It doesn’t matter how hard you try, how many safeguards you put up, nor how much you anticipate your carpets will always be vulnerable to stains. The bottom of your shoes, your dog’s paws, drips and spills from coffee mugs and cereal bowls will, one way or another, make their way to your carpet and leave a mark. It’s the way it is. It’s the way gravity works. Lucky for us, there are more than enough tips and tricks to learn to stay on top of carpet cleaning at home.

The primary rule of cleaning carpet stains: blot, don’t rub. When you blot with a washcloth or paper towel, you put a small amount of pressure onto the stain, which pushes up the liquids to soak into the cloth. Rubbing in the stain (instead of blotting) will only embed the particles into the carpet fibers and exacerbate the stain. Always blot from the outside, inward.

Use shaving cream to combat carpet stains. Ordinary shaving cream is a great carpet cleaner for general stain removal. Apply shaving cream directly to the stain and let it sit for half an hour. Once it sets, blot it away with a cloth and spray the area with a solution that’s one part vinegar to one part water.

Combat grease stains with a solution made from water and a couple drops of dishwashing detergent. Spray the stain directly with the solution before blotting it up. Repeat this process for large stains.

If someone bleeds on your carpet, that stain is going to be bold and hard to hide. To combat this stain, mix together a solution from water and mild detergent. Spray on the stain, then let it dry. Scrape away as much dried blood from the carpet fibers as you can before applying hydrogen peroxide directly to the mark. The solution will foam. Once it’s done foaming, dab with towels to dry. Repeat this process, if necessary.

If you have little kids in your home, candy will eventually find its way to your carpet, and if you’re unlucky, it will dry and crust into the fibers before you get a chance to see it’s there. Try and scrape the candy out with a butter knife before applying a soapy sponge to the affected area. Make sure that you remove all sugar from the carpet fibers before you blot the spot dry.

It’s recommended that you rent a steam carpet cleaning machine every six months. Doing so will penetrate the fibers down to the backing of the carpet to loosen any dirt, grease and oil that’s embedded in the fibers. The result will be a cleaner, fresher smelling carpet that will last longer.