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How to spot clean your rug to get stains out fast

You work to keep your house tidy—from clean sheets to swept floors. But for even the most fastidious cleaners, the unexpected happens. Whether it’s from dirty soccer cleats, a pet accident, or a food spill, you need to work quickly to get that stain out before it sets. Here’s what you need to know to take care of it.

Rug Cleaning Basics

The following care routine will help clean the majority of rugs. Here are a few tools you'll need as you follow the steps below:

  • White cotton cloths or paper towels
  • Water
  • Stain remover
  • Additional cloths or paper towels for drying

Step 1: Act fast

Regardless of where or what it came from, ideally you'll notice the stain and be able to attend to it while it’s still wet. If you can get to the stain immediately, it's less likely to have soaked deep into the carpet fibers. This will increase your chances of entirely removing the stain.  

Step 2: Prep the area

Remove any solid debris from the mess. This will allow you to get to the liquid of the stain more easily. Use a dry cloth to blot up any liquid that is sitting on top of the carpet. 

Using white cloths or paper towels to clean up makes it easier to see if the stain is transferring onto the cloth and eliminates the risk of transferring any coloring from the towel onto the carpet. But by all means, use whatever you have on hand to clean it up!

Step 3: Start with water

Some stains, especially if they aren’t yet set, can be mostly removed with water. Lightly wet your cloth or towel and dab the stain. Check the cloth to see that the stain transfers onto the cloth. You may need to use multiple cloths as you don't want to put the stain-causing liquid back on the rug.

Step 4: Apply stain remover

If the water didn't do the trick, you'll need to move on to something more heavy-duty. Be sure to read the ingredients in the cleaner carefully to make sure it won’t bleach or damage the carpet. To be safe, test the product on a small hidden part of the carpet first to see how it affects the rug before applying to the stained spot. In general, look for cleaners that aren’t colored, as they're less likely to leave color behind. You could also try diluting the stain remover so it isn't as harsh. The type of stain may determine the type of stain remover needed. You may need a different cleaner for a blood stain than a pet urine stain (fingers crossed you need neither).

Step 5: Blot and dry

Use a cloth or towel with the applied cleaner and dab it onto the stain. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing as it can spread the stain. To correctly blot, begin at the perimeter of the stain and work your way toward the center.

Use a new dry white cloth or paper towel to blot the cleaned spot until it is dry and the cleaner is removed. It’s important to completely dry the area so that mildew doesn’t grow. If the area is large and difficult to get completely dry after cleaning, you can hang the rug or use a fan with the target area propped up to allow for air to move. 

Additional ways to protect your rug 

Rug pads and mats

A rug pad can help extend the life of your rug and floors by providing cushioning that keeps it off the floor and prevents dents or bunching from heavy furniture.

You may have a material or height of rug pad that works best depending on if your rug is over hardwood floor or carpet.

Product protection

Get extended product coverage on your new rug purchases. Make sure the plan includes accident protection against spills, stains, rips and tears, and seam separation, as these are the most common rug damages. 

Product protection should start on day one after purchase, and have repair and replacement options to fit the damage type. Read the warranty terms and conditions to make sure you’re getting the best coverage for your needs.


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Mulberry is on a mission to help consumers protect the things they buy while saving on everyday financial products. The Mulberry browser extension allows consumers to get free 1-year product protection plans wherever they shop online, plus savings on extended coverage and other financial products.

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