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carpet cleaning emergency solutions

‘Old Wives’ Tale’ Concoctions for Carpet Emergencies

Grandmother always knew how to get stains out of the carpets and clothing without resorting to any ‘newfangled’ treatments on the market. She didn’t need the hottest hoover or most expensive washer/dryer. She didn’t look for the new products at the supermarket, and the travelling salesman never made it through her front door.

She knew what to do. She always used the ‘tried and true’ methods—baking soda and elbow grease, or white vinegar. So when you have a carpet emergency, emulate grandma because she knew best.

Basic rules!

When treating , remember these three things: always spot test in an inconspicuous place when trying any new cleaning methods to avoid total ruin, never, ever, ever rub or scrub the soiled material, and there’s always soap (NOT dish soap) and water.

Pongy smells!

Do you have a persistent smell in the carpet? Vaporise it with bicarbonate of soda. Sprinkle and leave it for at least 15 minutes, but if the smell is a persistent one, leave the powdered carpet for an hour or so then vacuum it all away.

After the soda and hoovering, try sprinkling lemon juice around to freshen the carpets even more.

Stubborn stains! 

Do you have a stubborn stain? 1:3 parts white vinegar to water is the magic formula. Make sure that you spot test your carpet first. Remember never, ever, ever rub or scrub a stain. Using a spritzer spray bottle, mist your carpet stain and leave for a few minutes. Then take a clean microfibre cloth and blot the stain away (hopefully).

Once the carpet has dried, if you have time, move your furniture around and sprinkle that bicarbonate of soda liberally on the whole of your carpet and let it be overnight (or as long as possible). Vacuum up the soda completely.

Of course, you should never leave a smelly or soiled carpet for any length of time. Immediate action is always best but not always possible (knows anyone with a child or pet) .

Ever heard of ironing your carpet? Probably not. But it might be that ironing your carpet proves to be a great pre-treatment. Legend has it that you should soak a cloth or flannel in water, lay it over the stain and then iron the cloth. (Be careful—the iron will be hot!) 

You will increase your chances of success if you can use a carpet cleaner before you do your ironing. After ironing, you will need to clean your carpet as per normal. The ironing approach is about loosening up the stain and lifting it for removal.

“Out damned spot!” 

Blood—if wet

Blot it very carefully (remembering the rule to never, ever, ever rub or scrub the stain). Use paper towels for this mess to remove as much as possible to prevent further seepage. Apply cold soapy water to the area with a white cloth. 


Blot and rinse until the cloth is no longer transferring red or pink colour. Make sure you are rinsing out the cloth properly before reapplying to the carpet. If the stain is large, work from outward to the middle of the stain. You must repeat this process until the blood has diluted and disappeared.

Blood—if dry

Use a stiff-bristled brush to loosen the blood, but don’t spread it around. Hoover up the dry blood flakes before applying cold soapy water as with the treatment of wet blood and repeat the above-mentioned process.

When blood won’t budge

Mix a paste of 1:2 parts baking powder to water and blot the carpet with a cloth. Leave it to rest for half an hour before wiping off the dross. If the mixture has dried, you can hoover up the residual mess.

If baking soda hasn’t done the job then you might have to break out the big guns – ammonia. The recipe is a one-half cup of warm water and one tablespoon of household ammonia. Sponge the concoction onto the marked carpet and then blot with paper towels until it is nearly dry. Use a clean sponge dipped in cold water and apply only to the stain. Pat it dry.

Red, red, wine

For starters, it is always a sad moment for pause when the wine is spilt. After the reverential moment of silence, get your gears grinding, because that stain is not going to disappear by itself.

Go to the kitchen, not for white wine, because why waste more wine? White wine does not take out the red. Perhaps this was a prohibition trick, but it does not work.

Instead, grab the kitchen roll. Be gentle and take your time to pat up the blotch. Remember pressure is good; friction is bad. Stand on top of the paper towel to get up excess liquid.

Thereafter, take some mild clothing detergent – a gentle one for woollen fabric is best. Mix a teaspoon of it with half a pint of warm water, and 1-2 teaspoons of white vinegar. Apply the concoction a soft cloth and dampen the affected carpet. Again, you want to blot from the outside into the stain. Don’t oversaturate the carpet. Then blot the carpet again with just water to rinse.

Place several layers of paper towel over the area and take a waterproof weight of some description to place over top and leave overnight. If there is still a residual stain, you can repeat the process or call a professional carpet cleaner.

Sticky stuff

Chewing gum on the carpet? Gum is fun until it gets stuck somewhere it never should have been. Depending on the colour of your carpet, i.e. light colours like cream, reach for the peanut butter jar. It does seem strange, but the old wives’ tale insists. A couple of tablespoons of this yummy spread will help remove the mess. But caution, you then have to clean up the peanut butter.

If there is any remaining gum, a wire brush should get the little leftovers off of the carpet.

The peanut butter remedy might be hard to come to terms with. You can always try freezing the gum first. Take an ice pack and put over the gum. When hard, try breaking apart the clump with a spoon, fork, or dull butter knife. Can repeat the process until all the gum has come away.

The bottom line

If you insist on tackling the stains yourself, remember the basics above, and ask yourself ‘What would Grandma do?” But also remember that professionals exist for a reason and not all of them are travelling salesmen, charlatans, with the latest gimmick. 

If you have tried your best to get out the stains but have had no joy, google a pro, pick up the phone and give them a call. They are waiting to help save your carpet from disaster.

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