First Aid for Carpets – Staining versus soiling

There is often confusion about the difference between soiling and staining carpet. The majority of stain complaints are actually soil related. For example, many sugar-based spills, such as soft drinks and coffee, leave a sugar residue after removal. This sticky residue readily attracts soil from ordinary shoe traffic, and the resulting discolored area appears to be a stain.

The same thing happens when spills are cleaned with a detergent solution, and the area is not sufficiently rinsed with plain water, leaving a sticky detergent residue. It is important to rinse thoroughly with water and blot dry after removing any spill.

Act quickly!

Many spills can be removed if immediate action is taken. What do you use to clean the spill? You should use the following items for cleaning spills on your carpet. It’s important to use only the items listed because many other household cleaners contain chemicals that may permanently damage your carpet: white cloths or white paper towels. Detergent Solution – Mix mild liquid detergent with water (no more than 1/4 teaspoon of detergent to 500ml of water).

A non-bleach liquid dishwashing detergent is recommended. Do not use detergents that are cloudy or creamy because they may leave a sticky residue: White Vinegar Solution – Mix 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water. Ammonia Solution – Neutralises odors, mix one tablespoon of household ammonia to one 100ml of water. (Do not use on wool or wool-blend carpets).

Sometimes Mayonnaise may spill on to your carpet. In such cases, use these tips to remove Mayonnaise stains from your precious carpet.

Other useful items

Non-Oily Nail Polish Remover or Acetone. Chewing gum remover (freeze or solid type). Dry Cleaning Solvent – Use a proprietary dry cleaning solvent. Turpentine or Methylated Spirits can be used as an alternative. Spot Remover: Use spot removers designed specifically for grease, oil, or tar, such as Dirt Devil.

First Aid for Carpets - Staining versus soiling

Scrape: Remove as much of the solid spills as possible by scraping the carpet gently with a round-cornered spatula or spoon. Blot repeatedly with a dry, white, absorbent cloth or white (no printing) paper towel. Work from the outer edge toward the center of the spot to avoid spreading the spill, do not scrub the area! Scrubbing can cause pile fuzz or distort in the affected area. Use the spot & stain removal chart overleaf in conjunction with these general guidelines: 


Pre-test any spot removal agent in an inconspicuous area to make sure the solution will not damage the fiber or the dye. After applying, hold a white cloth on the wet area for 10 seconds. Examine the carpet and cloth for color transfer, change, or damage. APPLY a small amount of the selected cleaning solution to a white cloth; allow soaking for about 10 minutes, then work in gently. Continue using the cleaning solution as long as there is a transfer of the spill to the cloth.

Be patient! Complete removal of the spill may require repeating the same step several times. RINSE the affected area thoroughly with cold, clean water and a sponge and blot with a dry cloth until all of the solutions have been removed. Continue to use a dry cloth or paper towels until the area is completely dry.


Final blot by placing layers of white paper towels over the affected area, and weigh down with a flat, heavy object. Leave until perfectly dry, preferably overnight.

NOTE: Always pre-test any spot or stain cleaning procedure and chemicals on a hidden area of carpet for color bleed. These stain removal methods reflect information currently available; however, there is no guarantee these procedures will be successful. Do not use these procedures after or in combination with other procedures. The compound effect of non-compatible cleaning agents could harm your carpet.