How To Get Old Stains Out Of The Carpet

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Stains, in general, are not a pleasant thing to deal with, and old stains can be a nightmare. Thus it is essential to know how to get old stains out of the carpet. The old stains are caused by accidental spills and dust, dirt, and bacteria, so it highlights that carpet flooring needs constant attention. 

How To Get Old Stains Out Of The Carpet

The trick towards removing old stains out of the carpet is rehydrating the original one. Since it is easier to remove fresh stains, you need to turn back time and transform the old dried stain to a fresh one, thus making the cleaning mechanism a bit easy.

Materials Required

  • Water
  • Liquid detergent
  • Dish soap
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • A large bowl
  • Towels with microfiber
  • All-purpose cleaning liquid
  • Oxygen based stain treatment solution

The Basics: Dos And Don’ts

There are some basic dos and don’ts that you need to follow if you want to remove that nasty stain in the best way possible.

  • Avoid scrubbing the carpet too hard, as it will spread and will go deep into the carpet and carpet pad.
  • Do not use dyed towels for cleaning, as the color might get transferred to the carpet.
  • Clean the outer part first and then move towards the inner fiber of the carpet.
  • Never forget to test the cleaning solutions or chemicals before spreading them all over the stain. Your carpet might be sensitive to certain materials.

If cleaning is not done in the right manner, it can end up making the stain even worse.

Woman about to clean old stain from carpet

Types Of Stains

There are two types of stains: Water-soluble and non-water soluble. The cleaning mechanism is different for each type. Hence it is essential to understand the stain first.

  • Water Soluble Stains: These stains include washable ink, latex paint, mud, milk, etc.
  • Non-water soluble: These stains include wine spills, coffee, blood, pet stains, etc.

In case you have recently moved to a new place with stained carpet, it might be difficult to decode the type of stain you are dealing with. Now you need to start experimenting with certain cleaning elements and techniques.

Method 1: Use Water And Dish Soap

Water and dish soap does not contain strong chemicals. Thus they are one of the safest options to start with to clean carpet stains.

  1. Take a bowl, fill it with water at room temperature, and add a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Use a microfiber towel or a normal white towel to start the carpet stain removal process.
  3. Make sure you do not saturate the stain with excess water. The quantity of water should be just enough to work on the stain. Otherwise, the stain will move deep into the carpet fiber.
  4. Start scrubbing gently, keeping an eye on the stain so that it does not expand.
  5. Now leave the solution on the carpet for a few minutes and then blot the stain with some water. 
  6. Now take a dry towel and absorb the moisture from the carpet.

This is one of the quickest, affordable, and safest methods to remove old stains from carpet.

Method 2: Use Water, Vinegar And Dish Soap

The usage of water, white vinegar, and dish soap is an upgrade to the previous methodology. It is a highly preferred method for strong and old stains that will not disappear that easily.

  1. Take a large bowl and add two cups of water at room temperature. Add one tablespoon of white vinegar and one table spoon of dish soap to the water, creating a homemade cleaning liquid.
  2. Take a clean white towel and dip it into the solution. If preferred use a spray bottle instead.
  3. Start scrubbing in a circular motion, but not too hard.
  4. Let the solution sit for a few minutes.
  5. Now blot the area with a separate towel with clean water to remove the stain.
  6. Use dry high-absorbing towels to speed up the drying process.

This upgraded version is highly effective in case of old stains from juice spills and food dye.

Method 3: Use Baking Soda And Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are combined to create a solid chemical upgrade for cleaning that nasty old stain. If you are moving forward with this combination, do not forget to test it first on a small hidden portion of the carpet. 

  1. The mechanism starts with sprinkling baking soda on the stained area.
  2. Now take a large bowl and add some white vinegar, followed by water at room temperature and a few drops of dish soap to strengthen the cleaning solution.
  3. Apply the solution to the stained area with a clean towel. You will observe that a lather is being formed as the solution hits the baking soda.
  4. Let the combination sit for at least a few hours; you will observe that the solution has hardened up.
  5. Now break the hardened area and use a vacuum cleaner to remove it. You will see that the stain has completely vanished.

This method of cleaning is highly effective on old stains from greasy materials. You can also watch this short video tutorial for a better idea of cleaning carpets.

Cleaning tools

Method 4: DIY Carpet Cleaner

When we go for spot cleaning, the recently cleaned stained area might be cleaner than the rest of the carpet. In that case, you can always choose a DIY cleaner to do its job.

  • According to your preference, you can either borrow, buy or rent a carpet cleaner.
  • The cleaning solution is usually a mixture of water, an oxygen-based stain cleaning solution, liquid detergent, and an all-purpose cleaning solution.
  • You can apply this with a spray bottle if needbe.

This stain removal process will involve a few hours of carpet cleaning and drying as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Possible To Clean An Old Stain Without Using Vinegar?

For tougher water soluble stains, you can remove it without using vinegar. You will just need some dish soap and water. However, for non water soluble stains, you can also use baking soda as a supplement, but test iron in a hidden area, before sprinkling it on the whole carpet.

Can You Dry Cleaning an Old Carpet Stain?

Dry cleaning a carpet stain a highly efficient method that can remove grease, oil, or any other liquid from carpets. The mechanism is smooth and effective, especially for Berber carpets. It will get that nasty stain out without compromising the quality of the carpet fibers and weave.


Removing old stains from carpet is a bit of a professional skill, as it also involves investigation and treatment. Before opting for a specific methodology, always research the type of carpet fibers you are dealing with. It is a precautionary measure to protect the carpet from unnecessary harm. If you cannot understand what is best for your carpet, you can always call a professional for help.

Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.