Can Carpet Cleaners Remove Bleach Stains?

Updated May 18, 2023

If you spilled bleach on a carpet in an apartment, you might wonder whether a carpet cleaner can remove bleach stains.

The short answer is “no.” Carpet cleaners are of no help in getting rid of bleach stains because they aren’t true stains.

In fact, your home carpet cleaner might make matters worse if you rub it too harshly against the surface. And if you call professional carpet cleaners, they might refuse to deal with bleach spots.

Internet guides often recommend using natural remedies like crayons, ink, or coffee to restore the color. Save yourself time and money attempting to remove the stain with a carpet cleaner and restoring the color with tea bags.

Instead, learn how to remove bleach stains from a carpet correctly and avoid common mistakes that will ruin your flooring forever.

Can Bleach Stains Really Be Removed?

Before we dive deeper into how carpet cleaners can help you deal with bleach stains, we should note that you can’t remove such stains. Bleach stains aren’t stains in the traditional sense because they don’t leave the color of film on the surface.

Instead, bleach removes color from the carpet, so bleach stains are permanent. Think of it as stripping nail polish using a polish remover.

You can’t expect the nail polish to reappear. In other words, you need to put the color back rather than remove the color of a stain.

As a result, traditional cleaning methods like rubbing the stain with soap and water won’t help, but don’t rush to close this page and buy a new carpet.

To get rid of a bleach stain, you should first neutralize it. If you leave the bleach on the carpet for too long, it can burn a hole in the fabric.

Furthermore, if you try to apply a new color to the stain, it might strip again. Only after you neutralize the bleach can you apply paint on top of the stain.

How Do Carpet Cleaners Work?

To understand whether carpet cleaners are of any help in dealing with bleach stains, let’s look at how carpet cleaners work. A regular vacuum cleaner does a great job of dealing with surface dirt and debris like dog fur and dust.

However, there’s also ground-in dirt your bare eye can’t see, and here’s where carpet cleaners come in handy. Carpet cleaners remove dander, pollen, tiny food particles, oils, and other microscopic dirt deep from your carpets.

Most home-use carpet cleaners work as follows: you apply a carpet cleaning solution on the surface and let it soak. Then, you turn on the carpet cleaner, which pumps hot water into the carpet under high pressure and extracts soapy fluid.

Contrary to common misconception, steamers are different from carpet cleaners. Steam cleaners are versatile but don’t remove deep stains as effectively.

Professionals use many carpet cleaning methods. For example, dry powder and bonnet cleaning involve minimum moisture, whereas encapsulation cleaning involves using an encapsulating chemical to absorb and isolate dirt particles.

Are All Carpet Cleaners the Same?

There are many types of carpet cleaners, and not each is effective against bleach stains. Methods like carpet shampooing, encapsulation, bonnet cleaning, and dry cleaning used by professional carpet cleaners might be effective against stains but not bleach spots.

There’s no sense in paying professionals to bring their bulky machines and clean your carpet because you will only waste money.

Instead, consider regular steam cleaning or hot water cleaning. Your home steam carpet cleaner will do the job, but you can call the professionals if you don’t have one.

High temperatures and pressure expel bacteria, odor, dust mites, and other dirt. Steam will also help you remove the remaining bleach from the fabric and prepare the carpet for neutralization and new paint application.

Although steam will help remove excess bleach, you will likely need to use a bleach-neutralizing solution in addition to a carpet cleaner.

The bottom line is that carpet cleaner aren’t of much help in removing bleach stains on the carpet. A carpet cleaner can help, but no more than a bowl of cold water and a sponge.

Neutralize the Bleach

Carpet cleaners are of no help in dealing with bleach stains because they are not true stains. The worst thing about bleach is that it remains active forever until you neutralize it, so you can’t simply apply color on the spot.

Any attempts to apply color on active bleach stain will be unproductive at best, and disastrous at worst. Instead, start by rinsing the affected area with cold water to remove excess bleach.

Blot the area with a paper towel, but don’t rub it because you can worsen the situation. Next, buy a chlorine bleach neutralizer in your local homeware store and pour the solution over the bleach.

Some home-use carpet cleaning solutions will also do the job, but there’s no sense in buying one specifically to treat the stain. You can also use a mix of baking soda and warm water.

Some internet guides recommend using vinegar, but it doesn’t neutralize the bleach. You won’t make matters worse by trying, but you will only waste time.

Let the area soak for five to 15 minutes, then rub it with a sponge or soft cloth. If you used baking soda and water mix, use an old toothbrush to remove the powder.

Don’t use dish soap on the spot because it is a high-pH surfactant and will act as a freeway for the bleach, letting it spread onto surrounding areas.

Note that the quicker you act, the less color bleach will strip off. If you neutralize it as soon as you spill it, there might be no stain left.

Restore the Color

Neutralizing bleach is simple, but not restoring the color. Some guides will recommend you use crayons or markers, but the result won’t look natural and won’t be lasting.

The trickiest part is finding a matching color, and the color selection of crayons and laundry pens is limited. I recommend using fabric dye instead. Depending on the carpet’s material, you can use powder-based or liquid dyes.

Note that you might have to mix different dye shades to match the color of your carpet. Closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember to wear gloves.

Hair dye might work on some carpets, particularly if the carpet is brown. The problem is that hair dyes inevitably fade when you clean the carpet, so you will need to reapply it on the spot once in a while.

After you apply the dye to the spot, it might look too dark – that’s normal. Once you wash off the dye, it will be several shades lighter.

Acrylic paint is another alternative to fabric dyes. To make it look natural, you will need to paint each individual fiber, which is time-consuming yet much cheaper than seeking professional help. Paint lightly to avoid stiffness.

If the stain is small, apply some rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and rub the area around the bleach. Then, start rubbing the cotton ball from the outside of the stain toward the center.

Alcohol will loosen the excess dye in the fabric and spread it to the stained area. Unfortunately, this method won’t work for larger bleach stains.

Call the professionals if you struggle to find a matching color and the stain is big. The bad news is that not all carpet cleaners know how to treat bleach stains, and most don’t specialize in color restoration.

In other words, carpet cleaners might not be your best bet. Look for companies specializing in fabric dyeing or ask your local carpet cleaning company whether it can help in your situation before scheduling a visit.

Now, you might wonder – how much does it cost to get bleach out of the carpet? Depending on the bleach spot’s size and your carpet’s material, you might have to pay anywhere between $200 and $500. Sometimes, changing the entire carpet is cheaper.

If re-dying is not an option, consider applying a patch on the bleach stain. For example, if you have some carpet left after its installation, you can cut out a piece and insert it into the bleached area.

Note that color restoration is always a trial and error. Sometimes, neither re-dyeing nor a patch help get rid of the bleach stain because it’s too large. In this case, the only solution is to buy a new carpet.

How to Prevent Bleach Stains on Your Carpet

Learn how to prevent bleach stains on your carpet in the first place. Some carpet cleaners contain bleach, but they are only suitable for white and nearly white carpets.

When choosing a carpet cleaning solution, read the ingredient list on the label and avoid products with bleach. Always use the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Some solutions contain bleach in small amounts and must be diluted. If you don’t dilute such a carpet cleaner, it will be too concentrated and will leave a stain.

If you use bleach in laundry, keep it in the bathroom or kitchen and avoid treating the clothes in a room with carpets.

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