How To Remove Red Stains From Carpet

Removing red stains or any other color is easier with proper stain identification.

Carpet stains come in a rainbow of colors and from many sources. Rather than try and match a stain remover to a particular stain color, it's easier to match the stain remover to the cause of, or the type of stain.

A colored stain (including) can be generally classified as either synthetic (man made) or organic (natural).

The approach to removing a synthetic stain such as from a melted popsicle would be different from the approach to remove an organic stain from spilled grape juice.

The basic difference between a synthetic stain and an organic stain is in how the color is produced.

Synthetic stains are produced by adding man made (artificial) colors (dyes) to:

  • Kool-Aid, soft drinks, and many other hot and cold beverages
  • food stuff including candy and pet foods
  • cosmetics
  • medicines including cough syrups
  • furniture stains
  • other products

Organic stains are from colors that occur naturally in a product such as:

  • Natural fruit juices
  • Red wine
  • Tomato products including juice, ketchup, and sauce
  • blood
  • jelly, jam and other condiments
  • other products

The qualifying question to ask: Is the color of the stain from a synthetic dye or an organic source?

Procedures to remove synthetic red stains

  1. Time is of the essence! Immediately blot up as much of the spill as possible. The longer a stain sets the more stubborn it becomes to remove. Use a clean white bleach-free cloth to remove a stain as the color from the cloth could transfer to the fabric or surface you are cleaning. 

    How to Blot: Push your index finger knuckle into a white bleach-free cloth. Work your knuckle forward and backward then left to right across the carpet stain. Twist your wrist in a clockwise direction. Carpet fibers are twisted clockwise. This motion removes stains from between the fibers without causing the carpet to fuzz. Remember to frequently move the towel to prevent the stain from spreading.
  2. Apply an alkaline cleaning solution (pH 9-10) and blot to remove as much of any staining material present and possibly the red stain if it's water soluble.

    Always pretest any stain remover on an inconspicuous area of the carpet. Apply a few drops to each color in the carpet test area. Press a clean, white cloth on the wet area for approximately 30 seconds. Check both the towel and the carpet for color transfer, color change or any other damage. Repeat same procedure with another stain remover if you notice any change.

    Do not scrub the area. Scrubbing can distort the pile and harm the fibers. Scrubbing can result in making the stain set into the carpet or rug.

    If the colored staining material contains oils or greases as found in some cosmetic products, then a volatile dry solvent spotter should be utilized first. The solvent should then be rinsed with an alkaline cleaning solution.
  3. If available, utilize a carpet cleaning machine or a spray bottle to apply the alkaline cleaning solution to flush the stain. Then extract to remove the stains from the carpet. As an alternative a shop vac may be utilized for extraction purposes. Dry treated area as much as possible. Care must be taken not to over-wet the carpet.

  4. To remove any remaining colored stains, a reducing bleach (sodium bisulfite, sodium hydrosulfite, among others) needs to be used. Most synthetic colored stains require a reducing bleach for removal. By placing a damp towel over the stain and applying heat from a steam iron will accelerate the action of the reducing agent. Use caution as heat may damage the carpet fibers or cause color loss.
  5. An acid (household vinegar or acetic acid) will also accelerate the action of a reducing bleach.

  6. When the desired results are achieved, thoroughly rinse the reducing agent from carpet with an alkaline cleaning solution and dry carpet as much as possible.

    When most of the moisture is removed, you may use clean, dry towels weighed down by flat, heavy objects like a book or brick on the damp area to absorb any remaining moisture. This helps prevent wicking of any deep staining material not removed that will move to the surface as the carpet dries.


Procedures to remove organic red stains

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 above.
  2. To remove any remaining stain color, an oxidizing bleach (hydrogen peroxide or sodium percarbonate) needs to be used. Most organic red stains require an oxidizing bleach for removal. By placing a damp towel over the stain and applying heat from a steam iron will accelerate the action of the oxidizer. Use caution as heat may damage the carpet fibers or cause color loss. A strong alkaline (ammonia) will accelerate the action of an oxidizer, however, caution must be used. A strong alkaline can cause color loss and set the stain with natural fibers.
  3. When the desired results are achieved, thoroughly rinse the oxidizing agent from carpet with an alkaline cleaning solution and dry carpet as much as possible. When most of the moisture is removed, you may use clean, dry towels weighed down by flat, heavy objects like a book or brick on the damp area to absorb any remaining moisture. This helps prevent wicking of any deep staining material not removed that will move to the surface as the carpet dries.

Oxidizing bleaches work best on natural (organic) stains and reducing bleaches work best on synthetic (man-made) stains, however, oxidizers can be used on synthetic stains and reducing agents can be used on natural stains.

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