The correct procedures to remove spots and stains from carpeting will shock and amaze you (You can do a better job than most of the pros).
The only equipment required is:
- tablespoon for removing solids (vomit, thick solids, etc..)
- paper towels or white cotton cloths
- 1 qt spray bottle with atomizing spray head filled with lukewarm water
- 1 qt spray bottle filled with warm water and 1 or 2 drops of dish cleaning detergent
- 1 wet/dry vacuum with a flat extraction head tool for the best water removal
- 1 qt spray bottle filled with peroxide (for older stain removal only)
How you treat a spot or stain is dependent upon many factors. Read the following very carefully and you can confidently remove spots and stains better than any so-called professional carpet cleaner, other than yours truly of course. Unfortunately, you cannot treat all types of spots and all types of carpeting with the same methods. All spots and stains are time sensitive, the sooner you can address them, the more likely you will be successful. Spots are not typically changes in color, but stains are. The following steps assume that you are addressing the spots immediately as they occur. Older spots can become permanent stains if they are left untreated, or can be made worse if they are not treated correctly.
There are 3 keys to removing spots from carpeting:
- Loosen the spot with the proper chemistry.
- Suspend and dilute the loosened spot with plenty of water
- Extract with vacuum until all of the spot and water are removed and no residue is left within the carpeting.
- Never add any soaps, detergents, water, or any other chemicals or water to any spot or stain which cannot be removed completely with extraction. Do not apply any solutions by pouring, you should only apply cleaning agents in the smallest quantities necessary, usually with a fine mist sprayer to “loosen” the soil for suspension and dilution prior to extraction. Blotting is NOT a substitute for rinsing and extracting. There is NO such thing as a spot or stain remover. By definition, the action of adding a chemical to a spot or stain, is an act of addition and, therefore, not an act of removal. Spot removers employ misleading and false terms. Adding a chemical to a spot is by definition a spot “adder” and not a spot “remover”.
- Identify the material composition of the carpeting. The 4 main types of carpeting are:
Nylon, Wool, Polyester, and Polypropylene (olefin) and each is cleaned differently. It is rare to find wool in wall to wall installations, however, many people now have wool area rugs, therefore, we are including wool here. See our instructions below for more information or visit our website to learn how to easily identify the type of carpeting you have in your home. If you are not aware of the material composition of your carpeting, please contact us. We can help you with the identification.
- After you have identified the material composition of your carpeting, follow the following steps carefully.
- Retrieve the list of cleaning equipment as described
- Scrape or vacuum (do not use a beater bar vacuum cleaner) to remove the excess from any solids that are present. If the spot is from any dry or liquid source such as soda or coffee, then extract as much as possible with the wet dry vacuum before applying any cleaning solutions.
- Spray the soapy solution onto the spot while simultaneously extracting with the vacuum suction.
- Spray the soapy solution onto the oily spots while simultaneously vacuuming the water and the offending spot from the carpeting.
- Apply the rinse water and extract with the vacuum until all of the spot and detergents have been removed.
- The goal is: dilution, water suspension, and removal of as much or all of the unwanted matter as thoroughly and quickly as possible. Over-wetting of the carpeting with too much water is perhaps the most common mistake, and anxious homeowners who have saturated and scrubbed the spots with all of the latest and at times old-fashioned techniques running a close second.
- Nylon and wool carpeting are generally unaffected by oil based substances (lipo-phobic literally means oil fearing, but here we mean unaffected by oil), while polyester and polypropylene are more affected by oil because they are lipo-philic (oil loving) materials. Nylon and wool are generally easily stained by water-based liquids, especially acidic or low pH water-based liquids such as, sodas, wine, and even energy drinks, as well as, urine although there is a different response required to treat urine which we will address. Polyester and olefin are nearly impossible to stain with any type of water-borne liquids including urine. There are some exceptions, but these rules generally apply in the majority of situations.
- Water-borne spots and stains are easier to remove from polyester (PET), which is the plastic used to produce things like the water bottles we drink from (PET), and polypropylene (PP) (olefin), which is the plastic used to produce pharmaceutical prescription vials, large opaque storage containers, tupperware®™, and many of the opaque and translucent food storage containers we use for holding meal leftovers, in addition to many, many other useful things as well. For example, you can fill recyclable water bottles made from PET and PP with: wine, bleach, coffee, colored liquids, or even urine if you’d like, and easily rinse all of them without a trace. However, you cannot fill either of these containers with any oil or petroleum based substances for long periods. These plastics love oil.
Nylon and wool carpeting stain (add color) and bleach (color loss) easily, and can hold most dirt and spots with a stronger “grip” than the plastic fibers of polyester (PET), and polypropylene (PP) because they are hydrophilic (water absorbing). Conversely, the plastic fibers (pet, and pp) which are not hydrophilic, cannot absorb water, because the plastics (PET, PP) are lipophilic, which means they absorb oils, but do not absorb water-borne substances. The requirements necessary to treat similar stains within the 4 main types of carpeting is dictated by whether those fibers accept new colors or color changes. Generally, the “plastics” cannot accept new colors or experience immediate color loss. Wool and most natural materials such as: silk, rayon and cotton rugs are a special case, and the cleaning tips should not be used for those materials. Wool is the hair from an animal, more accurately a sheep’s hair, which means, it is a protein-derived substance and not a synthetic fiber such as those made mostly from petrochemicals (oil based) such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene.