Chocolate is one of the hardest stains to remove from any fabric, including carpet. Whether your carpet is synthetic, natural, or a blend, we've got the tips, products, and strategies to help you tackle an offending chocolate stain while keeping your carpet looking as though the spill never happened.
Chocolate may be the perfect food – it tastes incredible, it’s full of antioxidants, and it boosts your mood. What doesn’t boost your mood, however, is when your beautiful carpet is stained from the chocolate you’ve been enjoying. Chocolate in general is one of the hardest stains to get out of fabric, and it’s also one of the fastest ones to set, meaning you have a small window to really get the stain out.
Very recently, I came face-to-face with the monster that is a chocolate stain, in the form of my son spilling a whole cup of hot cocoa on our brand new white carpet. While I was upset, I knew that I had precious little time to cry into my hands if I was going to have a chance to get the stain out. I spent far too many precious minutes searching online for a good answer, and barely got the stain out before it catastrophically stuck in place.
Luckily I have written down everything that I learned in cleaning the mess up, so you can benefit from my mishap. What follows is a list of cleaners and tips to make sure that you avoid losing a carpet to the delicious menace that is chocolate.
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Because chocolate sets so quickly, the first thing you need to do is blot up the excess. Get paper towels because they can absorb the liquid much easier than handcloths or fabric towels can, especially if the chocolate is thicker. Assuming you can soak up the liquid chocolate, you can move onto utilizing stain removers.
If the chocolate is set, then you need to use a scraping tool to remove the hardened candy. While you can use anything from a nail file to a butterknife, a spoon tends to work best for getting the torque and drag necessary to scrape off the chocolate. In some cases, and depending on how thick the chocolate was, you may only need to chip off the hardened part. Particularly with synthetic fibers, chocolate stains might not soak into the carpet itself.
If you’re halfway between liquid and solid chocolate, get some ice and apply it to the spill. This will aggressively harden the chocolate so it can be removed more easily with your scraper. Additionally, this may get the chocolate to harden before it has a chance to soak into the carpet, but always remember to blot up the excess as the first step.
Commercial stain removers
Once you have the excess stain picked up, it’s now time to remove whatever is set-in. As we said before, long-set chocolate will be very difficult to get out, and even if you do, your carpet may be permanently discolored. Time is of the essence when you’re cleaning up any carpet stain, but particularly chocolate, so do not dawdle.
What follows here are a few of the best stain remover products for carpets that can and will get rid of chocolate stains.
Woolite InstaClean Spot Remover
One of the oldest names in carpet cleaning, Woolite has a long line of products that are aimed at specific types of spills, but this one works on just about everything. While it’s chemically-based, it’s not as harsh as some industrial cleansers and it really does work quite well.
One of the biggest benefits of Woolite products, including this one, is that it creates a sort of stain-barrier that discourages future staining. So if someone in your house likes to randomly spill chocolate in the same place – and if you’re a parent, this is a very real possibility – this will make future stains much easier to clean. The fact that this works on most other stains makes it a great staple to have in your cleaning cabinet.
Campanelli Professional Formula Stain RemoverA highly powerful, professional-grade stain remover, Campanelli’s easy-to-use aerosol can tackle almost any stain. A simple spray and a few minutes of waiting is all it takes; the company prides itself on the fact that you won’t need to do any difficult scrubbing. It breaks down stains so it’s exceptionally good at a persistent, thick spill like chocolate.
While many companies claim their products are “professional grade”, Campanelli really is, as you only could get it in carpet cleaning stores up to a few years ago. The product is chemically based, so again, it’s not all-natural or organic, but it does work exceptionally well, to the point the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The only downside to this product is that, for some carpet fabrics, it can discolor, so it’s always best to test it and wait 5 minutes on an inconspicuous part of your carpet before attacking a stain.
Gonzo Stain Remover
Another industrial-strength cleaner, but this one is all-natural and non-toxic. It’s exceptionally good at pulling out set stains, so of all of these products, this is your best bet to remove chocolate that you didn’t have a chance to clean before it dried. Simply apply Gonzo directly to the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes. Blot up the liquid, wipe with a brush or towel, and then repeat to make sure it doesn’t return.
