How to Get Old Stains Out Of Carpet (8 Best Ways)

Many people, around 70%, have likely experienced the urge to hide a carpet stain by rearranging furniture. However, this quick fix often proves temporary, as the stain resurfaces when furniture is moved. Even seemingly clean carpets harbor dust, dirt, and bacteria that regular vacuuming can’t entirely eliminate. The common reaction might be considering the drastic step of replacing the carpet with hard flooring.

Fortunately, you can revitalize your carpet using readily available products and the right approach. Most of the needed items are likely already in your pantry or utility closet.

To understand how to eliminate old carpet stains, continue reading for helpful tips to bid farewell to those stubborn spots.

The Key to Tackling Old Carpet Stains

Contrary to intuition, older carpet stains are more challenging to clean than newer ones. Set-in stains, whether in clothing or on carpets, pose greater cleaning difficulties. The solution involves rehydrating the original stain, essentially turning back the clock. Once the stain is rehydrated, you can treat it as if it just occurred.

Basics of Spot Cleaning: Properly Removing Carpet Stains

Whether dealing with a new or old stain, certain dos and don’ts always apply:

  1. Avoid scrubbing: Scrubbing can drive the stain deeper into the carpet fibers and pad. Instead, use a cloth to gently blot the stain.
  2. Use a white cloth or towel: Depending on the treatment, colored towels may transfer dye to the carpet. Stick to white cloths to prevent unintended color transfer.
  3. Work from the outside in: When treating a stain or using water, always work from the outside toward the center. Working outward may enlarge the stain, so cleaning inwards is crucial.
  4. Test the cleaning treatment: Before starting the cleaning process, test the treatment on an inconspicuous part of the carpet. This ensures that the product won’t bleach or negatively react with the carpet.

Types of Stains: Water Soluble vs. Non-Water Soluble

Stains fall into two general categories: water-soluble and non-water-soluble. Water-soluble stains, such as washable ink, milk, latex paint, berries, or mud, are generally easier to clean. Non-soluble stains include wine, pet messes, blood, chocolate, and coffee, and their treatment methods differ.

Identifying the type of stain makes removal easier. If unsure, start with a small area and experiment with various treatments until you find one that works. This cautious approach is particularly useful when dealing with pre-existing stains in a new home.

DIY Solutions for Removing Carpet Stains

If you’re wondering how to tackle those stubborn old carpet stains, making your own cleaning solution can be highly effective. The advantage is that it works well on various types of stains, especially when you’re unsure about their origin. Here’s what you’ll need:

Cleaning with Dish Soap:

Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, let’s dive into the cleaning process:

  1. Mix ¼ teaspoon of liquid dish soap with 1 cup of warm water. Avoid using detergents with bleach.
  2. Spray this soapy solution onto the old carpet stain.
  3. Use a steam vac, shop vac, or a cloth to extract the stain.
  4. Rinse the area with warm water and repeat until the stain is gone.

This method is particularly effective for tackling old pet stains.

Cleaning with Ammonia:

If the dish soap method falls short, try using ammonia:

  1. Combine a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of ammonia in a spray bottle.
  2. Apply the solution to the stain.
  3. Extract the solution using your preferred method.
  4. Repeat the process as necessary.

Alternatively, you can mix a cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water and follow the same procedure.

Reviving Light Carpets with Peroxide:

For light carpets troubled by mysterious old stains, hydrogen peroxide can come to the rescue. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bristle brush
  • Shop vac, steam vac, or cloth


  1. Apply hydrogen peroxide directly to o;d carpet stain.
  2. Gently scrub the stain with a bristle brush.
  3. Use a shop vac, steam vac, or a cloth to extract the solution.

These homemade solutions provide effective ways to tackle various stains and rejuvenate your carpet without the need for harsh chemicals.

How to Use Peroxide to Tackle Old Carpet Stains

Before diving in, make sure to test the peroxide on a hidden area of the carpet. Hydrogen peroxide has bleaching properties, so a spot test ensures it won’t cause lightening. Once you’ve confirmed it’s safe, follow these steps:

  1. Vacuum the stain to ensure any loose particles are removed.
  2. Put hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the peroxide directly onto the old stain.
  4. If needed, saturate the stain to loosen up its particles.
  5. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Use a stiff brush to work on the stain and loosen it further.
  7. Utilize a steam vac to extract the peroxide mixture from the carpet.
  8. Alternatively, use towels and cloths to absorb the peroxide.
  9. Admire your stain-free, revitalized carpet.

Try Vinegar and Baking Soda for Stubborn Old Stains

If the random stain persists, try this kitchen remedy:

  1. Vacuum the stain first.
  2. Sprinkle the area with baking soda.
  3. Create a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  4. Add a drop of Dawn dish soap for extra stain-fighting power.
  5. Spray the mixture directly onto the baking soda.
  6. Watch the foaming action and let it sit until the baking soda dries and hardens (usually a few hours).
  7. Vacuum up the residue.

Clear Out Carpet Stains With Club Soda

Club soda, known for its stain-fighting abilities, is effective on various stains, even set-in dirt or dried blood. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Spray club soda on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Work it with a scrub brush.
  3. Use a cloth to blot up the stain and soda.
  4. Sprinkle salt to help draw up the stain and soda.
  5. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Vacuum up the salt along with the stain residue.

White Wine for Old Red Wine Stains

For those pesky red wine stains, white wine surprisingly comes to the rescue:

  1. Apply white wine to the red wine stain.
  2. The white wine will mimic the initial occurrence, making the red stain easier to remove.
  3. Extract the wine with a cloth.
  4. Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone.
  5. Rinse the area with water or use a steam vac.
  6. Allow the area to completely dry.

Now you’re armed with effective DIY methods to revive your carpet and bid farewell to those stubborn old stains.

Removing Old Carpet Stains with Borax: A DIY Guide

If you’re a fan of DIY cleaning, you’ve likely used borax for laundry, but did you know it can also work wonders on your carpet? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ice water
  • Borax
  • Cloth
  • Vacuum

Borax Cleaning Steps:

Brightening up those stubborn stains with borax is a straightforward process:

  1. Vacuum the stain to eliminate loose particles.
  2. Wet the stain with ice water.
  3. Sprinkle borax onto the stain.
  4. Allow it to dry completely.
  5. Vacuum up the borax.
  6. Repeat as needed.

Tips for Removing Old Stains

Whether dealing with new or old stains, follow these essential tips:

  • Work from the outside in: When treating a stain, start from the outer edges and move toward the center. This prevents spreading and causing further damage to the carpet.
  • Follow the cleaning process: Apply the cleaning solution, blot with a cloth, rinse, extract the solvent, and repeat until the stain is gone.
  • Ensure no residue: Don’t leave any solvent residue behind after cleaning. Let the carpet dry promptly to prevent any lingering stain.
  • Quick drying for deep stains: If the stain has penetrated deep into the carpet, use a fan to expedite drying and prevent residual stains from resurfacing.

Assessing Your Stain

Recognize that not all old carpet stains are the same:

  • Water-soluble stains: Stains like blood, wine, food, and urine are generally easier to remove using the outlined methods.
  • Non-water-soluble stains: Oil stains, in particular, pose a greater challenge. While not as easy to lift, you may still have some success. If a stubborn stain refuses to budge, consider seeking professional help, especially from services equipped with hot water extraction systems. They can offer effective solutions for more challenging stains.

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