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Common spot cleaning mistakes

 
pH Scale Diagram for common spot cleaning mistakes
Spot cleaning is a matter of balancing the pH of the stain you are removing. If the stain has a pH of 4 then the cleaning solution should have a pH of 10. Each point represents the power of 10. So a stain that has a pH of 4 is 1000 times more acidic than something with a pH of 7. One of the most common mistakes home owners make when attempting to remove spots from their carpeting is using the wrong cleaning agent for that particular spot.
This can cause a number of problems. By using the wrong cleaning agent you may not remove the spot, but instead actually set the spot into the Nylon fabric and cause it to stain.

This is caused by breaking the surface tension between the spot and the carpet surface and allowing the dye from the spot to enter the Nylon fabric's dye sites. Dye Sites are the pours in Nylon fabric where dye enters to produce the desired color of the carpet. Many times this will happen when the spot is a liquid that contains acid dyes, like urine or fruit juice or if the spill is very hot heat will open dye sites and allow color to enter.

Another problem is the cleaning agent is used too much or scrubbed into the carpet causing color to be removed primarily because of the high pH level of the cleaner. This can still leave the stain behind producing a halo effect. This is the worst case scenario, because if in fact the spot can be removed by a professional, you would still have a color loss around the old spot.

 

Cleaning the carpet yourself

 

One of the most common mistakes home owners make when attempting to clean their carpet themselves is not rinsing the carpet after using a home steam cleaner.

Some of the cleaning solutions sold with home machines are not formulated for carpets that have stain and soil protection. Thus the solutions attach themselves to the stain protected fibers and cover up the carpet fiber making it sticky or stiff.

Soil and dust are negatively charged just like the protection on the carpet. The residue from the cleaner makes for a perfect chemically two sided tape. This condition is very apparent to a trained eye because soil is heavy even away from traffic patterns and soil sources.

Even if you are using proper cleaning solutions with your home cleaner, it is still important to rinse your carpet after cleaning. This will help prevent the carpet from becoming stiff and remove the foam from the carpet surface so when it gets cleaned next time heavy foam will not be a problem.

Another problem with using home carpet cleaning machines is they are not hot enough. Even the hottest machines on the market only heat the water to 25 degrees warmer than tap water. This in turn with rotating brushes can damage your carpet by scraping the carpet fibers with the present soil in the carpet. This can be especially bad if the soil you are trying to remove has any oily or greasy properties. This will help the oily soil to enter the fibers and become impossible to remove. The more this is done, the more damage it will cause and exponentially wear the carpets soil resistance down to the point that even a professional can not remedy.

 

The carpet is starting to "ugly" out

 

If your carpet is attracting soil that you can't vacuum off, the soil will start to etch and damage the carpet protection and fiber surface. This is vital to the carpet's look and performance. If soil is etching the fibers excessively the carpet will loose it's ability to refract light and become dull or shaded looking.

Another problem may be pile reversal. The carpet fibers begin to fold over in different directions due to stress from high traffic. This looks like the carpet has shaded or soiled areas, but in fact can look it's worst when perfectly clean, since there is no soil hiding the problem and keeping light from reflecting off the surface.

 

New types of stain cleaners

 

There are now new types of stain treatments available to the public that combine two different chemicals as they exit the bottle. These are aggressive reducing agents that can damage color. In most cases spot cleaning does not require aggressive treatments. Most of the spot cleaners on the market today are made to get immediate results, but the old adage is true, "haste makes waste". Most carpets cannot handle aggressive treatments and so spot cleaning should always be done with "less is best" in mind. Remember, regardless of the results the cleaning product still has to be rinsed from the carpet to prevent re-soling and damage.

 

Regular Thorough Vacuuming

 
The most important thing you can do to keep your carpet looking great is to vacuum it. Do this thoroughly and regularly, especially in high traffic areas.
For best results, use a vacuum with a beater bar or rotating brush and plenty of suction. Change bags and filters routinely, and keep recovery tanks clean. Studies show that even a well maintained vacuum can lose 80% of its "pick up ability" when the bag is 25% full.

Set adjustments according to recommendations for your type of carpet. Heavy traffic areas like entryways should be vacuumed regularly, daily if possible.

Walk off mats at entrances can dramatically reduce tracked dirt, but if the room that these mats are in is not kept clean even the best mats can be overwhelmed with soil making them soil sources instead of soil stoppers.

Less heavily used areas can be vacuumed less often, perhaps weekly. Vacuum three passes for light cleaning and up to seven passes where there's been heavy soiling or traffic.

Why is vacuuming so important? That's because most of the "dirt" found in our carpets is tracked in by us and our pets. This insoluble "dry particle soil" consisting of mostly sand, clay, an quartz is easily removed through regular vacuuming. If this dry soil is left to build up underfoot, the grit constantly rubs against your carpet fibers like sandpaper.

First it removes the stain resistant coating on the fibers. Next, it permanently scratches the fibers smooth surfaces, dulling the carpet's color. At this point, you can clean the carpet, but the beauty of your carpet in those areas in damaged beyond repair.

That's why it's also a good idea to periodically rearrange your furniture. By changing the traffic patterns, you can even out the wear on your carpet.

There's another compelling reason for regular vacuuming. Carpet is beautiful and beneficial, but it also collects pollutants very efficiently. This unhealthy material enters our homes in the air or clings to clothing, fur or feet. It settles into our carpets and onto upholstered surfaces just like a furnace filter collects dust and airborne particles. Once saturated, our furnishings start "spilling" contaminants back into our indoor environment. The fact that our homes today are tightly closed, highly insulated environments adds to the problem. We end up thoroughly exposed to unhealthy contaminants.

