How to Get Nasty Stains Out of Every Kind of Furniture and Flooring

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Nothing quite ages your house and its contents like nasty stains. But you can’t possibly spend all your energy trying to prevent them — stains are just a natural part of wear and tear in the household, and unless you’ve got everything plastic-covered (and we hope you don’t!), they’re unavoidable.

Well, there’s good news. Whether it’s red wine on your white carpet (it’s like a magnet for it, isn’t it?), water stains on your coffee table (why is it so hard for your guests to remember to use a coaster?), or pee stains on your mattress (or worse…), it’s possible to get it all clean as new — or close to it — with a few simple ingredients and materials, and a bit of elbow grease.

Remember that the best way to clean any stain is right away. The longer stains are left to sink in and dry out, the more difficult they’ll be to remove. Still, the below methods should be helpful for even the most stubborn stains.

Here’s our ultimate guide to getting nasty stains of every kind of furniture.

Full guide to getting stains out of your furniture

We’ve separated this guide into types of stains, and types of material. The best thing to do is find the matching stain and matching material and compare both approaches, and use your best judgement. Hopefully, with our exhaustive guide, we’ve covered your particular stain!

The first thing to do when there’s a stain on your furniture is to assess what kind of material you’re dealing with. Is it your fabric couch? Some couches are covered in ultra delicate material that can’t get wet — we really hope that’s not the case with yours, but if it is, we have some tips for that too. Leather and pleather and other types of synthetic fabric, however, are usually quite easy to clean, often just requiring a wet cloth to wipe them down. Is it your floor? How you approach your stain will depend on whether your floor is carpeted, hardwood, tile, or linoleum. You get the idea.

💡Tip: Where possible, use distilled water instead of tap water to help remove your stain, which can leave mineral stains behind.

General cleaning

With just a few simple ingredients and tools, you can clean your house with an effective, eco-friendly solution.

If you have a really general type of stain, and don’t want to bother reading through this entire article, go ahead and try out our homemade upholstery cleaner recipe. If that doesn’t work, dig deeper!

Homemade upholstery cleaner recipe

Warm water 1 C

White vinegar ¼ C — we like this Organic Everyday Distilled white vinegar

Castile soap 1 tbsp — we like this gallon of Almona Castile Liquid

Soft-bristle brush — we like this HaloVa Portable Lightweight Scrubbing brush

Clean cloth — we like this set of AmazonBasics White Cotton Washcloths

Spray bottle — we like this Tolco Frosted Spray Bottle

Put all ingredients into a spray bottle and shake.

💡Tip: If you can’t get Castile soap, mild dish detergent will do.

Spray onto the stain and let soak in. Use a soft-bristle brush to work the solution into the fabric. Next, take a clean, damp cloth, and blot.

Reading your furniture’s upholstery label

It’s important to find the cleaning instructions of the piece of furniture in question, before attempting to remove the stain.

Check for cleaning instructions on your upholstery — there is often a tag that lists them. If your fabric doesn’t have one, find a small piece of upholstery that’s hidden (flip over a couch cushion, for example), and test it there with the solution you plan to use on the stain. Give it time to soak in and wait 24 hours once it’s washed off, to ensure there are no damages to your fabric.

Here’s a rough guide to reading your fabric’s upholstery label:

W: Water-based products can be used on this fabric

S: No water — only solvent-based products can be used on this fabric

SW or WS: Both water and solvent cleaners are fine to use on this fabric

X: This fabric can only handle vacuum or light brushing (in other words, hire a professional)

Targeting specific stains

Learn how to get your furniture stain out according to the type of stain you’re dealing with — from crayon to ink, to blood and red wine!

Crayon

Materials

Spray the WD40 onto your cloth, and work it into the stain. Wash off with the above upholstery cleaner recipe.

Ink

Materials

Gently blot the ink stain, starting at the edges and moving inwards, until it’s gone. Whatever you do, do not rub the ink stain. This will only make it worse. Wash off with the above upholstery cleaner recipe.

💡Tip: It’s very important to remember to wash the rubbing alcohol off your fabric, as it will eat away at it if it’s left on.

Rust

Materials

Mix solution together and rub into rust stain with your brush. Wash off with the above upholstery cleaner recipe.

Grease

Scrape the excess grease away with your plastic knife. Next, sprinkle the affected area with baking soda, allow to sink in for 10 – 20 minutes, and vacuum away. If the stain is still visible, grab a dry cleaning solvent and spray it onto a clean cloth. Press the cloth onto the stain. Repeat all these steps as needed.

