How to Remove Stains from a Carpet

Using a carpet cleaner, with dedicated carpet shampoo, is by far the easiest way to tackle stains. But there are other methods which may be better for the type of stain, or how old the stain is.

Despite the popularity of hardwood and laminate, carpet is still in many of our homes. It can make a room feel warmer and helps with soundproofing.

Even if you don’t have carpet, you’ll probably still have rugs or similar in rooms.

Unfortunately, muddy footprints, spilt drinks, dropped food, and goodness knows what else, are inevitable. And these often stain.

Don’t panic – Speedy’s guide will help you sort the stain in no time.

We have carpet cleaners and steam cleaners available for hire across the UK, as well as carpet cleaning solutions available to buy online and from our depots.

Depending on your carpet type and the actual stain, the approach may vary, so read on to see exactly what you will need.


Carpet stain removal methods

The first thing to do if the stain is a liquid stain is to soak up at much liquid as possible. Use kitchen paper, a clean cloth/towel, or an absorbent sponge.

Add cold water to the stain if it has started to dry. This will aid with blotting.

Speedy Top Tip: Don’t rub the stain! This will just disperse it further. Avoid using hot water, too. Just dab it with a dry cloth


1. Use a carpet cleaner

Most stains can be removed with a carpet cleaner. These give your carpet a deep clean using water and dedicated carpet shampoo.

The brush gets right into the fibres, offering a level of cleaning vacuum cleaners can’t. Do vacuum before using a carpet cleaner, however, to remove visible dirt.

If you use a carpet cleaner, you’ll probably actually be surprised at how dirty the rest of your carpet is too! Everything from dust to everyday dirt can make carpets dirty, and we often can’t see this dirt with the naked eye until one section is cleaned, and we compare the colours.

So, if you do hire a carpet cleaner, make the most of it. Don’t just focus on the stain; give your whole carpet a clean, too. If you do have any spot cleaning to do, most carpet cleaners have a handheld attachment.

Because carpet cleaners are wet extraction machines, they won’t saturate your carpet. But do check with the carpet manufacturer before using a carpet cleaner, as they can’t be used on some wools.

Here at Speedy, we have professional-grade machines available to hire, so it cuts out the need for professional carpet cleaning.



2. Use a steam cleaner

There are certain situations where a steam cleaner can remove stains, too. It works by dampening the stain again and agitating the fibres.

Sometimes, the stain may persist, as it depends on the type of stain, but it is well worth a try.

The added benefits are that it disinfects the carpet, so it can be beneficial to use a steam cleaner if the stain has been pet based, for instance. It is also chemical-free.


3. Carpet cleaning solution and cloth

In a lot of cases, the carpet cleaning solution you’d put in a carpet cleaning machine can be used directly on stains, without the machine.

Follow the instructions on the bottle, but usually, you just sponge the stain with the liquid. You may have to dilute it first.

The downside? It can mean a very damp carpet which needs to air dry. Unlike with a carpet cleaner, the stain isn’t drawn out of the carpet, it is just made less visible.

This can be a solution if you’ll be using a carpet cleaner machine eventually, however, and just need to bide some time.


4. Use a homemade solution

If it is an absolute emergency, and you have none of the above to hand, make your solution using household objects.

If still wet, use salt or baking soda on the stain to soak up the excess for a few hours, and then vacuum clean. Then, apply the homemade solution.

There are a couple of variations around, so try working your way through them to see what works on your carpet type:

  • ¼ warm water, 1⁄2 teaspoon of liquid detergent and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon of liquid detergent to 1 cup of warm water
  • Vinegar and baking soda in equal proportions to form a thick paste and then as warm water to turn into a thin liquid

Apply each of these to the stain with a cloth. Remember to dab, not rub.


Carpet removal by stain type

Occasionally, certain stubborn stains could be harder to budge. Or they may leave a smell behind.

Try a carpet cleaner first, but if that doesn’t work, try one of the tips below and then repeat the carpet cleaner.


Red wine

Step away from the white wine – it isn’t a cleaning agent.

Blot up as much of the stain as possible. Then pour a small amount of cool water onto the stain and continue blotting until as much liquid is removed as possible.

Make a 3-to-1 ratio of baking soda to water. This will form a paste. Apply this to the stain and allow it to dry, overnight if possible.

Vacuum in the morning and if some of the stain remains, use a carpet cleaning fluid by hand or in a machine.

The stain will be harder to remove if it has dried, or if it is on a deep pile carpet. So, act as soon as possible.



Mixing carpets with our early morning brain juice doesn't always end up well.

Blot up as much of the stain as possible, before mixing 1/2 tsp of liquid dish soap, 1/2 tsp of white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water in a small bowl. Using a clean cloth, sponge the stain until it fades.

Then, turn to your carpet cleaner machine to get rid of any remaining stain or moisture. The machine will also eliminate any remaining coffee smell (while it isn't the worst smell in the world, it isn't ideal).

This also works for spilled milk and other drinks, such as orange juice.


Cat & Dog Urine

On the subject of the worst stains in the world...the big issue with pet stains is that they also smell. Your pet can also be attracted to this smell, repeating the action.

Again, act ASAP. But we understand that these types of stains can be hard to spot until after a few days when you notice the smell.

If it is a fresh stain, blot as much up as possible with kitchen paper. Then mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and cold water in a clean spray bottle. The vinegar should evaporate the uric acid.

Spray liberally, leave for around 30 minutes, and soak up with microfibre cloths.

Cover with baking soda, allow to dry and then vacuum. This will neutalise any remaining smells.

If it’s an old stain, wet it with cold water first, then blot it. Then, do the above.

A steam cleaner will be able to get rid of any remaining smell and will also hygienically clean the carpet and area.

This technique also works on cat and dog poop. Obviously lift as much as possible up before neutralising and then steaming.



Makeup stains are an easy enough mistake to make when rushing about. The first thing to do is get all excess product removed from the carpet using a plastic scraper.

Mix a few drops of washing up liquid in a bowl with warm water and liberally soak the carpet to dissolve the stain and break down the oils. Use a dry cloth to dab up the excess water, but do not rub. Just press.

You can also use miscellar water, which naturally removes makeup from our faces and works just as well on carpet to break down the oils in makeup.

If any stain remains, use a carpet cleaner or steam cleaner afterwards.


Old stains

From the kids not telling you they spilt their drink last month, to old you not being able to face cleaning the carpet, you may need to remove old stains too.

While only a carpet cleaner will be able to get deep down into the fibres and extract the stain, you can make the stain less visible until you’re able to hire one.

Wet with cold water and soak up as much as possible. Then measure equal parts baking soda and vinegar into a gallon of water and mix well.

Use to blot up the rest of the stain. Depending on the carpet material and stain, this can have varying results, but baking soda and vinegar create an oxidising compound that helps break down existing stains.

If the stain is really old, you may want to try this as a pre-treatment option before using the carpet cleaner.




Yes. Speedy Hire, the UK's leading tool hire company, have a range of carpet cleaners for hire nationwide.

Speedy has more than 200 service centres across the nation, hire counters in selected B&Qs and nationwide 4-hour delivery, so you can trust us even in the most critical stain-related emergencies.

Open a Speedy account today for quicker checkout, saved details, and access to our full hire range.

Speedy in your pocket
Get a Speedy Account