Carpet Stain Remover Solutions
Follow these carpet stain remover tips and techniques to get rid of those spots.
Removing spots on carpeting is something you have to expect to do yourself, because onto every carpet a little wine must fall. Or barbeque sauce. Or pet pooh.
You can’t afford to call in the professional cleaners every time your boss dribbles her gin fizz on your carpet. So it pays to learn how to mop up the little messes in between deep cleanings.
For advice on how to clean up specific carpet stains, see Carpet Stain Removal A-Z.
The carpet stain remover techniques for attacking stains are as varied as the spots themselves. The approach you use depends in part on how much you value your carpet. If your carpet is old and beaten up, you can afford to be daring. If it’s brand-new, of high quality and carpeting you want to have for many years, be more cautious.
Rules of the Game
When confronted with a spill on your carpet, remember Hippocrates famous commandment to physicians: First, do no harm. If your first instinct is to grab a sponge and rub the spot, curb it. Rubbing will only grind the spill more deeply into the fibers. While treatment of spills will vary with the carpet material and the substance spilled, here are a few principles that apply to all carpet stain removal jobs:
1. Scoop up any solids and use something absorbent to soak up any liquid that hasn’t sunk in yet.
2. After you’ve absorbed everything you can, blot the spot with white towels or rags. Work from the outside in so you won’t spread the stain.
3. When you’ve blotted up all you can, use water to dilute what remains, and continue to blot.
4. If that doesn’t complete the job, proceed to a low-tech carpet stain remover. If that doesn’t work, call in the professionals. Many amateurs do harm by using harsh, ineffective cleaners.
List of Carpet Stain Removers
Here's a list to help you decide which carpet stain removal technique to use. The top of the list includes the most gentle and universal of cleaning substances – water. The lower you go on the list, the more extreme the treatment and the less of it you should use.
- Water or soda water
- Mild soap and water
- Ammonia and water / Vinegar and water
Before we examine each step in the list, a few basics to remember: stain removal usually requires tenacious blotting. (See “Rules of the Game” above.) Be sure to blot, not rub. Before moving on from one step in the list to the next, test the next carpet stain remover solution on an inconspicuous area of carpet. Put a little of the treatment on the carpet, let it stand for about 10 minutes and blot with a clean white rag. Inspect the rag for any dye from the carpet and inspect the carpet for any damage from the cleaner. If either occurs, the solution isn’t really a solution; it’s another problem. In the case of wool, if it doesn’t respond to water and the mild soap solution, you should call a professional.
Okay, here are the techniques to try, in order, as we descend the carpet stain removers list. Remember to blot, not rub. Use these techniques only one at a time, and rinse well between steps.
1. After you’ve cleaned everything you can by blotting, dilute what remains with water and blot some more. You can also dilute spills with plain soda water. (No flavors, please!) The fizziness and salts it contains will sometimes help it work better than water, and it’s just about as safe.
2. If after water and soda water treatments you still have a stain, here is a safe, simple, general-purpose carpet stain remover to try: mix 1 teaspoon of a mild dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of warm water. Blot it on the spot. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, because getting cleaning chemicals out is important, too.
3. Try a solution of 1 tablespoon of ammonia and ½ cup of water on old spots, blood and chocolate.
4. Try a solution of ½ cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water on mildew stains and spills with an odor, such as urine.
5. Try full-strength 3 percent hydrogen peroxide on tomato-based stains, red drinks, alcoholic drinks, fruit juice, grass stains, coffee and chocolate.
6. Use isopropyl alcohol, full strength, on oily stains, ballpoint pen ink, candle wax residue and grass stains.
Special situations may call for special removal techniques:
For oily spills, such as mayonnaise, salad dressing and butter, try saturating the spot with cornflour, a good absorbent. Allow it to dry, then vacuum.
For candle wax dripped onto your carpet, use a warm iron over a paper towel to take up as much wax as possible. Then dab on isopropyl alcohol. If there’s still a stain, go to the general-purpose carpet stain remover described above. (See step 2.)
Pet “accidents” produce odors as well as stains and the problem is compounded when urine is not detected immediately. The longer it stays, the worse it gets. First, flush the spot with water and blot with an old towel or rag. Then use the general-purpose carpet stain remover treatment. (See step 2.) Rinse that with vinegar mixture. (See step 4.) Rinse again with water and blot. Finally, apply a 2.5 centimeter-thick layer of dry, clean white rags, towels or paper towels, weight them with a heavy object and allow them to stand for several hours. If they’re still damp when you remove them, repeat with a fresh layer of absorbent materials until they come up dry. (This is also a good formula for treating spilled beer.) The odor will not come out as long as any urine remains. Most commercial products sold to eliminate odor just mask the smell temporarily.
If a carpet has a musty smell, bicarbonate of soda will help. If you’ve been removing spots from the carpet, let the carpet dry out completely first. Then sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the entire carpet, let it stand for three to five hours and vacuum it up.
Not all substances can be removed from carpeting. Chlorine bleach, iodine, mustard, insecticides and plant fertilizers, to name a few, are likely to create permanent stains. Many foods, beverages, medications and cosmetics contain dyes and their spots also may be permanent. Sometimes a professional restorer can fix a permanently damaged area by spot-dyeing, reweaving or re-tufting. Or a professional installer can replace a section of carpet using a scrap or a piece taken from an inconspicuous spot, such as your cupboard floor.
How to Choose a Pro
If you're going to the expense of hiring a professional to clean your carpets, make sure you get a good one. Here's how you can evaluate the professionals, according to Nouwens Carpets:
- Be sure the cleaner uses the water-extraction or steam-cleaning method supported by a truck-based unit.
- It is very easy for someone to buy a cheap machine, hire cheap labour and claim to be a professional cleaner. Ask what training the cleaner has had. Cleaning carpets does take some.
- Expect the cleaner to inspect the job beforehand to look at the condition of your carpeting and the type of fiber it is made of. Test your cleaning company by asking them what type of carpet you have, and how it is manufactured. If they can't tell you, then they aren't experienced professionals.
- Ask for an estimate - in writing and itemized. (A good professional should provide it that way without being asked.) With a written estimate, you'll know what is covered, and you won't be surprised by extra charges.
- Examine the guarantee and make sure it suits you.
- Ask for references and check them out.
- Be sure the cleaner is insured.
- If they are not using a steam-cleaning method, then ask them what detergents they will use on your carpet and how they will rinse the carpet. If a carpet is not properly rinsed, it can develop sticky patches and will resoil faster. The detergent residue will cause degradation of the carpet fibers.
I hope you succeed with these carpet stain remover tips and techniques!
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