Stain removal - what to do first
First reactions to stains are important. You probably have a stain removal kit on hand (see below), but don't launch in straight away. Before you read 'A to Z of stain remedies' consider the following hints first.
Always try to clear a stain as soon as possible. Many stains set if they are
left for a long time or allowed to dry out.
Do not apply heat as it acts as a setting agent on many stains.
Crayon, candlewax and gum are easier to remove after being frozen with ice.
Do not scrub fabrics with a stiff brush. Let the recommended solutions work
with gentle hand rubbing to avoid stretching or tearing the fabric fibres.
Liquids on carpet should be soaked up first with paper towels. Replace the
towels frequently until all surface liquid is absorbed.
Do not rub or push the liquid into the carpet. Add lukewarm water and blot
again until the stain fades.
Do not soak the carpet with water — if the carpet backing becomes wet it may cause new staining.
Apply the appropriate remedy to any residue using a clean cloth rather than
pouring it onto the carpet. Work inwards from the edge of the stain. Afterwards,
spray with water and blot with a paper towel.
Large or stubborn stains may need to be treated by a professional carpet
cleaner. Some stains permanently change the carpet's colour and can’t be
treated. In this instance it might be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to
invest in the long-dreamed-of new carpet, or you may need to get the stained
Stain removal kit
Keep these supplies on hand for common stains:
(For specific remedies, see A to Z of stain remedies.)
Paper towels or an absorbent cloth
Absorbent powder such as talcum or cornflour
A pre-wash laundry soaker
A mild acid such as white vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar
A neutral household detergent
Cloudy ammonia (great for greasy stains, has no bleaching effect)
A chlorine bleach, i.e. household bleach
Ice cubes and a plastic bag
A lubricating agent, e.g. vaseline
An alcohol-based solvent, e.g. methylated spirits
A fat or oil solvent, such as white spirits, turpentine, or kerosene
A can of dry-cleaner (for use only on dry surfaces only), e.g. perchlorethylene, available from a supermarket, grocery or hardware store
Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
Glycerine and oil of eucalyptus.
'Handmade soap' and
'A to Z of stain remedies'