The bane of every property owner’s existence has to be carpet stains. You invest the time into researching the perfect blend of cost, durability and aesthetics. Once installed, it is the ideal accent for your home or office, providing style, sound buffering and comfort for all who walk across it. Everything is lovely until you see the spot.
No matter how careful you are, your carpeting will eventually get soiled. Whether from dirt or debris tracked in on shoes, pet accidents, a missed drip from a wineglass, an errant chocolate chip from a snack or the ubiquitous mystery source, it is only a matter of time before your pristine carpet is marred. Treating the spots can eliminate those stains, can’t they?
How a Spot Becomes a Stain
Carpets are made of fibers twisted together. Much like the wick of a candle absorbs wax, carpet fibers act as wicks to absorb liquids, carrying it up to the tips. Dark liquids like juice or wine can change the color of textiles, behaving like a dye by replacing the lighter color with a darker one. In some cases, the liquid can cause a chemical change in the fibers. Without quick action, the ends of the fibers dry with the contaminant in them, setting the stage for a permanent stain.
Types of Stains and What To Do About Them
Treating or preventing a stain is a matter of understanding what type of stain it is. Effective treatment for one kind of stain may not affect or, even worse, have a detrimental effect on other types of stains. It is also essential to know the kind of materials that your carpet is made from so that attempts at stain removal doesn’t do further damage. Finally, treating the spot as quickly as possible will go a long way to preventing a permanent stain.
Organic or Non-Organic Sources
Identifying whether the stain is from an organic or inorganic source is helpful. The source of an organic stain is anything that occurs in nature, such as bodily fluids, plants, dirt, etc. Typically, organic stains are the easiest to clean. Non-organic stains are human-made, like nail polish or paint.
Oil-based stains can be difficult to remove. Examples are fat from meat, cooking oils, lipstick, grease, salad dressing and petroleum jelly. Fats and oils are drawn to other fats and oils. That means if you have a synthetic floor covering, the petroleum content is a magnet for oils. However, many manufacturers add treatments or coatings to the fibers to slow down or prevent absorption.
If you act quickly, you may be able to clean the spot before it does permanent damage. First, apply baking soda or corn starch to the spot. Then allow to sit for 15 minutes to absorb the oil. Vacuum the soda or cornstarch. If there is still residue, try treating with alcohol to dissolve the oil.
Water-soluble stains are those that can be cleaned with water. These types of stains come from feces, soda, alcoholic beverages, latex paint, fruit and mud, among many other sources. Water-soluble spots are the easiest to remove, though sadly, they only account for about 20% of stains. To prevent a permanent stain, remove any solid matter clinging to the fibers. Then blot, never rub or scrub, with a cloth saturated in water or diluted white vinegar.
When water-soluble stains are protein-based, heat or acid can make them darker, increasing the chances that they become stains. Protein-based sources are blood or other bodily fluids, dairy products, meat and meat juices. Using vinegar or warm water can exacerbate the problem. Use only cold water to attempt to treat the spot.
If water doesn’t work, this is where knowing the material your floor covering is made from will be critical. For wool carpets, use a small amount of dishwashing liquid to treat the spot. For other types of carpeting, you can try ammonia diluted with cold water. If the rug or carpet is white, hydrogen peroxide can be effective on protein-based deposits.
Wax and Gum
Removing wax or gum incorrectly from carpet fibers can do even more damage. The key to effective treatment is to prevent the gum or wax from penetrating the fibers. Ice is the first line of treatment in these situations. Cover the spot with the ice for at least 20 minutes until the substance is frozen. Peel the excess carefully from the outer edges.
If freezing and peeling don’t remove everything from the area, it’s time to take a different tack. Using an old towel or other absorbent cloth that you can throw away, cover the area. Go over the fabric with an iron for a few seconds. The heat should allow the wax or gum to melt and absorb into the cloth and out of the carpet.
When dropped or spilled items are comprised of both water-soluble and non-soluble materials, it takes more than one type of treatment to eliminate. Examples of these contaminants are mayonnaise, tea, coffee, chocolate, vomit and mustard. Usually, a combination of a dry solution of baking soda to absorb the spill, then the application of cool water and dishwashing liquid to complete the removal will work, but you should follow the instructions for the spill, particularly if it is protein-based. Always be sure to only blot and never scrub the area, as it can force the stain into the fibers rather than remove it.
Professional Stain Treatment
Determining the source of a stain may not always be easy, especially if you weren’t aware of it. Rather than attempting to remove a stain yourself, contacting a trusted professional carpet cleaning service that understands how to remove stains safely is a wise move. When those pesky spots inevitably occur, contact the team at Safe-Dry Carpet Cleaning. We use only non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning solutions to rid your floor coverings of odors and stains from pets, food or drink spills, dirt, oil and more. For more information on our services or cleaning solutions, call us at 770-265-2344 or contact us online today.