I make my living by cleaning stuff for people, but I also like to help. Sometimes you just don’t have the time or money to call a pro. Well today is your lucky day. I’m about to tell you how to remove virtually any spot from your carpet with stuff you probably already have lying around the house.

Basically, I’m going to tell you how to re-create what I do with my professional equipment. It will just be scaled down for home use. But I do have to say…try this at your own risk. If you ruin your carpet, I’m not responsible! Disclaimer over. In reality, this is pretty safe and I don’t think anybody will have any problems.

Here are the six things you’ll need:

Wet/dry vac (Shop-Vac)
Spray bottle (an old, rinsed out Windex bottle will do, or you can buy a spray bottle at Home Depot for about $4)
A spoon
1 cup warm/hot tap water (not boiling hot)
2 tablespoons 91% isopropyl alcohol
About 15 drops (½ teaspoon) of any dish soap

First, mix your warm water, alcohol and soap together and put it in a spray bottle. The spray bottle isn’t a must-have, but it sure does make things more convenient. Don’t shake the mixture up because it’ll just turn into foam, and you’ll have a hard time spraying it out. Just kind of swirl the bottle around and you’ll be good to go.

Check your spot/stain and make sure there’s no excess material. If there is excess material, try to scrape it up with a couple of pieces of cardboard or something. So, for instance, if you tracked a big muddy footprint onto your carpet, try to pick up as much mud as possible without making a bigger mess or smearing it into the carpet.

Spray the mixture onto the spot. You don’t want to absolutely flood it, but don’t be afraid to get it saturated. Once it’s saturated, tap the spot with a spoon. A nice heavy, metal spoon works best. If you happen to be working on a gross spot like dog poo, just don’t use your finest silver. Let the weight of the spoon work the solution into the spot by tapping it several times. This is much better than scrubbing with a towel or brush, because a spoon will not fray the carpet fibers.

Next, fire up your wet/dry vacuum and simply suck the spot/stain and solution up. Do NOT use a regular vacuum. They are not designed for use with liquids. And you don’t need a giant Shop-Vac. If that’s all you have, that’s fine. But you can also buy little one gallon wet/dry vacs for around $20. They are perfect for this.

If the spot doesn’t come out all the way, just repeat the process. If you’re dealing with an oily, greasy spot like cooking oil, bacon grease, shoe polish, etc., you can apply more alcohol following these steps:

Spray the homemade solution on first.
Squirt or pour alcohol straight onto the spot. Not too much, just enough to saturate the spot.
Tap with spoon.
Extract with wet/dry vac.

Applying the soapy solution first will help keep greasy spots from spreading out and making a bigger stain when you pour the alcohol on it. Alcohol acts as a degreaser and will dissolve oil, grease, etc. Try to extract as fast as possible so the spot doesn’t spread out. You might be tempted to add more soap to your solution, but I recommend that you don’t. The mixture will get too foamy, and it might be really hard to extract it all from your carpet.

And there you have it! This re-creates exactly what I do when I’m cleaning. I “extract” hot water and soil when I clean your carpet. Following these instructions, you’ll be doing the same thing, just on a smaller scale. Extraction is the key to this technique, and is often the step homeowners don’t know to use.

Most people try to scrub or dab at spots and stains with a towel, sponge, or brush. This usually just grinds the spot deeper into the carpet, and can even fray the carpet fibers. Then, even if the spot comes out, the carpet looks bad because it’s been damaged.

Obviously this won’t work on every single spot or stain you ever encounter, but it will work on the vast majority of them. It takes out dirt, mud, many food & drink spills, fresh pet pee (doesn’t do much on old, dried pee), small paint drips, and all kinds of other stuff.

It won’t work on serious stains like huge paint spills, nail polish (probably, but you can try), varnish/wood stain, large amounts of blood, yellow mustard, permanent marker, etc. But it doesn’t always hurt to try. Just use common sense, and you certainly won’t make things worse even if the stain doesn’t come out.

As always, you can feel free to call me if you need help. I’m happy to give you pointers over the phone, and if you can’t get a spot your yourself, we can always set up an appointment and I’ll take care of it for you professionally.

Good luck!