Carpet stains are a common occurrence in our homes, especially if there is considerable traffic on the carpeting. Carpet stains might be caused by children playing, a coffee spill during an afternoon snack with friends or pet urine among others. In any of these cases, we will wonder how to get old stains out of a carpet.

Commonplace has it that older stains are stubborn and difficult to clean. Hearing that diminishes our hope of getting rid of the stain. And while it is true that old stains are hard to clean, it does not mean that the stain has to be there for the rest of your carpet’s life. It may, however, imply that you need a bit more strength and patience to make the stain disappear.

A professional could be the best option with old stains. They have the expertise and know the tricks of the trade. But if you decide to do it yourself, a few tips may come in handy.

Why stains age on a carpet

If we accidentally drop a glass of red wine on the carpet or cut our finger and spill blood on the carpet, we will have created an immediate stain removing task. But not every stain is noticed straight away. A good example is the brown stains that come with humidity. The moisture penetrates the carpet fibres and soaks the dust and bacteria in the pad, pulling it to the surface through evaporation. The dirty moisture from this process forms brown stains that are not easily discovered in the early stages but when they are fully formed.

Stains that form under furniture or decorative objects on the carpet may not be immediately noticed. Think of the cat’s tendency to hide when pooping. If its hiding place is on a carpet spot below the sofa, then the resulting stain will be old by the time you notice it. All these situations will push you to think about how to get old stains out of a carpet. Not to worry though. Here are 6 readily available products and simple methods that you can use to eliminate old stains from your carpet.

1 – Vinegar and baking soda solutions

Most of the procedures used to clean fresh stains work with old stains as well. A little more patience and effort may, however, be required. The vinegar and baking soda solution is one of those.

Begin by covering the stain area with a good amount of baking soda and spraying it with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution. Allow it to settle for 3 to 4 hours. When the waiting is over, scrub the baking soda loose with a hand brush and vacuum the area to collect it.

Your carpet will look as good as new again.

2 – Hydrogen peroxide spray

Pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. Spray to saturate the old stain. Let the hydrogen solution sit on the stain for 15 minutes. Use a cloth to dap the stain until it is completely cleaned. Vacuum to remove the hydrogen peroxide or use clean dampened cloths to blot.  Repeat the entire procedure if the stain is not completely eliminated. Leave the carpet to dry.

3 – Home detergents

Home detergents have a high fibre penetration power and will readily pass the test on how to get old stains out of a carpet.

Pour ½tsp of detergent into a bucket with 2 cups of warm water. Use a cloth to dab the solution on the stain and continue the procedure until the stain vanishes. Blot the solution and use another clean cloth to rinse the spot with clean water.

You may opt to use a steam vacuum to suck all the moisture when the rinsing is done. Allow the carpet to dry. Avoid detergents that have bleach because they will discolour your carpet and ruin the fabric at the stain spot.

4 – Steam Iron and vinegar

The method lets you transfer an old carpet stain onto a cloth. Begin by mixing water and vinegar in equal measure, say a cup of water and a cup of vinegar. Apply the mixture onto the old stain to saturate it, then let it settle for 10-15 minutes. Letting it sit allows the old stain to rehydrate.

Take the steam iron and set it to medium steaming heat. Place a damp clean cloth on the stain area and pass the iron over it. The intention is to transfer the stain from the carpet to the cloth. If the stain is still stubborn and does not vanish, try another of the stain removing methods or change the vinegar and water solution to baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.

5 – Ammonia solution

The ammonium solution that results from mixing water and ammonia will work on any old carpet stain. Mix the two ingredients by adding 1tbsp of ammonia to ½ cup of water. Apply the solution onto the stain and let it settle for 10-15 minutes. Dab for some time and blot to remove the solution from the stain area. Use a clean cloth and water to rinse the carpet and a dry cloth to blot until all the moisture is absorbed.

Repeat the procedure if the stain is still visible. Then allow the carpet to dry.

6 – Ask the expert

Some old stains on your carpet will just not bulge to any DIY effort. In such a case, you need to admit that the professional is your last resort and hire their services. Negotiate with the professional cleaner about your preferred stain removing approach. For example, you can request that they use steam cleaning with just water or use a non-chemical solution such as vinegar.

In sum

Old stains are difficult but not impossible to remove. Using home solutions such as water and vinegar, baking soda and vinegar or steam iron and vinegar solution will work with a little extra effort and patient. When stains prove altogether impossible to eliminate from the carpet, the professional cleaner may be your only solution to the question on how to get old stains out of a carpet. Negotiate with the professional carpet cleaner on how you want your carpet treated; maybe homemade stain removing solutions rather than the aggressive commercial detergents. The latter may leave your carpet discoloured or fill your house detergent smell for days.