Here is how:
To remove a stain, first blot the spot and dry work from the outside in, rinse thoroughly with clean water, then blot again.
Never ever scrub the carpet, or you risk ruining the fibres or letting the spill soak through to the underlay.
For more specific advice, find your type of stain below.
Wet or latex paint
Use a simple cleaning solution made up of 1/4 teaspoon of oxygen bleach (or white vinegar) mixed with 1 cup of water.
Special water-soluble stains
Try 1 tablespoon of ammonia mixed with 1 cup of water (but not on wool or wool-blended carpets; instead use mild detergent and water). If that doesn't work, you can try one part household bleach to five parts water, but only on solution-dyed carpets, such as polypropylene.
Bleach will harm other types of carpets; check with the manufacturer if you are unsure of what type of carpet you have.
Fats and wax
Place a paper towel over the carpet and iron on warm setting. The wax, fat, or oil should come off the carpet and stick to the paper towel.
These can be removed by gently rubbing the pile with the edge of a hard and flat surface, such as a dull knife.
Moisten a cotton ball or soft cloth with alcohol (available at pharmacies) and press it on the affected area. Once the glue residue is thoroughly moistened, gently wipe it off and repeat until the carpet is clean.
Wax and gum
Use ice to freeze the wax or gum, then shatter it with a blunt object, such as a spoon. Vacuum before the pieces soften, and blot the carpet with a white towel.
Blot the area with a rag dipped in nail polish remover.
Absorb as much as possible with white towels, then blot with a damp, cool cloth. Next, spray or blot with a solution of one part white vinegar to one part water. Finally, apply a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of oxygen bleach mixed with 1 cup of water, rinse, and blot dry.
Even if you don't have many mishaps, you should always have your carpet thoroughly cleaned every 12 to 18 months. There are many professional carpet cleaning services, or you can rent a steam carpet cleaner.
If you decide to do it yourself, you need to keep the following few things in mind:
• Make sure the cleaning equipment you choose has enough vacuum power to allow the carpet to dry in 6 to 12 hours or you may risk damage from getting it too wet.
• Use fans or a dehumidifier to expedite drying time after cleaning. Be aware that if your carpet is wet for more than 24 hours, you risk mildew and bacteria growth.
• Make sure you remove all detergent after cleaning.
• Double-check your warranty. Carpets with stain resistance must be cleaned with products formulated for them or you risk impairing their effectiveness and voiding your warranty.
*In addition to these methods, there are several formulas on the market. But before you try one, test it out in an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won't discolour your carpet.
Janice Anderssen is Women24's Decor and DIY expert. Ask her a question here or visit www.homedzine.co.za for more tips.
Have experience with stains? Share your cleaning tips with our readers in the box below.