How to Get Alcohol Stains Out of Carpet and Upholstery
Whether the spill is from a mixed drink, a shot, or a can of beer, knowing how to remove alcohol stains can save your carpet and upholstery. Beer stains are tannin and water-based, meaning the removal process is relatively simple, but liquor-based mixed drinks often contain juices or ingredients with dyes making those stains more challenging to remove. Of course, red wine always offers more of a stain removal challenge than white wine.
You can use various items you likely already have in your pantry—distilled white vinegar, dishwashing liquid, oxygen-based bleach powder—to create easy cleaning solutions. Here is a guide for removing liquor and alcohol stains from your carpet or upholstered furniture.
|Stain type||Tannin-based, may contain dye|
|Detergent type||Dishwashing liquid, carpet stain remover, oxygen-based bleach|
|Water temperature||Cool to warm|
When to Call a Professional
If the alcohol stain is on some upholstery fabric that is vintage or silk, call a professional upholstery cleaner for help.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- 1 roll paper towels
- 1 vacuum
- 1 soft-bristled brush
- 2 white cloths
- 2 small bowls
- 1 bottle dishwashing liquid
- 1 bottle distilled white vinegar
- 1 container oxygen-based bleach powder
How to Get Alcohol Stains Out of Upholstery
Remove the Moisture From the Stained Area
Blot up as much liquid as possible using white paper towels. Press the towels into the stain. As the liquid is transferred, use fresh towels. Continue to blot until no more moisture is transferred.
Make a Cleaning Solution
Mix one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid dishwashing detergent, one-half cup of distilled white vinegar, and two cups of warm water in a small bowl.
Treat the Stain
Dip a clean white cloth into the solution and wring it well. Work from the outside edges toward the center to prevent the stain from spreading. As color from the stain is transferred to the cloth, move to a clean area to continue blotting.
Rinse the Freshly Cleaned Area
Fill a second bowl or small bucket with water. Wet a clean white cloth and wring until the cloth is not dripping. Gently wipe the upholstery fabric to rinse the area. It is essential to remove all of the soapy residue because it can attract soil.
Air-Dry and Vacuum
Air-dry away from direct heat. To speed drying, add a circulating fan to the room.
Treat Tough Stains
If the alcoholic drink was mixed with a product containing food dye, it will probably need additional treatment.
- Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach powder and warm water following the product label directions.
- Use a soft-bristled brush to gently work the oxygen bleach solution into the fabric. Do not overwet!
- Allow it to sit for at least one hour before blotting away the moisture with a dry cloth.
- Allow the fabric to air-dry and then repeat the treatment with a fresh solution of oxygen bleach and water if needed until all of the stains are gone.
How to Get Alcohol Stains Out of Carpet
As with upholstery, prompt action to remove carpet stains will give the best results.
Blot Away the Spill
Use paper towels to blot up as much liquid as possible from the carpet. Work from the outside of the stain to prevent spreading.
Treat With a Vinegar Solution
Mix one-half cup of distilled white vinegar with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Saturate the stained area with the solution. Allow it to work for at least 10 minutes before moving to the next step.
If the stain is on an area rug over hardwood floors, place the stained area on plastic sheeting or a tarp before treating it with the vinegar solution. Leaving a wet rug or its pad on a wood floor can result in water stains.
Blot Away the Vinegar Solution
Use paper towels to blot away the vinegar solution. Keep moving to fresh towels as the moisture is transferred.
Use a Soapy Solution
In a small bowl, mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid and warm water. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the soapy solution and scrub the stained area. Start at the outside edges to prevent spreading and let the soap work for at least 10 minutes.
Rinse the Carpet
Use a white cloth dipped in clean warm water to wipe away the soapy residue.
Blot, Air-Dry, and Vacuum
When all of the soapy residue is gone, blot the area with paper towels and allow it to air-dry away from direct heat. When the carpet is dry, vacuum it well to lift any matted fibers.
Check for Residual Stains
If there are traces of the stain remaining after the carpet is dry, mix the same oxygen-based bleach and warm water solution recommended for upholstery. Apply the solution to the carpet and let it dry. Vacuum the carpet and repeat this treatment if needed.
While oxygen bleach is safe to use on all carpet colors, it should not be used to remove stains on wool carpets. The product can damage wool fibers and leave them brittle.
Additional Tips for Getting Out Alcohol Stains
Here are some tips to help ensure good results:
- You can use a commercial carpet or upholstery stain remover to treat alcohol stains.
- If there are multiple stains, consider cleaning the entire carpet or piece of furniture to make sure the color remains even.
- Don't ignore the stain. Treat it as soon as possible.
- Don't rub the stain. Rubbing pushes the stain deeper into the carpet or upholstery fibers, blot with a clean cloth instead.
- Don't spread the stain. Start at the outside edges and work toward the center when cleaning.