Tackling the Toughest Carpet Stains

Maintaining a neat and clean carpet is important to many of us, but that doesn’t mean we want to call a professional for every spill or stain. Provided that we’re not going to just make things worse, a lot of us would prefer to try and remove the stain ourselves.

There’s just one problem: We don’t always know which stains we can handle, and which stains are better left to the experts. Let’s take a look at four of the most difficult stains and explore what, if anything, we can do about them.


The dark red-purple color of wine is notoriously difficult to remove. That’s because the pigments in the wine bond very strongly to fabrics – so much so that these pigments are used in fabric dyes. Once wine dries, you’ll certainly need to call a professional. You may have a chance to remove the stain if you act quickly enough.

The first thing you’ll want to do is lightly dab away the wine with a white cloth. You’ll be tempted to press down hard to pull up the wine more quickly, but don’t do it; you want to keep the liquid as close to the carpet surface as possible. If the wine penetrates too deeply, you will probably require the heavy-duty extraction equipment used by your local Chem-Dry or other carpet cleaning pro.

After most of the liquid is removed, you’ll want to apply a cleaning solution. Three can work well: Salt, club soda (or a combination of the two), and dish soap mixed with hydrogen peroxide. Salt is effective at soaking up wine. Club soda is effective at lifting wine so it can be dabbed away. Dish soap is also effective at lifting, while hydrogen peroxide is capable of breaking wine down.


The dark red color of blood can also be challenging to remove. That’s because the proteins in blood aren’t broken down by water. Like any staining agent, blood is easier to remove before it sets, but you may still have some luck with dried blood. Give it a shot.

The three most common household treatments are club soda, hydrogen peroxide, and ammonia. While all three can remove blood stains, the latter two are also capable of discoloring your carpet and making a bad situation worse. As is the case with every carpet stain removal solution, test it on a hidden place your carpet before applying it to a stain that’s out in the open; this is also true of store-bought solutions.


Like the two substances above, coffee can leave a dark stain. Coffee is difficult to remove because it’s oily, and that oil is both sticky and easily absorbed. The key to removing coffee stains is overcoming the oil, and that’s something that a mild detergent like a dish soap can usually do.

If dish soap alone isn’t able to remove the stain, try tackling the stain with a tablespoon of vinegar and a cup of warm water. As always, be gentle. Lightly dab in your cleaning solution with a white cloth to slowly pull away the stain.

Permanent Ink

We probably wouldn’t use ink if it was easy to remove from paper or fabric, and permanent ink is especially hard to remove. That said, you have a chance. The earlier you get to work on an ink spill, the less likely you’ll require a professional carpet cleaner. If it dries, you’re likely to need help.

Permanent ink isn’t broken down by any of the remedies that we’ve already mentioned. Instead, the best cleaning solution for ink is rubbing alcohol. Unlike water, rubbing alcohol is able to dissolve the dyes in ink. Once dissolved, you can dab away the color with a towel. Not all inks are permanent, however. Some are water-soluble, and can be dabbed away with water and perhaps a little dish soap.