We've all been there. One minute you are tucking into a nice (bright red) tikka masala. The next, a wayward dollop of curry sauce has somehow managed to make its way onto your beloved rug or carpet. Bad for the carpet, and a waste of good curry too. Fear not friends, help is at hand! In this article, we'll discuss the best way to get curry stains out of your carpet, how to limit the damage, and also some 'techniques' that you really need to avoid!
Quick Answer | How to Get Curry Stains Out of Carpet
I'd go straight for industrial strength solutions. The most successful products I've found are those from "Rug Doctor". It's pretty heavy duty stuff, but it seems to work well. I'd give shop bought solutions like Vanish a go too! They aren't quite as powerful. But they seem to work well.
If you've got a little more time, check out the contents below and navigate straight to my top tips to get curry stains out of carpet!
How to Get Curry Stains Out of Carpet | First Steps!
Alright, here we go. Pay attention! All is not lost!
I don't want to sound too serious, but…
Your actions right now are going to determine how bad the stain will be (if any).
Dropped Curry on the Carpet? How to Limit the Damage
1. The Faster, the better…
The longer you leave that blob of curry sauce there, the greater the chance it has to soak into the fibres of your carpet. So, you need to get that curry off of there and fast. Use whatever you have to hand to pick up any excess.
A napkin works wonders. A paper towel is even better!
You might think a wet towel will work best.
Don't do this!
The water may dilute the concentrated colours and spread the stain further. Remember, we are going for damage limitation at this point.
Water, especially hot water, is a bad idea at this stage. It can actually permanently 'set' stains. And if that happens, your options are going to be limited.
If it is only a small dot of curry, you can use a knife to scrape away the excess.
2. Don't Rub it In!
We get it, you've dropped some curry and made a mess on the carpet, and you want that stain gone!
Rubbing vigorously with a cloth might seem like a good idea…
Trust me, it isn't.
By rubbing the stain at this stage, you are working all of those fragrant oils and bright colours further into the fabric.
You want to soak up the sauce, not rub it in.
The best way to achieve this is by dabbing the stain lightly.
3. Excess Removed? Now Dilute
Once you have removed all the leftover curry, you've done all you can to limit the damage.
Now it's time to dilute that bad boy and make its dirty effect less obvious.
Using cold water and a clean cloth, gently dab the stain until it is slightly saturated. The carpet doesn't need to be soaking, and remember that certain carpets, like sisal, can be irreparably damaged by water.
Once the area is slightly damp, give it another pat with a dry towel or sponge and see if you can soak up any more of the stain.
4. The Secret Way to Remove Curry Stains
Here's a top tip. You've done nearly as much as you can for now…
But here's a secret bonus tip.
Place a couple of dry paper towels on the damp patch and leave something heavy on top to rest overnight. This constant pressure from the weight will 'wring out' the carpet and force moisture into the dry paper towels.
5. Now… We Wait
To address something effectively, you need to know what you are dealing with. You might be tempted to go in all guns blazing with a fancy cleaning product or some traditional ideas involving lemon juice…
While there will be time for all of this and more, at the moment, you need to be careful. Certain curry recipes use food colouring.
So, what's the problem? You might ask…
Certain food dyes are actually made brighter if you add an acid (which is an active ingredient in many cleaning products).
Your best bet is to be patient and let the stain dry.
Removing Curry Stains | Here's What to Do!
So, you've got up in the morning, with a mouth like Gandhi's flip flop, there was something you had to do…
Oh yeah, get rid of that curry stain!
By this point, it should have dried, and in the daylight (hopefully) doesn't look quite as bad.
Here are your options…
1. Try Brushing the Stain
Once the curry sauce has dried, give it a brush with something stiff. Often you will find that any remaining big bits will flake away.
Modern carpets are designed to be stain-resistant, and maybe your curry hasn't soaked into the fibres. By brushing the stain and 'raising the knap', you might find that the surrounding fibres cover the stain to the point that you can't notice it.
