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Stain Removal Best Practices

I know from experience there is nothing worse than having a stain on a surface in your home that just WILL not come out. You spend hours scrubbing away, and you can also spend loads of money on cleaning products that end up unused in the back of a cupboard.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to give you some handy tips on how to deal with stubborn stains on your carpets and floors so you can get rid of them once and for all. The very best course of action is to deal with a spill the minute it happens, but if your household is anything like mine (with kids and animals that seem to appear from nowhere at times), it’s not always easy to spot when something has been dropped on the floor or carpet.

It would be impossible for me to deal with all types of stains you can find on your floors because there are so many, so in the following few words I’ll deal with a few of the more common.

Hardwood Floors

wood floorIf you find an old liquid stain on your hardwood floor, the chances are the moisture has managed to seep through the sealant which results in a white discoloration. These can be the most troublesome to get off the floor but not impossible. You could start by using a product that’s designed for wood floors but if you prefer a more natural method, a mix of water with a small amount of vinegar should work just fine. Just use a cloth to wipe the solution across the stain.

In the case of watermarks, you will also get discoloration but these should be dealt with slightly differently. Instead of vinegar use a bleaching agent like Oxalic acid together with a piece of light sandpaper. The only drawback with a water stain on hardwood floors is that you will more than likely have to rinse it with a vinegar and water solution, and it may need re-coating with some wood finish so you get the shine back.

Oil stains, milk and food are all things that will be easier to remove if you get the excess up by first using paper towels. If this isn’t an option you’ll more than likely have a dried on stain. Gently scrape the dirt off with a knife (and BE gentle)! Once you have the stain off, you should only need to wipe over it with a damp cloth.


As you can see from the information above, hard floors can be a difficult surface to deal with in terms of stain removal however, carpets are even more troublesome. The most obvious reason for this is carpets are far more porous than hard floors and that’s all down to the fibers. Your carpet is actually very good at soaking up liquid and if it’s left untreated, you will end up with nasty looking stains. Again, I’ve taken the liberty of giving you some ideas on how to remove some of the most common stains.

liquid stainsThere is a saying that I was told when I was young which I’ll never forget, and that’s to remember “the three second rule”. What this essentially means is the quicker you get to a spill on your carpet, the better chance you have of avoiding a stain. However, the one mistake a lot of people make is to start scrubbing away and this is the very last thing you should do!

Instead, take some paper towels or an absorbent cloth and blot the spill. Do this gently to avoid pushing the liquid into the fibers. Once you’ve done this soak a cloth in hot water. Again, use the blotting technique until the liquid stops transferring to the cloth. If you find there is residue left behind it’s time to really get to work!
You can use any manner of carpet stain removal products on the market, but if you prefer the more natural approach mix some dishwashing liquid with warm water (not too much soap or you’ll have trouble with rinsing). Apply this to the stain and gently work it through.

Food Spills
food stainsI know from experience this can be one of the messiest jobs in your home. However, all is not lost even if you haven’t managed to get to the spill quickly. The main aim is to make sure you get all of the loose food particles up off the carpet, and you can do this either by scooping it up or using some paper towels.

Once you have all the loose particles off the carpet, it may surprise you to know you can use all manner of household products to help remove the stain that’s left behind. You can apply diluted (or neat) vinegar to the stain and blot the residue up. A baking soda paste works wonders but you do have to leave this for about 20 minutes, and of course dishwashing liquid will also help.

Of course, you could choose any one of the steam cleaners I have reviewed on my website to make this job easier, but make sure the model you buy is designed to effectively remove stains.

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