Industrial-type materials deposited in carpets include motor oil, acids, carbon, asphalt residue, lawn fertilizer, industrial gas residues, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. In addition, there are also organic materials that can affect those of us who suffer from allergies. Organic deposits found in our carpets can include food crumbs, beverage spills, dead skin cells, hair, dead insects, insect droppings, residues from heating and cooling, pet soil, and other "biogenic" wastes. This biological debris provides a breeding ground for microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi, dust mites, mold, etc.... Regular cleaning reduces and controls biocontaminants.

 

Prompt Clean Up of Spills

 

Today's carpets resist stains better than ever before. But prompt clean up of spots spills and accidents is still a must. The longer you wait, the harder they are to remove. Plus, with time some spills can cause permanent staining.

The best approach is to immediately clean up as much of a spill as possible. Identifying the source of the stain is key to successful removal, since different stains require different cleaning instructions. Click here to see our Stain Chart.

Use clean white absorbent materials - towels, napkins or tissues. Always blot up spills, don't rub or brush - working from the outer edge to the center of the spot.

Apply cleaning solutions with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Do not over wet. Use the basic spot removal tips on this website. Be patient. Differences in stain type, fiber type, dyes, etc... means no two stains respond the same.

Never use all-purpose spray cleaners, bleach, or alkaline detergents. You can damage the carpet. Also remember: Some stains need professional treatment.

If you're not satisfied with your results, please call us. Even if you don't need our help, please try to remember what was spilled and where it happened. That way you can point it out to us when we come to do your carpet's periodic deep cleaning. Some spills - and especially pet accidents - can leave bothersome residues that require special treatment.

 

Periodic Professional Cleaning

 
Here's what most warranties say about professional cleaning:
"Routine maintenance is essential to maintaining your warranty. Over time, normal foot traffic and soiling will cause a change in any carpet's appearance. Professional extraction, either alone or in combination with cleaning, is required to maintain your warranty. The service must be performed by a trained professional occasionally to refresh the texture and rejuvenate the fibers in your carpet. Please retain your receipts for proof of maintenance should a warranty claim arise."

It makes sense that regular vacuuming and prompt clean up of spills is important for routine carpet maintenance. But why do manufacturers' warranties also require annual deep cleaning by a professional carpet cleaner?

That's because of two destructive forces that normally affect every carpet - "soiling" and loss of "texture". Soiling is the build-up of dirt particles and other similar materials that cling to your carpet's fibers. Despite regular vacuuming, these particles and materials accumulate within the carpet pile and result in a gradual dulling of the carpet's color. It takes deep extraction cleaning with powerful equipment and quality cleaning solutions at least annually to remove this accumulated material. An important aspect of professional carpet cleaning is that it leaves no residue.

Over time, foot traffic also causes a change in the appearance of your carpet by changing its texture. Hot water extraction, either alone or in combination with cleaning, refreshes the texture of the carpet by "resetting" the twist of the fiber. Texture retention warranties recommend hot water extraction performed by a trained carpet care professional at least every 1½ to 2 years.

Today's carpets are made mostly from yarns of nylon, polyester and polypropylene - tightly twisted little plastic tufts of high technology that present new cleaning challenges. Professional carpet cleaning today calls for a thorough understanding of, among others things: fibers and fabric types, carpet construction and proper installation techniques, soil types and degree of soiling. Carpet location and "traffic" patterns, the use of professional cleaning equipment and correct application of advanced pre-treatment, cleaning, rinsing and post-treatment solutions.

Carpets cleaners today are specially trained and even earn advanced degrees - called certifications - in carpets and upholstery cleaning technology, carpet repair and reinstallation issues, carpet coloring, odor control, water and fire damage restoration, spot and stain removal, etc... Plus we stay current on health and safety issues, governmental regulations and compliance issues, and good business practices.

Cleaning carpets today with maximum success and with minimum risk is a complex job. We are skilled technicians who have been thoroughly trained and tested on fiber identification and proper cleaning procedures. We use the finest equipment and materials available.

Yet our services are among the most affordable. When requested, we provide written estimates in advance of our performing any cleaning related services. We don't believe in high pressure sales or hidden charges. We are always pleased to explain our cleaning methods and how we charge for them. Additional services like deodorization and protectors are always your option.

If you have any questions or concerns, call us. We know there are alot of new things to understand about carpet care and warranties.

 

Carpet Cleaning Frequencies

 
 Source: U.S. EPA
 
 Dwelling Type

Normal Environment
Contaminated Outside Dusty
Cold  Weather Climates
High Humidity
 Day Care Center
2 weeks
1 week
2 weeks
1 week
 Nursing Home
1 month
1 month
1 month
1 week
 Residence, 2 person, non-moking
6-12 months
2 months
4-6 months
4-6 months
 Residence, 2 person, with  smoking
4 months
2 months
3 months
4 months
 Residence, with children
6 months
1 month
3 months
3 months
 Residence, with children & pets
3-6 months
1 month
2 months
2 months
 Office building, ground floor
3-6 months
1-4 months
2-6 months
2-6 months
 Office building, upper floors
6-12 months
2-6 months
3-9 months
3-9 months
 Food service establishments
1 month
1 week
2 weeks
2 weeks