The Elliott rug, part of the Marika Meyer Collection for Galleria Carpets & Rugs.

Carpet Cleaning 101

Expert advice on protecting your rugs when accidents happen

When it comes to carpet cleaning, not all fibers and constructions are equal. That also goes for stains. Below, Paul Pearce, technical director of the National Carpet Cleaners Association, suggests treating stains as quickly as possible through blotting, then employing a treatment specific to the substance spilled. Below is Pearce’s list of treatments for the most common spills.

Coffee and Wine—Apply pressure with absorbent towels, turning or replacing them regularly. Spray diluted carpet shampoo and blot, repeating as required. Leave sheets of paper towel on the wet carpet overnight, then vacuum.

Blood—For small amounts, dab with cold water to remove as much as possible. Use cold water in a hand sprayer, apply and repeat the blotting process. Then use a dilution of carpet shampoo and water and repeat.

Mud—Allow to dry, then vacuum. If there’s any residue, spray diluted carpet shampoo and blot, repeating as required. Leave sheets of paper towel on the wet carpet overnight to dry, then vacuum.

Food—These stains can combine oil and water. Remove excess food by using a blunt knife or spoon, then vacuum. Blot with mineral spirits to remove any oil-based stains, apply diluted carpet shampoo, blot again and repeat as required. Leave sheets of paper towel on the wet carpet overnight to dry,
then vacuum.

Pet Mess—Blot liquid with absorbent towels. Apply pressure and turn or replace the towels regularly. Mix two parts white vinegar and two parts water, spray on the carpet and blot again. Then spray with diluted carpet shampoo, blot and repeat. Leave sheets of paper towel on the wet carpet overnight to dry, then vacuum.

Cosmetics—It’s difficult to know where to start with cosmetics as some are oily, some water-soluble and some a combination of both. Start with white vinegar or surgical spirit; apply to a clean white towel and blot. Remove as much of the stain as you can by turning or changing the towel. If it persists, proceed with a dilution of carpet shampoo and water as above.

Oily Stains—Treat with white vinegar on a cloth, use it to blot the stain, then repeat as necessary. Be careful: Over-applying solvents such as white vinegar can wear away the backing of the carpet over time.