Pin Busters! Iron Out Carpet Stains - true or false?

I've seen a ton of pins on Pinterest showing a dirty carpet and an iron. Miracle carpet cleaner, they say. Some also show a bottle of ammonia, vinegar, or water. What amazed me was that I clicked on no fewer than ten of these pins, only to be taken to either a broken link or a page that had nothing to do with cleaning carpets. (Insert Pet Peeve #4 - people who pin stuff without checking to see if it actually leads to a "real" page about what they've pinned!)

Anyway, when I finally found a pin that was truly linked to a blog post about cleaning carpet stains, it led me to Apartment Therapy. That blog post recommended using 3/4 c. water and 1/4 c. white vinegar.

Another pin led me to - and that one recommended 1 part water and 1 part ammonia or Windex.

So I started thinking - which Gus says is never good. What he means is that it usually ends up with him doing a new project. Ppffssttt...I don't need him for this one anyway.

If water, ammonia, or vinegar all seem to work - why couldn't I use one of the all-purpose cleaners that I had already made? I ended up picking this D-I-Y All-Purpose Cleaner. This one contains borax, washing soda, white vinegar, water, & lemon essential oil, so I figured there wasn't anything in there that would hurt the carpet and it would save me from having to make up a new solution.

The Pin Buster question is - can you iron stains out of your carpet?

You'll need a steam iron, an old light-colored towel, and some sort of cleaning solution that won't harm your carpet.

First, you'll generously spray the solution onto the dirty areas. You need to saturate the area or there won't be enough liquid for the iron to convert to steam. I let the solution sit on the carpet for a couple of minutes - to give it a chance to "break up" the stain.

Then you lay the towel (one layer) over the area, and with the iron on the "cotton" setting, place it on the towel for 10 seconds. You will see steam and hear "hissing" - this is normal. Lift the iron for a few seconds and then place it back on the towel for another 10 seconds. I counted this as "one treatment". Note: Be very careful with the iron! At this heat level, if the iron touches your carpet, it will most likely melt the fibers. Yes, I speak from experience. Yes, I've experienced this more than once. Yes, I was very, very careful this time.

You should see the stain start to lift from the carpet onto the towel. If there is still more to remove from the carpet, repeat the first treatment.

And if you need to repeat for that "third time's a charm' effect, go for it.

After three treatments, my carpet was good as new! I guess you can use an iron to life stains - and you can use this solution.

We have a Bissell Spotlifter Powerbrush Handheld Deep Cleaner. We bought our first one about 5-6 years ago. I even blogged about it on my old blog. That model had a battery that lasted about 15 minutes - and while it worked well, it was kind of a pain to keep the battery charged. It finally pooped out after 4 years of continuous use, and we gave it a tearful goodbye with our heartfelt thanks. We purchased the Spotlifter about a year ago, and it's even better! It has a cord, so we don't have to worry about the battery running down (or keeping it charged). I think it has better suction, too - and it has rollers that do an awesome job of cleaning!! We use it at least a couple of times a week. It was only $53 (with free shipping) at Amazon and well-worth every penny. To me, it's just as easy (if not easier) to use the Bissell than to drag out a towel, solution, and the iron.

Okay - back to the iron. I'm pretty sure this stain on the stairs was just a liquid that was sloshed onto the carpet that then attracted dirt. I know the Spotlifter would've removed it as well as the iron/cleaning solution. Would the iron work on another type of stain?

Lulu has a stain on her carpet that was made by a waterproof gel eyeliner. We've tried just about everything on it (including the Spotlifter and our full-sized carpet cleaner), but there it still sits. Mocking me. Mocking Gus.

After four treatments, the stain was virtually gone. I did rub the solution into the stain a little - but not too much because I didn't want to make the carpet fuzzy. You can still see a bit of the stain in the picture taken with a macro lens (#4), but to the naked eye, it's invisible. That impressed me.

But what about mineral makeup stains? So far, I haven't been able to find anything that removes these well either - and Lulu has a ton of them under her makeup table.

Apparently, I'm still on the hunt for something to remove mineral makeup stains, LOL! It did help some, but it certainly didn't remove the stains. (as a side note - I have no idea why the lighting looks different in all the pictures - the camera was on the same setting!)

The verdict - Pin-worthy! You absolutely can iron stains out of your carpet - even if they've been there for awhile. But it doesn't work on everything - like mineral makeup. I also suspect that the type of carpeting makes a difference, too.

I still think I'll be using my Bissell Spotlifter for most stains around the house. But this test did give me an idea. The solution that goes into the Spotlifter is pretty pricey, so I think I'm going to try the D-I-Y All-Purpose Cleaning Solution in it to see if that works. And if that doesn't work, I think I'll try to come up with a solution that will! I'll be sure to post the results!

(BTW: This did result in Gus having to clean the carpeting on the stairs, so while I try not to say this too often...he was right. My thinking = work for Gus.)


  1. Whoever thought that iron and a mixture of ammonia, vinegar, and water would make a good carpet-cleaning solution is a total genius! And the best part about this is you don’t have to go far to look for a cleaning mix. Most of them are just on your kitchen cupboard, waiting to be used for something else. Home remedies can really do wonders.
    [Pete Henderson]

    1. Absolutely! And there's the added benefit of no nasty chemicals - whether you like that because of the environment, your health, or just because it's an inexpensive, handy way to clean!

  2. i would try hydrogen peroxide on the makeup stains

  3. Great article with a lot of information.


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