12 Natural Carpet Stain Removers for Chemical-Free Cleaning
Because of their plush pile, carpeting can quickly soak up spots and spills, creating stains that permeate deep into the fibers. Although some stains might seem like a job for heavy-duty chemical cleaners, there are plenty of natural carpet stain removers you can reach for instead. These all-natural cleaning methods utilize simple household ingredients, such as club soda, distilled white vinegar, and baking soda, to lift away stubborn spots. Not only are these pantry staples more cost-effective than commercial ingredients, but they also don't contain any harsh chemicals that could be harmful to you or the environment.
We asked cleaning experts to share their favorite strategies and organic-based solutions for spot-cleaning carpets. Use these natural carpet stain removers and must-know cleaning tips to lift unsightly wine, pet mess, and greasy stains from carpets and rugs.
How to Remove Carpet Stains Naturally
When cleaning carpets, act quickly to ensure spills and stains don't set or spread. Scrape up solid bits; if the spilled substance has dried, vacuum the area before applying a stain remover. Blot spills with a clean white towel to absorb staining material. Never scrub the carpet surface or pour liquid directly onto the stain—both could spread the stain. Lightly spray the area with your natural carpet stain remover and blot with a dampened towel, working from the stain's outer edges toward the center to prevent spreading.
After using a natural carpet stain remover, rinse the cleaned carpet area with water to remove residue. Sticky residue attracts dirt, which will restain your carpet. Don't let cleaned areas simply air-dry, which could result in noticeable rings. The experts at Empire Carpets recommend drawing out remaining moisture by placing several layers of white towels over the treated area. Weigh the towels down with a heavy object that won't transfer color, such as a plastic jug of water or a glass casserole filled with books. Let it sit overnight before removing the towels. Vacuum or hand-brush the cleaned area.
For a quick lift of fresh spills and older stains, keep a handheld carpet steam cleaner at hand. The electric cleaners inject water or a cleaning solution into the stain, then suck the dirty solution back into the machine.
Here's a look at some of the natural carpet stain removers and methods you can use to clean your carpets.
Treat oily stains with rubbing alcohol or vodka—both will break down oils and grease, Reichert says. Fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol or vodka and spray the stained area. Let the remover sit for a few minutes, then gently rub a bar of natural soap into the stain. Blot the area with a damp white cloth until the soap is gone. Let area dry; repeat blotting until the stain is removed. Blot with water-damp towel to remove soapy residue.
2. Baking Soda
Greasy and oily stains on carpet can be removed with strategically applied sprinkles of baking soda. Let the baking soda sit for at least six hours, then vacuum. Remove any residue with a wet cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol.
3. Borax Powder
The cleaning experts at 20 Mule Team recommend the following method for cleaning drink spills, removing pet stains, and neutralizing odors. First, blot wet spills with a clean cloth. Spray the spot with ice water and sprinkle on borax powder. Blot the stain with a white cloth until the stain is gone. Or simply pat borax into the water-moistened area, let it dry in place, and vacuum it up once the area has dried.
4. Club Soda
Fill a spray bottle with club soda to use as a natural carpet stain remover, suggests green-cleaning expert Leslie Reichert. Blot up the spill, then lightly spray the stained area with club soda. Dab the entire area with a clean white cloth. Continue to spray and blot until the stain has disappeared.
Quickly get a handle on large liquid spills by applying cornstarch, Reichert says. Blot up excess liquid, then spread cornstarch across the stain. Once the cornstarch has absorbed the liquid, scrape up the powder and vacuum the area. If stain remains, spray the area with club soda and blot with a clean white towel until the stain is gone.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Soap
Tannin stains left by spilled tea, coffee, cola drinks, fruit juice, wine, and washable ink can be banished with a solution that you can blend as needed. Cleaning expert Melissa Maker says to mix 2 tablespoons hydrogen peroxide with 1 tablespoon dish soap. After blotting up the spill, apply the solution to the stained area. Let it sit for a few seconds before gently working it in with your fingers. Rinse the area with water, blot, and repeat until the stains and residue are gone. "Whip up this simple stain pretreater as you need it," Maker says. "Hydrogen peroxide loses its effectiveness as it gets exposed to light (hence, the brown bottle), so making a little bit as needed is the best and most cost-effective way to go."
7. Hydrogen Peroxide and Steam
Grab a spray bottle filled with hydrogen peroxide and a steam iron to remove older wine, blood, and urine stains, says professional organizer and cleaning expert Donna Smallin Kuper, who learned this natural stain-removal trick from a professional carpet cleaner. Spray hydrogen peroxide onto stains, then cover with a damp white towel. Place a steam iron set on the lowest setting atop the towel (make sure it doesn't touch the carpet). Take care not to inhale the steam. Iron the towel for 10 to 15 seconds. Check the back of the towel; you should see some transfer of the stain from the carpet to the towel. Repeat until all or almost all of the stain has disappeared. Lightly spray the stain again with hydrogen peroxide. Place a clean dry towel on the area and weight it with something heavy like a skillet. Allow to dry overnight.
8. Ice Cubes
The freezing method makes it easy to remove wads of gum and melted wax from your carpet. First, peel or gently scrape off as much gum or wax as you can. Then harden the remaining gum or wax by placing a plastic bag filled with ice atop the offending materials. Once the surface hardens, shatter and chip away the remainder using a spoon or a scraper, then vacuum. If oily residue persists, blot stain with a white cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol until the residue disappears.
9. Salt, Vinegar, and Borax
Make a paste of 1/4 cup table salt, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 1/4 cup borax powder to remove protein-based stains, such as blood, bodily fluids, dairy products, baby formula, baby food, and eggs, Maker says. Apply the paste to the stained area and let it dry for 24 hours before vacuuming. In addition to removing the stains, the mix kills bacteria and acts as a deodorizer. Once the area has been vacuumed, clean with water to remove residue and blot well with a clean, dry cloth.
Kuper says you can't beat water when it comes to naturally dissolving stains from carpets. Employ it as your first and best offense when washing out stains. Absorb as much of the stain as possible with white towels, then blot with water-dampened white cloths until the stain is gone. "I actually used water to clean a 6-foot-square area of off-white Berber carpet that was smothered in chocolate, Clif Bars, and Fig Newtons that my dog got into," Kuper says. "It took about an hour and a lot of patient blotting, but the carpet was good as new when I was done!"
11. White Vinegar
To remove carpet stains with vinegar, blend one part distilled white vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle. Use the spray to remove pet urine and rust stains. After absorbing any moisture with a clean white cloth, lightly spray the stained area with the vinegar mixture. Blot with a white cloth until the stain is gone.
You can also use white vinegar to keep freshly cleaned carpets stain-free longer, according to Zach Voog of GoClean.com who shares this overall carpet-shampooing method (from the company's original owner, Mary Findley). Commercial carpet shampoos leave sticky residues that grab incoming dirt to create dirty globs that can't be removed with a vacuum. Avoid this problem by filling your carpet cleaner with a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar to 1 gallon hot water. The vinegar will reactivate the shampoo in the carpet; the carpet cleaner will extract the shampoo and dirt. Finish the job by filling your carpet cleaner with plain water to remove remaining vinegar for soft, deodorized carpet.
12. White Wine or Vodka
Just spilled red wine? Kuper says to immediately blot the spill with a clean white towel and treat the stain with white wine or vodka (this only works if it is the first method you try). Otherwise, go to Plan B: Treat the stain by blotting with hydrogen peroxide.