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How to Get Tomato Sauce Out of Carpet

A glass bottle of tomato sauce spilling onto a white surface.

Ah, spaghetti with meat balls. A classic dish, it’s generally a fan favorite with kids of all ages.

But as any parent knows all too well, when kids are involved, stains will follow, and the same is true for spaghetti sauce.

Your child may thoroughly enjoy his meal, and your carpet will likely attest to this, as it remains splattered with tomato sauce following the evening’s dinner.

But with such a bright red color, is it possible to remove tomato sauce from carpet?

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If you’re wondering how to get spaghetti sauce out of carpet, or maybe even some salsa, there are number of DIY stain removal methods to tackle that dreaded tomato sauce splatter.

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Scoop it away

The first step to successfully tackling that blob of tomato sauce on your carpet is to scoop up as much of the tomato sauce as possible before you begin to treat the stain.

Take a large spoon, a spatula (without holes!), or even a knife and begin to scoop or scrape away as much of the spilled sauce as possible, placing it into a bowl or onto a plate as you scoop it away.

Be careful as you scoop that you do not spread the stain, pushing it beyond the boundaries of where it currently lays on your carpet.

Also, take care not to drip the sauce elsewhere on your carpet as you scoop away. Place the bowl as close to the stain as possible to reduce the chance for dripping.

Although this step won’t remove the stain of what has already set into your carpet, it will help clear the way for you to treat the stain, and it will help prevent even more of the sauce from setting into your carpet.

Blot at what remains

A close look at tomato sauce on a white surface.

Next, after you have removed as much of the loose sauce as possible, you will want to blot the area affected by the stain. Take a dry, white cloth or a paper towel and begin to gently blot the stain.

Avoid rubbing or scrubbing the stain, as this can actually push the stain deeper into your carpet’s fibers, causing it to set and becoming more difficult to remove.

Continue to blot, replacing your towel as needed, until no red stain appears on your white cloth.

Using a white cloth for cleaning carpet stains is important, as sometimes the dyes used in colored fabrics may transfer to your carpet, exacerbating your stain.

Blotting the stain won’t remove all of it, either, but it can actually remove a significant amount, while also working to protect against the spread of the wet stain through your carpet. It’s an important first step before jumping into a specific treatment method.

Salt and lemon juice

A slice of lemon and a glass bowl of salt next to cleaning materials.

When treating a tomato or spaghetti sauce stain, you will want to both lift the stain, as well as lighten it. There are a number of products that can help to achieve this.

One option that is commonly used on stains is the salt and lemon juice method. While salt works to absorb the liquid from your carpet’s fibers, the lemon has a bleaching effect, working to lighten the stain.

For this method, you can squeeze lemon juice onto the area affected by the stain using either fresh lemon or bottled lemon juice. Then, you can sprinkle salt over the stain, making sure to cover all areas of the stain.

Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes, or until the salt has dried. Some people will leave a salt treatment on their stain overnight.

Then, once this step is complete, you can then take your vacuum cleaner and vacuum the remaining dried salt crystals from your carpet.

As you vacuum, use an attachment tool to remove the salt, rather than running the regular vacuum across the carpet, as this can actually cause the stain to spread, if any does remove. You also want to be careful not to spread the salt around in your carpet. Instead, work on containing it to only the area affected by the stain.

This method works well to lift and lighten stains. You could also replace salt with baking soda for this step. Baking soda is great at absorbing liquids, but it also helps to neutralize odors.

After you have vacuumed up all of the salt or baking soda, you can then take a damp, light cloth and gently dab at the stain affected area using cold water. This will help to absorb any remaining stain, but it can also help to remove the lemon juice, which you will want to rinse from your carpet, as well.

Club Soda

Another stain treatment alternative is the use of club soda. This carbonated product works well to absorb stains without posing a risk of damage to your carpet.

Be sure to only use plain club soda, though. Avoid use of flavored options, as these contain sweeteners, which can leave your carpet sticky and may cause discoloration.

A sticky carpet collects dirt and bacteria over time, leading to additional stains.

Simply pour some plain club soda onto the area of the stain and, taking a soft, white cloth or paper towel, blot at the stain until no additional red appears on your cloth.

Then, using cold water on a white towel, blot at the stain to continue rinsing the club soda from your carpet.

Dish Detergent

A bottle blue dish detergent.

