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Does Carpet Cleaning Remove Stains?

August 2, 2023

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cleaning a carpet stain

Picture this: Your favorite red wine somehow leaps from your glass and splatters beautifully across your pristine white carpet. Or your adorable (but messy) toddler decides to create an abstract painting in crayon right on the living room rug. We've all been there. Stains happen.

But does carpet cleaning remove stains? Professional carpet cleaning is very effective at removing many types of stains, especially more recent stains that have not had time to bond strongly to the carpet fibers. However, carpet cleaning methods may not be able to remove highly set-in stains or permanent discoloration that has altered the carpet fibers themselves.

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the most common carpet cleaning methods to find out if they can battle stains and ultimately restore your carpets to their original glory. Get ready for some myth-busting, carpet science, and a few laughs along the way. Let's tackle this stain-filled saga once and for all!

The Old Standby: Hot Water Extraction for Carpet Stains

Hot water extraction, also known as "steam cleaning," is the most popular professional carpet cleaning method out there. It's that classic scenario where cleaning technicians use special equipment to shoot hot water mixed with detergent deep into your carpets and then suck all the liquid back out along with dirt, allergens, and other undesirables.

But can this hot water hero take down stubborn stains? According to the carpet care pros, yes, it can! Hot water extraction is highly effective at lifting and removing many types of stains from food and beverages to foot traffic grime. The high water temperature helps dissolve staining substances while the detergent breaks up oily and greasy residues. Powerful suction then pulls the stain away.

The pros do warn that extremely heavy staining or darker discoloration that has set permanently into the carpet fibers cannot be removed by any cleaning method. But for relatively fresh, typical stains, hot water extraction earns top marks. Just be sure to allow proper drying time after cleaning to prevent new stains from wicking up.


  • Effectively lifts most common stains
  • Detergent tackles oily and greasy messes
  • High temperature helps dissolve staining substances
  • Powerful suction removes lifted stains


  • Long drying time required
  • May not remove heavy set-in stains


does carpet cleaning remove stains

A New Challenger Approaches: Dry Cleaning

Hot water extraction has dominated the industry, but dry cleaning methods are emerging as another chemical-free, low-moisture option. Let's see if they can battle stains!

Dry carpet cleaners do not inject water. Instead, they apply a powered cleaning compound to carpets and rely on rotating brushes and pads to work the product down into the fibers where stains lurk. The cleaning agents use natural solvents to dissolve and lift stains without excessive moisture. The powder is then vacuumed up along with the dissolved staining substances.

Tests by cleaning experts show dry cleaning methods perform effectively against food, drink, oil, and grease stains. However, heavily set stains and serious discoloration still pose a challenge for dry cleaning solutions.


  • Chemical-free, low-moisture method
  • Natural solvents dissolve stains
  • Lifts most food, drink, oil, and grease stains
  • No long dry time needed


  • May not remove heavy set-in stains
  • Can leave a residue of cleaning powder

Does Carpet Cleaning Remove Stains? Not All

While professional carpet cleaning is highly effective at lifting and removing many common stains, there are some stubborn types of discoloration that simply cannot be addressed through cleaning methods alone. Heavily set-in stains from red wine, coffee, ink stains, blood stains, and other strongly pigmented substances can permanently alter the carpet fibers themselves.

Other culprits like ink, paint, and dark plant pigments are also difficult to impossible to fully remove once they've bonded to the carpet. Bleach stains present a different challenge, as the bleach can destroy carpet dyes. In these severe staining cases, carpet patching or full replacement may be the only options. Cleaning methods simply cannot alter carpet fibers that have been permanently dyed by the staining agent.


removing ink stain from carpet

Bonus Round: DIY Cleaning Solutions for Stubborn Stains

If you're looking to tackle stains yourself between professional cleanings, some proven DIY pre-treatment solutions can help! Here are two popular homemade stain-fighting options:

  • Dish Soap, Vinegar, and Warm Water: For organic stains from food, beverages, dirt, or mud, mix a few drops of clear dish soap into warm water and distilled white vinegar. Apply the mixture directly to the stain with a clean cloth, let sit 5-10 minutes, then blot dry. Repeat as needed until the stain lifts. The vinegar helps cut through grease while the soap breaks down staining compounds.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide, Baking Soda, and Dish Soap: For tougher organic stains or discoloration, combine 1 part hydrogen peroxide, 2 parts baking soda, and a few drops dish soap into a paste. Gently spread onto the stain and let sit for 2-4 hours before blotting and vacuuming. The chemical reaction between the ingredients helps lift stubborn stains without harsh chemicals. Caution: Test on an inconspicuous area first, as hydrogen peroxide may lighten some carpet fibers.

While DIY solutions likely won't outperform professional methods, they can be an effective first line of defense against new stains if tackled immediately.

Removing Pet Stains from Carpet Fibers

  • Quick Blotting: Immediately blot the stain with paper towels to remove excess moisture and prevent it from setting.
  • Vinegar-Water Solution: Create a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water. Gently apply and blot the solution to neutralize the stain and odor.
  • Enzymatic Cleaners: Use enzymatic cleaners designed specifically for pet stains. These cleaners break down organic matter and effectively eliminate odors.
  • Baking Soda Treatment: After the area dries, sprinkle baking soda on the stain. Allow it to sit for a while, then vacuum it up. Baking soda helps absorb moisture and odors.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide-Dish Soap Mix: For tougher stains, mix hydrogen peroxide with a small amount of dish soap. Apply the solution to the stain, let it sit, then blot gently. Be cautious and test on a hidden spot first.

Remember to test any cleaning solution on a hidden area of the fabric to ensure it won't cause damage. Swift action is crucial for effectively removing pet stains and preventing long-term issues.

The Verdict: Cleaning Pros Are Still Your Best Stain-Fighting Bet

When it comes down to it, professional carpet cleaning - especially hot water extraction - reigns supreme for taking on the widest variety of stains and discoloration. While dry cleaning methods are emerging as an effective low-moisture option, they have more limitations than traditional steam cleaning. And DIY solutions, while helpful for pre-treating new stains, simply can't match the cleaning power of professional equipment and products.

So take heart, carpet stain victims - the professionals really can swoop in for the rescue! Just be sure to call for help sooner rather than later on fresh stains. And as for crumbs, dirt, allergens, and other carpet nasties that accumulate over time? Regular professional cleanings every 6-12 months are your best defense stains or no stains.

Your carpets work hard every day, absorbing all those footsteps and keeping your floors comfortable and welcoming. Don't wait until stains appear to call in the professional cleaning team. Protect your carpets and extend their life with regular deep cleanings using proven methods like hot water extraction. Your carpets give you so much - give them some love in return!


does carpet cleaning remove stains

More Carpet Cleaning Questions? Reach Out Today!

Hopefully this breakdown has helped unravel some of the mysteries around professional carpet cleaning and its skill at stain removal. If you have any other carpet care questions, feel free to contact us today at (860) 544-2927 to chat with a cleaning pro!

About Middletown Carpet Cleaners by AmeriBest

Middletown Carpet Cleaners by AmeriBest offers affordable services for residential and commercial customers. From antique rugs to carpets that are covered in pet stains, our team takes any cleaning project with stride. We hope to clean for you soon!


Are carpet stains permanent?

Carpet stains do not have to be permanent. Many fresh stains like food, mud, and pet accidents can be successfully removed by professional carpet cleaning methods like hot water extraction. However, highly pigmented stains that have set into the carpet fibers for a long time, like red wine or coffee, can potentially leave permanent discoloration. The key is to treat fresh stains quickly before they have a chance to bond strongly to the carpet fibers. So while no stain has to be permanent, time is of the essence for stain removal success.

How do you get deep old stains out of carpet?

Getting out old, stubborn stains from carpet can be challenging, but it is possible in many cases with the right methods. Start by pre-treating set-in stains with a targeted spot cleaner or homemade solution like vinegar, dish soap, and water. Then have the carpet professionally cleaned using hot water extraction, which uses high temperatures and strong suction to draw out deeply embedded staining material. Repeat spot treatments and professional cleaning as needed for very stubborn stains. Though it takes patience and perseverance, you can often successfully remove even old, set-in stains with professional-grade equipment.

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