Stains that come from plants, whether from fruit, leaves, or roots are called tannin stains. This includes fruits such as oranges, apples, grapes, tomatoes, pomegranates, and watermelons. It also includes berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries – even grass. Some of these things stain worse than others, but because of their common origin they can (mostly) all be treated and cleaned similarly.
Warning: Do not use these methods on wool or silk – those require special methods best employed by a professional cleaner. These methods will damage them!
Cleaning Fresh Juice Stains from Carpet
Quickly! Soak up as much of the fruit juice as possible!
If your stain has recently occurred and has not yet dried then it is still considered fresh. The absolute first thing you should do is soak up as much of the juice as possible to stop it from soaking into the carpet fibers and padding. If you have a shopvac, use it! It will get more juice up faster than blotting.
1. Carefully lay a clean, dry towel (or paper towels), over the spill.
2. Very gently press down on the towel. Don’t press too hard or you risk pushing the juice deeper into the carpet or expanding the area of the stain. Press just enough to make the cloth absorb the liquid.
3. When your towel is saturated, pick it up and replace it with another clean, dry towel and again gently press on the area of the spill. Repeat these two steps until your towels no longer absorb juice from the carpet.
Remove the Remaining Juice from your Carpet
Cleaning that last bit of juice up may take a while so be patient. You’ve gotten to the stain while it’s fresh, so you can do this and have a clean carpet again. Just take your time, and try to be as thorough as possible.
If you have a wet/dry vac (also known as a shop-vac) in your garage it will make this process much faster and easier (do not use a regular vacuum cleaner, it will break!). If you don’t have one, that’s ok, it will just take a bit longer, just make sure you have plenty of clean, dry cloths (or paper towels).
- Fill an empty spray bottle with cool water (do not use warm or hot water as it will speed up the setting process).
2. Spray the area of the stain enough to re-wet it, but not enough so that the carpet is soaking wet again.
3. Repeat the blotting process with clean, dry cloths to remove the water you just introduced to the stain. This should bring up more juice with the water. Do this until the towels no longer remove juice from your carpet. If you have a shop-vac, you can use that instead to remove the liquid.
4. Repeat step 3 until the rewetting/drying process has removed the stain entirely or until it no longer lightens the stain. If this worked, great! Skip to how to dry your carpet and restore its texture. If the stain persists, continue to the next step.
Using Cleaning Solutions to Remove Juice from your Carpet
If you’ve made it this far, you’re almost there – stay strong! The juice spill should be damp but not wet, and you’ve already removed as much juice as you could in the previous steps. Now we will review several cleaning solutions and how to use them to remove that last bit of juice stain.
If the remaining stain is very light, start with white vinegar. It’s very gentle and doesn’t leave residue to become a dirt-magnet when you’re finished. You can use straight white vinegar, or a 1:1 solution of cold water and vinegar, either is fine.
1. Wet a towel or sponge with the solution
2. Dab the cleaning solution into the stain. Press down hard enough to force the vinegar into the carpet fibers where the stain remains, but not so much that you create a wet spot beyond the stain.
3. Blot the area with clean towels like you did in the previous section to remove the cleaning solution. If it seems to be helping, repeat this process until the stain is gone, or no longer lightens.
4. If it worked and your carpet is now clean, move on to how to dry your carpet and restore its texture. If you’re still staring at an ugly stain, read on.
If the remaining stain is stubborn, use oxygen bleach or Folex. Just make sure you don’t use chlorine-based bleach – it will damage your carpet.
1. If your oxygen bleach is a powder, mix as directed on the container. If it’s already liquid or you are using Folex then continue.
2. Spray or blot the solution onto the remaining stain, enough to saturate the entire stain.
3. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
4. Dry the area by either blotting with a clean, dry cloth, or using a wet/dry vac. Resist scrubbing if at all possible, as it can push the stain deeper into the carpet fibers and make it harder to remove.
5. If this helped, but did not completely eliminate the stain, repeat the process once more.
The above two cleaning solutions should suffice for 99% of juice spills, but if you are especially unlucky and still find yourself staring at a stubborn stain, here’s a few more cleaning solutions you can try, but be careful – these are a bit harder on your carpet. Test them in an inconspicuous area first to make sure they don’t discolor or damage it.
