7 recipes for common carpet stain catastrophes

Carpet stains- no matter how clean your home is, unsightly stains make a bad impression and may contribute to funky home odors. Although carpet cleaners and vacuuming will take care of most of the dirt in your wall-to-wall carpet, sometimes you need to haul out the big guns and customize a treatment for what’s ailing your carpet.

To aid in this process, I’ve hauled out my recipe box of specialty carpet stain removers, and am sharing the ones that are most frequently requested.

(Common sense precautions: always blot liquid stains rather than rubbing them, and always try cleaning solutions on a ‘test area’ for colorfastness)

Pet urine

  1. Blot wet stains as quickly as possible.
  2. Using a spray bottle, mix equal parts white vinegar and water, and spray area liberally. Allow to penetrate for a few minutes, then blot with dry towel.
  3. Next, sprinkle baking soda over the affected area. Mix a quarter of a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and spray over the baking soda. Work into carpet with your fingers (best to wear gloves!).
  4. Allow to dry completely, then use a hard bristled brush to loosen up the baking soda before vacuuming.
Pro tip: If you’re unsure which areas have been affected, use a handheld blacklight bulb. Urine (any bodily fluid, really) will show up green under the light. It’s like carpet cleaning CSI.


  1. Scrape up as much solid material as possible. Use dry paper towels and a dustpan to avoid spreading as much as possible. Blot remaining liquid with dry towels.
  2. Cover the area with corn starch or baking soda to absorb any remaining liquid and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum.
  3. Mix one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon of white vinegar with two cups of warm water, and spray the area liberally. Blot with dry towels until the liquid is absorbed.
  4. If stain remains, an enzyme-based cleaner like Nature’s Miracle may be necessary.
Pro tip: Sprinkling whole (not ground!) coffee beans in the area around the stain will mask the scent until your cleaning process is complete.

Wine or Juice

  1. Blot area to remove as much liquid as possible.
  2. Mix one tablespoon white vinegar, one tablespoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent and two cups of warm water.
  3. Sponge in small amounts onto stain and blot immediately with clean cloth or paper towel. Repeat until stain is gone.
  4. Once stain is gone, sponge with warm water to remove soap residue, and blot dry.
Pro tip: If you can’t get to the stain immediately, blot it and then cover with salt to prevent it from setting.

Food dye (Kool-aid, cake icing, M&Ms, etc)

  1. If stain is dry, dampen with cool water and let sit for ten minutes.
  2. Mix one tablespoon white vinegar, one tablespoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent and two cups of warm water. Sponge lightly onto stain and blot dry with clean cloth or paper towel.
  3. Repeat this method as needed until stain is gone.
Pro tip: if your food coloring stain is red, use ammonia instead of vinegar.


  1. Brush off and vacuum any dried blood.
  2. Then, make a solution of 2 cups cold water and one tablespoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent.
  3. Sponge onto the stain and blot with clean towel.
  4. You may need to repeat several times. If stain remains, try an oxidizing product like Oxy-Clean.
Pro tip: Always use cold water when working with blood stains. Warm temps thicken blood.

Wax and Chewing Gum

  1. Fill a plastic bag with ice and place over the stain until wax or gum hardens.
  2. Use the curved bottom of a spoon (or other blunt object) to break into small pieces.
  3. Remove large pieces by hand and vacuum the rest.
  4. Treat any residue or leftover color with rubbing alcohol or a commercially-made carpet cleaner.
Pro tip: If you don’t have any ice or still have wax on the carpet after following these steps, try this trick using a hot iron and a paper bag.

For Everything Else

Sometimes you just need a good, all-purpose method, and this is it. A little time consuming but we’ve seen it take out large stains that were years old:

  1. Mix equal parts ammonia and hot water in a spray bottle, and spray liberally on stain.
  2. Drape a clean white cloth towel over a wet area, and iron in back-and-forth motions with iron on no-steam setting. Stain should transfer to white towel.
  3. Repeat until stain lifts. You may need multiple towels!
Do not touch iron directly to carpet, or it may melt.


So, let me know how these work for you! Do you have any tried-and-true methods for stain removal? Leave a comment and we’ll give them a try!