Kitchen Chemistry Can Save The Day!

You just spilled coffee on your new carpet. In a panic, you rush to grab a bottle of “store-bought spot removal product” and get ready to apply it liberally to the splash zone.


Take three deep breaths. Everything is going to be ok – as long as you don’t use the spot removal product! Instead, try a little kitchen chemistry.

Just about everything you can spill on your carpet (including regular coffee) will dissolve in water, and thus intense chemicals aren't needed to “resolve” the situation. Many store-bought spotters contain bleaches and/or concentrated detergents that, in addition to being unnecessary, can actually harm your carpet. So, if you do spill something on your carpet, try this:

  • Soak up as much as you can by blotting (never rubbing) with a clean towel.
  • Pour cold water on the spot and again blot with a clean towel. Keep doing this until the spot disappears or water alone ceases to be effective.
  • For any residual – mix a 4:1 batch of hot water with ONE drop (no more) of dishwashing detergent, and either baking soda or distilled white vinegar (see note). Gently pour that solution on the spot and blot with a clean towel until it is fully gone.

Note: The decision about using baking soda or distilled white vinegar depends on whether the spilled substance is acidic or alkaline. The cleaning solution needs to be on the opposite side of the pH scale to neutralize the spill, so for spills that have an acidic pH, use baking soda in the cleaning solution. For alkaline spills, use distilled white vinegar to create an acidic cleaning solution.

The good news is that most soils are acidic, so if you have any doubt, mix up an alkaline solution with baking soda.

Things like coffee, tea, juice and pet urine all start out as acids, but pretty quickly (in about a day) metabolize into alkaline substances. If you get to them right away, they’re still acidic and you can use baking soda, but if you discover them the next day, go with the distilled white vinegar. If you ever have any doubt, check out the Stain Emergencies section of our website.

Paint, nail polish and inorganic oils require chemical solvents to dissolve, so give us a call if you’re dealing with something like that. Otherwise, kitchen chemistry can resolve most spills or spots and won’t hurt your carpet!