Skip to main content
Vacuums

The 5 worst carpet stains and how to clean them

You'll want to tear your hair out—and your carpet.

A person using a Bissell carpet cleaner Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Carpet owners know: Not all stains are created equal. Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a homeowner like a glass of red wine tumbling to the floor or a new puppy popping a squat right on a patch of pristine plush. Knowing how to get stains out of carpet is a valuable skill.

Since not every rug is machine washable, you'll need to get creative when tackling carpet stains. Some types of stains are easily removed, while others require ample elbow grease and special cleaning solutions. Then there are the nightmare stains–those old stains that won’t come out no matter what you try.

Here are five of the most common types of carpet stains—and how to clean them.

1. Red Wine

A glass of red wine spilling onto carpet.
Credit: Getty Images / Rapid Eye

Red wine is delicious in a glass–less so when spilled on your carpet.

Supplies needed:

If red wine spills, clean it immediately. Use a clean cloth to blot the area. You can use plain water or a solution of one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of hand dishwashing liquid, and two cups of warm water.

If you use the solution, make sure to sponge the carpet with water afterward—no one likes a vinegar-scented floor.

If this doesn’t work, try a heavy-duty solution made of one part dishwashing liquid and two parts hydrogen peroxide. Spot test first to make sure it doesn’t bleach your carpet. Wipe it off with a damp cloth after use.

2. Pet Stains

A dog sitting on a carpeted floor.
Credit: Getty Images / cerro_photography

Luckily, fresh pet stains are usually easy to remove.

Supplies needed:

We love our cats and dogs, but we don’t exactly love their... pet mess. Luckily, fresh pet stains are usually easy to remove.

Soak up as much liquid as possible with newspaper or towels, then wash the area with cold water. We’d recommend following up with a store-bought cleaner or odor neutralizer.

Avoid any removal tools that heat the carpet, as these will only set the stain. Try rewetting the area, then put an enzyme cleaner in a spray bottle and spray over the area. Let it sit overnight, then soak up the liquid with paper towels.

For severe carpet stains, try a carpet stain remover like the Bissell Little Green Pro that suctions out deeply rooted stains.

3. Blood

A person cleaning a dark red stain from carpet.
Credit: Getty Images / Andrey Popov

Enzyme cleaners are just the thing to help clean-up tough blood stains.

Supplies needed:

A wound—no matter how small—is bad enough without the added stress of staining your carpet.

To get the blood stain out of the carpet, dab the stain with a solution of one tablespoon dish soap and two cups of cold water. (Hot water can set protein stains like blood.) When you're done, absorb the liquid with a dry cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.

If you’re still not seeing results, you can dampen the remaining stain with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. Do a spot check to make sure it doesn’t lighten your carpet. You can leave the hydrogen peroxide on the spot for up to an hour, then dab at it with a cloth.

We've also had success with enzyme cleaners–they work wonders cleaning up anything that originated inside a living body.

4. Old stains

A dirty carpet being cleaned using a Bissell carpet cleaner.
Credit: Bissell

Old carpet stains are some of the hardest to tackle so you may need some assistance.

Supplies needed:

Any stain can prove impossible to remove if you leave it alone long enough. Old carpet stains are some of the hardest to tackle.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what the nature of the stain is, how long it has been there, and how hard you are willing to work.

Hydrogen peroxide and store-bought cleaning products can go a long way. Wet vacs can also suck up a significant amount of packed-down dirt molecules. The Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet looks just like an upright vacuum but cycles through cleaning product and sucks up all the dirt.

5. Bleach

A person on their hands and knees cleaning a carpet.
Credit: Getty Images / CentralITAlliance

Bleach is a nightmare for carpet fibers.

Supplies needed:

Bleach comes in handy when it comes to cleaning our towels or toilet bowl. However, it’s a nightmare for carpet fibers.

The quicker you can jump into cleaning action, the better your outcome will be. Protect your hands with gloves and soak up the stain with a cloth (one that you don’t mind getting bleach on, like a white towel). Use a combination of a dishwashing liquid and water to dab at the stain from the outside in to avoid spreading.

Unlike most other stains, bleach lightens the shade of your carpet. If it’s already started to work its magic, the best you can hope for is to hide the mark on the carpet with a strategically placed couch.

Related content

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or Flipboard for the latest deals, product reviews, and more. Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.