Whether it’s an early morning pick-me-up or a late night drink to help you relax, tea is a great choice for any occasion.
It’s also a very versatile beverage, with teabags or loose leaf tea both options for hot and cold drinks alike.
Just about the only downside to tea is that if you spill it on carpet, it can be difficult to remove any stains.
Sound familiar? Don’t fret! In this article, we’ll cover how to get tea stains out of carpet even if they’re old and dried.
How do you get tea stains out of carpet?
The best way to remove stains from carpet is a mix of white vinegar and warm water. For stubborn stains, you can also apply baking soda using a damp cloth. Tea is very quick to stain, so it’s important to clean up any spills as soon as you can, ideally before they dry.
Tea: one of nature’s dyes
Believe it or not, tea makes a great natural dye. It, and other plants containing tannins, have been used to dye fabric for thousands of years.
The secret to tea’s incredible dying power is its tannin, a chemical compound located in many plant-based foods and beverages.
These tannins help provide the acidity of green tea and its characteristic bitterness when brewed too long but also provide many of its health benefits, including antimicrobial properties and the potential to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cognitive decline.
Tannin-based dyes can create many types of colors, from the nearly transparent to a deep blue-black. More importantly, they deeply penetrate the fibers of fabric, leaving a long-lasting color.
While the tannins in tea make it great for dying clothes, they also mean that an accidental tea spill on white carpet can be a nightmare to clean up.
Removing a tea stain from a carpet
There are three essential ingredients to cleaning up tea stains:
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Warm or hot water
Actually, make that four ingredients. The fourth is patience, which you’ll need a lot of!
Get rid of tea stains on your carpet using the white vinegar method
The most commonly recommended method to remove tea stains from carpet is to mix up a solution of white vinegar and warm water.
Experts seem to disagree on the exact ratio of water to vinegar. Most places, however, recommend either one part vinegar and two parts water or an equal mixture of vinegar and water.
After you let the vinegar and water soak into the stained area for five to ten minutes, get some absorbent paper towels or a cleaning rag and press it into the carpet repeatedly and slowly. Clean or replace your paper towel or rag as needed throughout the process until the stain is gone.
If vinegar alone isn’t cutting it, you can add a teaspoon or so of dish soap to the mix to increase its efficiency. Particularly tough stains might take multiple attempts.
Soon, your carpet will no longer be the color of green tea.
Get rid of tea stains in your carpet using the baking soda method
Baking soda is actually easier to use than vinegar. To remove tea stains from carpet with baking soda, you first want to blot up as much of the liquid as possible with a paper towel. Remember: blot, don’t rub.
Once your carpet is as dry as you can get it, open a new container of baking soda and shake it to liberally cover the affected area of carpet. After your carpet is coated with the baking soda, spray or sprinkle it with hot water to help the baking soda work into the carpet.
Next, you want to leave the baking soda on the carpet for as long as you can. Three hours is the minimum amount of time recommended for this method, but longer is better.
After the time is up and your baking soda has dried, pick up all the baking soda with a vacuum cleaner and the stain should look much better. Again, you might need to try multiple times.
Get rid of tea stains on your carpet using both the baking soda and the vinegar method
If you’ve tried the other two methods to no avail or you have a particularly gruesome tea stain, you can combine the cleaning powers of both ingredients.
For this trick, combine your vinegar and water mixture from method one and then add a few teaspoons of baking soda as well. Once the baking soda dissolves, you can pour or spray the mix on your carpet and proceed with cleaning as usual.
Alternatively, you can create a thick paste (known as a “slurry”) of baking soda and vinegar by sprinkling the baking soda on the carpet and then applying the water and vinegar mixture afterward.
Just like those elementary school baking soda volcanoes, this method will cause a chemical reaction that causes the substances to fizz up considerably.
This isn’t related to why tea foams but it is fun to watch. It’s also highly effective at cleaning tea stains.
Other tips for removing tea stains from a carpet
- Always spot check stain removal techniques on a small section of carpet before applying them liberally. Some methods may cause discoloration or other damage to certain types of carpet.
- Ever noticed that the color of brewed tea depends on how long a tea bag sits in water? For the same reason, try to clean up any spills as soon as possible after they happen. The longer tea soaks into a carpet, the harder it will be to clean. Even if you don’t have vinegar and baking soda on hand, putting paper towels over the affected area and pressing down until they wick up as much liquid as possible will make later clean-up easier.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Stubborn stains may require several applications, or combinations of various methods, for complete removal.
- Remember to blot (or dab) paper towels against the carpet. This will wick up any liquid, bringing the stains with it. If you rub the liquid around, you might spread the stain.
- For particularly delicate carpets or other fabrics, you may wish to call a professional. This is a lot more expensive than vinegar and baking soda, but sometimes worth it.