How to Remove Spaghetti Sauce from Carpet

Of all the things to spill onto your carpet or rugs (or clothing or upholstery!), spaghetti sauce is among those that provoke the most angst. How to Remove Spaghetti Sauce from Carpet, or any tomato sauce-based spill for that matter, is notoriously difficult to remove once it stains – but it can be removed.

Why is Tomato Sauce Difficult to Remove?

What makes tomato stain so easily – and be so hard to remove?

Tomato stains are tannin-based. Tannins are astringent, bitter compounds that are present in bark, wood, leaves, tea, and various fruits including grapes, tomato, rhubarb, plums, and cranberries.

spagetti spilled on carpetPlants contain tannins to make them unpalatable to any animals that may eat the seeds or fruit before it is ripe. It is the tannins that give coffee, tea, wine, and dark chocolate their characteristic taste.

The tannins in tomato stain fabrics of all kinds very easily and very quickly.

Any tannin-based stain on clothing or washable fabric requires a heavy-duty laundry detergent and a cold wash. Heat must not be applied in any way until the stain is completely removed, as heat may set the stain permanently.

How to Remove Spaghetti Sauce from Carpet

The key to removing spaghetti stains is to address them immediately.

  1. Remove excess sauce. Use a spoon or a butter knife to gently lift as much residual sauce as possible without spreading the stain or further driving it into the carpet. This also helps remove any oil within the sauce from the spill.
  2. Vacuum the spill. If you have a vacuum cleaner suited to wet/dry vacuuming, use the hose (without the head) by placing it directly over the spill and holding it in place for a few seconds to lift as much spilled sauce as possible. DO NOT drag or rub the hose over the carpet.


  1. Apply a cleaning solution. At this stage, avoid using vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. They might not only discolor your carpet, but they can set the stain. Instead, mix a drizzle of dish soap with a cup of cool water in a spray bottle. Spray the stain generously (but don’t saturate it). Allow the solution to soak into the carpet fibers for a few minutes.


  1. Blot the Stain. Do this gently, using a white towel or cloth, without rubbing or scrubbing, and from the outside of the stain inwards so you don’t spread it further.


  1. You must remove your cleaning solution. Spray or dab clean, cool water onto the stained area. Don’t pour water directly onto or saturate the carpet, as this will push the stain, cleaning liquid, and water into the carpet padding and result in mold.

Between each rinse, use your wet/dry vacuum to remove as much liquid as possible. If you don’t have a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, use a soft white cloth or towel to blot and absorb the liquid.

Don’t forget to clean your vacuum cleaner thereafter.


  1. Spot Removal. If the above has not eliminated the stain:
  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of ammonia with one-half cup of cool water and sponge the stain with the solution. Blot to absorb the liquid, then sponge with cold, fresh water and blot dry to remove the ammonia solution. (Note that if you have pets, using ammonia is not a good idea as it may attract them to urinate on the spot.)
  2. Mix freshly squeezed lemon juice with water and apply as above.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with 3 tablespoons of cold water and spray onto the stain. Cover with a white towel for 30 minutes (blocking light from accessing the stain). Check frequently to ensure the carpet color is not changing. Rinse with fresh water.

IMPORTANT: never, ever mix ammonia with chlorine bleach – it creates extremely hazardous fumes.

How to Remove Spaghetti Sauce from Carpet- Roundup

If all else fails, call in a professional carpet cleaning service that uses green cleaning solutions to remove the stain.

The best approach, of course, is to not eat spaghetti sauce in a carpeted area! But mishaps do occur, and with a little patience and by working to remove Spaghetti Sauce from Carpet as it occurs, you should expect to successfully preserve your carpet’s pristine condition.