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University of Illinois Extension

General Solutions for Carpet


Neutral detergent

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  1. Mix one teaspoon of a mild detergent containing no alkali or bleaches with one cup of lukewarm water. Blot the stained area.
  2. Mix one-third cup of white vinegar with two-thirds cup of water. Blot.
  3. Repeat step one.
  4. Sponge the stained area with clean water. Blot.

Detergent solution

Mix one fourth (1/4) teaspoon of a liquid dishwashing detergent per one (1) cup of lukewarm water. Never use a stronger concentration. Thorough rinsing is necessary to remove detergent residues that may cause rapid soiling. It may be necessary to rinse with warm water several times to completely remove residues. (See Residue Precautions.)

Care should be used in selecting a detergent. Never use a laundry detergent of any type, because laundry detergents may contain optical brighteners (fluorescent dyes) that dye the fiber. Do not select an automatic dishwashing detergent, because many contain bleaching agents that can destroy dyes and some fibers.

Vinegar solution

Mix one (1) cup of white vinegar per two (2) cups of water. White vinegar is a 5 percent acetic acid solution. It is used most often to lower the alkalinity caused by detergent solutions or alkaline spills.

Ammonia solution

Mix two (2) tablespoons of household ammonia per one (1) cup of water.

Warm water

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Lukewarm tap water should be used in most cases to rinse the cleaning solutions from the fiber. Failure to completely rinse the solutions from the fiber may cause accelerated soiling.

Spot removal kit

The kit is available from most carpet retail or discount stores. Follow the directions closely. Some spot removal kits contain: (A) a detergent solutions and (B) a stain-resistant solution. Use of the (B) solution prior to the complete removal of the spill may cause a permanent stain. Other spot removal kits may contain a dry extraction-cleaning compound that can be used effectively for most common household stains.

Call a professional

Professional cleaners have the ability and the equipment to use more aggressive cleaning solutions to remove stubborn spills. Always consider consulting a professional cleaner regarding any spot removal question.

Residue precautions

Many spot removal solutions leave residues in the carpet that may attract soil. Thoroughly rinse the area several times with lukewarm tap water. A mist type sprayer is recommended to prevent over wetting the area. Blot with paper towels and pat dry after each rinse. Several rinses are often necessary to thoroughly remove residues. Never use any of the solutions in concentrations stronger than those recommended.

Good luck, the faster you act the better chance you have of removal.