Foods That Leave the Most Stubborn Stains on Carpets (And How to Clean Them)

author Gavin Ong  Marketing Manager of Eurobel Rugs + Carpets.

  WWS contributor info-icon.png


Removing food stains on a carpet is rarely an exciting task. Some foods can leave stubborn carpet stains, leading to a long and costly stain-removal session.


Clean carpets can make a room look warm and cozy. However, if you place a carpet in an area with a lot of foot traffic, there's a chance that food accidents can happen, leaving a nasty stain. The chance increases if you have guests, pets, or children around.

When food spillage happens, the stain it leaves could be challenging to clean. You could either hire a service or do carpet cleaning yourself, but the degree of success depends on the type of carpet you have.

If you have a carpet that sees a lot of foot traffic, this article highlights some common foods that leave pesky stains to avoid, thus controlling your money-spending costs.

But first, it helps to know the most challenging type of carpet to clean to guide you if you're ever shopping for another rug.


The Hardest Carpets to Clean


Some carpets are easier to clean than others because of their pile height.

Carpets with long pile heights tend to feel softer and more luxurious, but can be difficult to clean because food and drinks can seep deep into the fibers.

The longer pile height can also make it easier for the stain to spread because of the larger surface area.


Foods That Leave the Most Stubborn Stains On Carpets


Regardless of your carpet, removing the food stains on it is rarely ever an exciting task. Fortunately, not all foods can leave a severe carpet stain if it spills.

However, there is a handful of foods you need to be extra cautious about since a spill from them could lead to a long stain-removal session after.

Here’s a list of the foods that leave the worst stains and how to clean them up:


1. Coffee or tea


Trying to wipe away spilled coffee or tea can spread the stain or sink the liquid deeper into the carpet's fibers. When the stains set, they could leave an unattractive yellow spot—even if you clean the carpet dozens of times.

If the stain is fresh, rinse it in hot water to quickly get it out. However, double-check if your carpet is heat tolerant so you don't damage the fibers. If it's a slightly older stain, then soaking it in dishwashing liquid could help.

Very old and set stains are difficult to remove, but you can use borax mixed with water. Let the borax mixture soak into the stain for 10 minutes, then rinse the carpet thoroughly.


2. Chocolate


If you have children, chocolate is one of the foods they'll most likely love to eat. However, if they accidentally drop some on the carpet, the result can leave a sticky mess.

To remove chocolate stains, carefully scour at the excess; be careful because the scraping tool could damage the fibers or spread the stain.

Afterward, blot at the spot with wet paper towels or a damp cloth. Repeat the procedure until the stain is gone. Don't use hot water because the heat can set the stain quickly.


3. Tomato sauces


Sauces with tomato bases like marinara, ketchup, or salsa can leave a glaring red stain on carpets. Avoid using hot water to blot or wash out the stain, like dealing with chocolate.

Mix cold water and either dishwashing liquid or white vinegar. Let the solution soak the stain for around 30 minutes and then rinse.

You might have to soak and rinse it several times, but remember not to use any heat. You can also try a commercial stain remover.


4. Red Wine


Red wine and similar beverages using grapes can dye a carpet as badly as tomato sauces. When the fibers soak up the wine, they absorb the color quickly, making them one of the toughest stains to remove.

Try to soak up as much liquid as possible with a paper towel or a damp cloth. Then, stretch the stained area over a bowl, and saturate it with salt. Next, slowly pour boiling water over the stain.

If your carpet can fit in a washing machine, toss it in and put it on its hottest setting. Avoid using this method if you have a carpet made of natural materials like wool or cotton because the heat can damage the fibers.

An alternative cleaning method is to mix white vinegar and water and let it soak into the stain for about an hour. Then, mix laundry detergent with water until you have some foam. Apply the foam on the stain and gently scrub until it comes off. Rinse thoroughly afterward.


5. Gum


Another favorite of children, gum leaves a sticky residue if it gets on the carpet. However, the key to removing the stain is hardening the gum so you can scrape most of it off.

Use ice cubes or ice packs to freeze the gum, and then graze it off with a dull knife, taking care not to damage the fibers. If residue remains, rub at the stain with some white vinegar.

The white vinegar liquifies the gum, which you can blot with a damp cloth. Once all the gum is gone, you can rinse the carpet normally.


6. Peanut butter


Peanut butter is a tough stain to remove because of its oiliness; wiping or blotting it could further spread the stain and leave brown spots all over the carpet fibers.

To remove a peanut butter stain, scrape off the excess first. Be careful not to damage the fibers to drive the residue deeper into the carpet fibers.

Then, with an eyedropper, use a small amount of acetone on the stain. Avoid this method if your carpet contains acetate or triacetate because it can melt the fibers.

Next, blot at the stain, apply dry-cleaning solvent to the area and blot again.

If there's still peanut butter residue, mix dishwashing detergent, white vinegar, and cold water and apply the mixture to the stain. Blot until you remove the stain. Blot the area with a damp, cold cloth to remove the remaining mix from the fibers.


In Conclusion


Remember that a carpet's pile height determines its difficulty to clean, with higher piles being harder to clean despite the comfort and softness they can give.

Also, due to how easily carpet can stain, you, family members, and guests should avoid bringing food and drinks within their vicinity.

Cleaning a carpet takes time, and several types of food and drinks can immediately dye it when they come in contact with the fibers.

So, while you can go to a lot of lengths to ensure that no one brings food in the same room as a carpet, always keep the appropriate cleaning supplies ready in case accidents happen.

Gavin Ong is the Marketing Manager of Eurobel Rugs + Carpets, the largest premium area rug brand in the Philippines.