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How to Remove Carpet Stains

Viva® Towels | January 10 , 2024 | 7 min Read
remove carpet stains by vivatowels

Learn how to remove carpet stains (yes, even stubborn ones!) with Viva®’s easy step-by-step guide and pro cleaning tips

Whether it's a spilled glass of red wine, a muddy paw print, or a smear of chocolate left by the kids, carpet stains are bound to happen. Whatever the cause, the durable, cloth-like cleaning power of Viva® Signature Cloth™ paper towels can help you remove carpet stains in no time.

Our team at Viva® has seen its fair share of spills and stains, so we've put together a step-by-step guide on how to remove even the toughest ones—from coffee and wine, to oil, ink, and more.

Our guide sets out everything you need to know to get your carpets looking pristine again, including must-have tools and supplies to have on hand, as well as some pro cleaning tips to keep in mind. Grab your Viva® Signature Cloth™ paper towels—and let's get to work!

Tackle tough carpet stains with these cleaning supplies

Removing a carpet stain is relatively easy when you have the right tools at the ready. Viva®’s step-by-step process works for all types of stains and uses simple supplies you’ll most likely find around your home.

To follow along with our guide, stock up on the items below. You’ll use different combinations of these tools and supplies depending on the type of stain you’re trying to remove.

Cleaning tools:

  • Viva® Signature Cloth™ paper towels
  • Small bowl for mixing cleaning paste
  • Thin spatula, butter knife, or credit card
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Small, resealable plastic bag
  • Vacuum

Cleaning supplies:

  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Clear liquid dish soap
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Ice

Avoid stain removing pitfalls with our top four cleaning tips

Stick to white paper towels: Using a patterned paper towel or colored cloth to remove carpet stains could cause a reaction that transfers dye to your carpet. Viva® Signature Cloth™ paper towels are completely colorless. Plus, they’re the softest and most durable towel* to take on even the toughest stains.

Start with a test patch: Always test a small, inconspicuous spot before applying any carpet cleaning treatment, in case it alters the color or texture of your rug.

Blot, don’t rub: Rubbing stains can make them more difficult to remove by making the substance sink deeper into carpet fibers. It can also damage carpet fibers and loops. To keep your carpet intact, always clean with a gentle blotting motion.

Work from the outside in: Always blot using paper towels starting on the outside of the stain and moving inward. This helps contain the stain. (If you blot inside-out, you risk spreading the stain.)

Follow our step-by-step process to vanish carpet stains

Step 1: Determine the type of stain.

When removing carpet stains, time is usually of the essence. But whether your stain is wet or dried-on, you’ll want to take a moment to figure out what kind of stain you’re working with before you start cleaning. Otherwise, you may end up making the situation worse.

There are two main types of stains: water-soluble and non-water soluble. Knowing which type of stain you have on your hands will make it a lot easier to clean, and help you avoid any mishaps.

  • Water-soluble stains come out more easily, and include washable ink, milk, latex paint, berries, and mud.

  • Non-water soluble stains are more stubborn, and include wine, chocolate, coffee, and tea. While common, most non-water soluble stains can’t be removed using soap and water alone—so it’s important to pick the right method (more on that below)!

Step 2: Lift, blot, and remove excess liquid or debris.

Once you’ve figured out what kind of stain you’re working with, the first step is to blot or scrape away any excess liquid or debris. This will help you to avoid spreading the stain or working it further into the carpet fibers.

  • For wet carpet stains and spills, place several layers of Viva® Signature Cloth™ paper towel on top of the stain and start blotting from the outside in. Continue blotting until the cloth no longer picks up any color or moisture. To stop the stain from spreading, use fresh paper towels every time they become soiled.

  • For solid carpet stains, scrape away any excess solids with a spatula, credit card, or butter knife. Pluck the debris from the carpet using your fingers, and then vacuum up any remaining particles.

Step 3: Remove the stain with the appropriate method.

Now that you’ve cleared any excess out of the way, it’s time to pick the best cleaning solution and method for the type of stain you’re working with. To help you cover your bases, we’ve set out the most effective cleaning method for the most common types of carpet stain.

Common water-soluble stains

  • Mud: Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 1 cup of cold water and 2 tablespoons of clear dish soap. Spray the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes before blotting with a clean paper towel. Repeat until the stain is gone.

  • Soda: Mix together a 1/2 cup of cold water and a 1/4 teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent in a spray bottle. Spray onto the stain and then blot away using a paper towel. Leave to dry, then vacuum the area.

  • Ink: Dampen a paper towel with isopropyl alcohol and blot the stain until it doesn’t bring up any color. Repeat on each section of the stain until it is gone.

  • Berries: Mix 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with 2 cups of lukewarm water in a small bowl. Dip a paper towel into the solution and blot the stain until no color transfers onto the towel.

Common non water-soluble stains

  • Red wine or juice: First try removing the stain with isopropyl alcohol and a Viva® Signature Cloth™ paper towel. If this doesn’t work well, blot the stain with hydrogen peroxide and pat repeatedly with paper towels until the stain is gone, using fresh sheets for each round.

  • Coffee or tea: In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Apply the solution using a paper towel. Let sit for 5 minutes, then gently blot for 5 minutes. Spray the stain with clean water and repeat until it is removed. Change paper towels as they become saturated.

  • Fat-based stains (butter, margarine, oil, etc.): Sprinkle baking soda on the stain and let it sit for 6 hours. Next, vacuum up the debris. Then blot using a clean paper towel dampened with isopropyl alcohol. Continue blotting until the stain is gone.

  • Chocolate: Fill a resealable plastic bag with ice cubes and dab over the stain until it hardens. Scrape up and vacuum away any remaining debris. In a clean spray bottle, mix ¼ teaspoon of dish soap with 1 cup of warm water. Spray the stain and use clean paper towels to blot the stain. Spray again and let sit for 5 minutes. Repeat until the stain is gone.

  • Candle wax: Fill a small plastic bag with ice and dab over the wax until it hardens. Break up the wax and lift it away using a spatula, credit card, or butter knife. Vacuum debris and treat the spot with a paper towel dampened with isopropyl alcohol. Dab the spot until it is gone. Blot with dry paper towels to dry.

  • Gum: Scrape off as much gum as possible. Fill a resealable plastic bag with ice cubes and dab over the remaining gum until it hardens. Scrape and vacuum away any debris. Then blot using a clean paper towel dampened with isopropyl alcohol. Repeat blotting until the stain is gone.

  • Urine: Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a clean spray bottle. Spray the stain, then sprinkle with baking soda and let sit for 1 hour. Vacuum up the debris. If the stain hasn’t improved, mix 2 tablespoons of clear dish soap with 1 cup of cold water and apply to the stain. Blot with a paper towel until the stain is gone.

Once you’re done treating your stain as recommended above, finish up by blotting away any residual cleaning solutions with a paper towel dipped in clean water. Then, soak up any excess moisture with a dry paper towel and leave to dry.

Now that you know how to magic away some of the most common (and most stubborn!) carpet stains, you’re well on your way to becoming a carpet cleaning pro. With a little help from Viva® Signature Cloth™ paper towels, you'll be able to tackle any carpet stain that comes your way, and keep your home looking its best.

* when wet vs. nationally branded towels