💡Tip: If you can remove your furniture fabric, you can give this homemade recipe a try. Make your own homemade dry cleaning detergent with a handful of wheat bran and enough vinegar (added one drop at a time) to make it clump together in a ball. Put your fabric into a large pillow case and zipper shut. Shake the pillowcase vigorously for a few minutes, ensuring the wheat bran makes contact with the entire surface of the fabric. Remove from the pillowcase and shake off the wheat bran.

Wine and berries

Ah wine and berries — they taste so good, but cause so much damage when spilled on your carpet or couch!

Sparkling water

Clean cloth

White vinegar 1 tbsp — we like this Organic Everyday Distilled white vinegar

Laundry detergent 1 tsp — we like this PURE Natural Laundry Detergent

Cold water 4 C

Squirt some sparkling water onto your cloth and blot the stain. If this doesn’t work to remove the stain, try adding a tablespoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of laundry detergent into four cups of cold water, dabbing onto the stain with your cloth. Blot with clean water to remove solution.

Blood

We put this one right after red wine and berries because the first cleaning method you should try is the sparkling water approach. If that fails to remove the blood stain, try this:

Water 1 C

Glycerin 2 tbsp — we like this bottle of Now Solutions 100% Pure Vegetable Glycerin

Laundry detergent 2 tbsp

Spray bottle — we like this Tolco Frosted Spray Bottle

Clean sponge — we like this set of 6 Scotch Brite Greener Non-Scratch Sponges

Cold water 1 C

Old towel

Pour ingredients into your spray bottle and shake well. Spray two or three times onto the blood stain and allow to sink in. Use your sponge to gently rub the stain in a circular motion. Once it’s removed, pour cold water on the area and pat dry with a towel.

If that doesn’t work, all is not lost. Try this:

Cold water 2 C

Salt 1 tsp

Clean cloth

Soft-bristle brush — we like this HaloVa Portable Lightweight Scrubbing brush

Mix salt into your water and use your clean cloth to apply this to the blood stain. Let sit for 20 minutes, and then scrub off with your soft-bristle brush.

Beer and coffee stains

Would you believe that a splash of beer can actually be an effective cleaning substance for coffee stains? Too bad the same doesn’t work in reverse!

Ice cube 1

Laundry detergent

Warm water

Paper towel

Rub the beer stain with an ice cube first, and then blot at it with liquid detergent and warm water on your paper towel. For coffee, follow the same steps but skip the ice cube.

💡Tip: If you spilled coffee onto your carpet, you can get it out with a splash of beer! Simply rub the beer lightly onto your carpet, and the stain should disappear like magic. You may need to repeat the process a few times to completely remove the stain.

Pet pee

Water ½ C

White vinegar ½ C

Clean cloth

Baking soda

Mix together and pour solution directly onto the stain. Blot with your cloth until you’ve removed most of the moisture. Sprinkle baking soda overtop and let dry (this will help reduce the odor). Vacuum the baking soda away once it’s dry.

Paint

Spilled paint makes such a mess, but you’ll have it cleaned up in no time by following these simple steps. 

The following steps for cleaning paint spills are specifically for carpet, but you can use similar steps for any type of furniture.

General paint

White vinegar 1 ½ tsp

Laundry detergent 1 ½ tsp

Water 2 C

Clean sponge

Mix solution together and sponge it away as best you can. Rinse with cold water.

Acrylic paint

Clean cloth (one you’re prepared to throw away)

Laundry detergent 1 tbsp

Acetone 1 tbsp — we like this bottle of Pronto Pure Acetone

Commercial carpet cleaner — we like this Armor Magic Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

Old toothbrush

Wet vacuum — we like this Armor Gallon Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

Blot the laundry detergent onto your rag and blot at your paint. Under no circumstances should you rub it — this will only serve to push it deeper into the carpet. This won’t clean the full stain, but will loosen it from your carpet fibers, making it easier to clean.

Open a window before this next step, as you don’t want to be using acetone without ventilation, since the fumes are bad for you. Next, blot some acetone onto your rag, and dab onto your paint stain. Acetone breaks down the paint and makes it easier to lift from the surface.

💡Tip: If you’re particularly sensitive to fumes, you may want to wear a mask before working with acetone.

