Over the holidays one of my friends knocked over my plant stand spilling dirt all over the carpet. She was very upset and thought that she had ruined the carpet. She had a plant spill at her house in the past and it left such a stain that she had to replace her carpet. She never understood why the dirt wouldn’t clean up like regular dirt. I explained to her that houseplant dirt isn’t really dirt, it’s potting soil. Potting soil contains not only soil, but fertilizers and chemicals not found in regular dirt. If not handled properly it will stain and possibly ruin the carpet. The key is to clean up the spill correctly.
The first thing to do is to carefully remove the plant and the plant container making sure not to step on any of the dirt. The most important thing in the clean-up is not pushing any of the dirt deeper into the carpet. To get rid of the majority of the dirt resting on top of the carpet you will need a piece of firm cardboard. (A flattened cereal box or a piece of poster board will do.) Starting at the edge of the dirt slowly slide the cardboard between the dirt and the top of your carpets fibers. Your goal is to remove the dirt that is laying on top of the carpet and not to grind any dirt deeper into the fibers. Now that the majority of the loose dirt is removed you will need either a shop vac or a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment. DO NOT run the vacuum over the the spill. The brushes under the vacuum will grind the dirt into the carpet and the wheels will do the same. By using the hose attachment you can lift the dirt out of the carpet without grinding the dirt into the carpet fibers. This should remove all of the dirt. You should also change the bag on the vacuum cleaner. If there are any spots left on the carpet they should be easily removed with a cleaner such as PCC Spot Pro. Disaster averted!!