Spilled tea on your carpet or rug? We’ve all been there, but there is an easy way to get those tea stains out: coffee!
Okay, not really.*
It’s not like the red wine/white thing (which, contrary to common sense, actually works), and adding coffee to tea stains will just make that mess bigger and more deeply ingrained. There are some things you can use that really are effective though.
*Here’s hoping that you read more than one paragraph when taking advice, otherwise you’ve just made one hell of a mess on your carpet. On the plus side, you can probably use these methods on coffee, as well. Probably.
Why Are Tea Stains So Tough?
Tea, just like red wine, contains tannins. These troublesome compounds are responsible for imparting strong, astringent tastes, as well as a dark, rich colour. If you over-steep a cup of black tea then it’s the high tannin content that is responsible for making it taste bitter, but if you get the balance just right, then they add to the overall complexity of the taste.
Unfortunately, these yellow-brown polyphenols are also responsible for some of the worst stains. In coffee and tea, the heat may also play a role, opening up the carpet fibres and destroying any protective treatments before leaving the tannins to do their work.
Does Herbal Tea Stain Carpets?
For the most part, herbal tea is not as destructive. It’s hot, and if you add sugar or honey, then you can also create a sticky mess, but most herbal teas do not contain anywhere near the same concentration of tannins as tea. That’s why they tend not to over-steep and why the colour is much lighter.
Green tea and white tea should also stain a lot less, but none of that will be comforting to you if you already have a large black tea stain staring up at you from the middle of your cream living room carpet.
How to Remove Tea Stains from Your Carpet
Back to the problem at hand! There are actually a number of effective stain removers available in your local store. We won’t list all of them, but really, we don’t have to. Any chemical concoction that brands itself as a “carpet stain remover” should be effective.
We actually have first-hand experience of this. We have spilled many cups of tea over the years, and we have learned two things: first, never buy a cream carpet. The slightest speck of dust is enough to make your lovely, gleaming carpet look like an old rug you stole from your neighbour’s skip. Second, Vanish Oxy works a treat.
Give it a squirt, wait a few minutes, rub it in, and you’re good to go. This magical foam has cleaned up many spilled drinks as well as copious amounts of cat sick and other detritus of family life.
If you’re hellbent on avoiding chemicals (which is definitely something we promote!) or you just want to avoid paying the high prices these products charge, then try these natural solutions. Tea stains are not that problematic, so a little elbow grease and one of these natural stain removers could be all you need.
Vinegar is magical stuff, and when you’re not putting it on your chips or being told to chug it for its supposed health benefits, you can use it to clean your house. It works great for cleaning grime off surfaces, and a little white vinegar and water can also help with carpet stains.
Just add a splash of white vinegar to water, tip it onto the stain, dab it in, and then wait. After a few minutes, it’s time to start scrubbing. Use a towel/cloth and some cold water to rinse the vinegar solution through and make sure that stain is gone completely.
Try adding the vinegar to an empty spray bottle. Not only will it be easier to use, but it will also ensure the entire stain is covered without being saturated. You can then use that bottle to clean your kitchen surfaces and pretty much everything else.
And whatever you do, don’t opt for malt vinegar. It’ll likely cause more problems than it will fix, not to mention, the horrid vinegar stench will linger around your home for the next few days.
Sprinkle a little baking soda onto a dry cloth and then scrub it into the stain before rinsing the area as best you can. It’ll be a little messy, but once it has had time to work into the carpet, you can clean the area with cold water, wait for it to dry, and then enjoy your new stain-free carpet!
You’re going to need a lot of elbow grease and a few passes with the cold water, though, so be prepared to stick to it.
This sounds like a bizarre option and, well, it is. But there is also some sense to it. Adding salt to a wet stain can help dry it out, potentially drawing all those nasty tannins out of the carpet fibres. We’ve actually seen this used as part of a process for getting red wine out of the carpet, one that involves first diluting it with white wine (if you can bring yourself to spill wine intentionally) and then adding salt.
After it has been left to dry, you can clean up the mess by dabbing a slightly moist cloth or by getting out the vacuum cleaner.
Okay, so it’s not natural, but it is probably in your home already and a few squirts of this is certainly cheaper than a store-bought stain remover.
WD-40 is great for removing ingrained stains, but you will need to use something else along with it. If the stain has dried or is old, try giving it a few squirts with this and then use one of the options above, preferably the vinegar.
As any parent will tell you, there is nothing that a baby wipe can’t clean and that applies to carpet stains, as well. It won’t work for an ingrained stain and you will need to act fast, but if you reach for the wipes as soon as the tea is spilled, you may be able to clean it before it becomes a problem.
If it works on baby vomit, then it can tackle anything!