- Hydrogen Peroxide or Lemon Juice can be used to treat juice stains, and work better than the above cleaners on certain juice stains (like cranberry and tomato juice) but they can also discolor some carpets. Give one a shot but test it first.
- 1-2 drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid mixed into 1 cup of water can be used to scrub the area, but be careful using this method – it’s very difficult to remove all of the soap after you are done cleaning, and if any soap remains dirt will stick to it like glue and you will find yourself cleaning this area over and over again. 1 or 2 drops of soap is plenty.
- If all else fails, you might have to go to your local home improvement store and rent a carpet cleaner, or even throw in the towel and call a professional carpet cleaner.
Cleaning old, set fruit juice stains from carpet
If you’ve discovered an old stain you believe was caused by some form of fruit juice, the cleaning process is a little bit longer, but the stain can still be removed successfully. In order to remove the stain, it needs to be rehydrated so it can be cleaned as if it were fresh. Depending on the age of the stain, this could take a while, but if you’re patient and gentle then you can do it without damaging your carpet.
Removing Old Juice Stains
Below we will list several cleaning solutions that you can try on your old stains. Start with the first one (the gentlest) and work your way down the list until you find one that does it.
1. White Vinegar – this is the first solution you should try – it is gentle and leaves no residue when removed.
2. Folex – Available at most home improvement stores, this carpet stain remover works better than any other we have tested.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide -or- Lemon Juice. Test these on an inconspicuous area of your carpet first (behind a door or in a closet) because they can discolor certain carpets.
The steps for using any of the above cleaners are the same:
1. Saturate the set-in stain with your cleaning solution and let it sit for 15-minutes to an hour.
2. Remove the liquid by blotting the stain with a clean, dry (white) cloth. Notice if the stain is lifting onto the cloth.
3. Repeat the blotting until the area is as dry as possible.
4. If the stain was lifting onto the cloth, repeat the procedure starting from step 1 until the stain has been removed entirely. If it had no effect, move on to the next strongest cleaning solution. When you are dealing with old, particularly stubborn stains, you can gently scrub with a nylon brush, but do so carefully.
5. Once the stain has been removed, move on to how to dry your carpet and restore its texture.
Cleaning whole, mashed-in fruit stains from carpet
If you’re unlucky enough to have not just the juice, but the entire fruit or berry smashed into your carpet, then you need to remove the solids before you can treat the stain.
If you have access to one, a wet/dry vac would work well to suck up the fruit or berry solids along with a bit of the juice. Otherwise you will need to do it manually:
1. Pick up as much of the fruit/berry goo as possible with your fingers.
2. Use a spoon to gently scoop/scrape the fibers and mush into a pile. Be careful not to spread the stain.
3. Place a clean paper towel over the mess, and lightly pinch the carpet through the towel to grab and lift bits of the mess.
4. Blot the area with clean paper towels until no more bits are removed and only liquid remains.
5. Treat the remaining stain according to one of the methods in the beginning of this guide.
Drying and restoring your carpets color and texture
Once you’ve finally removed that pesky juice stain, it’s time to dry the carpet. This part is pretty easy, and there’s a few ways you can do it. First though, make sure you’ve blotted as much water up as you can.
1. Cover the wet area with a few layers of thick, clean, dry towels and place something heavy on top to press them into the wet spot. Bricks, water jugs, anything with a flat bottom that will distribute its weight over the entire wet spot will work. Check it every hour or so and replace the towels as they become saturated.
2. Remove the weight and the towels and set up a fan to blow directly on the area until it is completely dry.
3. To restore the pile of your carpet once dry, you can run the vacuum over it, gently brush it out with a hair, shoe, or clothing brush, or run a rubber squeegee over it.
Fruit juice cleaning tips and cautions
- Some sites recommend a cleaning solution of baking soda and water, and while it does work, be careful. Baking soda can potentially clog and damage your vacuum.
- Be sure to use cool/cold water, warm water speeds up the setting process and makes the stains more difficult to remove.
- Scrub only as a last resort. It can help you remove a stain, but it can also work the stain deep into the carpet fibers making it even harder to remove.
- While ammonia can be used on some stains, it is not safe, we do not recommend attempting it.
- Do not use laundry detergent or automatic dishwasher detergents as they often contain brighteners which can discolor your carpet.