how to remove old stains

Average Cost To Install Carpet Price Range: $845 - $1,650
See costs in your area

Removing Old Stains: Mustard, Red Dye, Coffee

Certain stains take a little more than your average stain remover.

Mustard, coffee and red dye are the worst offenders.

Sometimes it takes a combination of treatments to attack the stain at all angles, but with these professional cleaning tips, you can usually remove or decrease significantly the worst of these stains with a little work.

The #1 tip is to use this “stain attack” early

If your stain is already dried on to your carpet, you can skip this section unless you want it for future reference.

This is the key to removing the red dye, mustard, or coffee ASAP:

  • blot up excess gently
  • add cool water
  • blot up excess
  • add cool water
  • blot up excess

You get the picture. Continue this until you aren’t getting up any more mustard or red stain.

But what if the stains no longer wet? Old stains are more difficult, but here are some tips:

Captain’s warning! Anytime you are using a new carpet cleaning product, it’s worth taking the extra time to check to see how the stain remover interacts with your carpet. Ideally, spray the cleaner on a scrap piece of the carpet. If you don’t have scrap carpet, try it in a closet or less noticeable area.

Removing old mustard, coffee, and red dye

If your stain is set in, you’re going to have to go at it with chemicals. Fortunately, many of these chemicals are in your house right now.

Remember, these stains aren’t easy. So don’t be surprised if it doesn’t blot right up with one of these recipes. I usually like to try a combination approach of two or three of these to hit the stain at different angles:

First, remove excess dried stain

Usually, some of the stain is just coated on the outside of the carpet strands. This should be fairly easy to remove. You want to “scrape” at the stain. Sometimes a steel brush will work, but make sure not to be too abrasive or it can damage the carpet fibers.

Then, you can vacuum up any crumbs. I wouldn’t spend too long vacuuming. Vacuums can create heat, and heat can solidify some stains into carpet.

Now you can bust out the chemicals:

Hydrogen peroxide mixture (works on most stains)

This can be a powerful stain remover, but one you definitely want to test on your carpet before using. In most cases, 3% hydrogen peroxide is safe on carpet, but it’s still good to be safe.

You’ll combine 3% hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing detergent (ideally scent free) to create a paste. It should be in a 1:3 ratio of hydrogen peroxide to detergent. Test the paste in an inconspicuous area first then spread it directly over the stain if it’s safe to use.

Apply the paste with a toothbrush (or rag) directly to the stain. Try to rug it mildly to allow it to penetrate (removing some of the old dried stain in the previous step should help it penetrate as well). Let it sit for about 15 minutes to do its work. Then, blot it up with cool water.

Vinegar mixture

This isn’t as powerful as the first, but it’s not as harsh. Also, some stains just respond better to different treatments, so this still could be your winner.

All you need here is water and white vinegar. WHITE vinegar is key. Balsamic or apple cider vinegar have dyes in them that can stain your carpet.

Take 1 cup of white vinegar, combine it with 2 cups of warm water, and spray over the stain. Let it sit for several minutes, then extract the solution with a shop vac, towels, or cloth.

Ammonia mixture

A 3rd mixture is another household product: ammonia. Again, test this on your carpet before applying it to the stain.

You don’t need much ammonia. I recommend 1 tablespoon to 1/2 cup water. Pour it on the stain, and I’d rub it in with mild friction. Let it sit about 5 minutes. Then, blot it up. Add cool water, and blot up again.

Hire a professional

If the stains not removed at this point, you’re probably losing hope. But there still might be some.

Professionals have special tools and chemicals that can often get out stains that you might not get out on your own. I’d only go this route if you really care about your floor or rug because it likely won’t be cheap. The professional has to make a trip to your home, so expect a minimum charge.

Depending on the area, this will likely be close to $100, but you could be lucky and find cheaper.

Captain’s parting words!

Even the toughest stains can be solved with a little ingenuity and a few household items. For homemade stain removal, you should keep 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, club soda, salt, ammonia and mild dishwashing detergent on hand.

With those things, you can take care of many household carpet stains, but be sure to test your cleaning solutions before using them on your carpets.

Have a different stain problem? I also created guides on how to get hair dye and bood out of carpet.

Have your own tips, or still unable to remove a stain? Let me know in the comments below.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Average Cost To Install Carpet Flooring Price Range: $845 - $1,650
See costs in your area
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Need Flooring Pros?

Get Free Quotes From Local Contractors