Hey guys…It’s been a while since I’ve posted a helpful tip to add to your arsenal of automotive interior repairs I’ve giving here on my blog.


So I thought of giving you a bit on Stain Removal on Carpet. This is one thing I get a lot of questions about how to get those nasty brown, black, or even red stains out of the interior carpet of the vehicles I work on daily.

The trick isn’t to it isn’t a trick at all; it’s timing and knowledge of what to use where and when. Getting to a spill before it can soak in is your best defense against a stain on your carpet. If you spill something, wipe it up and soak it up as quickly as possible and then flush with water and soak it up with a towel or what ever you have. But that’s not always the case, and that’s where this little guide will help you, but really if you can wipe spills up as fast as you can, this helps to get the actual stain out later when you have more time.

One of the most common stains I see in vehicles are footprints or skid marks from dirty and greasy shoes. The answer to this is a de-greaser. Many options exist in this situation, but I’m here to make this as simple as possible and practical. You will need a couple of white towels, a scrub brush, a mild detergent, like Dawn dish soap, and a small pail of warm water mixing the soap to 1/4 oz. Soap to a gallon of water. Dip your brush in the soap and water, scrub the areas lightly with the brush making sure not to soak the carpet, then wipe and blot with the towel. Repeat if necessary, patting and blotting the room with the towel to remove dirt, grime, and water; you don’t want it to sour later if left wet. If you have a shop vac, use it to suck up the water and to fluff the carpet pile back up to dry better. If needed, place a fan in the vehicle to dry further if you’ve had a bad one.

Now sometimes, more then not, you will need something a little more substantial to get the grease out. I use Castrol Super Clean, the purple stuff. I’ve used Simple Green at times too, and some of the products at some of the detail shops I’m at occasionally, so any good de-greaser will work. Just spray the area with the cleaner, scrub it with the brush, then wipe it with a towel. Now if at all possible, flush the area with water; this will help to remove the chemicals from the carpet and will help to preserve the natural look of the rug. Some of those chemicals are pretty strong and, if left, can damage the carpet.

Soda pop and coffee stains are another I run across a lot. Now this one can be a booger to get out. A coffee stain, if left, can permanently damage the carpet, and at times I have had to dye the rug to cover up the color. If coffee is your problem, here are a few tips, catch the spill as quickly as possible, then flush with mild soap and water like before with the grease, but you may have to soak it a little more to get it out. Now if this is an old stain, one thing you can try is hydrogen peroxide. This can be used as a mild bleaching agent. Just pour a little in a cup and, with a toothbrush, scrub it into the stain. Let sit for about 20-30 minutes, then flush with your soapy water solution. If this doesn’t work, I found a product at my local janitorial supply shop called Perculator, it comes in a spray bottle, is primarily a peroxide mix, and works pretty well, but it’s still not a miracle worker. Coffee can be a pain, but with some luck and timing on this one, you can get it out. Now soda pop, if it’s not an orange or red, which I’ll talk about in a minute, can usually be taken care of with warm water and soap.

Food stains range from greasy french fries smashed in the carpet to dried ketchup, jelly beans, and candy. Most of these can be dealt with with soap and water. Ammonia can be added to the solution to help cut the greasy foods. Scrape the chunks out with a blunt knife before you get wet. This will help not to spread the stain further. Candies might take a little more due to dyes added for color; wash as much as possible to remove the candy; if the stain remains, you can try peroxide, but as I said, there are dyes in some candies that do just that; dye the carpet. Gum is another candy that can be removed by mostly picking it out, but the rest might take a little chemical. Goof Off is a good one to keep on hand for many different things, but it works excellent on gum too. After you pick most of it out, just take a little Goof Off on a towel and wipe the rest right out.

Red Wine is a food stain but treated a little differently. If it’s fresh, flush it with cold water and soak it up as much as possible. Try even a little club soda, pour it directly onto the stain, and soak it with a towel. This should get the most out of it. One last trick is an enzyme cleaner; enzymes get right to it regarding food stains. They are known for removing foodstuff stains, but I haven’t had much luck with red wine though, so I’ll talk about it in a minute about getting the red colors out of your carpet.

