I had a scary moment earlier. It was evening, and I had just finished getting both kids to bed and was ready to sit down for a little Netflix-and-herbal-tea when I straightened the coffee table just a little and uncovered something that froze me in my tracks. A big piece of yellow salt water taffy (banana?), mostly unwrapped and almost totally ground into the carpet.
I stared at it like a deer in headlights for several seconds.
I’ve cleaned a lot of scary things out of my carpet (I have two under 5, so you can imagine) but something about that sticky, ooey gooey taffy all mashed and incorporated deep into the carpet seriously shocked me. This was a first. I had no plan!
So off to Google I went, and boy did I get some bad advice.
Among the suggestions: use dry ice to flash freeze the taffy and then chip it apart with a butter knife, use ice cubes to freeze the taffy and then chip it apart with a butter knife (I’m sensing a theme here), use a comb to pull and yank the taffy out of the carpet, and cover or soak the taffy with peanut butter (!?!) to loosen its sticky grip…
None of those felt right (or reasonable).
And that’s when it hit me: taffy is “melt in your mouth” goodness, so hot water should do it. Right??
And it did, miraculously. Just a small bowl of hot water and steady dabbing with a sturdy old hand towel, and that taffy was completely gone in less than 5 minutes.
The Best Way Remove Taffy from Carpet (also works on melted and/or sticky candy)
What you’ll need:
– Bowl of hot water
– Sturdy rag
– Carpet cleaner/stain remover (optional)
Steps to Remove the Taffy:
- Remove as much of the taffy as you can by hand — just pull it up.
- Wet a sturdy rag with hot water (not too much, damp will do!).
- Alternate pressing and holding the rag to the taffy (to soften and dissolve) and dabbing/gently rubbing (to remove).
- Work in very small circles. You want to come from different angles, but not spread it out any more than you have to.
- Continue blotting, refreshing the warm water as needed until the taffy is gone.
- If desired, clean the area with your favorite carpet cleaner to remove any lingering residue or stickiness.
- If a colored stain remains after the taffy is gone use your favorite carpet-friendly stain remover (a 50/50 white vinegar/water solution may do the trick).
- Allow the area to dry and finish with a good vacuuming to fluff things up.
- If a large piece of taffy is too firm to pull up by hand use the warmth of the washcloth to soften it.
- Don’t use too much water while cleaning — a little moisture goes a long way! Too much will only saturate the carpet and spread the stickiness and color into a wider area.
Variation of this method for cleaning a larger area or when taffy is really ground in (like if the dog gets into the taffy and spreads it all over and then rolls in it. Fun): A warm or hot water carpet steamer will do the trick here. You can rent these pretty easily if you don’t own one. Make several slow, steady passes over the area, approaching from different directions and, if necessary, allowing the taffy a few minutes in between to soften in the warm water.
Note: This hot water method is basically the opposite of several other taffy-cleaning methods I found where instead of softening the taffy the recommendation is to firm it up. I found that softer taffy is easier to get out of the carpet fibers — it can be pulled out more gently and the pieces left behind are small enough to be dissolved and wiped away with a cloth. Freezing the taffy just stuck it to my carpet even harder and I couldn’t get any of it loose without yanking and stressing my carpet in a major way.
Alternative methods for cleaning taffy out of carpet
Did the above not work for you? Or you’re feeling crazy and want to go the peanut butter route? (Let me know how that goes, would ya?!) In the interests of providing a full menu of options here are the alternatives I’ve found online for how to get taffy (laffy taffy, salt water taffy, sticky candy, melted candy, anything that dissolves in water really) out of carpet. I have not tested these thoroughly because, well, I don’t need to and I don’t want to. Buuuuuut… many experts say they work so they might work for you. To each their own!
Freeze with Ice Cubes Method
What you’ll need:
– Ice cubes
– Quart sized ziplock bag (or any small, waterproof plastic bag)
– Butter knife or spoon
– Fine tooth comb
– Carpet cleaner/stain remover
– Sturdy cloths
- Fill the plastic bag with ice cubes and sit it on top of the taffy for several minutes, until the taffy is very cool and firm.
- Use the butter knife or spoon to chip away at the taffy, removing as much of it as you can. Reapply the ice pack as needed if taffy begins to soften.
- If your carpet allows (no loops, etc) use the plastic comb to further remove bits of taffy from the fibers.
- Follow up with your favorite carpet cleaning product and a good vacuuming.
Note: Dry ice also works well for this method, if you happen to have any laying around, as it makes the taffy super cold and brittle. It can then easily be shattered and (if you’re quick enough before it softens) vacuumed right up. But dry ice is no joke — be careful not to touch it with bare skin (can cause instant freezer burn!) or allow children to play with it/near it.
Peanut Butter or Oil Method
What you’ll need:
– 1-3 tbsp of peanut butter or cooking oil
– Plastic gloves
– Carpet cleaner (a strong one!)
- Apply the peanut butter, a tablespoon at a time, by hand to the taffy. Use your fingers to work it into the candy (yep, just rub more food right on into your carpet!) and the oil will break down the taffy’s structure and stickiness, and break its hold on the carpet fibers.
- Don’t use too much oil/peanut butter — less is more! You don’t want to make a larger oil slick on your floor than you need to.
- Continue working the peanut butter into the taffy with your hands, removing pieces as they break free, until all of the taffy is removed.
- Use your favorite carpet cleaner per label instructions to clean the area of oil and peanut butter. Be prepared to make several rounds, peanut butter is thick and stubborn.
The “Just Cut It Out” Method
What you’ll need:
– Sharp scissors
Exactly what it sounds like: if the taffy is only on the carpet’s surface and your carpet is forgiving enough texture to allow for a little trim, by all means just cut the taffy out/off. Carpet doesn’t grow back, but if it won’t be noticeable then this might be the easiest option (seriously).
The “Hire a Professional” Method
When all else fails call in a pro! They’ll know what to do, and will have all the fancy equipment, cleaning supplies and manpower on hand to get it done quickly. (Or maybe a small LEGO man with a laser gun will show up and chase the taffy off?)