The Best Homemade Carpet Cleaners For Every Kind of Stain

Before calling an expensive cleaning service to tackle your coffee, wine or ink stained rugs, try these do-it-yourself solutions.

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Homemade carpet cleaners - coffee stained rug
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DIY Carpet Stain Removers

The best DIY carpet stain remover depends entirely on what type of stain you’re dealing with. Cleaning up coffee and cleaning up ink require completely different approaches. The good news? Everything you might need to tackle any carpet mess is probably already in your cupboards. No matter which solution you’ll need, be sure to dab at the stain and not rub it. Rubbing the stain into your carpeting will only spread the particles and make the stain worse. Get a clean, preferably pale cloth, and use the following DIY carpet stain removers to attack your toughest rug stains.

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Homemade carpet cleaner - bottles of beer
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Best carpet spot cleaner for coffee and tea: Beer

Getting that coffee or tea stain out of your rug may seem impossible, but you can literally lift it out by pouring a bit of beer right on top. Rub the beer lightly into the material, and the stain should disappear. You may have to repeat the process a couple of times to remove all traces of the stain.

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Lift out stains from carpeting and upholstery by sponging them with a solution of 250 mL (1 cup) clear ammonia in 2 litres (1/2 gallon) warm water. Let dry thoroughly, and repeat if needed.

Check out more amazing uses for ammonia all around the house.

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What to do with old corks - vinegar bottle
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Vinegar is the superhero of stain removal (and cleaning in general). Try these different formulas for homemade carpet cleaner to tackle a variety of common stains:

  • Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in ½ cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum.
  • For tough, ground-in dirt and other stains, make a paste of 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and rub it into the stain using a dry cloth. Let it set for two days, then vacuum.
  • For spilled paint, use a solution of 1½ teaspoons vinegar, 1½ teaspoons laundry detergent, and 2 cups water; sponge away the paint before it sets and rinse with cold water.
  • For fruit and fruit juice stains, mix 1 tablespoon laundry detergent with 1½ tablespoons white vinegar and combine with 2 cups of water. Work the solution into the stain and blot.
  • For coffee and tea stains, combine equal parts white vinegar and water and blot the stain.

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Homemade carpet cleaner - shaving foam in hand
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Shaving cream

Your little one is very sorry for spilling a little juice on the carpet, so make it “all better” with some shaving cream on the spot. Blot the stain, pat it with a wet sponge, squirt some shaving cream on it, and then wipe clean with a damp sponge. Shaving cream also works great on grease and oil stains; simply work the cream into the stain, let dry, and rub off with a damp soft cloth.

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Homemade carpet cleaner - cornstarch
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Cornstarch (and milk)

Oh no, ink on the carpet! In this case, a little spilled milk might save you from crying. Mix the milk with cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the ink stain. Allow the homemade carpet stain remover to dry on the carpet for a few hours, then brush off the dried residue and vacuum it up. Cornstarch is also great for soaking up grease and oil stains. Sprinkle the spots liberally, let sit for several hours, and vacuum up.

Read on to find out more clever uses for cornstarch.

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Why restaurants put rice in salt shaker
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Best multi-tasking homemade carpet cleaner: Salt

Use a sprinkle of salt to boost the power of another homemade carpet stain remover:

  • Don’t panic if you spill red wine on your white carpet. While the red wine is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the colour. Then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area with salt and wait about 10 minutes. Now vacuum up the whole mess.
  • For greasy food stains on carpet, mix up 1 part salt to 4 parts rubbing alcohol and rub it hard on the grease stain, being careful to rub in the direction of the rug’s natural nap. (Find out more handy uses for rubbing alcohol.)
  • Ketchup spill on your carpet? Act fast because once this one dries, it will be nearly impossible to get out. Sprinkle salt over the spill, let sit for a few minutes, and vacuum. Sponge up any residue and continue salting and vacuuming until the stain is completely gone.
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Cans of WD40 on store shelf
Photo: Ismail Sadiron Pictures /

Another DIY carpet cleaner for ink spills: WD-40

Don’t let ink or other stains ruin your carpet. Spray the stain with WD-40, wait a minute or two, and then use your regular carpet cleaner or gently cleanse with a sponge and warm, soapy water. Continue until the stain is completely gone.

Check out 25 cleaning hacks for hard-to-remove stuff.

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Mystery stain on carpet
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Best homemade carpet cleaner for mystery stains: Hydrogen peroxide

Can’t tell what that stain is? Don’t worry, DIY carpet stain removers can tackle mystery messes, too. Try this sure-fire homemade carpet stain remover: Mix a teaspoon of 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide with a little cream of tartar or a dab of non-gel toothpaste. Rub the paste on the stain with a soft cloth. Rinse. The stain, whatever it was, should be gone.

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Homemade carpet cleaner - baking soda
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Best DIY carpet cleaners for vomit and urine: Baking soda

Out of all homemade carpet cleaners, baking soda is your best choice for vomit or urine stains. Wipe up what you can, then pour baking soda over the affected area and pat with a paper towel. Let the homemade mixture dry completely before vacuuming up the residue. Baking soda will help clean, sanitize, and deodorize the messy spot. Baking soda can also be used to lift grease stains when combined with equal parts salt. Sprinkle the mixture over the grease spot, and use a stiff brush to work the powdery concoction into the spot. Let sit for 4 or 5 hours and then vacuum up to completely remove the stain.

Did you know about these other brilliant uses for baking soda?

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Uses for club soda - Club soda in a cocktail
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Club soda

Club soda works wonders on pet urine and other tough stains. Immediately blot up excess urine with paper towels, then soak with club soda, blot again, and scrub with diluted carpet shampoo. Club soda also removes spilled coffee and tea stains; simply pour liberally over the stain and blot to dry.

Discover more uses for club soda you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Ice cubes in tray
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Best DIY carpet cleaner for gum: Ice cubes

Chewing gum somehow end up stuck to the fibres of your carpet? Reach into your freezer for a quick fix. Place several ice cubes in a sealed sandwich bag, and set it on top of the gum. Once the gum has cooled down enough to solidify, try scraping it loose with a butter knife.

Here are more clever uses for ice cubes.

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Toothbrushes in cup
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Best tool to make the job a bit easier: Toothbrush

Removing a carpet stain can be a pain, especially one that has soaked deep down into soft fibres. To remove those deeply set stains, try using a soft-bristled nylon toothbrush, dabbing it gently to work in the stain-removing agent until the stain is gone.

Now that you’ve got these DIY carpet stain removers under your belt, check out 50 dollar store solutions to life’s little dilemmas.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest