Carpets are often something we overlook when cleaning our homes, sure we run a vacuum cleaner over them at the same time as dusting and sweeping the tiled floors but how often do we really clean those carpets? We change the wallpaper or paint on a regular basis, but how often do we change out carpets? But when you think about it, carpets see more traffic than our walls do by a long way; all those dirty shoes, the kids rolling around with mud, grass, and food all over them.
Then there is playtime; the paint, crayons, sequins, and glue that invariably end up lying on or in our carpets, getting ingrained over the course of years. And don’t get me started on the marks left by our four-legged friends and their various messes.
It helps if you can first identify the stains that you are trying to remove, but it is not essential as we will cover a variety of different household stains to get your carpets looking fresh and clean. All of the methods we’re including shouldn’t take you too long to apply, but it’s best that you devote enough time to getting this done for the best results.
Tips on Getting Paint out of Carpet
Before beginning work on your carpets ensure that all children and pets are away from the areas you are going to be working in and that you will be able to ventilate the rooms for a period of time while you work and after you have finished allowing any fumes to dissipate and the air to be safe for those at home.
When removing dried on paint, you will need to work in stages so ensure that you have enough time to take all of the necessary steps before beginning the process. First, we’re going to target the crusty paint that has dried onto the surface of the carpet, the part you can see and feel immediately underfoot.
To remove the dried on paint stains use a paint removal agent, ensuring there is no bleach or other chemicals that could ruin the fibers of the carpet. (If in doubt do a patch test on a piece of unseen carpet.) Once this has been generously applied to the paint stains on the carpet, allow a short period for this to soak into the paint. Then, use a flat edged implement to lift as much of the paint from the carpet as possible. Make sure not to dig into the carpet too hard or deep as this would ruin the carpet and you would need to replace it. Make sure you clean the implement you are using regularly to ensure you don’t just spread the stains to other areas of the carpet.
Once you’ve cleared the surface areas of the paint you next need to target the stains on the fibers. This is the parts of the paint that have dried further down throughout the carpet. We’ve found the easiest way to do this is with your standard dishwashing soap. Mix this with hot water, preferably in a spray bottle and apply sparingly to the carpet – you want this to wet the carpet enough that you can work with the fibers but not so much that it will soak the bottom layer of the carpet or you risk doing all of this only to cause mold to grow and a replacement carpet to become necessary.
Once the soapy mixture has been applied, you should use an undyed cloth to dab at the carpet to remove the stain – be prepared for this to be time-consuming and for it to cost you a number of these cloths. We’ve found undyed cloths to be the only way to do this satisfactorily as using dyed cloths can transfer the dye from the cloth onto your carpet instead of the stain to the cloth. Obviously, this is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve, so it would not be beneficial.
Once you have removed all of the stains, you need to wait a minimum of an hour for the work you have done to show as your carpet will need to dry. If after the carpet has dried, the stains are still showing repeat the above steps until the carpet is clean.
Next, we’re going to look at getting those tougher pet stains out of the carpet. For this type of stain, you will need heavier-duty cleaning materials such as household ammonia. Fair warning, this one is not something you will want to do with pets or small children in the house, and you are going to need to leave time for this to air out afterward.
We recommend opening the windows before making a start to ensure that air is circulating throughout the room and home so make sure you are doing this on a dry and where possible breezy day.
The smell won’t linger for too long once you’ve finished the work, but it is not a pleasant substance to work with, so you may want to cover your nose and mouth for comfort’s sake, but this is not essential. To make up the solution mix two tablespoons of unscented household ammonia into one cup of hot water and spray onto the stains – again making sure you don’t spray too much or too deeply into the carpet but enough to ensure the fibers are coated.
The best way we have found to get the coating onto the fibers is by using a stiff-bristled scrubbing brush. After applying the solution, allow it to soak into the fibers for a minimum of an hour. Again before doing this, you may want to use a test swatch on an unseen piece of carpet to ensure that there is no damage depending on the type of carpet you have.
Following the ammonia soaking, get those clean, undyed cloths back out to work over the new areas blotting the stains. Once the stains have been removed, use a damp undyed cloth over the same areas to ensure all leftover ammonia has been neutralized. You have one more step left to go now, and that’s those unidentified stains and final cleaning of the carpet to remove the chemicals you’ve been using.
Our final steps are to remove the stains you just can’t know for sure what they are, and let’s face it we’ve all had a few of those in our time. We’ve found that one of the best ways to remove these stains is by using the ammonia tip from above combined with heat. Ensure your iron is full of water and set to steam (make sure you use the right heat level for the type of carpets you have – high for wool and low for synthetic/nylon).
Get out those clean, undyed cloths again and place over the stain, steam the stain for no more than 20 seconds, making sure your iron is constantly moving to avoid sticking and burning your carpet. Ensure you are always using clean parts of the cloths as the ammonia and heat will move the stain onto the cloth and the last thing you want is to put it straight back onto your carpet in a different location.
So, you’re almost done! Now that you have treated each stain individually, you’ll see that your carpet looks cleaner but patchy – there will be parts that look cleaner than others because you have addressed only the stained sections. So now, you need to clean the whole carpet, time to get the shampoo out. If you already have a carpet cleaner that’s a great start. If not you can hire them for a reasonable price if you shop around and you can often choose how long you keep the equipment for.
Firstly, use just plain hot water, you have already applied multiple cleaning products to your carpet and there will still be quite a bit of moisture on the carpet so make sure you cover the whole carpet and especially the parts you’ve used ammonia on as you don’t want that resting in the carpet for too long.
Secondly, use the carpet cleaner again and use a mixture of one part white wine vinegar to three parts water and go over the stains again, this will neutralize any leftover residues from the chemicals and will ensure those stains are treated thoroughly. Ensure that you leave a little while longer for the carpet to dry out as you’ve used so many products one after another, and of course ensure that all products you use are safe for those in your home, whether that’s humans or animals.
Finally, use your usual cleaning regime on your carpets once everything is dried and you will see the difference without those stains.