December 26, 2014

Save Your Rugs from Holiday Stains

Rachel Weems


Whether you hosted a holiday get-together with your whole neighborhood, or simply prepared Christmas Dinner for your family, one thing is for sure… inevitably, things get messy.  While accidents are a reality of hosting, the aftermath of Uncle Ralph’s fourth glass of red wine or the ‘artwork’ from your child’s chocolate pudding fingers on your wool rug shouldn’t have to stick around after the guests have gone.  Keep these holiday stain removal tips handy to ensure your home (and your rugs) survive the holidays in one, stain free piece!



One of the best secrets of adulthood I’ve learned is that simplest solutions typically are smartest solutions.  When spills occur, first blot the area dry with a clean, white cloth (working from the outside of the stain to the inside), then dilute the stain with water and continue to blot.  Never scrub as this can actually do more damage to the fibers than good in the long run.  And when it comes to drying the stain, blot it with several paper towels and consider placing something heavy on them to create the maximum absorbency impact.  Change the paper towels every five minutes or so and be sure the stain is completely gone before applying anything heated that could set the stain, like a blow dryer.



White vinegar has a lot of surprising uses, but one of our favorites is as a stain remover for rugs and carpet made of synthetic materials.  Mix a solution of ¼ teaspoon of white vinegar (or bleach free detergent will work as well) with 32 ounces of water in a spray bottle.  This simple DIY solution is amazingly powerful at removing water soluble stains (i.e. nonalcoholic beverages, berries, soft drinks, gravy, ice cream, jelly or even mud).

Another option if you don’t have white vinegar is to apply diluted dish soap (1/4 teaspoon of dish soap to one cup of warm water) directly to the rug.  Allow the mixture to sit for five to ten minutes if you’re dealing with something heavily pigmented and thick, like cranberry sauce.  For other stains, blot the diluted dish soap mixture with a clean damp cloth and then rinse using the clean section of the cloth.



For those stains that are a little more complicated (i.e. special water soluble stains like blood, coffee, chocolate, wine, vomit, mustard or tea), one tablespoon of ammonia mixed with one cup of water should word for these heavy duty numbers when the spill occurs on synthetic rugs.

If the stain still won’t budge, up the ante by combining ½ cup hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon ammonia.  Let the solution sit over the stain for two to three hours and cover with plastic wrap weighted with something heavy.  Rinse with water, then apply a white vinegar mixture to where the stain was and blot with a damp cloth.  Dry with paper towels.



When it comes to sticky messes, like spilt tree sap, candle wax or fireplace shoot, you may need something a little stronger to pull the stain out of the fibers of synthetic rugs.  Reach for Goof Off Pro Strength Remover (available at; $6 for 16 oz). 

In the case of spilt candle wax, cover the wax with a brown grocery bag (one layer) and press a warm iron over the area.  Then apply Goof Off Pro Strength Remover with a dry cloth and rise with a damp cloth.  Dry with paper towels.

For spilt tree sap, apply the Goof Off Pro Strength Remover and dab with diluted dish soap.  Wait a few minutes and clean with hot water using a spray bottle.  Blot to dry.

For fireplace shoot, vacuum the synthetic carpet with the hose attachment and then apply a mixture of diluted dish soap.  If the stain is resistant to the dish soap, reach for the Goof Off Pro Strength Removed once again and follow with diluted dish soap.  Let the mixture sit for three minutes and then rinse by dabbing on hot water before blotting dry.



While the mixtures described above may be ideal for handling any mishap to your synthetic rugs, a pretty safe bet with most wool rug stains according to is the Bissell Power Shot Oxy Spot and Stain (available at; $5.99 for 14 oz) for carpet.

For thick messes, like pumpkin pie, use a spoon to remove what you can.  Then spray the stained area with the Bissell.  Wait five minutes, then blot with a clean white cloth.  For certain other liquid stains, like coffee or tea, soak up the spilled liquid with a paper towel and then blot with cold water and a clean cloth.  If that doesn’t do the trick, then apply the Bissell.

Should candle wax find its way to your wool rug, follow the same ironing advice for synthetic rugs, but treat with the Bissell to remove any leftover wax.



When in doubt, it is best to go straight to the source.  The manufacturer’s care instructions on the label will be the most accurate when it comes to caring for your rug.  Also, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to maintain the validity of most rug warranties.



If you entertain a lot year round, or need a kid friendly flooring solution, you may want to consider looking at a Mohawk Home rug made of our exclusive, stain resistant Smartstrand fiber next time you shop for those high traffic areas of the home.  Smartstrand is a Dupont developed polymer developed exclusively for Mohawk Home that boasts built-in lifetime stain and soil resistance that will never wear or wash off.  The cleaning is fairly simple too; just a solution of mild detergent and water.

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