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How to Use White Vinegar for Removing Carpet Stains

Written by Kaylee Barber |

White vinegar for carpet stains

Did you know that white vinegar can often be used to clean carpet stains? Here’s our guide to using white vinegar when cleaning your carpet.

Carpet stains are frustrating, especially if they are unsightly or in an obvious position. Unfortunately, drink spills, muddy paw prints, and other stains are almost inevitable in most households.

The good news you often don’t need to pay for expensive cleaning products or a professional cleaner to remove stains. White vinegar contains acetic acid, which can remove many stains without damaging the carpet.

In this article, we’ll show you a simple method for removing stains using a combination of white vinegar, washing up liquid, and water.

Tip: Always act fast with carpet stains! Cleaning a stain soon after it happens makes it much easier to remove. The longer the stain has to dry and sink into carpet fibres, the harder it’ll be to completely get rid of it.

A Warning Before You Start…

Distilled white vinegar contains acetic acid. This is a relatively mild, which is why it can remove stains without damaging the carpet – most of the time.

However, it’s still an acid. So, while it’s a useful cleaning product, there are many materials that you shouldn’t use it on.

Always test white vinegar (or any cleaning product) on a small patch of inconspicuous carpet before using it on a larger area. A patch in the corner of the room or that’s usually underneath furniture is a great choice.

If you notice any discolouration in the test patch, blot up the white vinegar and rinse the area with warm water. Then blot up the remaining liquid and allow it to dry. You’ll need to find another cleaning product to treat the stain.

Why White Vinegar?

There are many different types of vinegar. These include white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, wine vinegar, and many more.

All of them are acidic, but white vinegar is produced by combining acetic acid with water. This makes it more acidic than the others.

It’s the acidity of distilled white vinegar that makes it an effective cleaner. The acid is useful for removing stains, such as coke, coffee, dirt, red wine, and even paint, as they dissolve when exposed to an acid.

The strong acidity of white vinegar is also why it needs to be diluted for most tasks though.

How to Treat Carpet Stains With White Vinegar

Once you’ve tested a patch of carpet to check that white vinegar won’t cause discolouration, here’s the process for using it to treat a stain:

  1. For new stains, blot up as much as possible with a paper towel. If the stain is old, give the area a vacuum to remove any loose debris.
  2. Create a mixture of one tablespoon white vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of washing up liquid, and 250ml of warm water.
  3. Use a white cloth to apply the mixture to the stain. Use a blotting technique to apply small amounts of the mixture, then frequently dab it dry with a different white cloth.
  4. Repeat this process until the stain has been removed.
  5. Rinse the area by sponging cold water into the carpet fibres. Then use a blotting action to remove the excess water.
  6. Allow the patch of carpet to fully air dry. You can also use paper towels to remove moisture from the carpet so that it dries faster.

If white vinegar doesn’t remove your stain, you need to use something stronger. Try a shop-bought carpet cleaner or contact a professional for advice.

Tip: You may need to add more washing up liquid to the mixture if the stain is proving hard to remove. Never rub or scrub a carpet – always blot it when cleaning.

Other Tips for Maintaining Your Carpet

  • Regularly vacuum your carpet. We recommend vacuuming carpets twice per week, as this minimises the amount of dirt and other debris that’s pushed into the fibres when someone walks on it. It also helps to keep your carpet cleaner for longer.
  • Make your home a shoe-free zone. Asking people to take their shoes off at the door can greatly reduce the amount of dirt and grit that ends up on your carpets.
  • Clean stains as soon as they happen. The longer a stain has to set into carpet fibres the trickier it’ll be to clean.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Baking Soda on Carpets?

We don’t recommend using baking soda to clean carpets. Despite the popularity of this method, baking soda can clog your vacuum’s filters and even damage the insides of your vac.

Many vacuums also won’t be able to remove all baking soda from carpet fibres, which leaves the sharp particles to act like sandpaper when people walk over them.

What Shouldn’t You Clean With White Vinegar?

As we mentioned earlier, the acidic nature of vinegar means that it could damage some surfaces. A few of the most common include:

  • Stone floor tiles. These tiles can be damaged by acid. The same is also true for any marble or granite surfaces.
  • Steam irons. Don’t use white vinegar to clean the baseplate of your steam iron. This can damage the inside of your iron.
  • Hardwood flooring. While white vinegar is great for cleaning carpets, it may be dangerous to use on hardwood floors as it can damage the finish. It’s worth noting that some people do use diluted white vinegar on hardwood floors with great results, but we recommend using a cleaner that’s designed specifically for this type of wood.


White vinegar is a cheap and effective tool for cleaning carpet stains. It probably won’t remove the most stubborn or difficult stains, but is worth trying due to its low cost and easy application.

As with all cleaning products, make sure you test white vinegar on a small and hidden patch before using it on a visible area of carpet. While white vinegar is a common carpet cleaning product, it’s hard to predict how it’ll react to a carpet’s fibres before using it.

Do you have any questions about how to use white vinegar to clean a carpet stain? Or do you have any extra tips that want to share? Please let us know in the comments section below. You may also want to read our guide to removing tea stains from carpet.

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