26 April 2012

How to Clean Mud from Carpets and Rugs

Mud - it invariably gets tracked into your house and onto your rugs and carpets. If you have pets, you know they can't take their shoes off when they come in on a rainy day! You might lay down a towel for the animals to walk over when they come in, but that is often not enough (and animals can be really sneaky about avoiding the towel).

Kids and adults alike may forget to take off their muddy boots or shoes at the door, or tramp on in and get mud on the carpet before they take off their footwear.

Mud can get on your carpets all year round for all of the above and other reasons. In the winter, it can become particularly bad; the weather tends to be wet with rain, hail and even snow! If you burn firewood in the winter, it can get mud on your carpets and rugs, too.

Having door mats on both sides of the door helps. People routinely wipe their feet on a door mat so with one on the outside and one on the inside, they’ll automatically wipe their shoes twice before stepping onto your clean carpets.

So what is the best way to clean it? Here are some tips.

Let It Dry
It's very tempting to jump right in and clean the mud immediately, but it may make things easier in the end if you allow the mud to dry. One thing you can do right away while the mud is wet is scoop up any clumps with an old spoon and paper towels and blot up any moisture with clean rags or even paper towel. Press into the stain to blot, don’t rub; that just spreads the stain and can cause your carpet to “mat” or “felt”.  Then, allow the mud to dry.

Once the mud has become dry dirt, vacuum the area thoroughly, going over the spots multiple times. Use a full-sized vacuum, not a hand-held one, because you'll need plenty of power to get the dirt up. If you need to, use a dry scrub brush to loosen the dried mud before and while you vacuum.

Stain Removal
If, after the scooping, drying and vacuuming, there is still a stain, then you need to take more action. If you have a carpet that is not acetate or rayon, you can use a cloth to rub in some rubbing alcohol. Then cover the stain with several layers of paper towels dampened with rubbing alcohol. The paper towels will begin to absorb the stain.

As you see this discoloration happening, replace the paper towels with fresh, alcohol-dampened ones. Make sure you keep the stain and the paper towels damp with the alcohol.

Another method to attacking the stain after vacuuming is to use every day dish detergent. Mix two teaspoons of liquid dish detergent with two cups of hot water in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Then whip the mixture at high speed until you get thick, rich foam.

Using a sponge, apply this thick foam to the stain and rub it in well, from the outside of the stain towards the centre. Then rinse the sponge and go over the area with warm water. Finally, use clean rags or paper towels to blot the carpet. The stain should be soaked up into the rags as you blot.  Keep blotting until the carpet is dry, changing the rag when it becomes stained.

I read once, years ago, that the average family tracks around 3.5kg of dirt into a house every week, but if they get into the habit of taking shoes off at the door, that amount drops down to under 1 kilo! That’s a lot of dirt and potential mud that isn’t coming into the house.

If your family isn’t in the habit of taking shoes off at the door, start training them now. Put a sign up on the door if you must. Make sure there is a spot for them to leave their shoes, or remind them to take them straight to their rooms. Have slippers waiting for them to slip their feet into as soon as their shoes come off.

Remember, prevention is better than a cure, even for dirty carpets.


  1. Our main family area has tiles in it so we find that by the time we get to carpeted areas our feet are reasonably free of mud, however stains still happen and I love your tip about whisking up the dishwashing detergent. will this work on other stains or only on mud ???

  2. I do agree that's it's important to train your family to takeoff their shoes. Mine are trained to change into their slippers in the entrance hall.

  3. Great advice geven on hoe to clean mud from carpets and rugs. Excellent blog


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