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3 DIY Carpet Stain Remover Ideas That Work

May 31, 2023

3 DIY Carpet Stain Remover Ideas That Work

May 31, 2023

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This post contains affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

Here are three DIY carpet stain remover ideas that truly work. Depending on the type of stain, you can mix up one of these stain removers and (hopefully) lift it from the carpet. Here’s how to tackle your tough carpet stains with common household ingredients.

DIY Carpet Stain Remover Basics

Before you get started, you should gather a few staples to have on hand for any carpet stain removal.

These items can help you tackle a range of carpet stains and recipes are below. It’s a great idea to stock all of these items in the closet or pantry, because you don’t always know what the next type of stain will be.

In case you’re new here, I recommend these items for all kinds of DIY cleaning, too! Read more in these posts:

DIY Cleaning Hacks for People Who Hate to Clean
DIY Natural Cleaners That Really Work

General Advice: Start Here for All Stains

Always start with these steps:

  1. Vacuum or pick up any loose particles first.
  2. Blot the stain with a damp rag, soaking up as much of the staining material as possible.
  3. DO NOT RUB* Only BLOT – to avoid spreading the stain or integrating it further into carpet fibers.
  4. Now you’re ready to apply the stain remover of choice.

*I’ve learned this the hard way…

DIY Carpet Stain Remover for Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate

These acidic food products often respond well to white vinegar, which works as a stain remover by attracting the stain like a molecular magnet. Here’s a good explanation if you want to know more. I like to combine vinegar with a little dish soap, for a boost in stain-removal power, but you can use straight vinegar and dab it on the stain.


Add to spray bottle:

Spray the stain with this formula and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Blot the stain with a damp rag until nothing else is being picked up on the cloth. Repeat the process if any stain remains.

See White Vinegar at Work

I actually tested out undiluted white vinegar on an old stain that came with our house. We plan to replace the carpets, which is why I haven’t gotten to this spot yet. Hope you’re not disgusted that I’m sharing this photo. I assume it’s a coffee spill, because there is evidence of many similar spills in other rooms (which I’ve already cleaned!).

First, I dabbed a wet rag on the stain to dampen the carpet. Then I poured white vinegar on the wet rag and blotted the stain for a few minutes until I could see that it was starting to lift.

After a few minutes and a second round of vinegar, much of the stain is gone. I rinsed out the rag and dabbed again to remove some of the vinegar. Considering this might be a 20-year-old stain, I was pretty impressed with the vinegar.

DIY Carpet Stain Remover for Body Fluids

When you have a protein-based stain (body fluids from humans or pets), you’ll need to address the stain with a non-acidic cleaner. Here are some options, but first know:

Do NOT use hot water.

Use caution with vinegar.

Both of those can cause the stain to set, which is the worst-case scenario. Instead, try hydrogen peroxide, which should cost around $1 at the drugstore or grocery:

Try this DIY hydrogen peroxide mixture to remove a protein-based stain (human or pet fluids). Test first in a closet or other corner area, because hydrogen peroxide might lighten carpet fibers. I’ve read that 3% hydrogen peroxide should not bleach carpet, but I think it’s still worth first testing in a hidden spot.

If it does change the color, try a little dish soap or the diluted laundry detergent recipe below.


Add to a spray bottle:

After you blot the stain with a damp rag and remove any loose material, spray liberally with stain remover. Allow this to sit for about 5 minutes and then blot it carefully. You might need to repeat this process.

You Might Also Like:

DIY Cleaning Hacks for People Who Hate to Clean
DIY Natural Cleaners That Really Work

DIY Scented Carpet Stain Remover

If you’re a sucker for scented cleaning products, this is a good option to try for your next DIY carpet stain remover.


Add to a spray bottle:

  • 1 C distilled water
  • 1 tsp laundry detergent

Shake the solution until the detergent dissolves in the water. I use powdered Ariel detergent because I like the scent, but Tide or your favorite detergent will work as well. It can be powder or liquid.

This stain remover works best to clean up fresh spills, rather than set stains. First dab the stain with a wet rag, and then spray with the solution. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes and then blot with a damp rag.

DO NOT pour powdered detergent directly on the carpet. You should first dilute it with water; if not, the grains of detergent will be too hard to remove from the carpet and can create a soapy film that might be irritating to sensitive skin (if anyone comes in contact with it).

How to Remove Smells from Carpet

What if your “stain” is actually a smell that lingers in your carpet? Have you tried baking soda? It works!

Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda over the stain or area of carpet that has an odor. Don’t pour too much or it will be difficult to vacuum up. Allow the baking soda to sit for at least 4-6 hours, ideally 12 hours or overnight. Vacuum up the powder and test for odor a few hours later. You can repeat these steps.

Best Carpet Stain Removers to Buy

Best for Body Fluids/Pet Stains

The best option for stains that come from humans/pets (barf, etc.) is Bac-Out by Biokleen. Bac-Out is fantastic for protein-based stains and anything that smells. This enzyme-based cleaner removes stains from carpets as well as laundry – just pour it in with the load!

Bac-Out has a lime scent and is clear, and I’ve never run into trouble with it leaching color from clothes or carpet. With two kids and a dog, I usually have a gallon of Bac-Out on hand, but it also comes in a 32 oz bottle.

Best All-Purpose Product

If you just want to buy something to spray on your carpet stains, the best product I’ve found is Resolve. Sometimes you need to pull out the big guns for your carpet stains, so this is good to have on hand.

When my favorite wool rug (see below) gets the occasional muddy paw print or spill, I tend to reach for Resolve. I don’t experiment with this rug, the way I happily do with old polyester carpet.

What is your favorite trick to lift carpet stains? Anything I haven’t mentioned here? Please let me know!


Hi! I’m Erin, a Colorado-based home improvement blogger and lover of all things DIY. I aim to inspire creative folks to tackle home improvement with confidence and style. READ MORE

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