5 Common Household Products You Should Never Use to Clean Carpet

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated October 3, 2022
Suction grey carpet cleaning with vacuum cleaner
didesign021/ iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

There are five household products you should never use to clean carpet stains, including white wine and dish soap

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If you’ve got a carpet stain, from a pet accident to pasta sauce, it’s crucial you use the right cleaner to get it out or it could end up looking worse. While there are countless home hacks for carpet stains, it’s always risky when you’re dealing with carpet or couch fabric. Learn five common household products you should never use for stains in the following carpet don’ts.

1. Bleach

While bleach is a go-to for getting stains out of your white T-shirt, this is one of the major don’ts for carpet. Bleach will likely end up doing nothing more than leaving a large unsightly bleach stain on your carpet.

But if you do end up using bleach regardless, you’ll need to make sure all of it comes out of the carpet because it’s toxic if inhaled. Furry and human children alike might inhale anything left over in the deeper parts of the carpet.

If your furry child is the one that caused the stain, there are better ways to get the urine stain out. To get rid of pet urine from your carpet, mix a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water and pour it over the stain. You can then use an old toothbrush to scrub away the stain.

2. White Wine

While the red wine left the stain, don’t run to the store to buy white wine to get it out. There are better methods of removing red wine from your carpet, such as hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mix. This mixture also tends to work well for removing blood from your carpet as well.

Despite being mostly clear, white wine may also leave a stain afterward. It comes down to the color of your carpet and may end up causing the same problem as bleach.

3. Laundry Detergent

While laundry detergent will get the towel clean that you used to soak up the stain, it shouldn’t be used to tackle whatever is left on the carpet. Laundry detergent tends to bubble up quite a bit and it’s not easy to remove from carpet. 

You might be patting and even taking a blow dryer to the area for quite a while before laundry detergent actually dries. If you don’t soak it up well, there’s a chance that mold can start growing on the carpet as well. If mold does start to grow, your carpet could start to smell, making this method a major carpet don’t.

4. Abrasive Cleaners

Using abrasive cleaners and heavy scrubbing is going to net you the same result as if you were tearing up the carpet. These cleaners (and scrubbing) tear delicate carpet fibers. This may lead to your carpet now having a “bald spot,” of sorts because too many of the fibers were scrubbed away.

Opt for gentle cleaners that won’t damage your carpet. If you’re unsure of which cleaners are safe for your carpet, you can always look into hiring a professional carpet cleaning business near you. They’ll have specialized tools that can help get deeper into the carpet than what most over-the-counter carpet cleaners can offer.

5. Dish Soap

While dish soap won’t get as bubbly as laundry detergent, it’s still not something you should use to clean a spill. When you use dish soap, the soap gets rid of the dirt and possibly even the stain, but it might seep into the fibers of the carpet.

When this happens, the soap starts to act like a sticky trap for dirt. Rather than the dirt moving freely through the wild jungle of carpet fibers, it gets held up in one spot of the rug, creating a constant dirty patch. You’ll find yourself needing to clean the area more often, so it’s probably best if you leave dish soap to tackle dish stains.

Don’t Let These Carpet Don’ts Ruin Your Carpet

By listening to these carpet don’ts, you won’t run the risk of ruining your carpet. Remember, use a simple carpet cleaner or any of the easy solutions mentioned above, such as hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and water. If the stain simply won’t budge, there are always pros that handle even the toughest carpet stains for you.

Also note that “once the fibers of the carpet have been bleached or faded by a chemical, there’s no bringing it back to life by even a professional,” says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dust Busters janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. ”It’s better to know what not to use before you make the mistake of using such solutions.”

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