After a long day at work, nothing beats coming home to a warm meal, taking your shoes off and walking over the carpet. But sometimes, disaster strikes, and your food and drink end up on the carpet fibres. The important thing to do is not panic, as we're here to help you out with some tips and tricks.

We've discussed the basics of carpet care in our other dedicated articles before. To summarise, use clean, colour fast cloth or paper towels to blot. Do not rub or scrub a wet stain, and do not use harsh products, such as bleach. Rinse the stain with cool water, and pre-test all cleaning solutions before using them for stain removal.

But before we get into the cleaning advice, let's briefly go over:

Drink stains

What are the most difficult to remove drink and food stains from carpets?

  • red wine
  • coffee
  • tea
  • milk
  • chocolate
  • oil based stains and greasy food stains, e.g. fried chicken
  • sauces like ketchup
  • spicy foods like curry

Red wine is the hardest drink to remove from carpet fibres, and it needs a swift answer. You need to blot it with paper towels or clean cotton cloths right away. Even professional carpet cleaners struggle to remove stains such as dry red wine.

Hot water is not advised here, especially if the wine is cheap. Fun fact about red wine - the more expensive it is, the easier it is to remove. Non-branded wine is usually stabilised with artificial dyes, which are more difficult to deal with.

Spicy foods, particularly curry, are another known bane of carpets. The stained area needs to be blotted right away if it's curry, which is the most difficult type of stain. Even 15 minutes are more than enough to have a permanently ruined carpet due to curry stains.

Tea or coffee stained carpet is too common all round the UK, especially near London. Did you know 165 million cups of tea are sipped every day in the UK? That's a ton of opportunities to have to remove a tea stain from your clothes or carpeting.

Unfortunately, many people consider tea and coffee "normal wear and tear" and will often leave the stains for months. This does not pose well for eventually trying to remove the stains, as it will be nigh impossible at that point. Always react promptly to any stain, even if all you can do at first is blotting it with a cloth.

Chocolate and ketchup tend to fall into the same difficulty graph, due to their similar composure. Both are plant products, and hot chocolate is usually trickier, as it contains milk. Milk on its own tends to produce an awful smell, which gets worse over time. You need to thoroughly rinse any milk stains to avoid having your room smell awful.

Oil and foods made with oil are troublesome stains, as they are resistant to water. In fact, untrained water-based cleaning may make matters even worse. Always be very careful with your flooring, so as to avoid expensive replacement and stubborn stains.

Now that you're aware of the threat, let's learn how to combat it effectively. We'll be taking a look at how to do it yourself, and how professionals remove stains. Keep reading to find out:

Spills on the carpet 2

How to remove food stains from carpets at home?

Before you undertake any cleaning, make sure your carpet can handle specific solutions and water. Some carpets, like sisal weave, are dry clean only, and should not be wet at all. Always consult with the manufacturer or professional carpet cleaners if you don't know how to clean your carpets.

Your best friends for home carpet cleaning are dish soap, white vinegar and baking soda. Assuming you have very bright carpet, hydrogen peroxide may also be an option. However, avoid it for dark colours, as it has a bleaching effect.

How to remove a cooking oil stain from a carpet?

For greasy food stains like butter or cooking oil, blot without applying too much pressure. Then, liberally sprinkle baking soda on top of the stain and wait. After 15-20 minutes pass, hoover the soda out of the carpet. If stain removal is not achieved yet, you can repeat the process right away.

How do I get milk stains out of my carpets?

If the kids spill milk or yoghurt, start by blotting it with a bright colour towel. It is best to use a colour fast, non-white colour cloth, as it will be easier to see milk on it. Then, spray it with a mixture of cool water and dish soap, and let it sit for a few minutes. Remove via blotting and rinsing the carpet, and let it air dry.

What is a good way to remove juice stains from carpets?

When the kids are a bit older, they start spilling juice and peanut butter instead. As always, blot first, then apply dish soap, white vinegar and warm water. Blot, rinse and repeat, then observe proper ventilation and heating of the room.

How do you remove red wine stains from a carpet?

Adults tend to spill alcoholic drinks, such as wine, beer and whiskey. Due to their composure, you need to quickly absorb as much as possible. Salt or baking soda will work well, but avoid excessively pouring either on natural carpets.

Then, white vinegar and cold water in a 50:50 ratio needs to be sprayed on top. It then should be allowed to work on the stain for up to an hour. The next step is to apply dish soap dissolved in water to the stained area. That needs to be agitated by lightly rubbing it with a soft brush, and then rinsed out.

For beer or other alcoholic beverages, you will need to avoid the vinegar entirely. Instead, reach for an industrial amount of baking soda, and pour it all over the stain after it's been blotted. Then, go about your day, leave it overnight, and hoover it out in the morning.

How are tea stains removed from carpets?

Tea and coffee stains are best dealt with by blotting immediately, then sprinkling some baking soda over the stain. After it has soaked up what it can, hoover it out, and get your spray bottle ready. Mix a few drops of dish soap into cool water in it, and spray the stain all over. Once it has sat there for a few minutes, proceed with the usual blotting and rinsing.

deep professional carpet cleaning companies London

Can professional carpet cleaning remove food and drink stains?

Professional carpet cleaners, equipped with powerful machines and special cleaning products, are the other choice. They are the better option when you don't have the time or the will to battle a stain. As always, consult with the manufacturers of your carpet before you choose a cleaning method.

The most effective stain removal method is hot water extraction. It involves using a commercial cleaning machine and eco-friendly cleaning solutions. The machine sprays water under pressure, then extracts most of it, taking dirt with it.

Professional carpet cleaners commonly combine this method with Prochem chemicals, which are completely harmless to carpet fibres. Extraction cleaning is the best way to maintain carpets stain and bacteria free. Below are some examples of what professionals clean your carpets with:

Usually, the carpet is pre-treated with a special solution, like Prespray Gold. This allows better result when treated with another product, such as Extraction Plus. If the carpet fibres require it, rinsing occurs with an additional detergent designed to remove other products safely.

For woollen or other natural fibres, appropriate solutions are used so as to prevent browning and yellowing. And if the carpet was unfortunately treated with store-brand solutions, defoamers are poured into the machine extraction tank. Any particular problems we've written about are cleaned using specific chemicals for stains, odours and germs.

In conclusion, whether you'll go with professionals or do it yourself is entirely up to you. Just make sure what you do doesn't end up ruining your carpet fibres. Make your own research, and read our blog further for more helpful advice.