Deep, dark dirt marks, glaring crimson juice spills and icky pet odors can take a toll on any carpet, and it seems inevitable that everyone is going to experience some type of spot, splotch or splash.
To help tackle carpet mishaps, professionals Jeff Moore, service manager of Carpet One Floor & Home in Rapid City, and Steven Elfstrand, owner of Black Hawk-based Service Master of the Black Hills, recently agreed to share the do’s and don’ts of carpet care.
Basic spot removal
There are three basic steps to follow if you have a spot, according to Moore — dry blotting, damp blotting and using a spotting agent, which can be purchased at most home stores or carpet stores.
If you use a spotting agent, Moore says it’s important to follow the directions for the type of spot you have. In general, Moore says, start by lightly blotting the spot a little bit at a time, removing as much of the spot as you can with a clean, dry rag then use a cleaning product or warm water, and “blot and blot until you get it all out — it can be a lengthy process,” explains Moore, who warns to blot the stain and never rub the spot, which can make it worse.
A spot or a stain?
According to Moore, a spot is different from a stain. A spot can be worked out, but a stain is something that is more permanent. For instance, Moore, who is also a certified carpet inspector and certified carpet cleaner, explains that if you go through 20 or 30 cycles of blotting and the spot remains, you might have a stain. If this is the case, Moore recommends calling a professional who can properly assess the problem.
ID the stain
Before you attempt to tackle the problem, you should have an idea of the type of stain. According to Elfstrand, the three types of stains and odors that usually require professional care are wine, pet urine and smoke odors.
“Those are the three that they shouldn’t touch,” Elfstrand says. In addition, Moore recommends staying away from fruit juice stains and suggests following the instructions of your carpet manufacturer and researching the guidelines of the Carpet and Rug Institute, which lists steps to follow for all types of stains. However, when in doubt, both Moore and Elfstrand recommend calling a professional.
If you want to tackle pet urine, Moore says you need to use cool water instead of hot water. “If you go at it with a hot, steam cleaning unit to extract it, you may well set the odor in,” explains Moore, who recommends using the hand wand of your carpet cleaner, with cool water, and do not use the heat setting. “Leave it in a cold state and use the cool water to rinse the area,” Moore says and explains that if you don’t have a home cleaning unit but you have a shop vac, you can manually apply cold water and then extract the cold water with the shop vac, then blot dry.
There are numerous spills that can happen around the house, “Just about anything you can think of — coffee, pop and all the way to fingernail polish — anything you might have in the home,” is a risk, according to Elfstrand.
As such, Elfstrand provides the following guidelines that Service Master follows for removing gum and wax. For chewing gum, it is recommended to freeze the gum with ice cubes until the gum stiffens, then lift gum from the surface. For wax, Service Master suggest you set a clean, absorbent cloth over wax and hold a hot iron on it. Lift cloth and wax away.
Another stain that might occur in the home is red dye that is found in sweetened beverages. Most products that remove red dye are made for professionals, according to Moore. However, he says, there are products that consumers can use that are specifically made for removing red dye.
“You can be successful if it hasn’t been there too long, but getting to them early is always one of the best things.” Moore also says you must follow the application process using dry and damp towels, applying a hot iron that pulls that red up into the towels.
Moore also says with any stain, “the No. 1 thing that anybody should do if there is a spill, you’ll find that most carpets today will have treatments on them, so you have a reasonable amount of time to recover them, before they do any damage or set in, but the key is to not let them sit there. If you see someone spill something, immediately take care of it.”
However, Elfstrand reminds if you have any doubts about stain removal. “In the end they’re always better off to call us,” he says.