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Five Tips for Carpet Spot Removal

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We've all had it happen--a mysterious spot that shows up in the middle of the carpet, yet no one knows how it got there. Or perhaps a child drops a marker, or an adult spills a glass of red wine on the carpet. Spots happen, and will remain a part of your carpet forever unless you know how some tips to help you remove the spot.

The Life Cycle of the Spot

There are actually three different stages a substance takes to become a stain. If you spill your soda on the carpet and ignore it, you'll see that it is first a spill, then a spot, and finally it will morph into a stain that is permanent.

The first step is the initial spill. The substance is still fresh on the carpet and hasn't had time to soak in and attach to the pile. Reacting quickly to a spill is the best solution to avoid a terrible stain. You'll want to blot the spill with a white towel, and be careful not to rub.

The second step is when the spill dries up and becomes a spot. Usually the substance has attached to the carpet pile and is very difficult to remove. You may have to call in a professional service to get the spot out for good. If you have an idea of what the spot is comprised of, you may be able to use a store product or home remedy to get it out.

Last, we have the stain. Stains are bad and usually permanent. However, if you have an expensive carpet you can rely on a professional dye specialist. They bleach out the stain then re-dye your carpet to the original color.

So how do you avoid this step at all costs? Follow the tips below to learn how to save your carpet from the dreaded stain.

1) React quickly. Your first instinct may be to wait until the party ends or until the kids go to bed to tackle that spill. At all costs, resist! Despite what the salesman told you when you bought the carpet, no carpet is stain-free. Acting quickly is the most important key to keeping the spill from becoming a permanent stain.

  • It takes time for a spill to become a stain because the coloration must attach itself to the carpet pile. Most carpet these days is treated chemically to help resist stains, so some substances will take longer than others to set in and become permanent.
  • Once the substance settles and soaks in, it may attach itself to the carpet backing. This is bad, since the stain on the backing spreads over a larger area. When moisture in the carpet evaporates, the stain is pulled from the backing back up into the pile, making a once-removed stain reappear!

2) Do not rub at the stain. As tempting as it may be to scrub stains away, don't. Rubbing a stain causes several problems and can actually make it so the stain is impossible to remove from the carpet. Rubbing distorts the pile in your carpet and can set stains even deeper into the rug.

  • Blot with dry cloth towels or paper towels until the area is dry.
  • If you must rub the stain, use a brush and rub ten times in one direction, then rub ten times in an opposite direction to keep the pile from becoming distorted.
  • Work from the outside of the stain and move inward. Apply the stain removal solution or water to a white towel and blot. Never apply water or solution directly the carpet as getting the backing too wet will cause separation between the backing sections.

3) Do you know what substance is on your carpet? Knowing what is spilled or spotting your carpet can help you remove it. Different spot compositions react in different ways to a variety of stain removal products or solutions.

The basic spot groups are: protein, oil and dye based. Protein-based stains are ones like coffee, blood and milk. Oil-based stains include furniture polish, candle wax and lipstick. Dye-based stains come from substances such as Gatorade, soft drinks and pen or marker.

  • If you call in a professional, let him know what created the spot. They can bring the appropriate cleaning solutions to help clean up your carpet as good as new.

4) How do you remove a spill, stain or spot? Knowing how to remove the spill or spot is very important. Below are general steps to follow to help you get your carpet clean after a spill disaster.

  • Scrape up semi-solids with a spoon.
  • If it's a solid spill, break up and vacuum.
  • As you read above, never rub the spill. Always blot with a white towel or paper towel.
  • If you know what is on the carpet, use the appropriate solvent to remove it.
  • Always pretest the carpet solvent or solution in an inconspicuous area, such as under the sofa or a chair.
  • Use the solvent until the paper towel or linen towel comes away from the carpet clean and free of the spill.
  • After the area is clean, rinse well. Have you ever cleaned a spot and had it come back the next day? Chances are you didn't rinse the solvent completely from the carpet. Some solvents will absorb dirt, resulting in a new spot in the exact same place as the old one.
  • To help absorb the rinse water when finished, put a towel or thick wad of white paper towels over the wet area and weigh it down with something heavy. Change the towel and paper towel as they become wet. Do this until the carpet is dry.

5) Know when to call in a professional. There are times when you just need to call a professional in to get your carpet back into shape. Some stains, such as blood, ink, rust and nail polish may need professional attention if you weren't able to work on them promptly. Also, an occasional deep cleaning will help rejuvenate your carpet and add years to its life.

  • Call a professional for a deep cleaning service if your carpet is looking soiled and dingy all over.
  • Call a professional if you've tried to remove a spill or spot and have been unsuccessful. Remember to mention what substance made the spot in the first place.
  • Have your carpet protection (i.e. Scotchguard) re-applied every 2-3 years to prolong the life of your carpet.

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