First AID for Carpet Spots and Spills
Stuff happens in every home. It’s your response that often determines the outcome. This is especially true when it comes to spots, spills and accidents on your carpet.
Spilled drinks, pet accidents, tracked-in mud, paint, grease, food and just about anything else under the sun can end up on your carpet. Knowing what to do first can mean the difference between a temporary inconvenience and a permanent stain or even damage to your carpets. While we can’t cover everything that can happen to your carpet in this article, we can go over some of the most common issues and what you should do first. Before we do that, there are a few terms you need to know so that we can understand each other.
Soil is just about any unwanted matter on the carpet. We use the word “soil” as a catch-all term referring to what you hire us to remove from your carpet. This would include things such as hair, pollen, dust, dander, dirt, grease, food and beverage spills and more.A spot is visible soil that has adhered to the carpet. Often the spot is a liquid that has dried onto the carpet, leaving unwanted color.
Other times the spot is a colorless residue that is attracting soil. Spots generally have some texture; sticky, gummy, oily, waxy, crusty or greasy, etc. Most spots come out with normal cleaning and spot removal procedures.A stain is a permanent addition of unwanted color. To use laundry as an example, a white shirt may have a crusty dried mustard spot on it. After washing, a yellow stain remains. A stain does not have texture; you can’t feel it. Stains cannot be removed with normal cleaning and require advanced techniques and specialized products used by a trained professional. To blot is to remove excess moisture using an absorbent towel. Blotting is not rubbing! Rubbing and scrubbing a carpet will cause permanent damage to the texture and may also make the spot harder to remove. Fold a clean, preferably white absorbent hand towel and then fold again to get four layers. Press the towel into the spot, absorbing the spill. Flip the towel over and repeat. Continue folding and turning the towel and blotting until no more material is absorbed.Scrape means using a dull object such as a spoon or plastic spatula to remove excess material before applying a spotter. Scraping is also helpful during our spot removal process to help remove dissolved soils and excess spotting agent.Contamination is soil that contains biological or potentially infectious material. Some examples are vomit, urine, feces and blood. Pet accidents are the most common, but sometimes when sick or injured, people can be a contamination source.Damage is something that has changed the structure of your carpet such as burns, holes, pile distortion or bleaching. Damage cannot be corrected by cleaning and will require some kind of repair.
First AID and Steps for the Most Common Problems
Food and beverage spills are the number one concern of our customers. In all cases, the first step is to remove as much excess material as possible by scraping and/or blotting. When scraping, work from the outside edges toward the middle of the stain, so you don’t spread it. Since there are so many potential food and beverage spills, it is best to call us for further instructions or service. Improper spot removal attempts can turn a simple spot into a permanent stain.
Mud and tracked-in dirt is best left to dry. Once completely dry, gently scrape and break up the dried soil and vacuum it away. Sometimes this is all that is needed. Any remaining discoloration is best left to us professionals. Adding water or cleaners may simply spread the spot and make it more difficult to remove. Pet urine is considered contamination, but while it is fresh does not present a major problem. First, blot then pour a liberal amount of table salt on the urine deposit. Gently work the salt into the carpet yarn and let it dry overnight and vacuum the area. Why Salt? When urine leaves an animal it is acidic. Most carpets are easily dyed with acids. However, the salt neutralizes the acid and helps prevent permanent staining. It has the added benefit of preventing bacterial growth and absorbing the urine. Call us to clean and sanitize the area.Vomit contains strong acids and can quickly stain some carpets. As with other spots, scrape and blot up the excess. Cover the spot with baking soda. Wearing gloves, gently work it into the spot. Baking soda has the added benefit of neutralizing offensive odors. If no baking soda is available, use salt. Call us to clean and sanitize the area.
Using these “first aid” steps will not guarantee we can completely remove the spot. How well the spots can be removed will depend on several factors; age of carpet, type of fiber, whether or not carpet was protected, amount of traffic, type and age of the stain.
Just like any first aid situation, act fast to assure the best possible result. Then call Kleenrite at (217) 351-4930 as soon as you can. We’ll do our best to assure a complete and speedy recovery.