Family life

How to remove stains from carpet, couches and walls

These items are expensive to replace but difficult to clean. Here’s how to rid them of urine, puke, marker, crayon and more.

By Amy Grieves
How to remove stains from carpet, couches and walls

Photo: Ryan Szulc

When you have kids, your house becomes a big toilet. Somehow they always find their way to the couch or your favourite rug when they're about to puke, and over the years you can expect a generous sprinkling of urine, too. You can also buy your kid all the Paw Patrol colouring books in the world but they'll still want to scribble on the walls—and they will, whenever you think it's safe to look away for mere seconds. But your home isn't ruined forever. Here are the best tips and tricks for fighting carpet, couch and wall stains, straight from some of our favourite cleaning experts.

How to remove stains from carpets

It sounds weird, but old gift cards can be helpful for cleaning puke. Pick up the bigger chunks with a paper towel, then use the edge of a gift or credit card to scrape up the smaller bits. Apply an enzyme cleaner, leave for 10 minutes, then blot and let dry. A wet/dry vac also works wonders here. To get rid of that gross urine smell, combine 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 3 tbsp of baking soda and a few drops of Dawn Ultra dish soap in a spray bottle. Spritz the area and let it dry.

How to remove stains from walls (scuffs, marker, crayon, pen)

From ride-on toys to tossed running shoes, all sorts of kids’ stuff can scuff up your walls. Tackle those marks with a paste of equal parts water and baking soda. Dab a sponge and start buffing. Not the “make a paste” type? A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser also does the job.  Danielle Tays, a famous TikTok mom who posts cleaning videos, says to dissolve a Cascade dishwasher tablet in hot water to magically wipe away washable marker. You’ll have leftover liquid, which can be used to clean the gunk in the microwave and on the hood fan. No dishwasher? Try mixing a small amount of baking soda with some toothpaste on a clean cloth. Rub onto stain in a circular motion. If wax crayons are your mini Monet’s preferred medium, remove wall scribbles by heating the wax with a hair dryer until it starts to melt. Swipe away with a baby wipe.

For pen marks, Jamie Moorhouse, co-owner of Toronto cleaning company CondoFresh, says this natural approach gets the job done: Combine baking soda, lemon juice and water until it forms a paste. Dip in a damp microfibre cloth and wipe away stains. Extra strength needed? Add Borax or grated tea tree bar soap to the paste.

How to remove stains from a couch

Sarah Mcallister, the founder of GoCleanCo, has a magic trick for combating puke stains on microfibre couches: a microfibre cloth and Windex!

  1. Once you’ve soaked up or scooped up the excess, spray Windex Original on the mess and use a clean, dry cloth to scrub the fabric. Work fast, as Windex dries quickly. Repeat if necessary.
  2. Launder any removable cushion covers in cold water. Forgo the dryer and put them back on slightly damp.

Tip: Apply a stain repellant like Scotchgard to your furniture once it’s clean (or when it’s brand new) to prevent future stains. Reapply every six months.

Meet the experts who shared their tips, tricks and hacks:


Sarah Mcallister—Calgary With more than two million followers, McAllister’s company, Go Clean Co., is kind of a big deal on Instagram. Known for her undying love of powdered Tide detergent and for bringing the concept of laundry stripping to the mainstream, McAllister is a serial entrepreneur and mom of one.

Danielle Tays—Hampton, New Brunswick Better known as @momthatlovestoclean on TikTok, this mother of one and stepmom of two soothed her COVID anxiety by sharing her knowledge and tips. Boasting more than 450,000 followers, she and her like-minded cleaning squad refer to themselves as the #mopsquad.

Jamie Moorhouse—Toronto Along with partner Sean Campbell, Moorhouse started Condo Fresh Inc. in 2011 with a goal of providing professional cleaning and organizing with a natural spin. After encouragement from his customers, he recently launched his own line of natural cleaners, called Moorfreshouse Inc.

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