Gonzo is phosphate-free and has no odor, and with its non-toxic formulation, you can use it around animals and children.
Anyone who lived through the 90s remembers the OxiClean commercials being shouted at their face every single day from the TV. The brand persists, however, because it works exceptionally well. What’s best is that it has total-home application since it can clean all fabrics and surfaces.
These tubs come with a powder you simply mix into water and then scrub into the stain and let it sit. After a few minutes, blot it up and give it a quick, gentle rinse (and dry with paper towels) and your chocolate stain should, like the 90s, be a thing of the past.
Home remedies to remove chocolate from carpets
While industrial-strength cleaners are a powerful way to banish chocolate stains, time is of the essence and if you don’t have these products on hand when disaster strikes, you need a backup. These next few solutions are based on items most people have in their homes, so you should have little trouble conjuring up one of these cleaning methods.
Dish soap and water
This one is surprisingly easy, and you almost certainly have the components. Mix 1/2 tsp dish detergent into 1 cup of warm water and scrub it into the carpet, letting it sit for about 10 minutes. The dish detergent will break up the fats that make the chocolate stable and it should make the stain easy to remove with just a bit of scrubbing after you’ve let the solution sit.
Laundry detergent and water
If you don’t have dish soap, laundry detergent works in a pinch as well. 1/4 tsp detergent to 1 cup warm water is the mixture, and you’ll want to apply it directly to the stain, rubbing it in a circular motion and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. Using a wet washcloth or towel, soak up the liquid and lightly buff the stain to remove it.
It should be noted that this method isn’t as great for synthetics; in those cases, dish soap works better.
In either case, a follow-up with a mild ammonia mixture – 1 tbsp to 1 cup warm water – should be applied to help make sure the stain is fully removed and doesn’t return up drying. If you don’t have ammonia, you can use hydrogen peroxide in the same dilution as ammonia.
Peroxide is ONLY usable on lighter or white carpets; do not use it on colored carpeting or you’ll bleach it. Sprinkling a small amount – 1 – 2 tbsps – of peroxide on the stain after you’ve removed any excess chocolate will help penetrate the fibers and break down any remaining chocolate, which can easily be wiped away with warm water and a small bit of dish detergent.
Regardless of which of these methods you choose, they should be effective at removing chocolate. If all else fails here, you can get a carpet cleaning solution from any place that rents professional carpet cleaning equipment (like a Rug Doctor). Even if you don’t use the actual machine, the solution can be a great cleaner for small stains for times you don’t necessarily want to commit to cleaning an entire area, wrangling a machine, and then returning it to the store.
If none of that works, however, do go ahead and rent a carpet cleaner; it’s better than staring grumpily at a stain in your carpet for years.
Natural cleaning solutions
Finally, if you don’t want to use any of the above-mentioned cleaning ideas, or you have a natural-fiber carpet, then all-natural products are going to be where you’ll go next. In some cases, these work just as well as the commercial chemicals, but it’s highly dependent on how fast you get to the stain.
Vinegar is an amazing cleaner for literally any room in your house. It’s a disinfectant, so it’s great for your bathroom and kitchen, and it works to get stains out of virtually any surface, so it’s great everywhere else, too. 1/4 cup vinegar to 1/4 water is the perfect mixture to unbind and start to scrub out chocolate (or many other stains as well).
It’s worth following up with something that can remove the vinegar smell, however, as having a clean carpet is nice but having it smell like vinegar is, well, less so.
Any natural, acidic product will work here, but it’s hard to get more natural than fruit. Lemons have an additional benefit in that their peels have oil in them that is extremely good at releasing stains. This oil can be found by juicing the lemons and then taking the peels, twisting or smashing them, and then letting them soak in about a cup of warm water. It should draw out the limonene and be useable as a highly potent cleaner.
Spray the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes, and then come back with either a vinegar cleaning solution or just soap and water and the stain should come up relatively easily. It’s worth noting when you soak a stain with vinegar, peroxide, lemon, or ammonia, you should blot the stain at first. With these types of cleaners, scrubbing can lighten the stain itself but move it around to a much larger area. Blot first, then scrub if necessary but not until you’ve applied a detergent like a dish or laundry soap.