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Stain removing secrets

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Different spots may require different cleaning methods, but regardless of the substance, there's no time to waste.

Angie Hicks of Angie's List said, "If you discover a stain on your carpet, you want to act quickly, but don't be too hasty. You want to make sure you're using the right tools. Use a dry, clean cloth and blot, don't rub the stain. Otherwise, it might lead to a lasting stain."

Angie Hicks with Angie's List says blood, however, can be one of the trickiest to get out.

Mike Swinson is a professional carpet cleaner. He said, "If the blood has coagulated and started to clump, you'll want to take a spoon or a very dull-type instrument - a butter knife, something of that nature - and remove it first, and then start to blot it out with a soap-and-water solution."

Use cold water for blood stains, but Swinson recommends a cup of warm water mixed with a quarter-cup of dishwashing liquid for just about everything else. There's also another trick when dealing with a spilled glass of red wine.

"Red wine can be one of the toughest stains, but it can be solved. So what you need to do is first, blot the spot where the red wine has been spilled, and then, if you actually sprinkle some white wine on top of the red wine, you'll improve your chances of getting that spot out," Hicks said.

For deep stains that seep through to the padding, especially pet urine, blotting and cleaning will only do so much.

"Obviously, you won't be able to get all of it that way. The best way to do it is to use an extractor of some sort. A little, small hand extractor can save you hundreds and hundreds of dollars in carpet cleaning," according to Swinson.

You can find a small, portable spot lifter for under 100 dollars; a more powerful extractor could run several hundred depending on the suction power and recovery tank capacity. Still, Hicks recommends leaving it to the pros when it comes to ink, bleach or kool-aid. Those all make the "tough stain" list and you can damage your carpet if you aren't careful.