How to Remove a Curry Stain with Cleaning Products
Ok, we have to go a little more heavy-duty. Let's go through a list of things you can try to get that curry stain gone!
2. Can Baking Soda Remove Curry Stains?
Baking and soda work wonders on all sorts of stains. Here's how to use it: -
- Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a tablespoon of water to make a loose paste.
- Using a toothbrush, gently rub this into the stain.
- Let it sit for around a quarter of an hour
- Using a clean damp cloth, gently scrub the stain.
- Rinse and repeat!
3. Step it Up a Gear| Washing up Liquid
Did you know that washing up liquid is a really powerful degreaser? It's also great at removing stains. It works because the molecules in washing up liquid have one end that loves water, and the other end loves oils. This makes oil particles (found in curry) be able to be rinsed away.
Further to this, washing up liquid contains large amounts of glycerin. This works to soften the molecules of stain-causing substances, making them much easier to remove.
- Add a teaspoon of washing up detergent to a half cup of tepid water. Give it a mix, then, using a clean cloth, work some suds into the carpet.
- Leave it for a couple of minutes and then blot dry with a piece of kitchen paper.
4. Next Level Tip | Washing Powder
Yup, trust me. I mean, what is washing powder for?
That's right, getting stains out of fabric. It works in the same way as washing up liquid. It is just a little more heavy-duty.
Here's the method I find most effective…
- Make a thin paste by mixing a teaspoon of washing powder with about three tablespoons of water. Using a clean cloth or a toothbrush, work the paste into the stain.
- Leave this mixture for 10 minutes, then with a clean damp cloth, blot the residue away. Leave to dry and observe the results.
5. Use a Dedicated Carpet Cleaning Product
Still struggling? Alright, it's time to pull out the big guns.
We are talking weapons-grade carpet cleaners…
Alright, maybe a bit dramatic.
But something like Vanish will work a treat...
Most dedicated carpet cleaners contain small amounts of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide… You'll probably know it as 'bleach'.
This is enough to dissolve the compounds making up the stain in small amounts, but it isn't quite strong enough to dissolve the carpet.
Follow the instructions on the bottle or jar. Let it dry and give your carpet a hoover. I've found this to be one of the most effective methods, where others have failed.
It gives you a great idea of how effective industrial carpet cleaners are too!
6. Time to go Nuclear…
Ok, this last tip isn't for the faint-hearted, but I've found that it really does work in extremis.
Are you ready?
Go and get a cheap disposable razor.
I'm serious. Now we aren't going to give your carpet a 'short back and sides'. But you might find that if the stain has only penetrated the very top of the fibres, you can effectively trim them off if you are careful.
Lightly stroke the affected area with your razor. This method should actually take you a bit of time. If it is taking a while, that means you are doing it right.
Don't pull chunks out of the carpet. Slowly and carefully, you should see a sort of felt forming on the razor. This means that it is working. Remove this felt (carefully) with your fingers and carry on. If the stain hasn't gone too deep, you should see a really effective result.
7. Call a Doctor?
Alright not at actual doctor...
I'm talking about a Rug Doctor!
If you haven't seen one of these bad boys before, prepare to be amazed. It made me almost glad to have dropped a blob of Madras on the living room carpet. The entire thing came up looking like new. No curry stains... In fact, no dirt whatsoever.
Alright it is a bit pricey, but do you know what? Having brand new carpets all year round is never a bad thing!
If the above is a bit too steep, why not grab a bottle of spray on rug doctor instead? Here's a quick video on how to use it to remove curry stains from your carpet.
8. Call a Professional
It might be time to cut your losses (not your carpet) and get a professional in to have a look. Professional carpet cleaners can often perform miracles!
They have industrial strength cleaners and machinery that far exceeds anything you'll have at home in terms of carpet cleaning performance…
I don't know why, but I find this video so satisfying!
