How to Get Mud Stains Out of Carpet and Upholstery

Black boots with muddy footprints on white carpet

Andrey Popov/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Every carpet and piece of furniture gets dirt trapped in the fibers, but when that dirt arrives mixed with water in the form of mud, the cleaning game has to ramp up. Adding water to decomposed organic matter creates mud that should be treated like any protein stain.

Read on to learn how to remove mud stains from around your home, including carpeting and furniture.

Stain type Protein
Detergent type Dishwashing liquid, oxygen-based bleach, hydrogen peroxide
Water temperature Cold or cool

Before You Begin

If the mud stain is on an area rug on a hardwood floor, move the rug to a tarp or washable floor before treating the stain. If the wood floor beneath the rug becomes wet during cleaning, remove the rug completely to allow the floor to dry or dark stains may appear.

The stain removal steps will work on both natural carpet fibers like wool and cotton, as well as synthetic fibers. However, if you have a wool carpet, do not use oxygen-based bleach to remove difficult stains. Use hydrogen peroxide instead.

If the mud stain is on upholstery, it's important to know what type of fabric is covering the furniture. Look for a tag underneath the chair or cushion with a code for what type of cleaning product to use and follow the cleaning guidelines for the code.

  • Code X: This fabric should only be cleaned by vacuuming or by a professional. Any type of home cleaning product can cause staining and shrinking.
  • Code W-S: The upholstery can be cleaned with either water-based or solvent-based products.
  • Code W: Fabric can be cleaned with water-based cleaning solvents.
  • Code S: Use only a dry cleaning or water-free solvent to remove stains and soils from the upholstery. The use of these chemicals requires a well-ventilated room and no open flames like fireplaces or candles.

If there is no tag, you should test the different cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area under a cushion or fabric skirt to see how the fabric reacts when treated. If the fabric is vintage or silk, consult a professional upholstery cleaning service; for leather upholstery, use a leather cleaner and follow product directions.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 vacuum with hose and upholstery brush
  • 1 soft-bristled nylon scrub brush
  • 1 spoon, dull knife, spatula, or old credit card
  • 1 to 2 microfiber cloths
  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 set measuring cups and spoons


  • 1 bottle dishwashing liquid
  • 1 container dry cleaning solvent
  • 1 container oxygen-based bleach
  • 1 bottle hydrogen peroxide


How to Remove Mud Stains From Carpet

  1. Lift Away Solids, Let Dry, and Vacuum

    • When mud gets tracked onto the carpet, immediately lift away as much of the solids as possible to prevent them from being pushed deeper into the fibers. Use a spoon, spatula, dull knife, or the edge of a credit card.
    • Have patience and allow the remaining bits of mud to dry completely.
    • Use a vacuum with a carpet beater bar to remove as much of the dried soil as possible.
  2. Blot the Area With the Cleaning Solution

    • Mix a cleaning solution of two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid and two cups of cool water.
    • Use a soft-bristled brush to work the solution into the mud-stained areas.
    • Work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to prevent it from becoming larger
    • Blot away the soil with a paper towel as it is lifted.
    • Rinse the area with plain water to remove any soapy residue that will attract more soil.
  3. Use Oxygen Bleach to Remove Tough Stains

    If there are still traces of color left on the carpet from minerals in the soil (the iron particles of red mud), mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach powder and tepid water following package directions.

    Saturate the stained area and allow the solution to work for at least an hour (two hours are better) and then blot the solution away.

    If the carpet is wool, use undiluted hydrogen peroxide instead of oxygen-based bleach

  4. Let Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the area to dry away from direct heat or sunlight. Vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

How to Remove Mud Stains From Upholstery

  1. Lift Away the Mud Solids

    • Use a dull knife, spoon, or credit card to lift away the damp mud solids. Never rub or wipe the mud away.
    • Allow the remaining mud bits to dry completely.
  2. Vacuum the Upholstery

    Use the upholstery brush attachment to vacuum away any remaining dried mud. If you caught the stain quickly enough, this may be all that is needed.

  3. Read the Code

    Before you start cleaning the fabric if a stain remains, determine what type of upholstery fabric you have.

  4. Clean Code W or W-S Upholstery

    • For fabric that can be cleaned with a water-based solvent, use the same mixture recommended for carpet.
    • Take care not to over-saturate the fabric with the soapy solution, blot the area with a microfiber cloth dampened with the cleaner.
    • Rinse by blotting with a cloth dipped in clean water.
    • Allow the fabric to air-dry away from sunlight and direct heat.
  5. Clean Code S Upholstery

    Use a dry cleaning solvent by following the label directions carefully.

  6. Treat Code X Upholstery

    After removing the mud solids, letting the fabric dry, and vacuuming, if stains remain, call an upholstery cleaning professional.

Additional Tips for Removing Mud Stains

Here are a few rules to help you remove mud from carpet and upholstery more successfully:

  • Don't start with hot water: When removing protein stains, always use cool water to prevent the stain from setting more firmly into the fibers.
  • Don't rub: If a clump of mud lands on your carpet or upholstery, avoid the temptation to wipe it away. Wiping pushes the mud deeper into the fibers. Lift it away with a spoon or let it dry so you can vacuum it away.
  • Don't oversaturate: When cleaning upholstery, don't use too much water or cleaning product that will leave the cushions soaked. Overly wet furniture stuffing can lead to mildew growth.