Spotting and pretreating allow you to use specialized chemicals to breakup problem soil before you begin the general cleaning. They are distinguished from general cleaning because the type of soil is different from the typical makeup of carpet soil. It differs in both kind and quantity. Spots are caused by some foreign substance being tracked or spilled on the carpet. Heavily soiled traffic lanes and high use areas (like in front of a copy machine) have an unusually high concentration of soil. In many cases, the soiling is more oily than the general carpet soil.  

Many references on spotting will begin by recommending that you identify the material that caused the spot. Sometimes that is pretty easy - a black spot beside the service door of the copier is safely assumed to be toner, for instance. In most cases, however, your technician will be working on the spot long after the mishap that caused it occurred. So the procedure we are going to recommend assumes that you don’t know what caused the spot.

When you don’t know what caused the spot, use your sense of sight, touch, and smell to help identify the spot, or at least classify it into a category.  The easiest method is to simply ask your customer or the employees if they know the origin of the spot. Remember that with any dry spills such as copier toner, carefully vacuum up the dust and DO NOT allow any moisture to active the dyes in the toner.  

The shape of the spot gives an indication of its source and cause. A spot that is round, square, or geometric in design would not have come from a spill, but rather may have been transferred by contact from an object such as a round mahogany chair leg. An irregular shaped spot may indicate a spill.  Spots in a line indicate dripping from a moving object.  The thickness or depth of the substance on the fiber will help to determine the composition, and the amount of time required for removal.  

We will continue in the next article on this subject.  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon.  Until then, keep it clean…..


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or