How to Get Ketchup Out of Carpet

Ketchup is one of the most-consumed condiments in the world, and while you may love it on burgers or even in your mac and cheese, there’s one place it doesn’t belong: the carpet.

From homes to restaurants, you can find ketchup just about anywhere — and anywhere there’s ketchup, there’s the potential for a bright red spill. The tomato-based product is notorious for its capability to stain absorbent surfaces. The organic nature of ketchup as well as its vinegar content place it on the acidic side of the pH chart, which means that it can be a bit tougher to remove than other types of food stains. 

Thankfully, using a high-quality alkaline pre-spray or detergent can make lighter work of a ketchup spill if you catch it early. If the condiment has been allowed to dry or is left in direct sunlight, it can become a little more challenging to remove.

Experts at Jon-Don have prepared this article to help guide you through removing ketchup from carpet.

How to Get Ketchup Out of Carpet: Step-by-Step

While most fresh ketchup stains can be released from carpet during normal hot water extraction, that’s not always the case — especially if they’re caked on. If you’re dealing with old, dried ketchup that’s been forgotten about until now, follow the guidelines below to help you treat that stubborn stain.

Warning: Always test materials for colorfastness, follow label directions, and never mix products unless specified in the label directions. Each situation reacts differently and results may vary.

Option 1: Matrix® Vanishing Act

  1. Thoroughly vacuum the area to remove dry soils. Use a bone spatula to scrape away any dried or caked-on soiling.
  2. Apply Matrix® Vanishing Act directly to the spot and thoroughly wet the area. 
  3. Allow the product to dry. Rubbing, scrubbing, or agitation are not required. The stain will lighten and disappear as the product oxidizes.

Option 2: Matrix® Release, Target Tannin Stain Remover, and Spot Out

  1. Thoroughly vacuum the area to remove dry soils. Use a bone spatula to scrape away any dried or caked-on soiling.
  2. Apply Matrix® Release to a clean white spotting towel. Tamp and blot the towel against the stain with a spotting brush. Do not apply Matrix® Release directly to the carpet, as over-application could cause delamination.
  3. Apply Matrix® Target Tannin Stain Remover undiluted. Tamp and blot with a spotting brush and a spotting towel.
  4. Apply Matrix® Spot Out undiluted. Tamp and blot with a spotting brush and a spotting towel.
  5. Thoroughly rinse the area with water.

Home Remedies for Ketchup Removal From Carpet

If you aren’t able to call a professional for help or don’t have professional-caliber products on hand, the following home remedies may suffice to help treat ketchup stains on carpet.

Home Remedy Option 1: Liquid Dish Soap + Water

  1. Use a spoon or a dull knife to gently scrape off any excess ketchup from the carpet. Be careful not to spread the stain further.
  2. Use clean paper towels or a white cloth to blot the stain. Press down firmly to absorb as much of the ketchup as possible.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of cool water.
  4. Alternatively, you can mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.
  5. Dip a clean cloth or sponge into the cleaning solution.
  6. Blot the ketchup stain with the cloth, working from the outside of the stain toward the center. Avoid rubbing, as it may spread the stain.
  7. Rinse the cleaned area with cool water to remove any soap or vinegar residue.
  8. Blot the area with a dry, clean towel to absorb excess moisture.
  9. If the stain persists, you may need to repeat steps 4-7.

Whichever method you decide, these cleaning tips are examples of what you should avoid when cleaning ketchup out of carpet:

  • Avoid rubbing or scrubbing: Avoid aggressively rubbing or scrubbing the stain, as this can push the ketchup deeper into the carpet fibers and cause the stain to spread.
  • Stay away from colored towels or cloths: Do not use colored towels or cloths as they may transfer dye onto the carpet, potentially causing an additional tough stain.

Ketchup in Carpet FAQs

Still have questions? Experts at Jon-Don are always available to give you high-quality cleaning advice — just call 800-556-6366. In the meantime, here are a few frequently asked questions about removing ketchup from carpet:

Can Old, Dried Ketchup Be Removed From Carpet?

It’s possible that if ketchup on carpet is left untreated for too long, it can create a permanent stain. Even so, red-colored food stains can be chemically altered and made invisible to the eye with Matrix® Red Be Gone. Follow the label instructions to remove stubborn red food dye stains.

How Do You Remove Ketchup From Upholstery?

Assuming that the upholstery in question is made of the same synthetic material that a carpet may be, you can use the same cleaning methods and products mentioned in this guide to remove ketchup stains. If you are cleaning wool upholstery, be sure to use wool-safe cleaning products to avoid causing permanent damage.

Want to go a step further? Jon-Don offers an IICRC Upholstery Cleaning Seminar.

How Do You Remove a Tomato Sauce Stain From Carpet?

For instructions and product recommendations for removing spaghetti stains, check out our guide on How To Get Spaghetti Sauce out of Carpet.

Become a Spot Removal Professional

Ketchup is one challenge, but there are plenty of other food stains and carpet spots that can be even more difficult to treat. Thankfully, Jon-Don offers the IICRC Carpet Cleaning Technician (CCT) Seminar where you’ll learn how to:

  • Identify different carpet fibers
  • Treat an array of carpet stains and spots with care
  • Choose the most appropriate cleaning solutions and tools for each job
  • And much, much more!

Earn IICRC certification and learn how to provide professional and effective carpet care, and clean and remove dozens of spots and stains from carpet. To register, visit our course page.

For more spot-removal tips and advice, visit our spotting library.

Matrix® Vanishing Act
Matrix SKU# MX-VA...

Starting at $14.72

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Bone Spatula
Provided by Jon-Don SKU# CA-BS-EA
Matrix® Target Tannin Stain Remover
Matrix SKU# MX-TTSR...

Starting at $13.59

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Matrix® Spot Out Spotter
Matrix SKU# MX-SO...

Starting at $9.07

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Matrix® Release
Matrix SKU# MX-R...

Starting at $12.22

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