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Note: Using a wet/dry vac can be used for extraction instead of a towel.

Wondering how to get red stains out of carpet? The reason why Kool-Aid stains are difficult to eliminate on carpet, or upholstery is the presence of dyes. Kool-Aid has the ability to stain your carpet; however, if you act fast, the stain doesn’t have to be permanent.

How to Remove Kool Aid Stains from Carpet –
Upon discovering the Kool-Aid stain, it’s important to act as quickly as possible before the stain sets into the carpet fibers. Use a few clean paper towels, or better yet, a wet/dry vacuum to suck up the spill.
Take 1 cup of warm water and mix it with ½ teaspoon of mild liquid dishwashing detergent.
Apply this cleaning solution directly onto the Kool-Aid stain using a clean white cloth (using a white cloth will help you see how much of the Kool-Aid is being absorbed from the carpet). Start from the outside of the stain and work your way in, being careful not to spread the stain onto other areas of the carpet. Do your best to blot the Kool-Aid stain. Do not scrub, because it can damage the carpet fiber.

If you can still see the Kool-Aid stain, mix 2 cups of water with 1 cup of white vinegar.
Using this white vinegar solution and a clean white cloth, repeat steps 1 through 3.
After applying the white vinegar to remove red Kool-Aid from carpet, if the stain is still visible, mix 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of ammonia.
Apply this ammonia solution directly onto the remaining stain and blot from the outside in. There is a chance the ammonia may lighten the carpet slightly, so be sure to test the ammonia on a smaller area of carpet before applying a large amount.
Once the Kool-Aid stain is no longer visible, apply cold water directly to the stain to rinse the carpet.
Blot up with white towels or use your wet/dry vac to remove any remaining moisture.


Carpet cleaners with many years of experience remember the days when red stains were removed with the heat transfer method.

They would first clean the stain, then wet the stain with the red stain removal chemical, agitate it into the fiber, and use a damp towel and iron to transfer the stain out of the fiber and into the towel.
That method is still used today, with positive results, but there are many other tools that make the job even easier.
Analyze the “red” Before you decide which method and which type of chemical is best for the red stain you are trying to remove, you need to determine the cause of the stain.
Was it red wine, Kool-Aid, a soft drink, or something else?

A good rule of thumb to follow is to simply put the red stain into one of two classes: Organic or synthetic.

The removal technique for red wine will be very different than the one for red Kool-Aid.
Also, the following chemicals and procedures work great on a number of colored stains, not just the red variety.
But it is the red stain that has given many a carpet cleaner second thoughts as to his profession of choice.
It goes without saying to always test for fiber content and test your cleaning product to ensure color loss or fiber distortion does not occur.

Synthetic red stains These types of stains include, but are not limited to, some of the following:

  • Kool-Aid
  • Food dyes and coloring
  • Medicines
  • Cosmetics
  • Fruit juices (that deep color doesn’t come from the 1% fruit juice content!)
  • And others

If this is the type of stain you are trying to remove, you need to use a reducing agent (sodium bisulfite, hydrosulfite, among others).

Most synthetic stains require a reducing agent.

Of course, the age of the stain and what the customer might have already tried (chemicals obtained from under the kitchen sink) can make the job a bit more difficult.
Also, the application of most reducing agents requires a wet towel and steam iron, which means you not only get the bleaching effect of the reducing agent, but also the heat transfer effect.
Be careful not to damage the fabric or original carpet color.

A safer heat method would be to use a wallpaper steamer, or simply put a wet towel on the stain and weigh it down with a small bucket of very hot water.
Organic red stains These types of stains include, but are not limited to, some of the following:

  • Red wine
  • Juice (grape, cherry, etc)
  • Food coloring
  • Ketchup and other condiments
  • And more

An easy way to remember the type of chemical to remove organic red stains is to use word association: Oxidize organics.

Oxidizing bleaches (sodium percarbonate, hydrogen peroxide, etc.) can work wonders as part of your stain removal expertise.

As in the reducing agent procedure, the use of a wet towel and an iron will speed the chemical action and reduce the time needed to remove red organic stains.
A word of caution here: Be very careful with using high heat, as a strong oxidizing agent can remove original carpet color, much easier and faster than a reducing agent.

Jeff Cross is the senior editor of Cleanfax magazine and an industry trainer and consultant, and offers carpet cleaning marketing, disaster restoration marketing and contract cleaning marketing seminars and classes through Totally Booked University, and also IICRC technical training for carpet and furniture cleaning, spot and stain removal and carpet color repair. For more information, visit his technical training website and marketing training website.

*This website provides suggestions for home remedies for removing stains. JTEC LLC is not liable for any damage to your personal assets from these recommendations. Professional cleaning is always recommended.