If this has not removed the paint stain fully, grab your commercial carpet and spray it onto your stain. Scrub it into your stain with a toothbrush, and then let it sit for five minutes or so. Use a wet vacuum to hoover up the carpet cleaner — and hopefully the rest of the paint stain with it!

Repeat the acetone and carpet cleaner steps until the paint stain is fully removed.

A wet vacuum cleaner is a cost-effective carpet cleaning tool, and is ideal for helping you to clean up paint spills. It works well on couches too!

💡Tip: Don’t use a dry vacuum for this, as it could damage or break it.

Water-based or latex paint

Old towel

Dishwashing detergent 1 tbsp

Lukewarm water 1 C

Clean white rag

Paint scraper (if there is a lot of paint) — we like this set of 2 Bates Paint Scrapers

Wet vacuum

First, absorb as much of the paint as you can with your old towel (we say to use an old towel, because you’re probably going to have to throw it away after this process). Unlike the oilier types of paint, water-based or latex paint is pretty easy to mop up, as it’s significantly less sticky.

Dab some of your detergent solution onto a white cloth — white, specifically because colored cloths could cause an additional stain. If your paint stain was dry, let the solution sit on the stain for at least five minutes to loosen it up. If there is a lot of paint, use your paint scraper to remove the majority of it. Blot the stain from the outside and work your way in (just like with ink stains). Continue adding your detergent solution as you clean. Next, vacuum up the detergent solution (remember not to use a dry vacuum) — and hopefully your paint stain will come along with it! Repeat as needed.

Oil-based paint

Paint scraper

Bucket

Clean, white cloth 2

Turpentine 1 C — we like this bottle of Pure Gum Spirits of Turpentine

Dishwasher detergent 1 tbsp

Cold water 2 C

Paper towel

Start with your paint scraper, and use it to scrape away as much of the paint as possible, discarding it into your bucket as you go. If your paint is dry, use a steamer to loosen it. Grab your clean, white cloth (a colored one could cause further discoloration) and use it to blot the paint stain. Add turpentine to your cloth and continue blotting — remember not to scrub, which will just drive the paint in deeper. This may just get your paint stain out altogether.

If some paint still remains, you can try this final step. Mix together your solution of water and dishwasher detergent, and use a new white cloth to sponge it onto the remaining stain. Continue blotting the area until the stain is completely removed. Soak up any leftover solution with your paper towel.

Cleaning according to furniture fabric or material

In some instances, you may wish to approach your stain, rather than the type of stain, according to the type of fabric.

Polyester

Warm water 1 C

White vinegar 1 tbsp

Castile soap 1 tbsp

Clean cloth

Apply solution with a microfibre towel, and wipe off with a clean cloth dipped in cold water and wrung out.

Cotton or linen

White vinegar 1 tbsp

Rubbing alcohol ⅔ C

Clean sponge

Clean cloth

Mix solution together and sponge onto the stain. Blot dry using your clean cloth. Repeat these steps until the stain disappears.

Microfibre

If you’ve had your microfiber sofa or curtains or what have you for any length of time, you’ll know that soap and water are not effective cleaning agents for it — they only make the stain worse! Instead, try this:

Rubbing alcohol

Spray bottle

Clean sponge

Soft-bristle brush

Spray your stain with rubbing alcohol and wipe with the sponge. To loosen the fabric, which stiffens when sprayed with rubbing alcohol, give it a once-over with a dry soft brush.

Leather

Treated leather is very easy to clean, but beware — it is still susceptible to stains. Luckily, a simple homemade cleaning solution will get out most of them. 

Though leather couches are pretty much the easiest to maintain, they are not self-cleaning by any means. Your leather sofa requires regular upkeep, and occasional spot treatment.

White vinegar ¼ C

Warm water ¼ C

Clean cloth

Mix the solution and apply to a clean cloth. Wring it out so that it’s damp but not wet. Wipe the stain. Rinse the cloth every few strokes, wring out once again, and repeat as needed.

Untreated leather

Baking powder

Sprinkle baking powder onto your stain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Grab your vacuum and suck up the powder, which will hopefully take the stain with it. If not, call in professional help.

Steps for approaching a couch stain

Here are some simple steps to follow when cleaning your couch, which can also be applied to other types of furniture.

1. Vacuum

Always vacuum your furniture before attempting to clean the stain. It’s amazing how much a vacuum can pick up — especially if it’s an old stain. This will give you a much better idea of what you’re dealing with before you roll up your sleeves and get scrubbing.

