Carpet surgery

When Carpet Stain Removers Fail, Carpet Surgery

Carpet stains are near the top of my personal list of pet peeves. I’m not talking about an accidental spill that when addressed quickly can be successfully removed with a good carpet stain remover. In fact, I get a lot of satisfaction from tackling a spill or stubborn spot on the carpet, forcing it to disappear never to be seen again.

What I’m talking about is an ugly stain that no matter what, absolutely will not budge.

Carpet surgery

Stephanie writes, “Is there anyway I can remove a rust stain from my carpet? We just moved into this house and the carpet is gorgeous—except for this fairly small spot that is so noticeable. It looks to me like rust. I’ve tried carpet stain removers, but they haven’t worked.”

It all depends on how long that rust stain has been there and other methods you have attempted to remove it. The problem is the harsher the treatment the more likely you’ll be to also remove color from the carpet, leaving you with an even more noticeable problem.

So let’s assume this rust stain is set for eternity and nothing is going to remove it. Here’s a last resort I’ve used with satisfactory results: carpet surgery.


You’ll need a sharp pair of scissors, white glue, and a pencil with an eraser end.

Harvest donor fiber

First, find a spot in a closet or other out-of-the-way place you can steal some carpet fibers. With sharp scissors snip off the carpet pile one piece of yarn at a time right down to the backing until you’ve cleared a spot the same size as your rust stain. Yes, this is going to leave a bald spot, so select the place carefully.

Prepare the site

Next, do the same with your rust stain cutting out all of the damaged strands right down to the backing.

Apply a small amount of white glue to the now-exposed carpet backing, a small area at a time because you are going to replace the threads one at a time from those you’ve harvested from the closet.


Stand one piece of yarn into place at a time using the pencil (eraser end) to press it into the glue. Hold for a few seconds until it adheres. Repeat until the hole is filled in. Once the glue is dry trim as necessary so the replaced fibers match the height of the surrounding pile.

Surgical skill

This is going to be a delicate operation, particularly if yours is a low-pile carpet. But don’t despair. It should work beautifully if you exercise the care and precision of a skilled surgeon.

Carpet surgery is not a perfect solution, but in some situations, neither are carpet stain removers. I’ve observed professionals perform carpet surgery with such amazing results its difficult to detect a repair was made.


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8 replies
  1. Eunice says:

    Another way would be to cut a small square from your piece of scrap carpet and fill in the hole with that. You might have to trim it down to match the height.

  2. Cheryl Jones says:

    Mary, this has nothing to do with carpet, I have a question that only you can answer.
    How do you go about speaking with someone who is famous?
    I have been trying to get ahold of Mike Lindell, you know the My Pillow guy.
    I have a really great idea that would enhance his line of sheets, I have tried emailing the company with no success. If I could just have five minutes of his time I think he would thank me for the rest of his life.
    I am willing to sell the idea to him, I don’t want much compensation because I just feel like it’s a really great idea that would benefit people.
    Also, should I patent my idea? I know this is a really off-the-wall question however if anybody could answer it I know you could, thanks Mary

  3. george says:

    For “rust” stain there is no need to do ‘surgery’ on the carpet.

    I was for over 25 years an independent “Master carpet cleaner.” According to the Institute for Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration Certification.

    Go to the supermarket or online and look for the little brown plastic bottle for removing calcium scale build-up on the bathroom faucets—Whink.

    NOW, get a small bowl with water and a small terry cloth towel. Go to the rust stain and sparingly drip/squeeze some of the acid on the rust stain. Wait a few seconds and IF it truly is rust, it will DISAPPEAR.

    NOW, neutralize that acid with the water and blot up the water with the towel.This will work on all carpeting. As we say down here in Southern Florida, “A sus ordenes” (at your service.) LOL

    I have more things, but, this is all you are asking for.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you, George! This is a great tip … I’ve never heard of Whink but I intend to learn what it can do real soon—about as long as it takes the Amazon truck to get here.

    • Mary says:

      No, as long as you have used sufficient glue and allowed the area to dry fully. I wouldn’t go after it with a carpet rake or anything unusually harsh but regular vacuuming is fine!

    • Mary says:

      You’d think it would, wouldn’t you! But remember when using a carpet cleaning machine you are not allowing the water to penetrate deeply nor are you leaving it soaking wet to soften the glue.

      White glue once dry is quite strong and durable. White glue comes in lots of versions … Elmer’s School Glue would be the weakest, with Elmer’s Waterproof Glue quite tough. Gorilla glue makes a version as well.


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