Homemade Carpet Stain Remover
When it comes to the tough stains like wine or coffee, it’s a great time to learn a little carpet chemistry 101. With just a couple ingredients offered from your local market you can clean up carpet stains at a fraction of the cost. When it comes to carpet stain removal, a box of arm & hammer washing soda, liquid dish soap, white vinegar, and a wet/dry vacuum works wonders!
Lets say you have a red wine stain on your carpet. Unless you have wool or cotton carpet, this simple homemade detergent will do the trick. Most homes have nylon or polyester carpet, also called synthetic carpet. These fibers are much more durable than organic fibers making stain removal much easier.
Removing Carpet Stains
First, soak up as much of the spill as possible with a cotton clothe. Cotton is super absorbent which is why it works so well. In a 16 ounce spray bottle, add 1 tablespoon of washing soda with hot water. Cap and shake until powder is dissolved. Then add two, maybe three drops of liquid dish soap to the solution. Drops – not squirts! Using too much detergent will cause the cleaned area to become sticky and attract future soils. Shake again to blend the cleaning solution.
Spray the cleaner onto the stain being careful not to over-saturate. Let chemical sit 10 to 15 minutes. After allowing the chemical to work, gently agitate the stain with either a soft brush or towel while being sure not to spread the stain. Warning: Do not rub or scrub hard as it will distort the carpet fiber and leave you with an ugly distortion stain (deformed carpet fibers). Easy does it…you just want to work the cleaner into the stain.
After the dwell time, use a wet/dry vacuum, or an absorbent towel, to extract the spent chemical from the carpet. Then add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar to 1 cup hot water – the hotter the better, but not boiling. Spray on stained area and extract. Repeat until stain and cleaning residue is gone. Viola! If it happens to be a red wine stain, and the stain remains after the cleaning, spray the area with hydrogen peroxide and let it dry. Repeat if necessary. The stain should disappear.
How Carpet Stain Removal Works
Washing soda is actually sodium carbonate, which is an alkaline base ingredient for most detergents. The wine is an acid-based stain as are most stains. Similar to that vinegar & baking soda experiment in the 5th grade, they neutralize each other and in doing so, loosen each other up through hydrogen exchange.
Here’s the cool part, the dish soap consists of surfactant, a wetting agent that links polar and non-polar molecules. Ever mix water and oil together? They resist each other right? When surfactant (dish soap) is added, it’s molecules have both polar and non-polar ends so it links the oil and water together as one fluid. The surfactant makes the water wetter so it has lower surface tension – kind of like a slimy fish. The white vinegar solution neutralizes the spent alkaline cleaner so your carpet returns to being fluffy and soft. Cautionary Note: washing soda can irritate the skin, wear proper PPE: rubber gloves, protective clothing and eye wear.