💡Tip: It’s a good idea to vacuum your couch on a weekly basis, too, to rid it of odors caused by minor food spills, pet fur, and dead skin cells. For extra deodorizing, sprinkle your couch with baking soda and let sit before vacuuming off.

2. Steam

You may not have a furniture steamer, but here’s a handy tip — your iron almost definitely has a steam setting, so put it to use! Treating your upholstery with a bit of steam will help to loosen the stain.

3. Try your desired cleaning solution

Now you’re ready to attack your stain with the cleaning solution that suits your fabric and stain

Cleaning stains according to floor type

The best way to approach a stain on your floor is by first assessing the type of flooring you’re dealing with. You’ll be able to find a method below to clean most types of flooring.

Here is a quick guide to getting stains out according to the type of floor you have — whether it’s hardwood, carpet, laminate, tile, polished concrete.

Hardwood

Hydrogen peroxide

Clean cloth

Stains on your beautiful hardwood floors can leave you with visions of sandpaper and wood stain and all the grunting that comes with them. But before you get the sandpaper out, try this.

Soak your cloth with hydrogen peroxide and place on top of your stain. Give it time to soak into the stain. Check it after 10 minutes. If it’s lifted but not completely, replace the bleach-soaked cloth and leave it another 10 minutes. Remove the cloth and wipe up any excess liquid with soap — you don’t want to leave any bleach behind, because it could permanently bleach your wood!

Carpet

Clear ammonia 1 C

Warm water 2 L

Clean sponge

Mix solution together and sponge onto carpet. Let it dry on your stain, and if that doesn’t do it, repeat the process.

Laminate

Laminate floors are quite easy to clean — that’s one of their best perks. But occasionally, you’ll encounter a stain that doesn’t come off with a simple solution of vinegar and water. Here’s what you’ll need to get it out.

Acetone (for dye stains) — we like this bottle of Pronto Pure Acetone

Or

Rubbing alcohol (for oil-based stains)

Clean cloth

The best approach for spilled paint, tar and grease on laminate is to either mop it up right away while the spill is fresh, or if that wasn’t possible, let it harden and scrape it off (very carefully!).

Moisten your cloth with either rubbing alcohol or acetone, depending on the type of stain, and rub gently on the stain. If one doesn’t work, give the other a try.

💡Tip: You can speed up the hardening by putting a plastic bag full of ice cubes on the spill for five minutes.

💡Tip: Never, ever use an abrasive cleaning pad on laminate flooring. Once you scuff it, you’ll never get it out.

Tile

Tile floors don’t tend to stain very easily, but when they do, the stain tends to stick to the grout. But don’t worry — it will come out with a few key steps. 

Hydrogen peroxide

Floor steamer

Muriatic acid

Grout remover — we like this Grout Removal Tool by ReeTree

Grout to match the color of your current grout

Grout float — we like this Gum Rubber Grout Float

Clean cloth

Though tile flooring is generally quite easy to clean, there will be the occasional spill that will seep through the pores in the tiles and leaves a mark. But don’t sweat it if that happens. A bit of bleach and or steam from your floor steamer will clean it right up! If that doesn’t work, though, you can try muriatic acid, diluted with 5 parts water, scrubbing it onto your stain with an old toothbrush. Be sure to wear a mask.

If the stain persists in the grout between your tiles, which is a common area for stains to stick around, you may need to re-grout. Don’t worry — it’s actually easier than it sounds. Grab your grout removal tool, and scrape out the stained grout. Add water to the grout that matches your floor’s grout, and apply using a grout float. The float will remove most of the excess grout from the tiles. If there’s any excess grout on your tiles, remove it with a damp cloth.

Polished concrete

Polished concrete is a great option for flooring, specifically because of how low maintenance it is. However, as with any polished material, liquids left on the polished surface — particularly citric/ acidic ones — will likely leave a mark. Here’s how to get it out.

Baking soda 2 parts

Hydrogen peroxide 1 part

Clean sponge

White vinegar ¼ C

Mix your concrete stain remover solution together until the liquid is thick and soapy. Splash some onto the affected area, and rub it with your sponge.

If that doesn’t work, and the stain is greasy, sprinkle some baking soda directly onto the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes. Pour white vinegar on the baking soda and let it fizz before wiping it away with your sponge.

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