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Carpet Care: Spot Cleaning Essentials
Every cleaning professional and facility manager should have a basic understanding of carpet spot removal techniques and procedures. It requires a little know-how, but it can pay dividends in keeping carpets clean and healthy.
First some definitions: A spot is a substance in or on carpet fibers. A stain, on the other hand, is a discoloration of carpet fibers. While a stain may prove difficult to remove, spots typically can be removed, as long as the following steps are taken and in this order:
• Act quickly. The longer the delay, the harder it is to remove the spot.
• With liquid spills, blot the area with a dry terry cloth towel; if using a paper towel, make sure it is white with no printing; avoid rubbing or scrubbing the spot, as both can cause fiber distortion; instead, blot the area until dry.
• To remove semi-solid spills, scrape the area first using a spoon and then blot as with a regular liquid spill.
• Dry spills should first be cleaned by vacuuming the area; do not blot or apply liquids.
Often spots can be effectively removed by simply following the steps above. However, if the spot persists, a "spotter" may be necessary.
Here are some tips on working with spotters:
• Try to determine if the spot is alkaline (pH more than 7) or acidic (pH less than 7). If a high pH, use a spotter with an equal but opposite pH, and vice versa.
• If the spot is an oil or vegetable oil, a solvent spotter will work best.
• If the spot is protein based, such as milk or egg yolk, an enzyme spotter should be considered.
"These steps can help remove many spots or at least minimize their impact," says Mark Baxter, an engineer and product manager with U.S. Products. "However, spotting is a science. In some cases, the best course of action is to also call in a carpet cleaning technician."
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