Among the many joys of a shiny, new apartment are freshly-painted walls and new or freshly-cleaned carpet. The trouble, though, with all that beautiful, fresh carpeting is that you’re only one careless, red-wine-sloshing party guest or dreaded pet accident away from it no longer being as perfect as it was on move-in day. Never fear—here are a few tried-and-true tricks for removing the evidence of even the most epic carpet tragedy.
The first tip in every case is to act fast. The sooner you get the desirable substance off of your floor, the better. If it’s “scoopable” like food or other soft substances that we’d prefer not to name, a paper or Styrofoam plate cut in half will give you a handy two-handed tool for lifting bad things from the floor to a trash can/bag (hold each piece on a round edge and use the flat center edges to scrape/scoop together). If it’s liquid, soak it up quickly. A super-absorbent chamois is great for this. Less obvious, but super effective if you happen to have them handy, are a fresh disposable diaper or sanitary napkin … of course, if you don’t want to walk into a room full of party guests waving a diaper or hand full of “lady supplies”, wrap ‘em in a dishcloth, apply to the stain absorbent side down and soak up that glass of red wine with discretion and style.
Once the bulk of the stuff is off/out of the carpet, your next step is to know your stain. Different substances are most effectively neutralized by different things. Here’s the rundown of cleaners that will most successfully return your carpet to it’s original, stain-free state.
Pet Stains. The best tools we’ve found for removing these, whether they’re new or fresh, is good old vinegar and baking soda. The magic is in following the proper steps. First, pour enough vinegar to soak the stain, then add a small amount of baking soda. If you do it in the opposite order, you’ll have a foaming mess; but do it the right way and you’ll hear the recipe going to work cleaning and deodorizing the stain without leaving residue. You’ll want to leave the spot to dry for a day or two before sweeping it up and then giving it a good vacuuming; so cover it up with an upside-down pie plate or bowl. In the end, you’ll see all the nasty color of the stain absorbed up into the baking soda instead of down into your carpet.
Coffee. Use plain water or mix one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon of white vinegar with two cups of warm water. Using a clean white cloth, sponge the stain with plain water or the detergent/vinegar solution. Apply a little bit at a time, blotting frequently with a dry cloth until the stain disappears. Finally, if you used the vinegar/detergent solution, sponge the spot with cold water and blot dry to remove the solution.
Red Wine. Apply a small amount of club soda to the stain and allow it to fizz for 15 to 25 minutes. Gently blot the area with a damp sponge and absorb excess liquid with a clean, dry cloth.
Blood. If the blood is dry, start by rubbing it with a stiff scrub brush to loosen the stain and remove the surface deposit. Mix one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent with two cups of cold water. Using a clean cloth, blot the solution on the stain repeatedly until the stain has disappeared. If the stain remains, move on to option two: mix one-half cup of warm water with one tablespoon of ammonia and apply directly to the stain with a cloth or sponge, blotting until the liquid is fully absorbed. Remove the solution by repeatedly blotting with a sponge dipped in cold water, then blot dry.
Nail polish. Carefully blot up excess polish. Using an eye dropper, apply a small amount of acetone-based polish remover to the stain and blot immediately until no more stain is removed. Next, using a clean white cloth, sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent (available in the cleaning supply section at hardware or home improvement stores) and blot until the solvent is absorbed. If the stain remains, apply hydrogen peroxide, using an eye-dropper to apply the peroxide directly on the stain and sponge with cold water and blot dry to remove the peroxide.
Permanent marker. Mix one teaspoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon of ammonia with two cups of warm water. Sponge the stain with this solution. Leave it on the stain for at least 30 minutes, blotting every five minutes with a clean white cloth and more solution. Sponge with cold water and blot dry.
Candle wax. If the wax is still soft, freeze it by applying an ice cube wrapped in a small plastic bag and then scrape off the excess wax. Sponge with a dry-cleaning solvent. Cover the stain with a clean white cloth and press, using the tip of a warm iron to transfer the wax to the cloth. Repeat, using a clean portion of the cloth until all the wax is transferred from the carpet to the cloth. Important: do not apply the iron directly to the carpet, but only to the cloth you’re using to lift the stain.
And there you have it! The recipes you’ll need to remove the most common stains and keep your apartment’s carpet move-in-day clean!