Stain, Stain, Go Away!

Midsection of woman reaching toward spilled wine glass on rug

Spilt wine, water rings, scratches… we reached out to local experts to find out how to solve common household mishaps.

Rug RX

“Club soda,” says Jason Ide, President of Caravan Rugs Cleaning, of the best ingredient to use on carpet or rug spills. “It has to be carbonated because it’s the bubbles that lift the stain to the surface.”

He also advises not to scrub the spot too hard or you’ll destroy the fibers of the rug or carpet. Instead pat with a towel and wipe the spot away gently. When it comes to bodily fluids, for example a pet accident, first blot with club soda then spray it with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water. “It kills the bacteria,” he says. Ide advises staying away from off-the-shelf cleaners like Resolve. They’re more likely to set the stain so if you can’t remove the spot completely a professional will have a harder time getting rid of it.

If you can’t remove the spot yourself, call a pro right away. Ide charges $30/room for carpet cleaning and $40 and up for rugs, pick up and delivery is extra. He recommends cleaning carpets once every year (for heavy use areas such as kitchens or dining rooms) to every three years. Rugs should be cleaned yearly.

Furniture Rehab

Tables can take a lot of abuse, especially if you have kids. Whether it’s moisture damage from a hot casserole or permanent marker artwork, Dan McKenzie, Owner of Finish Pros has a few tips and tricks.

For water rings or moisture damage he advises using a blow dryer on it. “The heat will pull out the moisture left behind,” he says. Small scratches can be easily masked using a touch up marker. McKenzie says Mohawk is the brand most pros use and you can choose from a range of shades at Klingspor’s Woodworking shop ( For permanent or sticky residue, use liquid lighter fluid. “It’s a great option for pulling stains,” he says. “Goo Gone will etch into the surface of wood but the lighter fluid will remove the sticky residue without damaging the furniture.”

Turn to a pro if you have substantial wear and tear, deep cracks or scratches. McKenzie’s shop can refinish or fix most pieces. They also get a lot of requests to apply colored high-end lacquer paint to breath new life in older pieces. The lacquer is substantially more resistant to the toll of daily life than other finishes, such as chalk paint.

Sofa Spills

Couches often get a lot of use; and snacking or drinking in front of the TV creates ample opportunity for spills and stains. The key is to act fast. “Water works wonders,” says Chuck Bullock, Owner of Rainbow Upholstery and Furniture Company.

“Blot up as much as possible with a white cotton cloth or rag,” adds Trenton Barnes of Raleigh Chem-Dry. “In a pinch, reach for club soda or a dish detergent mixed in water (1 teaspoon to 1/2 gallon of water). Be careful not to over saturate.”

Much of the time this process will remove the spot. For tougher stains, Bullock recommends Ronson Lighter fluid, an industry staple, he says, but warns from using it on delicate fabrics like silk. Put a small amount on the spot then wipe the stain with a white jersey rag.

Barnes recommends staying away from harsh detergents or “home concoctions” that can cause chemical reactions and set the stain. “Also, do not scrub! Scrubbing can damage the fiber [and] also will agitate the area and allow the substance to penetrate further,” he adds. For high-end pieces or beloved upholstery, stick with club soda then call an expert. The sooner the better, especially for acidic stains like coffee.

Alexandra Drosu
Alexandra Drosu

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