Carpet Stain Prevention and Treatment

melted blue popsicle stain in carpet
  • 1-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-250

Carpet stains can make your home look dirty and dingy, and scrubbing them out can take a lot of time and effort. Keep your carpets looking fresh and new by preventing stains to begin with.

Purchase a Stain-Resistant Treatment

Most new carpets come with a stain-resistant treatment. If your carpet doesn’t have that already applied, you can purchase a product like Scotchguard in a can and apply it yourself. While it won't prevent all stains, it will go a long way in protecting your carpet and will make stains easier to get out.

Vacuum Often

Frequent vacuuming can help reduce stains by removing dirt and debris that you may not be able to see. Dirt can have an abrasive effect like sandpaper on your carpet, and leaving it unattended can cause unsightly damage and permanent darkening over time.

Purchase Plastic Carpet-Runners

Areas that have more traffic attract dirt faster than other areas. While you can rent steam cleaners at many chain grocery stores, consider purchasing plastic carpet-runners that will prevent stains to begin with. These are clear and made of a non-slip plastic or rubber material. They also generally have “feet” or “teeth” on the underside to keep them in place on top of your carpet. These are an inexpensive, preventative asset if you have pets or children.

Warning: Some plastic carpet-runners have latex undersides that can cause a lighter-colored carpet to yellow. If you have a lighter carpet, purchase a rubber carpet-runner or one that does not have this latex underside.

Treat Spills Promptly

There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent spills, but you can help control the damage caused by spills by giving them prompt attention. Clean them quickly and never rub anything on the spill; this can cause the liquid to set into the fibers and create a long-lasting stain. Instead, use a clean towel and dab up any excess moisture. Usually some cold water and a towel or cloth will bring most of the spill up. If this doesn’t work, use any spray or powder stain remover or a natural cleaner like vinegar. Follow the directions carefully to avoid further damaging the carpet. Keep in mind that removing old stains from a carpet will require alternate methods.

If you're concerned about caustic cleaning products, you've got plenty of environmentally friendly options, many of which you can make yourself.

Hire a Professional Cleaner

Even if you take good care of your carpets, it’s still a good idea to have them cleaned by professionals periodically. Once a year is enough, but if you have pets or children, you might want to get them cleaned quarterly. When you choose a professional carpet cleaner, check the company's ratings with the Better Business Bureau. Also, ask for references and consider suggestions from family and friends.

Be sure you understand which process the professional cleaner will use. Some cleaners use a dry chemical solution that will require you stay off the carpet for a certain period of time, often hours. Others might use a wet process that will also require you to stay off the cleaned area for a certain amount of time. Keep in mind that with the wet process, it can be hard to tell how clean the carpet is until after it completely dries, so familiarize yourself with the company's warranties and policies on re-cleaning if necessary.