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Common Carpet Stains You Should NOT Treat With Water

carpet 17 May 2017

When it comes to removing carpet stains, not everything comes out with soap and water. In fact, sometimes using soap and water will set the stain, making it impossible to get out later on. Carpet stains that you should not treat with water are known as non-water soluble stains like oil paint, tar, greases, oils, gum, and adhesives. These kinds of stains have to be converted to a water soluble form and then they can be treated with mild soap and water. So treating any non-water-soluble stains is a two-step process. It is important that before you go cleaning any of these carpet stains with soap and water, to read about the stains that will not come out if you use water before you use a cleaning solvent.

Oil/Grease: Oil and grease must be taken out of the carpet with something like rubbing alcohol. Always use white cloths or paper towels to remove the stain so that you can be sure you won’t make more of a mess by using colored towels that may bleed on the carpet while using cleaning solvents. It is better to use paper towels, because you are going to use a lot of them and you will probably ruin any white towels or rags you may be using.

Gently dab at the oil or grease spill first with clean towels, changing them frequently as they become full of the oil. The aim here is to draw as much of the oil or grease out of the carpet as possible. Do not rub or scrub the oil stain as you will just grind it into the carpet more. Next, dip a towel in rubbing alcohol and dab at the stain until it is gone or mainly gone. If it is a large spill, you will not be able to get all of the oil out with this method.

At this point, you will need to get a cleaning solvent from the hardware store that removes oil from carpets. Do not start with the cleaner, though. First, take the time with the towels and the rubbing alcohol to dissolve and extract as much of the oil as you can. Many people make the mistake of spraying the cleaning solvent first and then scrubbing the carpet, which may set the oil stain for good.

You may have to repeat this entire process several times to get the whole stain out. Patience is the main thing needed to get oil and grease out of carpeting. Follow with mild soap and water if necessary.

Tar: Treat the tar stain as you would a grease or oil stain, except use turpentine or eucalyptus oil. If this doesn’t work, you can use dry cleaning solvent as well. Make sure to gently scrape as much tar off as possible first, using a spoon or butter knife. Test the carpet first before you use the turpentine, and then follow up with mild soap and water.

Chewing Gum: While it is true that you can use frozen water (ice cubes) in some cases to get the gum out of the carpet by freezing it, this doesn’t always work to get the entire piece of gum out. After you have removed as much gum from the carpet as possible, get the rest out with peanut butter, vegetable oil, or WD-40. Then clean up with soap and water.


  • Can't thank you guys enough for the work you did at our place last week. Our carpets have never looked better, all the stains are out and they smell beautiful again. I'll be recommending you to everyone I know!

    Michael Dawson
    Marayong, Sydney
  • We have had a lot of trade people at our house over the years but Carpet Cleaning Sydney were definitely the best. The job was done perfectly, punctually and in a professional manner. Its not easy finding reliable people but you'll be happy using these guys to clean your carpets.

    Amanda Lawrence
    Avalon, Sydney
  • My carpets have never looked better. The guys came on time, completed the work quickly and when they left my carpets were like new. Thanks!

    David McMenemy
    Clovelly, Sydney

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