The Most Stubborn Carpet Stains According to Reddit

Posted on by Online Carpets

Much to the dismay of proud homeowners, those plush cream carpets don’t always stay looking so plush. Whether it’s a red wine spilt after a few too many, your potty-trained pooch who seems to keep forgetting where the garden is, or your positively delightful brood traipsing mud through the house, stains of some sort are a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ for those new carpets. 

As such, Online Carpets wanted to take a deeper dive into Reddit forums, where disgruntled homeowners with carpets have asked for advice on getting these pesky stains out. They measured how ‘stubborn’ certain stains are based on the number of users pleading for help, and have debunked some of the advice provided in forums whilst giving a few expert tips of their own. 


The Most Stubborn Carpet Stains According to Reddit - Online Carpets

Ultimately, their study found that ink typically proves the most stubborn. While this wasn’t the stain with the highest number of individual posts, the posts themselves had the highest amount of average upvotes, showing that while it may be an uncommon incident, it’s definitely one of the most irritating. Posts had an average upvote of 1286.6, almost double the number of red wine in the second position. 

Red wine stains on cream carpets are a cliché as old as time, and potentially one of a wine lover’s worst nightmares. With an average of 644.8 upvotes per post, it’s clear that this is a reoccurring incident. Interestingly, there are several posts suggesting removal tactics that sound as though they would make the stain worse. One suggested “Spilled red wine on your new carpet? The tannins in wine act like a magnet, so pouring more red wine on the stain will act like a magnet and make removing it easier,” and another queried “Why when you spill red wine on a carpet do you take the stain out with white wine?”. While the former seems to be little more than a hypothesis, pouring white wine onto a red wine stain can actually help you blot out the liquid. 

Many people with light carpets assume that using a bleach solution on that bright red wine splash will remedy the issue, but oftentimes this simply makes the problem even worse. The study found that bleach stains ranked seventh overall, averaging 47.2 upvotes per post. While many of these were isolated mishaps, a good proportion of stains related to bleach and cleaning products were in an attempt to fix an existing stain. While it may be tempting to reach for a harsh substance, it’s always worth opting for more gentle solutions first and foremost. 

In third place, again with around half the average upvotes per post of the previous, ranks mud. Whether it’s the kids that have traipsed it through the living room, or workmen forgetting to take off their boots when entering the house, mud can be tough to remove, especially when it’s still wet. The stain saw an average of 304.9 upvotes per post, with the majority of upvotes coming from soil from potted plants in the house and specifically, red clay mud. 

When it comes to removing mud, unlike other stains you actually want this to dry so that you can vacuum up as much as possible, you can even use a bristle brush prior to this to loosen any additional mud from the carpet’s fibres. After removing the excess dirt, you can begin addressing the stain by mixing mild dishwashing detergent with lukewarm water and blotting this into the carpet with a clean cloth. Continue blotting, switching the towel until the stain is gone, you can then dry the area with a clean cloth or towel. 

In the fourth position, their study found that coffee stains on carpets were particularly problematic, with an average of 63.1 upvotes per post. While the average number of upvotes drops significantly here, Reddit users still shared similar pleads with other forum members, stating that they’d tried traditional fixes that weren’t removing the stain. One user recommended that those with cream or white-coloured carpets dilute the stain with milk, although we wouldn’t recommend doing this as the resulting smell produced by the milk on the carpet can be equally tricky to clean up and would require an enzyme-based solution to break it down. 

And in the sixth position, we have pet-related stains, with an average upvote per post of 50.6. Anyone with pets can relate to the disdain of pets using their carpet as a substitute for the garden, with even the most perfectly trained pups occasionally slipping up. Several Reddit users even claimed that pet stains they once got rid of, sometimes resurface years later, with the added issue of the odour causing distress. By using a carpet cleaner that contains enzymes, you can eliminate both the stain and the odour. 

General advice for removing stains

  1. Remove excess solids or liquids from the stain so that anything that can be cleaned doesn’t turn into a permanent stain 
  2. Work from the outside of the stain inward, using a blotting technique rather than rubbing motions to prevent spreading and carpet fibre damage 
  3. Continue until your cloth no longer picks up any colour
  4. Use a carpet stain remover as per application instructions, or utilise commonly suggest homemade cleaners such as 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and a quarter teaspoon of white vinegar diluted in 1 quart of warm water. Be very careful not to over-wet the stain, and let it sit for 10 minutes
  5. If using a commercial carpet stain remover, be sure to test the product in a non-visible area of the carpet 
  6. Blot the stain away with cold water, and continue until the colour no longer transfers onto your cloth, then blot dry. 

Life is messy, and often that can reflect on your carpets. But with the right knowledge and tools, even the toughest of stains can be removed. 



We used a seed list of some of the toughest stains to remove and then scraped Reddit for posts with questions regarding the removal of these stains. We eliminated any posts that didn’t fit the particular focus and then ranked these by average up-votes per post. 

We then compiled advice on how these can be eliminated.