An easy guide on how to deal with the most common carpet stains. 

Mild solution

A lot of carpet stains can be removed quite successfully if they are treated immediately with the stain emergency routine: blotting, diluting, washing with a mild detergent solution followed by rinsing with clean water and lots of blotting dry using clean, dry cloths. Coffee and tea spills, white wine, blood, food (except curry), cola and other soft drinks should respond well to this treatment as long as it is done promptly but others may require something stronger.

Stronger solutions

  • vinegar — 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, apply with a sponge or cloth
  • white spirit — use neat on a clean cloth
  • commercial carpet stain remover — read and follow the instructions carefully. Apply on a clean cloth or a spare sample piece of the carpet.

Stronger methods

Follow the mild solution with further action:

  • chocolate, ketchup and red fruit stains may need a specialist stain remover
  • red wine — don’t put salt on it, blot instead with white wine or water followed by stain remover if necessary
  • grease — try the vinegar solution or white spirit
  • glue and solvent-based paint — white spirt on a piece of carpet or dry cloth
  • oil and tar — dissolve and remove using eucalyptus oil on a clean cloth followed by the mild solution treatment
  • vomit — mop or scrape up (a cake slice is useful) as quickly as possible, as stomach acids damage and bleach the colour out. If the mild solution doesn’t work – try vinegar or stain remover
  • chewing gum — harden it using a freezer pack, chip off and dig out. If that doesn’t work, soften the gum with a little petroleum-jelly and ease it off the fibres using your fingers
  • wax — harden and chip off surplus wax using a freezer pack as above. Remove any remaining wax using brown or kitchen paper and a warm iron (a small travel iron is ideal). Use a big piece of paper to prevent burning the carpet by accident.
  • trodden-in dirt often looks much worse than it is. Allow it to dry, vacuum up then use further stain-removal treatment as necessary
  • for natural fibres such as sisal, jute and seagrass, blot up any spills immediately and treat serious stains with special products as recommended, or supplied by the manufacturer and fitter. A cocktail stick is useful for digging out bits of spilt food or dirt
  • scorch marks — difficult to get rid out of, but trimming the damaged ends with scissors will make them less noticeable