One mistake that novices make is failing to test a small area before committing time and resources to the entire project.  A good example is carpet spotting.  Instead of giving a worker a spotter and cloth and telling them to “spot all the carpet” one should try the spotter on an inconspicuous area first to verify not only its effectiveness but also safety.  

Although there are many reasons for doing this preliminary step, consider at least these two concerns:  

1. Do you know how the carpet will react to the spotter?  

Answering this question may require some research since not only should you know what the carpet is made of, but also what product is in the spot itself.  Most carpet experts will advise you that you should use appropriate products and processes for a cola than for orange juice or for blood.  Understanding the pH of the spot and the cleaning product is very important.  Using the wrong spotter could either set the spot or simply expand it to a bigger stain.

2. Do you know what cleaning products have already been used in the carpet that may have left a residue?  

This residue could react with the spotter causing damage or possibly setting the stain.  I have come across carpets that had already been saturated in a soapy type cleaning product and simply needed rinsing.  When I applied more cleaning product, there were reactions ranging from it bubbling and foaming to damaging the carpet fibers beyond repair. 

Remember that in most instances, the number one choice of a spotter is tap (or better, distilled) water first with an absorbent cloth blotting (not rubbing) to see if the spot will wick into the cloth.  I prefer white terry cloth for its absorbency.  Be careful of using a colored cloth since the dies may actually wick into the carpet.  Using water simply dissolves and suspends the soils so that the cloth can be used to blot it up.  

From water, you should escalate your efforts to a mild alkaline (base) cleaner with a pH less than 8.5 or 9.  Never go beyond pH of 10 unless you have carefully tested it in an inconspicuous area first.  Give the product time to work and blot (don’t scrub/abrade) the carpet to avoid damaging the fibers.  

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