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Slices of Life: Me vs. the carpet stains

Jill Pertler

It was a simple spot on the carpet. Well, if we are being honest, it was three spots on the carpet, but who's counting?

They weren't the only spots you'd spot on my carpet — if you were looking — but they were in a public spot. Obvious to any visitor entering the living room. Sadly, they'd taken up residence for quite some time.

It wasn't due to lack of diligence on my part. I'd tried carpet spot and stain remover on a few occasions and all that seemed to accomplish was to make the spot disappear for a short time only to return bigger and bolder within a few days.

My spots kept reinventing themselves by performing a reappearing act worthy of Houdini. They were persistent little buggers, I'd give them that. I might have been proud of them, had they been something other than a spot on the carpet.

My work thus far had not yielded the results I wanted. It was time to get tough — to eschew the commercial cleaners and go rogue. I went to my go-to: Google. Lots of blogs have lots of advice about stubborn carpet stains but many of them had a common thread: baking soda and vinegar.

Different bloggers had different techniques for application of the vinegar and soda. Some said to sprinkle the soda first; others advised starting with vinegar and a third group suggested making a paste of the two and scrubbing that into the stain. I randomly picked the soda-first method and went to work.

I covered the stains with the soda and then sprinkled with a vinegar and water mixture until the area was damp. Then, according to the expert blogger, I waited for the area to dry. Supposedly I would simply vacuum up the residue (and stain) in a few hours.

Nothing is ever that easy. When dry, my patches were hard clumps of dried baking soda stuck to my carpet. I decided to go completely off the grid and follow my gut by re-dousing the area with more vinegar-water solution. I set to fill my spray bottle and grabbed the vinegar.

Except it wasn't vinegar.

It was ammonia.

I'd sprayed ammonia onto the soda on my carpet. That explains things, Lucy.

I took another looksy under the kitchen sink and found the real vinegar and dampened my stains with the right stuff. Rinse. Repeat.

I'm on round three — so far. The vinegar is working — I think. I hope. The spots are relenting — I think. I hope. I'll know in a day or two, after another round or two.

In the meantime, I'm spraying and blotting. Spraying and blotting.

And thinking about replacing the carpet — with hardwood.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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