4 Common Stains and How to Remove Them

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  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 1-10
What You'll Need
Liquid detergent
Club soda
Non-oil-based hairspray
Baking soda
Bristle brush

Once your carpet or furniture becomes stained, it suddenly looks old, shabby and ugly. Keep your home looking beautiful by learning how to remove the most common household stains. Because no matter what you do, stains happen. But for every stain, there is a way to defeat it.

1. Pet Urine

A pet stain on carpet.

It's going to happen, no matter how quick your reflexes or how honed your training technique. At some point, even the best pets are going to stain your home. When stains are still fresh, absorb as much of the urine as you can with paper towels and blot it multiple times with plain water.

But chances are, the stain won't be fresh. Usually, you won't discover these stains until they've already dried or started to dry. When that happens, do not under any circumstances reach for a steam cleaner. The heat of a steam cleaner will make the stain set permanently, and the only thing that will work at that point is replacing the carpeting. You also want to stay away from harsh chemical cleaners that contain ammonia or vinegar. The strong odor left behind will actually make your pet want to urinate in this area even more.

Get a commercial odor neutralizer, and get to work on cleaning that stain. First, dilute a little liquid detergent in clean water (about 1 teaspoon of detergent to 1 cup of water). Blot the area thoroughly with the cleaning solution. Repeat this as many times as necessary to completely remove the stain. Once that's done, use your odor neutralizer to remove all traces of urine smell. This way, your pet won't feel the need to soil the area again.

2. Coffee

A coffee stain on carpet.

It's a must-have in the mornings, but coffee isn't so great when it's all over your carpet or upholstery. Before you go to work on the stain, dampen it with cold water. While the stain is still wet, cover it with the stain remover of your choice. Club soda works well to remove coffee. If you haven't got any on hand, try a light-colored beer. You don't need a lot, just enough to dampen the entire stain.

Blot the area gently with a clean, dry cloth until the coffee stain disappears. You may need to apply your soda or beer multiple times before the entire stain is gone.

3. Permanent Marker

A man holds a permanent marker.

Permanent marker stains do not have to be permanent. Dampen the entire stained area with clean water. While it's still wet, spray it completely with a non-oil-based hairspray. Blot gently. Do not rub the stain with a paper towel. It should begin to come up. You may need to douse the area with hairspray multiple times before the entire stain is gone. Once it is, use water to clean away all the hairspray or the cloth fibers will become hardened when dry.

4. Food Grease

A grease stain on a shirt.

Food grease can leave ugly, discolored stains on anything fabric, but they can be treated pretty easily with other items you have in your kitchen. Treat the stain as soon as possible with baking soda or cornstarch. This will soak up some of the grease and leave you with less to clean. Let the powder sit on the stain for at least three minutes before you vacuum it all up.

Next, take a little bit of plain dish soap (preferably one that's clear in color) and gently dab it onto the stain with a clean, wet cloth. Keep doing this until all the grease is gone, and rinse the area with plain water. This method works with oil-based butter and margarine as well.

Removing Stains

A woman cleans a stain on a couch.

Stains happen, but it’s a fact that stains can be removed, too. If you don’t know what type of stain you’re treating, begin by wetting down the stain. Rub a little liquid soap or detergent onto the stain with a soft-bristled brush, blot it, and rinse it. If you’re persistent with stains, you can get rid of them and get your home back to looking perfect.