Most Common Rug Spots and How to Deal with Them

Most common rug spots and how to deal with them
Most common rug spots and how to deal with them

You know how there’s always that one piece of advice that your parents dole out that seems to stick with you no matter where you go? Mine was always, “Don’t borrow trouble.” Anytime I started to worry about something I couldn’t help or couldn’t change, my mother would say “don’t borrow trouble.” In other words, don’t waste your time worrying about problems that haven’t yet happened.

When I first purchased my home, one of those troubles that I always seemed to be borrowing was the look of my area rugs. When friends visited, I constantly worried that they’d see the small stains our puppy had left behind on them as she was “potty” training. Then I had kids and I learned 1) true friends don’t really care about the condition of your flooring and 2) how to deal with stains when they do (inevitably) arise.

Better than hoard this knowledge all to myself, I’m more than happy to share how I’ve dealt with the most common rug spots, so that you don’t have to borrow trouble either.

Pet vomit
Pet vomit is perhaps the worst sound a pet owner can hear and leaves behind one of the least fun stains to tackle. When it comes to vomit, you’ll need to act fast – remove the, uh, solid particles as quickly as you can, then cover the stain in baking soda and water. This will neutralize the acids in the vomit and protect your rug’s fibers. You can then use a shop vac to suck up the baking soda and water. Repeat this process as many times as necessary.

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Pet messes
When your pet leaves his “mark” behind, there are a number of ways you can approach these kinds of stains effectively. The first thing you’ll want to do is soak up as much urine as you can using a rag or paper towels. Then, you can try soaking a sponge in water and peroxide and using it to treat the stain as well as the odor. You can also try using white vinegar and water instead of peroxide, which may stain dark colored rugs. Take caution when using commercial cleaners, however, as these aren’t always meant for delicate area rugs.

Red wine and coffee
Blot up the bulk of the stain using a white cloth. Once you’ve removed most of it, you can use the same baking soda and water method that is recommended for pet vomit. For coffee, you can add a little cold water to the stain and continue to blot at it until it disappears. With either method, take care not to saturate the stain as that could lead to deep-down damage of your rug’s fibers.

When it comes to removing ink from your synthetic fiber rugs, Real Simple (@RealSimple) suggests blotting with an oil-based solvent, allowing the area to dry, and then repeating if necessary. For natural-fiber rugs like jute area rugs, the magazine suggests spraying the stain with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of clear dishwashing liquid and a cup of lukewarm water then blotting dry with a white cloth. You can follow this treatment with the white vinegar and water solution mentioned above and repeat as necessary.

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Kid goop
Jelly, grape juice, candy: these are the stains that strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned parent. The first thing you’ll need to do is scrape off the sticky offender using the dull edge of a butter knife. Once you’ve removed the excess, spray the stain with lukewarm water until it’s lightly damp. You can then apply a solution of ¼ teaspoon of mild detergent and 1 liter of cold water using a clean white cloth and laying it over the stain. Press down very lightly on the back of the cloth and massage the stain out of the rug’s fibers. This will work by getting the solution into the rug without damaging its delicate fibers. If this technique doesn’t work, you can also try a more alkaline solution such as a mixture of ammonia and water. Just be sure to test in an inconspicuous area of the rug first.

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