Accidents do happen, and when they do the best defense is to be prepared. Know how to handle spots before they become permanent stains. Following are the essential guidelines for managing spotting on carpet:
1. Identify what caused the spot
- If you don’t know yourself, ask others in the house. Knowing exactly what made the spot can make removal much faster, with a greater chance of success and with less chance of damage to your carpet.
- Even, geometric spots such as circles, squares and even triangles may be stains from furniture legs. These are very difficult to remove and should be handled by a professional company.
- If the spot is sticky or stiff, this is a good indication that removal is possible.
- If the spot is lighter in color this is not a good sign as it may indicate that there is a color loss instead of just a spot. If this is the case, a professional company that is thoroughly familiar with spot dyeing carpet is a must.
2. Is it a spot or a stain?
At this point it may be good to know the difference between a spot and a stain. A spot is any foreign substance that adds texture to a fiber. A stain is anything that adds to or deletes the color of a fiber. Obviously, stains are not easily removed and usually permanent, whereas spots are more readily cleaned up.
3. Blot up Fresh Spills
If the spill is fresh, blot up as much as possible with an absorbent paper or cotton towel. (if the spill is thick, use a spoon to remove as much as possible by scraping toward the center and scooping up).
4. Treating Dried Spills
If the spill is dried, pour a small amount of cool water or carbonated water on the spot and work it in with a spoon to attempt to re-liquefy it and then start the blotting process.
5. Absorb the Residue
Use a fresh area of the towel or new paper towel and stand on it to blot. Repeat this procedure until no more residue from the spill transfers to the towel.
After blotting up all that you can, pour a small amount of cool water on the spot and repeat the blotting sequence until no more residue transfers to the toweling.
7. Determine Solution
If there is anything left after these steps, determine the solution that you will use to attack the spot.
- For oil based spots like greasy foods, grease, oil, tar, butter, use a dry cleaning solvent such as Energine or Carbona. These can be purchased at most large grocery stores.
- For water based spots which are most soft drinks, and food spots that have sugar or starch in them, use a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of dish washing soap, 1/3 cup of vinegar, to 2/3 cup of warm, not hot, water.
- For blood, egg, milk, chocolate and other protein based spills, use a mixture of 1 cup of cool water, with 1/2 teaspoon of household ammonia, and 2 drops of mild dishwashing detergent.
- If the spill is unknown, start with the dry cleaning solution first. If it does not respond, blot thoroughly. then try the water based solution. If that doesn’t work, rinse, blot, and try the third or protein solution.
8. Test in an Inconspicuous Area First
Before applying any solution to your carpet, test in an inconspicuous area, such as inside a closet. If discoloration occurs, do not use.
9. Treating the Stain
Apply the solution to the spot using a spoon to work the solution into the center of the spot from the outside edge. Do not rub too hard or fast as this could permanently distort the carpet fibers and damage them. Never use a brush for the same reason.
10. Blot with towel
Blot with towel then repeat until there is no more residue transferring to the towel.
It is always good to poor on a little cool water to rinse out any cleaning solution and blot it up, too. You may wish to lay 1/2 inch of paper towels or a cotton towel folded several times on the area that you treated and put a heavy weight of about 5 to 10 pounds on it overnight. This reduces the chance of any residue resurfacing later. Putting a fan on the area can also help.
12. Call for Help When Needed
If there is some color remaining, it may be necessary to call us for more potent products to attempt removal.
For detailed instructions on how to remove specific stains, see the spot removal steps provided by the carpet and rug institute.