If at First, You Don't Succeed… Treat the Stain Again
Ok, a moment's carelessness sure has caused a lot of work… Getting rid of stains isn't always a one-step process.
After trying the above steps, does the stain seem less obvious? If so, then it's obviously working. Now that the stain isn't so bad. Try the same again. You'll often find that with repeated goes, a stain will fade into obscurity.
Be persistent, and don't give up if it doesn't work the first time!
Curry Stains on Your Carpet? FAQ
Here's a few questions I get asked all the time. I've dealt with more curry stains than I can remember, so I'll try to be as upfront as possible.
How Do you Remove Old Curry Stains?
Old curry stains can be a little troublesome. Remember how I said that you needed to act quickly to limit the damage. Old curry will have soaked into the fibres, so it might be harder to remove. The above tips are still all valid however. I'd go straight toward using a commercially available product multiple times.
Does Vanish get Rid of Curry Stains?
Vanish and products like vanish are actually pretty good at getting rid of curry stains. As we saw above, they contain compounds that actually eat away at the stain. They can be really effective.
Is Bicarbonate of Soda the Same as Baking Soda?
Oops, my bad. Yes, bicarb and baking soda are the same things. You'll find that the Americans call it baking soda, whereas you'll hear it called both bicarb and baking soda in the UK. It works the same way and is the same thing.
How do You Remove Curry Powder Stains?
Ah, you've spilt curry powder while cooking. This is slightly different. My top piece of advice would be to stop what you are doing and get the vacuum cleaner out. Don't wet it unless you have to. You'll end up making a curry paste if you add water… And curry paste is so much harder to get out than powder!
Things to Avoid When Trying to Clean Curry Stains from Carpet
Ok, so I've told you what to do. Let me give you a quick list of things to avoid doing when you are trying to rid your carpet of a pesky curry stain: -
Ignore Advice About Salt…
If you read only one sentence in this article, read this.
Don't use Salt!
Salt will set the vast majority of stains… meaning its permanent, or new carpet time, or both. That was an expensive curry!
Don't Ever Use Hot Water!
As I said above, hot water can cause a stain to become set. This is when the proteins in the stain harden and chemically bond to whatever they are resting on.
Don't Ever Scrub!
It goes against what feels 'right'. But scrubbing will do more harm than good. You'll spread the stain further, and if you rub hard enough will damage the delicate fibres of your carpet.
Don't Use Neat Detergent
As I said above, some stains can be made more vivid by acid. Depending on the makeup of the stain, they can also become set by certain types of detergent if applied directly.
Don't Use Too Much Product!
Regardless of which approach you use, the principle you need to adopt is 'little and often' over 'bigger is better'. The stain is likely tiny. You definitely don't need to be using half a bottle of stain remover.
Using too much will prevent the stain from drying and makes it much harder to blot away.
Use a small amount correctly, monitor the effect and, if necessary, repeat.
Don't Mix products!
This one is pretty important. Now I'm no scientist, but you NEED to know this.
Certain products, when mixed, can produce toxic gases. It's really easily done and is one of the main reasons they say you shouldn't mix bleach with anything. Chlorine gas can be a killer. Don't risk it!
Don't use bleach.
While bleach does turn things white, that's no good if you don't have a white carpet… And even if you do, still don't use bleach! It can turn white things into an off white, yellowy colour (which is what you are trying to avoid in the first place!)
Don't quit too soon!
Sometimes stains can take a little while to work out. Some cleaning products' active element continues to work long after it has dried. Sunlight also causes stains to fade too, so keep working away at it until you have really done all that you can!
How to Get Curry Stains Out of Carpet | Final Thoughts…
Nobody like stains on the carpet (or wasting curry). Understandably, you want to remove it as soon as possible. The trick to getting curry stains out of carpet is to act quickly and decisively, followed by a little trial and error until you get the result you want. There are plenty of options above. Do you have any tips of your own? Let me know in the comments below, and I'll add them to my list. (once I'm done blotting up this Pathia)