Keeping our homes’ environment clean and healthy is a top priority. That is why we tidy it up, clean regularly, and periodically bring in professional cleaning services. A carpet cleaning service is definitely a periodic service, but spots and spill are everyday occurrences. How can you treat these everyday issues yourself? These are a few tips to help you to treat spot without increasing the damage to your carpet. No one can guarantee 100% successful removal, or that a permanent color change won’t happen. Proceed with caution, and remember, when in doubt, call a professional.
Understand what is happening on a chemical level
Every spot presents its own unique chemical and PH challenges. A general understanding of PH and of most common carpet materials is invaluable when dealing with any spot in your carpet. Properly treating those spots is critical to prevent carpet damage.
The PH scale measures acidity and alkalinity on a scale of zero to 14. The midpoint, 7, is neutral. Anything between zero and 6.9 is an acid. Anything from 7.1 to 14 is alkaline. The PH scale is also logarithmic, meaning that the difference between two consecutive numbers is a value of 10. An acid having a PH of 5 is ten times stronger than an acid with a PH of 6.
Points to Consider When Treating Carpet Spots
- It takes an opposite to neutralize. Apply an alkaline to neutralize an acid, and vise a versa. Pay attention to the PH of any cleaner you use. Most household soils are acidic, registering between 3 and 7 on the PH scale. How does this help in treating spots in your own carpet?
- One example: A common idea for DIY spotters is to use white vinegar. But vinegar is an acid, and if you are dealing with an acidic spot, (fresh pet urine for example), you are not neutralizing the contaminant, and the vinegar will not be as effective as the appropriate alkaline cleaner.
Carpet chemistry and materials: The most popular types of carpet installed in homes today are composed of either wool or nylon. Knowing what your carpet is made of will help you treat spots.
- Wool Carpet: Only use a neutral spotter. The safe PH range for wool is 4.5-8.5. Any solution with a lower PH will bleach the wool; a solution with a PH above this range will yellow it, and may completely dissolve the fibers. Never use vinegar or ammonia on your wool carpeting!
- Nylon Carpet: Nylon carpet is dyed in an acid bath. An acidic PH helps the dyes stick to the fibers. Nylon carpets can be damaged by acids, but not as easily as wool, so a carefully diluted white vinegar solution can be used to remove alkaline soils. High Alkaline PH can destabilize the dyes in nylon carpet. Don’t use anything above 10. For example, ammonia is 12, and applying it undiluted on your carpet may remove a dirty area, but it will also strip the dye from your carpet fibers, leaving a bleached spot.
Important Tip When Treating a Spot
Avoid Optical Brighteners: Consumers are learning to avoid laundry soap that contains optical brighteners, but most people don’t realize that household, over-the-counter carpet and upholstery spot removers are also loaded with them.
Why are they bad for your carpet? An optical brightener is a clear dye that acts like a chemical mirror. Optical brighteners cause the following problems:
- They don’t actually clean: When applied to an area of soiled carpet, they will make the carpet look “clean,” but all that has changed is how the light is reflected. The area appears brighter, so you think it is clean.
- Permanent dye: The optical brighteners are a clear dye. Once they are in your carpet, they cannot be removed. They also break down and turn yellow, leaving an ugly, discolored patch in your carpet.
- They prevent a professional from being able to treat the spot: The soiled area can no longer be cleaned. This is because the optical brightener dye has created a barrier, preventing any possibality for professional removal of the origional spot.
- Professional carpet cleaning will not look as good: The area dyed by the optical brighteners will not match the rest of the carpet and will become more noticeable after professional cleaning.
Can you have a professional clean it for free?
Yes you can! Most people don’t realize that there are certain warranties attached to products that professional carpet cleaners use. The most outstanding is Scotchgard’s® warranty. The warranty is simple: When you purchase Scotchgard® and have it applied by a certified professional, the purchase includes a one year spot and spill warranty. After cleaning the carpet and applying the protectant, reputable carpet cleaning companies will also provide a complimentary bottle of spot remover. Any new spill that you cannot clean with the spotter should be cleaned by your carpet cleaning company at no charge to you.
How do you make sure you get your warranty?
- Before you hire, ask your service provider what brand of carpet protectant will be used. Ask what kind of warranty comes with the protectant.
- Get your documentation. Scotchgard® provides a warranty card for consumers as proof of purchase and warranty.