Deal with red wine

It's cliché, but it happens. Someone dropped a large glass of red wine on your beautiful, light-colored carpet. What now? First dab the spilled with a damp cloth or kitchen paper. The idea here is to get as much wine off the floor as possible. Any wine left over should also be diluted with cold water using a cloth or towel.

Now you want to apply some carpet stain remover. They usually come in spray bottle form and cost about $ 11 . I have found that the formulas marked as "pet stain remover" or with a similar language work best.

Before capturing the solution, however, it is a good idea to test your carpet for color fastness. Choose a small spot that is hidden under the couch or sofa, for example, and touch it with a little stain remover. If there is no change after a few minutes, you are ready to go.

Now apply enough stain remover to cover the stain. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and dab again with another damp paper towel or cloth (again, with cold water, not warm). Repeat the procedure if necessary. It takes several rounds for stubborn stains.

Spray stain removers alone did not remove wine stains. The 24-hour stain (right) was particularly hard.

Brian Bennett / CNET

In my tests I discovered that one cleaning was not enough. Only after several sessions did all traces of the red wine shade disappear completely. It was also much easier to remove recently spilled wine (within 5 minutes) than if it was left overnight. As I expected, both carpet cleaning devices were better at removing residual wine from deep in carpet fibers.

Electric carpet cleaning devices like this Hoover SmartWash really work on leftover wine stains.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Removing Stains Caused by Urine from Dogs and Cats

Dogs and Cats are sweet, but they can often cause major headaches, such as when they pee on your carpet or rug. Powerful and harmful, you have to be extra careful with urine from Fido and Whiskers. According to the CRI, never use a steam cleaner to treat urine stains. The high heat from that equipment will likely determine both the stain and odor.

The CRI recommends first treating the problem area as you should treat other spots and spills. Dab with a color-safe material (solid white, no patterns or prints) to absorb as much moisture as possible. Then use a stain remover designed for pet mess. Always remember to dab rather than scrub to work in the detergent. Repeat the process until the stain and odor are removed.

Another option is to use a carpet cleaner for home use, also known as a wet vacuum cleaner. Then you can rinse the area with cold water.

Removing carpet odors

To rid your carpet of bad odors, first dab all heavily affected areas with a damp cloth. Then pat the area dry with a clean (dry) cloth or kitchen paper. Now give the rug a healthy amount of baking soda. After 30 minutes, vacuum the carpet with a standard vacuum cleaner. Repeat if the scent still lingers.

For this test, I used white vinegar as an impurity. I had some success with the homemade method. A recent smelly leak (within 5 minutes) was easier to neutralize. Vinegar that left overnight took more work to eliminate. Anyway, I had to do numerous applications of baking soda to significantly reduce the aroma.

As for mechanical solutions, perhaps it was the combined power of deodorant shampoo plus strong suction. Whatever the reason, both electric cleaners managed to remove all traces of the funk from my test carpets.

Oh boy, that's a nasty mess.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Dealing with vomit

One of the worst materials to contaminate carpet is vomit. Whether the source is dog, cat or human, vomit is sure to ruin your carpet unless you act quickly. Start by removing solids first. Gently use a fork or spoon to lift matter and use a light touch. Too much pressure threatens the material to work deeper into the carpet.

Then treat the exposed area with plenty of stain removal solution. After sitting for at least 5 minutes, dab with a damp cloth or kitchen paper. Again, be prepared to repeat the procedure if necessary.

Carefully scrape off the solid pieces with a fork or spoon.

Brian Bennett / CNET

To test this technique, I made a mixture to simulate the harmful properties of vomit – homemade nacho dip. The ingredients were sharp cheddar cheese and spicy tomato cubes. I applied equal amounts of the stuff, in two parts, to my test carpet. I cleaned one of them as well as possible after 5 minutes. I didn't touch the other one for 24 hours.


After all my cleaning efforts, I was especially successful in removing the quickly cleaned nacho cheese stain (left) while much of the night stain (right) persisted

Brian Bennett / CNET

I did not remove the damage even after cleaning with both a spray-on solution and carpet machines. Still, I was more lucky to clear up the quick spill. The carpet area that was hardened overnight and is apparently permanently soiled.

Much TLC

Prevention is also a good medicine for carpets. The Carpet and Rug Institute recommends at least a weekly vacuuming schedule and up to twice a day for high traffic areas. The industry group also says that carpets should be professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months.

The $ 199 Hoover SmartWash shampoos and auto-drying carpets.


Consider a carpet cleaner

Another method is to clean carpets with a carpet cleaner. These devices look like regular vacuum cleaners, but work very differently. Machines like these pump detergent into the carpet underneath as you push them forward.

Rotating brushes scrub carpet and carpet fibers (mixed with the shampoo liquid) along the way. Pulling the machine backwards over the same area allows it to vacuum up the remaining residual solution along with any loose debris.

They only cost $ 100 for a base model like the Bissell TurboClean PowerBrush Cap . You can also spend on the new $ 199 Hoover SmartWash . Unlike the PowerLifter, the SmartWash mixes its detergent concentrate with water while on the go.

A handy extra feature, the SmartWash automatically switches between shampooing and drying modes as you push it back and forth. With other cleaners, including the PowerLifter, you have to do this manually.

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