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Ideas & Advice > Rug Size Guide > How to Remove Stains Out of Area Rugs

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How to Remove Stains Out of Area Rugs

Even if you’re extremely careful with your rug, life happens and so do stains. Stains caused by spilled drinks, mud, kids, and pet accidents can all leave residue on your rug and risk creating foul odors. Fortunately, there are some very basic ways to treat stains as soon as they happen or after the fact to restore your rug to its former glory.

Learn More About Removing Stains from Rugs

  1. Step 1: Remove Excess
  2. Step 2: Apply Stain Remover
  3. Step 3: Blot the Stain Away
  4. Cleaning Specific Stain Types

  5. Cleaning Coffee Stains
  6. Cleaning Pet Stains
  7. Cleaning Wine Stains
  8. Cleaning Nail Polish Stains
  9. Cleaning Ink Stains

Step 1: Remove Excess

If you’re treating a stain as soon as it happens, it’s vital to remove the excess right away. Pick up any solids on the rug and throw them away before they can stain the rug any further. Likewise, you want to blot excess liquids with an absorbent cloth to draw the majority of the moisture out of the rug and away from deeper rug fibers. This step really is essential for creating a smaller, less saturated stain that is easier to clean.

Queen Size Runner Rug

Step 2: Apply Stain Remover

The exact stain remover you use on your rug depends on the rug’s materials. There are many commercial stain removers you can purchase for specific rug materials like wool or cotton. In these cases, use the stain remover according to its care instructions. If you don’t have an official stain remover on hand, there are many homemade recipes that can help clean the stain. One of the most popular formulas is a mixture of dish soap, vinegar, and water. Use 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water. Stir these elements together and then pour some of this mixture onto the stain. Allow it to sit for about 5 to 10 minutes to ensure that it reaches the rug’s deepest fibers. 

No matter what cleaning method or formula you use, it’s important to test your rug’s color fastness first. Color fastness is a term used to describe how the color or dye may leak out of the rug when cleaning products are used. Test the cleaner on a small, less visible area before using it on a prominent stain to ensure that your rug’s colors don’t fade or bleed with the cleaner.

Step 3: Blot the Stain Away

Whether you’re using a commercial stain cleaner or a home-made solution, you need to blot away the excess moisture/cleaner from the stain. The mixture we described above can sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before it should be blotted away with an absorbent cloth. Other cleaners may need longer or shorter times based on their own instructions. In any case, be sure to dab the surface with a clean absorbent cloth and blot the stain until nothing transfers to the cloth.

Round rug for queen size bed

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Queen Size Runner Rug

Cleaning Specific Stain Types

Coffee Stains

Like other stains, coffee stains should be treated according to the instructions detailed above. The home remedy solution of dish soap, white vinegar, and water can be used to remove that stain with one change: You can change the formula to use one tablespoon of vinegar instead of a half a cup if you are cleaning the stain immediately after it occurs. Another home remedy for coffee stains is to use 1 cup hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap over the stain.

Pet Stains

Once again, the exact cleaners you use for your pet stains will depend on the rug’s materials. Wool rugs stained by pets can be cleaned with a mixture of white vinegar and water. 1/4 vinegar and two cups of water is a great solution for these rugs. Other materials may use different types of cleaners to better suit their fibers. Since this is a common stain, we’ve created a full guide on how to clean dog urine from rugs to give more in depth solutions.

Learn more about from our Pet Stain Removal Guide.

Cleaning Specific Stain Types (continued)

Wine Stains

The best home remedy for wine stains is two parts hydrogen peroxide and one part dish soap. For example, one cup of hydrogen peroxide would balance with one half cup of dish soap. Blend this mixture and then apply it to the rug through a spray bottle or blotting. Like any other stain, it’s best to blot away the spill as soon as it happens and then treat it with this mixture or another home remedy to clean a smaller area very thoroughly. 

Nail Polish

It’s important to dab the excess nail polish away and not rub it, or else you will spread the polish further over the rug’s surface and deeper into the fibers. Once that’s done, there are many ways to remove the soaked nail polish. White vinegar, baking soda, and commercial cleaners are three solutions for immediate stains. If you are treating a stain after it is fully dried, a surprisingly effective cleaner is hair spray and rubbing alcohol. Spray a good amount of hair spray onto the nail polish stain, and then follow up with small doses of rubbing alcohol. Use a toothbrush or a small scrub brush over the nail polish stain for about a minute to remove it. Dried nail polish can be carefully scraped off the rug’s surface as well. 

Round rug for queen size bed

Cleaning Specific Stains Types (Final)


Rubbing alcohol is one of the best solutions for ink. Apply the rubbing alcohol to a sponge or towel and then gently blot the stain until the ink lifts. Then, rinse that area with water. For more inset stains, hydrogen peroxide can be blotted over the area to remove the ink. Hydrogen peroxide may stain the rug, so be sure to test a smaller area to ensure you don’t damage the rug. Outside of home remedies, standard commercial cleaners can also be used to remove ink stains from rugs and carpet.

Whether your stain is fresh or old, you don’t have to worry about it sullying your rug forever. With the cleaning methods listed above and common stains addressed, you now have the knowledge to care for your rug and restore it to its former beauty whether your rug is a solid white rug or a vibrant boho rug.


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