Isn’t it wonderful how life has a way of providing us with opportunities to share helpful information with each other? Like, I don’t know, how to remove rubber cement stains from carpet, for example?
Ah, yes. Good old rubber cement stains. As you know, we’ve been doing a lot of crafting at our house lately, creating homemade Valentine boxes and making special Valentine messages for each other. Some of this crafting requires rubber cement. Even when supervised, children can make a huge, sticky mess with rubber cement. Left unsupervised? Well, you get this.
Yes, I walked into our homeschool classroom yesterday morning to see a dark spot on the carpet next to an open rubber cement bottle, with rubber cement oozing from the bottle into the carpet fibers. Yikes! As a mother of three children and owner of a golden retriever, I am fairly well versed in stain removal, but I have to admit, I had NO IDEA how to remove rubber cement stains from carpet.
I did some quick research, and it pretty much comes down to this: Scrape. Blot. Dab. Blot. Spray. Blot. Spray. Blot. Spray. Blot. Well, you get the idea.
Just in case this type of disaster ever happens to you, don’t fret. You can remove those stains from your carpet with a little effort and lots of patience. It’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath and say that again. “It’s going to be okay.”
Of course, it works best if you come upon the spilled rubber cement just after the incident, while the rubber cement is still wet and before the entire contents of the bottle saturates your carpet. (You can also remove the rubber cement if it has already dried, as you will discover later in this post.)
Step 1 – Scrape. Using a butter knife, putty knife, or, in my case, drywall scraper, scrape up as much of the wet rubber cement as you can. Pressing down on the carpet just outside the stain and pushing up with a twisting motion worked well for me. Wipe the scraper on a paper towel. Repeat until you can’t remove any more goo from the carpet.
Step 2 – Blot. With a dry paper towel, blot up as much of the remaining goo as you can. (Note: Normally, I would recommend using a cleaning cloth. You know, save the environment. Save your wallet. That sort of thing.) But in this instance, a paper towel really is best, for three reasons. One, you will probably want to throw the towel away, since it will be saturated with rubber cement, and you don’t want to spread the mess…I mean love…to the rest of your laundry. Two, it’s easier to see if you’re still getting rubber cement out of the carpet by looking at a paper towel instead of a thicker, fabric cloth. And three, just think. You’re saving a carpet here. Consider the difference between a few paper towels and a huge roll of carpet in a landfill.
Therefore, guilt assuaged, I continued to blot until I thought I had removed most of the goo from the carpet. On to Step 3.
Step 3 – Dab. Apply some rubbing alcohol to a new paper towel (no guilt here, remember, you’re saving a carpet!). Dab the stained carpet with the rubbing alcohol. If you have discovered a rubber cement stain after it has dried, jump in at this step. (If you haven’t already guessed, while dabbing, I discovered a suspicious dark spot under the same child’s workspace. Checking the carpet, I found it dry and brittle, a sure sign of dried glue.) Dab. Dab. Dab. [sigh] Dab. Dab. Dab.
Step 4 – Spray. Once you’re done dabbing and the carpet is sufficiently pliable, grab a spray bottle filled with water and a few good squirts of liquid dishwashing detergent (the kind without bleach). Spray liberally.
Step 5 – Blot. That’s right. Blot away. This time, feel free to use a cloth towel and start saving the environment again. [Whew!]
Step 6 – Spray. Once you’ve blotted a good deal (blot, blot, blot…blot, blot, blot), spray the area with water, and blot again. Then walk away and let it dry. (Aren’t breaks nice?)
Step 7 – Check the carpet again. If all this spraying and blotting hasn’t removed the stain to your satisfaction, then spray the area with hydrogen peroxide. [NOTE: cover the area you’ve sprayed with hydrogen peroxide with a bowl if it’s in a sunny spot. The sun, combined with the hydrogen peroxide, will bleach the carpet.]
I got lucky. The stain occurred in my homeschool classroom under a desk in a room slated for renovation sometime down the road, so I’m not terribly picky about the state of the carpet, other than getting the smell of rubber cement out of the classroom. Still, I want it to be clean, so I attached a spray nozzle directly onto my hydrogen peroxide bottle and sprayed. Then I dabbed the carpet. Again. Repeat this process until the carpet is stain free (or until you’re sick of spraying and dabbing and just give up, whichever comes first!)
Step 8 – Vacuum. Finally, vacuum the carpet to be sure you’ve removed all the rubber cement. If you still aren’t satisfied, repeat the process, beginning with step 2.
Here are my results:
SHA-ZAM! All in a day’s work, really. That, and homeschooling three kids. And taking care of a dog. And finishing a project for a client. And writing this blog post. And simmering a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove. And supervising piano practice. And…. 🙂