Stains are the most frequent and common problem that affects carpets.
Most synthetic carpets have some degree of stain resistance—name-brand nylon carpeting generally has excellent stain resistance. In addition, any carpet that has been treated with a stain-resistance treatment such as ScotchGard™ will do a good job of rejecting stains.
Whenever a spill occurs on carpeting, the key is to try and remove it as quickly as possible. Results are always best before the stain gets a chance to dry.
Sponging water over the affected area will help dilute the stain, but be careful not to spread the stain.
1 Immediately following a spill, remove any semi-solid material with a spoon and place a clean, white absorbent material such as paper towels, a kitchen towel, or a sponge over the spot and press to draw the liquid away from the carpet fibers.
The idea is to blot, not scrub.
Scrubbing will spread the stain and drive it deeper into the material you’re trying to clean. As soon as the absorbent materials are wet, replace them with dry ones and weight them down with a heavy object. Replace them when they grow wet.
2 Apply a carpet cleaner directly to the stain. Ideally, you would first apply it to a small test spot in a less conspicuous part of the stain and leave on for 10 seconds. This will assure you if the cleaner is safe for your carpet.
3 You may need to treat the area more than once if it is an especially stubborn stain; some stains will never completely come out.
4 When the carpet is clean and has had a chance to dry, gently brush it to restore the carpet pile.
If the odors are from a pet that still lives in the house, trying to eliminate odors is probably a waste of time and money; most pets will continue to revisit their favorite spots. Ridding carpets of odors from pet urine is expensive, time consuming, and not always effective. Nevertheless, try the following:
1 At a pet store, buy a liquid enzyme-based odor remover and ask to rent a black light.
2 Go over the carpet and through the room with the black light to locate every trace of urine, which should show up under the light. Circle the areas with chalk.
3 Saturate the marked areas with the enzyme, following label directions. Allow to dry completely, for several days.
4 If necessary, have the carpet professionally cleaned.
If necessary, continue with the following steps:
5 Call a carpet installer and have the carpet and pad removed; dispose of the pad and order a new one..
6 Seal the subfloor with a stain blocker, such as KILZ.
7Have a new pad and the carpet reinstalled.
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Eventually every carpet needs some type of cleaning to remove soil that sticks to the fibers. How often depends on the amount of use the carpet gets; some areas will need cleaning before others.
Basic methods are dry absorbent powder, foam, shampooing, and hot water extraction. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Costs in dollars, time, and energy vary, as do the skills needed to do a good job. For environmentally friendly carpet cleaning, please see Eco-Friendly (Green) Carpet Cleaning.
Always vacuum thoroughly before starting any cleaning method. Following are some general precautions for all methods:
• Pretest on inconspicuous area first.
• Protect the carpet from rust stains by putting aluminum foil, wax paper, or plastic wrap under furniture legs until the carpet is dry.
• Follow the cleaner and equipment instructions as directed.
• Do not over-wet the carpet. Excessive moisture can cause shrinkage, streaks, or mildew.
• Keep mechanical action to a minimum to avoid carpet damage or streaks.
Though hot water extraction is called “steam cleaning.” steam isn’t actually used in the process. This process involves spraying a mixture of hot water and detergent onto the carpet under pressure, and then immediately extracting the solution with a special vacuum. The result dislodges and releases dirt and soil.
Extraction is an excellent way to clean carpeting that’s heavily soiled, and it’s easy to measure how clean the carpet is by viewing the solution in the machine. The carpet typically dries more quickly than it does when shampooed.
On the downside, the equipment is heavy and bulky to handle, and the process is more expensive than shampooing. You have to be careful not to saturate the carpet.
Candles make for beautiful, soft indoor lighting. However, the by-product of burning candles is an excess of liquid wax.
When wax pools on many hard surfaces, it can be easily removed. However, when it gets onto a fabric surface such as carpeting, it presents a much greater challenge.
To remove wax from carpeting (as well as tablecloths and upholstery), you’ll need a household iron, paper towels, home dry-cleaning solvent, and a mild detergent.
First, lay a dry, absorbent paper towel across the wax stain. Then, press a medium-heated iron lightly against the surface. This will re-melt the wax, which will then get absorbed by the paper towel. Make sure not to leave the iron in one place for long, as it can burn the carpet beneath the paper towel without you seeing it.
If the surface still shows signs of wax residue after this procedure has been repeated a few times, try taking a small amount of home dry-cleaning solvent and applying it with a slightly damp sponge or cloth. Blot the affected area, using as little of the solvent as possible so as not to damage the carpet backing.
You can also try mixing a mild detergent with a small amount of warm water and blotting the affected area with a cloth or sponge. Make sure the detergent contains no bleach or alkalides, as this will damage the carpet.
For more about handling specific carpet issues, please see: