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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Getting 3-year old spots out of white carpeting for pennies

These unsightly spots were partially hidden beneath the edge of a sofa.

I'm unsure what they were originally. They appeared shortly after having some guests over, for a holiday dinner (kids all went to the living room to play Monopoly while adults lingered at the table). It could be sparkling apple cider, but I'm not at all certain. Anyways, I had tried liquid dish detergent to no avail. My intent had always been to buy a commercial carpet spot and stain remover.

One day, last week, I thought to try some ordinary, drugstore 3% solution, hydrogen peroxide. I dribbled tiny amounts from the cap of the bottle, onto each spot. I very gently rubbed with a cotton t-shirt rag. And then reapplied the hydrogen peroxide a couple more times. I only used about 2 tablespoons of the hydrogen peroxide, in total.

When it appeared that the spots were sufficiently removed, I blotted the area with a paper napkin.

Spots are gone. Carpet looks great, again. It's hard to believe that this carpeting is now 21 years old.

We've very recently rearranged some furniture in the living room, and this area of the carpet was in full view. Taking care of those spots is one more item to check off of my list.


  1. A couple of weeks ago one of my cats was doing the noise of barfing and looking around (always during the night) we didn't find "it". The next day I went to work and hubby called and said he found "it". Right in the center of my youngest daughter's bedroom (she is away at college). He tried to clean it up but it had left a pink stain (from the food). I tried to clean it but made it worse. We called a professional and he couldn't fix it either so now there is a pink stain on carpet in the middle of her room. The carpet cleaner cleaned all the carpet in the house while he was here. It took days for it to dry.

    I don't understand why I couldn't get the spot cleaned up because I have spot cleaned many other spots on the same carpet and the stain lifted just fine. This time it actually left a bleach-like spot after using hydrogen peroxide. The whole house has the same carpet. I am glad you had good fortune getting the spots up.

    We have another problem and that is our couch has the lazy boy function for foot rests and when the metal rubs together to put the foot rest out it leaves little metal shavings kind of like the grit from a pencil lead. That graphite-like stuff falls to the carpet and when we move furniture around there are big grey to black spots on the carpet. It is not easy to vacuum. We called the furniture store to tell them and they didn't care, they just suggested to call a carpet cleaner. Now all our furniture sits on large pieces of cardboard which is unsightly but we won't have spots to clean anymore.


    1. Hi Alice,
      that's a shame about both your kitty-type stains and the recliner stains. It must be frustrating to have to deal with them on a continuing basis.
      A large stain would be much harder to make less noticeable, than small "dots" of stain. I also cleaned a few spots in the hallway, that were the size of dimes, using the hydrogen peroxide, and it did fine. These were not very dark spots, however, so didn't need a lot of it. But wow, it made such a difference in how that hallway carpet looks now, just to get rid of a handful of spots. One of the bedrooms has some stains on the carpet, and I'll be trying this on those, too.

      Have a great day, Alice!

    2. I feel Alice's pain. We have problems with our cat upchucking on the carpet, too. I've had good luck with Woolite Carpet and Upholstery cleaner. I had one unfortunate experience where I thought that was the product I was using and used it to clean a spot in the middle of the carpet--but it wasn't the right product and it lightened the color (it didn't totally bleach it, but it's noticeable). I found a tutorial online where you can match the color of your carpet with a crayon and color in the bleached spot--my carpet is an odd color so that didn't work so well for me, but maybe it would help someone else. I tell myself that my house has that "lived in and loved" look. :)

    3. Hi Kris,
      I've used crayons on wood furniture to fill small scratches. And I've used Sharpies to fill in small bleached dots of dark fabric. But for large stains on carpeting, I think area and accent rugs are a great solution. So is rearranging the furniture.

    4. Those are great ideas ... but this would be in a weird place for all of those solutions so I just live with it.

      Black Sharpies work well on black dress shoes (especially kid's shoes), too. Apparently my kids can't walk across a room without scuffing the toes of their shoes. ;)

    5. What? You mean a grand piano wouldn't look right sitting right smack in front of the only doorway in and out of the living room?

      I have seen some pretty creative use of small area rugs, though.

      I've also used a Sharpie to disguise a gray hair or two. When you just have one or two in the front, you can quickly do a touch-up before heading out the door, with a Sharpie.

    6. Alice, I was reading some about using hydrogen peroxide on stains. It appears that it works for some folks, but like you, it left bleached out spots for other folks.

      For some, the bleached out spots blended in better over time, as the bleached parts picked up normal "dirt". One person was cleaning some spots, and cleaning with hydrogen peroxide did leave a "bleached" mark, which he later figured was due to the surrounding part of the carpet still being dirty. So the bleached mark was actually what color the carpet should have been. He then cleaned the surrounding area to get it all to match.

      A lot of how well hydrogen peroxide worked depended on what the original color of the carpet was. My carpet came out looking good, probably because it is already white (can't get much more "bleached" than white). And some success depended on carpet fiber type.

      Many professional carpet cleaners use hydrogen peroxide (according to several websites), but in stronger versions than 3%. But all recommended testing in an inconspicuous spot, like inside a closet.

      If this has always worked before on your carpet, then I would wonder what was the difference this time. A chemical reaction between hydrogen peroxide and either the stomach acids from the throw-up or some other cleaning agent residue in the carpet?

      The other thing I read was to only allow the hydrogen peroxide to sit for a couple of minutes, then blot it up as well as possible, with paper towels (the paper may blot better than fabric, some said). The reapply a few minutes later, and blot. this is sort of what I did. With mine, I used the hydrogen peroxide in drops, as I was only trying to remove rather small stains.I dropped a little onto each stain, blotted with a rag, then with a paper napkin at the very end, to get as much of the hydrogen peroxide out as possible.

      One solution if the bleaching is very noticeable, is to have the carpet patched. A professional (and I would never do this myself, but only hire a professional) can cut out the bleached portion, and carefully install a patch cut from a piece inside a closet.

      If it were me, I'd weigh whether we really needed to go to the expense of a patch job, or if I could just throw an area rug over it until we were ready to re-carpet or put in wood flooring. If we were about to put our house up for sale, I'd probably hire someone to do a patch. But if it's just for us, I'd wait it out with some sort of "disguise" for the time being.

      So, lesson about using hydrogen peroxide -- test on inconspicuous area first, and use caution if not on white carpet or fabric.

  2. You've had carpet for 21 years, white at that? That's pretty remarkable. Did you have pets any of that time? While my kids were hard on things, the cats are much harder with scratching and upchucking. Little unsightly reminders of them everywhere.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      our pets have been limited to the kind that live in glass bowls. However, our neighbor had a cat who frequently snuck into our house. Our own cat died shortly before moving into our house (when we put the carpeting in).

      Now, this carpet in the living room is in the best condition of all of the remaining carpet. Most of the downstairs is not carpeted, but has some sort of hard flooring, instead. And I think that helps to have a hard floor to walk on before heading up the stairs. The other carpet is in bedrooms, hallways and the stairs.

      When we bought the house, we left the existing carpet in the family room from 1977 (lovely rust color) until 2009 when it was replaced with wood. That room took the most kid-abuse over the years, and we just took the attitude that Kris does, that our house was loved and lived in. With kids, you just have to accept there will be stains, messes, dirt, and in all of the places you'd never imagine they could get.

      But with cats, they never seem to outgrow throwing up, and only get worse in their "bathroom" habits. Hard floors are good.

  3. NIce and frugal,save to extend the carpet

  4. That was a nice fix, Lili. Hydrogen peroxide works well for stain removal on white clothing too. I mix it as a paste with Dawn dish detergent, and sometimes with an addition of baking soda too, and it has gotten some tough stains out. I don't even buy stain commercial stain removers anymore. Did you know deodorant bar soap rubbed as a paste onto those oil spots that seem to get on t-shirts takes them out? Sometimes it takes a second try, but I have had good luck with that.

    1. Hi Mary,
      I've used it before on white shirt underarm stains and it's worked well. I'll try making a paste of it with Dawn and baking soda for tough stains, and see if that works better on some of them for me. No, I've never tried deodorant bar soap on stains. I'll try that, too. Thank you!

    2. Yes, the hydrogen peroxide mix works great on the yellow underarm stains. I have saved many clothing items that way.


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