Stain Removal

Stain Removal Stain removal is a massive subject and is often best left to professional carpet cleaners. My comments below are given in good faith, on the basis that I cannot be held responsible for any damage which you may cause during your attempts at stain removal.However it is only natural to try to remove stains yourself but carried out wrongly, the stain may be made much worse.Proprietary stain removal chemicals such as 1001, Vanish etc. are very concentrated and it is unlikely once you have sprayed it on the carpet that you will be able to remove the detergent. This will then attract dirt and you may find that the small stain you attempted to remove has now become a much larger one, as the dirt sticks to the remaining detergent.Some of these products also contain bleaches which will lighten some carpet and upholstery fibres, notably wool and cotton.Products not designed for carpets such as washing up liquid can cause very fast re-soiling and can be almost impossible to remove! DO NOT USE THEM

Another common mistake is to spray large amounts of cleaner onto the stain and rub vigorously.

If a small amount of stain remover has not removed the stain then a large amount is unlikely to do so . Rubbing will also cause the pile to distort and you can find the stain gone and a ‘furry’ patch in its place.

Simple Guide

1. Do not panic!!

2. Assess the stain. Is it wet e.g coffee, tea, coke.

If so blot with kitchen towel, it is sometimes very effective to place kitchen towel on the stain and put a heavy book or two on top . The tissue will absorb a large amount of the staining. Repeat as necessary.

3. Apply a small amount of stain remover and very gently brush the carpet in the direction of the pile.

If it appears to be removing the stain then apply a little more as necessary, always working on the minimum chemical principle.

When you have removed as much staining as possible place a wet piece of kitchen towel on the carpet and attempt to remove as much detergent as possible.

Some carpet cleaning chemicals will contain bleaches, especially those with oxy in the title. If left on a carpet, particularly wool they will lighten the area you have treated.

Remove as much as possible without over wetting, so as not to cause water marks. If a carpet is left too wet it may start to smell of ‘bad eggs’. this often happens when a DIY carpet clean is carried out using a hired machine or when a ‘cowboy’ cleaner is employed , known in the Trade as a ‘splash and dash’.

4. Some stains such as tar, pollen, paint, ink, grease can be removed using a hydrocarbon solvent such as white spirit and others such as nail varnish with acetone.

Use sparingly, apply to a cloth, not directly to the carpet and very gently work into the stain. Do not allow the solvent to soak into the carpet as it can cause breakdown of adhesive, leading to de-lamination and bumps.

5. Some stains are impossible to remove, Permanent Ink, Curry(turmeric), Irn Bru, Lucozade and it is best to prevent these by not allowing them to come into contact with carpets or upholstery. There are bleach resistant carpets where it is possible to remove these stains by using strong bleaches but unless you are 100% sure then this approach is best avoided..

6. Protein stains.

Chemicals containing proteins will bond very well to various substrates,.

Blood is best removed by flushing with cold water; hot water will cause the protein to bond to the fibres. Blood can also contain some very nasty diseases such as Hepatitis and proper protective clothing etc. should be worn.

Milk, yoghurt , cream, remove as much as possible by blotting and scraping before treating with a colour-fast biological cleaning product, which contains enzymes designed to break protein bonds. Please note enzymes can be asthma sensitisers and shouldn’t be used in areas where people with sensitivities may come into contact. Very small amounts of enzyme dust can cause reactions because they are catalysts, and it is advisable to thoroughly rinse without making the carpet or upholstery too wet.

Rinse as  thoroughly as possible.

7. Grease and Oil, can be very difficult to remove especially if they contain proteins. e.g. gravy and a combination of a solvent and a biological product may be required.

Oils can vary from light cooking oils to heavy duty industrial which may contain carbon particles .


I would recommend that you only attempt simple stain removal and in the case of bigger problems please use a professional carpet cleaner.

He or sometimes she, will have powerful machinery, stain removal knowledge and a range of chemicals for the many different types of stains which can occur. A cheap cleaner is unlikely to have the equipment, knowledge or experience needed, always go for quality.

I have been cleaning carpets and upholstery for over 28 years having previously been an Industrial Chemist.

01702 473700 or 07860 602570

If you are outside our working area of Essex and parts of London, Herts, Kent and Suffolk, then please email and I will see if I can recommend a professional carpet cleaner in your area.

Copyright: Doug Holloway.

Please feel free to link but the above can only be reproduced with permission.