How To Clean Milk From Carpets (6 Foolproof Steps)

No more crying over spilled milk — literally.

The person who said there’s no use crying over spilled milk probably didn’t own a beautiful, expensive carpet. Milk might not look it, but it can be trouble in a carpeted home. If you leave milk spills and stains to stand, they could harden, or even worse, start to stink.

But how do you clean milk properly if it spills on your carpet? Some soft floors are delicate, so you can’t just wipe it up, can you? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Our step by step guide will walk you through how to clean milk from carpets.

Why Is Milk so Difficult to Clean?

If you haven’t noticed that milk mess is problematic, think of what happens when you leave a used cereal bowl to stand. It cakes, and cleaning it — even with the help of warm water and dish soap — takes some effort. The same thing will happen if it’s left to dry on your carpets. But why?

Chemistry is to blame. Milk is approximately three percent protein (1). And protein hardens when it dries out. Once dry, it’s difficult to rehydrate, which is why you need muscle to remove it.

Stains are also determined by how deep a mess can penetrate a surface. Glass, for example, won’t absorb milk so it won’t stain. However, your carpet fiber which is fabric will absorb liquid, and so will trap spilled milk.

A dried milk stain can easily go from a slight inconvenience to a full-scale war with your floor.

But, your hardship doesn’t end there. If the sight of a milk stain is not enough to bother you, the germs inside one should. Milk is perishable, so bacteria will develop when it’s left to stand (2).

Watch Out: Switching to soy milk might not make a difference. It also contains protein and will dry out to the same effect as cow’s milk.

How to Clean Milk From Carpets

Now that you understand why milk is such a pain to clean, we’re going to show you the best ways to remove it. There are various methods you can try, and most of them are easy, fast and affordable.

Milk stains quickly, so you won’t have much time to fight it if it’s a fresh spill. Don’t worry if your spill has already hardened, though. We’re going to walk you through each stage of staining so you can restore your carpets effectively.

For our DIY methods, you’ll need a few things. But there’s no need to run out and buy each of the following. Use the trick that suits what you already have.

  • Absorbent paper towels, a sponge or a soft cloth.
  • Vinegar.
  • Cornstarch.
  • Ammonia or detergent.
  • Baking soda.
  • Sneaker crystals.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Vacuum cleaner.


Before you try to remedy a stain, do a spot test on an inconspicuous area of your carpet. That way, if your carpet doesn’t take well to the cleaning agent, the unsightly result is not visible to all.

Cleaning Fresh Milk Spills

1. Remove Excess Milk

The first thing to do is clean up as much of the milk as possible. Grab an absorbent paper towel, soft cloth or sponge, and soak up the excess milk.

2. Apply a Cleaning Agent

Once there’s no milk left to soak up, you can tackle the stain. Apply cold water to the spill or a cloth, and dab away at it. Don’t rub or scrub it; this is likely to drive it deeper into your carpet.

3. Rinse and Repeat

Continue dabbing at the spill, refreshing your cloth in between. If water doesn’t seem to help, add some ammonia or detergent to the spill. The stain will be gone when your carpet dries.

Alternative Method

If you don’t want to blot at the mess, soak up whatever excess milk you can, and then apply cornstarch. This will soak up the milk for you, and once it dries, all you have to do is vacuum.

Some experts also suggest using coffee grounds. But keep in mind that this might leave a new stain.


It’s counterintuitive, but warm or hot water will worsen protein stains. Still, you don’t have to use ice water to clean milk stains. Even if your water is room temperature, it will do.

Removing Hard Milk

If you have a milk stain that’s already dried, there’s still hope. It requires some patience, but it’s just as easy and affordable as tackling a fresh spill.

1. Pre-Treat the Stain

You’ll have to rehydrate the protein before you stand a chance of removing the stain. To do this, soak the stain as best you can, and if you like, add detergent. You can also try applying a baking soda and vinegar solution as the fizz will agitate the proteins.

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2. Add Water

Once you have left the treatment to absorb for a while, apply water or detergent to clean it. If it’s a stubborn stain, gently scrub it with a toothbrush, but don’t drive it deeper into your floor.

3. Soak and Wipe

When you notice a difference, or if the stain is gone, use the same steps for a fresh spill. Apply water and blot the stain until it’s clean. Leave it to dry, and the milk should be gone from your carpet.

Top Tip

To use baking soda and vinegar, add the baking soda first. Then slowly pour vinegar over it, and the fizz will act as a carpet shampoo. Remember to add lots of water afterward, so your carpet won’t smell.

How to Remove Milk Smells

Sometimes, spilled milk will leave a nasty, sour smell. Thankfully, getting rid of it is extremely easy. But of course, it’s better to clean the stain entirely first.

There are several ways you can remove the milk odor from your carpet:

1. Baking Soda

It doesn’t matter if the stain is wet or dry, adding some baking soda will soak up the smell. Leave it on the stain overnight, and vacuum it once it’s worked on the stain.

2. Vinegar Bowl

If you want as little effort as possible, use vinegar. You can apply vinegar directly to the stain, but it will just smell like vinegar instead. An easier way is to fill a bowl with vinegar and leave it to stand next to the stain overnight.

3. Commercial Cleaning Agents

In place of baking soda, try powdered detergent. These typically come with nice scents that will override the milk smell. Look out for enzyme-based cleaners as they’ll have the greatest effect.

4. Sneaker Crystals

You can also try sneaker crystals, which are designed exactly for odor removal. Apply them to the stain as you would the baking soda, leave to stand overnight, and vacuum it up.

5. Ground Coffee

Remember that if it’s a wet stain, the coffee might stick or cause marks of its own. On a dry stain, ground coffee will absorb the odor of milk, and can easily be vacuumed.

Quick Tip

If you can, avoid all this trouble by using a steam cleaner on your carpets. You can even hire a professional cleaning team to do it for you. Your whole house will be fresher for it.

Cream of the Crop

Don’t write your carpets off just yet. Milk stains seem impossible to remove at first, but whether they’re fresh or hard, you can clean them almost effortlessly. You don’t even have to spend any money.

Milk contains protein, which is a pain to remove once it dries out. But by following our steps, you’ll be able to effectively tackle them without ruining your floors. Why don’t you try some of our tricks on other protein stains?

Have you tried any of our methods? Do you have any tips on how to clean milk from carpets? We enjoy hearing from you, so don’t forget to drop us a comment below.

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About the Author

Amy Anthony

Amy is a stay-at-home-mom, seasoned writer, and a home cleaning and organization aficionado. Amy enjoys having an absolutely spotless home and has worked hard to develop strategies to keep it that way, despite having 2 kids and 3 dogs!