How to Remove Varnish From Carpet

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Things You'll Need

  • Large spoon or butter knife

  • Paper towels

  • Isopropyl alcohol or dry cleaning fluid

  • Sponge

  • Mild dishwashing detergent


If the varnish stain persists, try treating the area with either distilled white vinegar, dilute household ammonia (¼ cup ammonia combined with 1 cup of water), WD-40, acetone or 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Simply apply the spot remover of your choice to a dry towel and blot. Repeat as often as necessary and remember to rinse with clear water after each application. Be sure to test each chemical in an out-of-the-way area first because some of these treatments are natural bleaching agents and their use can result in fading.

A variety of solvents can remove varnish.

Varnish adds color and shine to household surfaces. Because it is designed to permanently stain any material it comes into contact with, removing varnish from areas where it is not wanted can be a bit of a challenge. This is particularly true when the stain happens to fall upon carpet, as not all carpet yarns are colorfast; solvents that might effectively remove varnish may also remove the dye from the rug. Always test a treatment on an inconspicuous area before making a more general application, otherwise you run the risk of ruining your carpet.


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Step 1

Scrape the stained area with the edge of a large spoon or the blunt side of a butter knife. Rub the rim of the utensil gently against the nap of the rug, loosening and removing as much of the varnish as possible.

Step 2

Fold a paper towel into quarters. Soak the center of the folded towel with either isopropyl alcohol or dry cleaning fluid.

Step 3

Place the towel over the stain and allow it to rest for five to 10 minutes. This will give the solvent time to dissolve the varnish. Then, press the damp material against the carpet repeatedly, blotting up the stain as you go. Work from the outside edges of the spill towards the center. Do not rub the carpet, as this may cause the stain to spread.


Step 4

Dip a sponge in warm water. Lightly wring the sponge to remove the excess fluid. Press the sponge gently against the stained area. The water in the fibers will rinse away the solvent without allowing mositure to reach the carpet pad below. Pat the area dry with a clean paper towel. If any varnish remains, re-apply the solvent or move on to the next step.

Step 5

Combine ½ tsp. mild dishwashing detergent and 1 cup of warm water. Stir the soap solution gently. Apply the soapy water to any remaining areas of discoloration with a damp sponge. Wait five minutes and blot up the excess moisture with dry paper towels. Rinse the carpet with cool water to remove any soap residue. Repeat if necessary.


Step 6

Cover the treated area with several layers of paper toweling once the stain has been removed. Place a heavy object on top of the towels, pressing them into the fibers of the carpet to help them absorb any remaining fluids. Leave the towels in place for up to 24 hours. Then remove the towels and vacuum the carpet as normal.



Lisa Parris

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.