Now if you have a misfortune and happen to get a blood stain on your carpet, then this one needs to be handled with cold water and not warm, or you will set the color. If it’s dried, then scrap the dried blood with a blunt knife to get the chunks out, vacuum them up, then scrub the area with cold water and mild soap. Peroxide can be used to help remove the reddish tint if needed. Then flush again with the soap and water, then vacuum with your shop vac. Another remedy is a blood enzyme, which will eat the blood away. Blood Buster is a good one; it’s an enzymatic cleaner designed for bio stains.

One that I deal with upon occasion is pet urine. Talk about nasty…but they have to pee, too, just not where we always want them to. This one is one you can go to your kitchen for; vinegar helps to neutralize the acids in the pee. Supplies for this one are paper towels if still wet, white towels, mild soap, warm water, a brush, and vinegar. First, soak up what you can if it’s still wet with the paper towels; next, take your soapy solution of warm water and soap, 1/4oz. Of soap to a gallon of water, dip the brush and scrub the area with the soapy water, blot with the towel and repeat until the stain is gone. Afterward, pour a little vinegar over the stain and let set for about an hour. Lastly, rinse with water, vacuum with a shop vac, or dab with towels until dry. If the stain is still there, let it dry, then apply an enzyme. Enzymes work well for all bio stuff, including urine. The guys at Petguest have developed a 100% enzyme concentrate to eliminate pet stains and odors.

The old melted crayon stain on the carpet…Man, what a mess this can be, but believe it or not, it’s pretty easy to remove if you have a clothes iron and a brown paper bag. Scrape the majority away with a blunt knife, then lay the brown bag over the crayon and, with the heated iron, rub it over the bag over the spot. The heat from the iron will melt the crayon into the bag. Just rotate the bag around to keep a clean side down, and after a while, the crayon will be on the bag, not the carpet. Patience on this one helps, but again if the spot remains, try a little chemical like your Goof Off.

Paint is another carpet stain that can give you a bunch of problems. The first thing you need to do is determine what kind of paint it is. If it’s automotive paint, a solvent paint reducer or thinner can be removed. I usually use more delicate lacquer, which quickly removes most paint spills. If it’s house paint, scrape off the excess with a blunt knife and pull out the Goof Off; try not to spread it out too much, work small, and from the outside in on the stain. I guess nail polish is paint, but with this one, use a nail polish remover or straight acetone with a towel, and again work the color from the outside so as not to spread it out too far.

Now this is probably got to be the worst carpet stain out there. The red color on the carpet. A #40 Red dye causes this in drinks like Kool-Aid and red and orange sodas. If you run across this one, there is only one way to remove it: with a strong chemical. I have found a product that I use on these types of stains and have had excellent luck with it; it’s called Red Dye Solution. Others are out there, like Red Relief and Red Out, and all work similarly. You pore the chemical on the stain, and with a wet white towel and a steam iron, you remove the paint. It is a time-consuming project, and with some luck, all the stains will be removed. Sometimes a little blue hue will be left from the chemical, but it sure is a lot better than a bright red color jumping out at you. But with some carpet dye over the top, you’re good as new. These products are usually found at your local janitorial supply shop or online. I’m working on getting some on my site, so bear with me.

Stain Removal In Carpet can sometimes be frustrating, but there is no substitute for a professional. These tips can help and may save you, but if you have any problems or feel the stain is just a little above your head, don’t hesitate to call an automotive interior repair professional like me to make your life a little easier. For professionals, feel free to post your tips in the comments so we can all benefit from your expertise in carpet stain removal.

Mike Warren

The Interior Guy, LLC., Automotive Interior Repair

I’ve been in the business for a long time and know many ends and outs of repairing upholstery, from leather and vinyl repair to plastic repair and dyeing of all interior trim parts, including carpet and cloth. Need some advice or a tip to fix your automotive interior? I’ve compiled helpful material with great products I recommend and use in my repairs. Visit theinteriorguyllc.com [http://theinteriorguyllc.com] for more articles just like this one.

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