Carpets were originally used to block the cold draft from coming up from the floor of a building, which historically was just the earth. Since then our insulation practices have gotten much better and carpet is less utilitarian and more of an aesthetic choice.

And speaking of aesthetics, it doesn’t look so hot when you have old stains in your home or office carpet. Whether they’re from five minutes ago or five years, it’s worth trying to get them out.

Want to know about removing old stains from carpet? We’ve got your go-to guide, below.

High Traffic Area Stains

Have you ever heard of an area or a part of a home called a “high traffic area”? That phrase refers to places, like the kitchen, that get a lot of use.

People often use it to describe types of carpet, explaining how well it’ll stand up to people walking on it all day every day. The more people and animals there are in your home, the “higher traffic” your carpet is.

You can have different levels of traffic in each room. For example, carpet in the living room or family room is higher traffic than the guest room, which only gets used once a month.

This term isn’t unique to homes. It applies to businesses and offices too.

A high traffic area in a grocery store, for example, would be the front door and the floor in front of the checkout lanes. Those aren’t usually carpeted, but you see the point.

Customers want to see businesses putting their best face (and floor) forward when they walk in. That means if there are significant stains on your business carpet, you need to try to remove them.

If they won’t come out with your elbow grease and you’ve already considered hiring Chem-Dry cleaners, you may have to replace the carpet altogether.

Before you add up the figures of what a new carpet is going to cost in your brain, let’s break down some common stains (and how to get rid of them), below.

The Most Common Kinds of Stains

There’s a difference between a carpet being stained and being worn-down. A worn-down carpet looks dirty no matter what, and the pile is low and permanently crushed-down.

Carpet like this doesn’t need spot treatment. It needs a professional carpet cleaning company to come give it a new life.

That cleaning company will bring in equipment that does spread the dirt or stain around (like scrubbing would) but actually lifts the dirt out of the carpet, making it look new.

If you have both a worn-down carpet and discernable stains, ask your professional to treat the stains before they clean the entire carpet. Or you can treat them yourself.

This will ensure the stained spots get extra care and don’t look still-dirty or discolored when the rest of the carpet is shiny and almost-new.

Red Wine

We love red wine, don’t get us wrong. Having a nice glass at the end of a long hard day is precisely what the doctor ordered (in moderation).

But sometimes the dog runs under your feet, or a child knocks the glass off the table, leaving a dark purple spot all over your carpet.

If you’re like us, you just stare at it for a full minute, thinking about how hard it’s going to clean up – before scolding whoever spilled it (even if it was yourself).

Or maybe it was wine spilled at a Christmas party past, that someone placed a plant over in your office, and is now months if not years old.

Either way, time is of the essence, and any time spent staring in disbelief is time wasted and isn’t making removing the stain any easier.

To remove wine from carpet, get a bottle of club soda (no, not sparkling water, La Croix will not work). Club soda has different (food safe) minerals in it, one of which is baking soda, which helps lift the stain.

Spray the club soda over the stain, using any empty non-bleach based old spray bottle. Take a clean cloth and blot – don’t rub(!) over the stain.

It’s very likely you’ll need more than one cloth if it’s a big stain and you want to use a new clean one every time, ringing it out in between and switching every ten blots or so.

Every time you switch rags, spray more club soda over the stain. You want to avoid pouring club soda over the stain unless you have a very stable hand.

Carpet isn’t meant to handle much moisture, and too much club soda will just spread the stain out, diluting it, but making the problem area bigger.

If that doesn’t work, you can buy wine-specific stain removers off the internet, or call in the professionals.

Coffee

Coffee is much more likely to be spilled on the floor of an office than wine. In fact, your employees probably drip a little bit on the floor without noticing it every day.

You’d think they would have made the coffee machine carafe more ergonomic by now, but no such luck.

Anyways, coffee stains really darken up a carpet, even if the carpet is a darker neutral color in the first place.

Like anything else, your best bet is to treat the stain when it’s fresh, but you can try this trick on a set in the stain as well. It can’t hurt!

Coffee his highly acidic and has natural oils in it. Oil is a pain to get out of any fabric, and the acidity of coffee can react with harsh cleaners if you’re not careful.

The best solution to get coffee out of your rug is another homemade one, with things you have in your cabinet (or your cupboard at home that you can bring to work tomorrow) right now.

All you need is two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon dish soap. Stir it together gently as the peroxide gets slightly oxidized (and fizzy) when exposed to air.

While you’re making that (or before), blot the stain gently with a clean rag. The goal here is to remove as much of the excess liquid as possible.

You’ll work on getting the pigment out in the next step.

Once you’ve blotted all you can, take about a tablespoon of your cleaning mixture and pour it over the stain in a circular motion, starting from the center and moving out.

Don’t dump the whole mix on the carpet, or the dish soap will get very sudsy and take hours to rinse.

Let that sit on the stain for five minutes, then pour some clean water over the stain (about as much water as cleaning solution) and blot the stain again.

Blot and rinse until there’s no more stain and no more suds.

Ink

With everyone using computers these days, we don’t see ink carpet stains as much as we used to. But just 20 years ago, when things were still done with pen and paper, ink was one of the most common office carpet stains.

It’s a good thing computers are replacing pens because ink is one of the most challenging things to get out. It’s meant to dye or transfer pigment to what it touches after all!

To remove it, you’ll need rubbing alcohol or barring that, hand sanitizer, or even vodka. You want something bright with a high amount of alcohol.

Use the same process as above, but don’t blot until you’ve applied the cleaner. Botting too much or with a too-heavy hand can put pressure on the stain and push it outwards, making it bigger.

Apply the alcohol solution (whatever you’re using) and give it a minute or two to sink in. Then, being very careful to keep the pressure only over the stain, blot the area. Change rags often, as the ink won’t dilute on the rag as much as water-based wine and coffee will.

Continue this process until all the ink is gone, then vacuum the spot dry.

Blood

Hopefully, you don’t have a lot of workplace injuries, but things happen, and those things can leave blood spots on your carpet.

Blood is made up of enzymes and proteins, which means your best bet is to use an enzyme-based cleaner.

The same sprays that work for pet stains will work for blood as well if you those at home.

If you’re petless or (more likely) don’t have that cleaner at the office, get some cold water and dawn dish soap.

Mix the two together and put a significant amount over the stain. Let it sink in then blot it, re-moisten, and blot again.

If cold water doesn’t work, try using a little bit of hydrogen peroxide added to your cleaning mix. That may work to oxidize the bloodstain better, but it should be a last-resort thing.

As a reminder, anytime you’re cleaning up blood that’s not your own, you should wear gloves. Bloodborne pathogens are a real thing and are more common than you think.

Removing Old Stains from Carpet

You can’t always get to a stain right away, even if you have the best intentions. When it comes to removing old stains from carpet, the strategies are the same as above, but require more blotting and cleaning fluid than a fresh stain.

Remember that scrubbing won’t help, as it’s essentially rubbing the stain down deeper into the carpet. Always wear gloves if you’re unsure if the stain is a safe material or not, and call the professionals if you need help.

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