A popular and effective method that works well for various stain treatments, including tomato or spaghetti sauce, is the use of dish detergent. These products are designed for tackling tough, greasy stains and lifting them from your dishes. They can offer the same benefit for your carpet.

To apply, mix one teaspoon of dish detergent with one cup of warm water into a spray bottle and lightly apply to the area of the stain.

Allow to sit for several minutes so the product can go to work lifting the stain.

Then, using a soft, white towel, gently blot at the stain. Repeat the process, as well as application of the product, until the stain is gone.

Then, using a damp cloth, blot at the stain affected area to rinse the remaining detergent solution from your carpet.

Leaving product in your carpet will cause dirt to collect and leave your carpet looking drab.

Be sure to use a non-bleach detergent to avoid risk of discoloration or damage to your carpet. It is also recommended to try to use a clear dish detergent if you have one, as dyes in some dish detergents may cause staining to your carpet.

Hydrogen Peroxide

A bottle of Equate Brand hydrogen peroxide with cotton balls in the background.

Another alternative to using lemon juice, club soda, or dish detergent is the use of hydrogen peroxide to lighten tough, red carpet stains like those left from tomato sauce.

Hydrogen peroxide may be a secondary step you take after attempting one or more alternative treatments.

Although hydrogen peroxide can serve as an effective method to lighten a dark or bright stain, it does not come without its risks.

Hydrogen peroxide, if used inappropriately, can leave your carpet bleached, and as a result, it should only be used on light or white carpets and you should avoid its use on wool and some other fibers.

It’s also important to use 3% hydrogen peroxide.

To apply this method, combine a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of warm water in a spray bottle and lightly apply to the area of the stain.

Allow it to sit for a few minutes, but not for too long. This will allow the solution to go to work lightening your stain, while avoiding a bleached look.

Once the product has set, take a white cloth and gently blot at the remaining stain, reapplying solution as necessary.

Once the stain has been removed, use a white cloth and cold water to blot at the area and thoroughly rinse any remaining hydrogen peroxide from your carpet to avoid damage.

Use a red wine remover

Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover, 12– oz

If you find the stain is still quite stubborn, or if you prefer to go the commercial route to being with, you can use a commercial carpet cleaner designed for use on red stains, like those left from red wine.

These formulas are developed to tackle such stains and may be just solution your tomato sauce stain needs to go the way of the dinosaur.

There are any number of red wine stain removers that could work well, but a popular option is Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover. This product can work well on a fresh stain or a set-in stain, and it does not use bleach, which could damage your carpet.

Follow instructions as listed on the product.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse the solution from your carpet once the stain removal process is complete.

How to remove set in tomato sauce stain

A pair of gloved hands scrubbing the red stain on the carpet.

If you’re looking to treat a dried, set-in tomato sauce stain in your carpet, this process may be a bit more involved, but it doesn’t necessarily mean all hope is lost for your carpet every looking fresh and new again.

If that unsightly red splat has been staring at you for days, or if you’ve only just discovered it after it’s had a chance to dry, there are a few steps you can take to tackle this stain.

In order to treat this stain, you will need to re-hydrate it and prime it for removal. Take a damp, white cloth soaked in cold water and gently blot the area of the stain until it becomes moist again.

Take care not to rub the stain or spread the stain as you blot and moisten.

After the stain has been re-hydrated, you can set to work applying any, or several, of the stain removal techniques highlighted in the sections above. One good option to start may be the use of salt or baking soda to try to draw up as much of the stain as possible from deep within the carpet fibers.

However, it’s important to note that because the stain has had ample time to set, it may be more difficult to remove entirely, even with effective treatment. With a little bit of patience, though, it’s quite possible to succeed in doing so.

Finishing touches

A man vacuuming the gray carpet.

Once you complete any of the stain removal treatments detailed above, it’s a good idea to rinse the area thoroughly to remove any treatment product that may remain.

You can do so by soaking a white cloth in cold water and gently blotting at the area until you are sure that all product has been removed sufficiently from your carpet.

Then, taking a dry, white cloth or towel, gently press down on the wet area, working to thoroughly dry your carpet.

You may find that using a fan on low facing toward the damp carpet works well to dry it, too.

It’s important to dry the carpet thoroughly to ensure mold and mildew do not grow.

After the area dries, run a vacuum cleaner over the area to restore your carpet’s fluff and leave it looking as good as new.

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