The most common problem is one of severe staining resulting from the accidental spillage of drinks and food. On the other hand, even dirt brought in from outside can seriously spoil the look of a light coloured carpet. Most stains can be removed by a professional carpet cleaning firm but in the meantime, it is sometimes possible to administer effective carpet ‘first aid’.

A quick wipe with a warm soap solution can often do the trick, although this may not make the stain completely unnoticeable. Care must be taken; trying to remove some stains with soap could make matters worse and cause the stain to cover a larger area. If this appears to be happening, stop immediately and wait until the professionals arrive.

Many mishaps resulting in carpet stains occur next to armchairs, coffee tables, etc. Moving the armchair just a few inches in one direction or another may hide the stain in the shadow. Even changing the lighting arrangements can make a difference. You will know the stain is still there but others may never notice it. The use of talcum powder can sometimes lighten a dark stain and silicon powder, often used in packaging, can absorb a lot of the stain if the carpet is dampened before applying the powder.

Red wine stains, often the cause of great distress, can sometimes be ‘cancelled out’ by the application of white wine. It really can reduce the darkness of the stain, principally because wine contains alcohol which dilutes the pigment. The red wine stain may not be removed entirely but it will probably be much less obvious.

If a stain is in the middle of the carpet, the only option may be to cover it up; either with a box type coffee table, an ornamental display or, if it is a large stain, a rug. A crude method but effective in an emergency.