When All Else Fails, 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. In fact, I get a lot of satisfaction from tackling a spill or stubborn spot on 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 spot 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.

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.

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.

This is going to be a delicate operation, particularly if yours is 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 I’ve observed professionals do this with such amazing results its difficult to detect a repair was made. Unless you open the closet!

Photo credit: DIY Network

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  • Sara

    Or you could use Whink rust stain remover. I’ve used it many times on carpeting and it works really well.

  • MzKlly

    I did this on a cigarette burn on a carpet in a rental apt. After we moved we got glowing remarks about how nice the carpet looked…you couldn’t tell it was ever burned…

  • wvwoman

    Instead of taking new threads from one other spot (in a closet) and creating a “bald spot”, why not take a thread or two from different spots here and there (also in the closet)…?

  • Former Cleaner

    I used to have a carpet cleaning business. Professionals have access to much better solvents than you can purchase in the store and know how to use them safely. Mention the rust stain when you call b/c it will likely be an extra charge and they may not have the appropriate chemicals on the truck if you don’t mention it ahead of time. A good professional cleaner can remove the rust and get the rest of the carpet looking great too. Personally, I’d avoid the franchises s/a Stanley Steemer and be sure to hire a cleaner who uses a truckmount hot water/steam extraction system (versus the dry foam systems). Your local, independent cleaner is almost always better and cheaper than an hourly employee working for a franchise. The independent’s reputation is the life blood of his business. The franchise will send an hourly worker whose incentive is to sell you more services rather than impress you with the overall job and get your return business.