Carpet and fabric stains can be a bugger to address properly. There are several factors that determine the action that should be taken. I could talk for a full day about these actions,but I’m going to address some very basic things that determine how to address a stain. These few things will include: immediate action to take when stains happen, realistic expectations,types of stains and proper neutralization. I will address each one of these subjects individually below.
We have all had that instance where we drop something and it falls in slow motion.That glass of wine you were sneaking or ketchup from that burger you didn’t want people to know you snuck into your diet. There is nothing we can do, it’s happening and it’s going to leave a stain and EVERYONE will know! Your first action should never be a rigorous wipe. People tend to freak out and push that stain into the fabric and all over. If the stain had any solid material we want to try to gently remove that. Then blotting is what is suggested. If there are no cleaners in site we can blot very lightly and get the bulk of the stain gone. We will talk later about the proper cleaners for spot cleaning in just a bit.
Next let’s discuss realistic expectations. This is where the potential bad news can come into play. A stain is more than just a bit of different color or water shade on a surface. A stain is a chemical change in the surface itself. I could get really technical here,but I’m just going to attach an article on PH at the end of this paragraph. You see, every item dropped has a different PH rating. Milk, coffee, ketchup, mustard….they all have different ratings when it comes to the PH. Why is this important? It’s importance comes into play when we LEAVE that stain for a period of time. Have you ever noticed that a stain is easier to get up when you get it right away? That’s because it has not set in the fabric or carpet. When a stain is left for a period of time it will set into the carpet or fabric it is on. What this means is it has now become part of that fabric or carpet, it is no longer just a surface problem. When this happens, results are going to vary based on action taken. Using the wrong cleaner on a set stain will further set the stain. It may result in making it look better,but never actually remove it fully. This is why it is important to manage your expectations when it comes to stains. If it has been there for 3 months, it may be a permanent fixture. It is important to address stains and spills as swiftly as possible to remove them easily. Here is a nice read on PH when it comes to stains.
Types of stains can greatly change the direction a cleaner decides to go. They range from dyes to dirt. Protein stains can be some of the worst stains to leave for long periods. So, when you spill that coffee, clean it up ASAP. Coffee beans are a form of protein along with pet hair, food and even vomit contains proteins that will lock into the fibers of your fabrics. Other stains like actual dirt may be easy to remove,but if left for long periods of time will cause traffic lines. A traffic line forms because a surface was left dirty for too long. What happens is we grind that dirt into the carpet every time we step on it and it scratches the carpet. Remember, most carpets are made of a mix of plastics and other materials. They can scratch causing a darkened look on one side as opposed to the other. This effect is not repairable. The carpet will need to be replaced to remove traffic lines. Hopefully, we are learning at this point that the best practice is to address stains immediately. We make no promises at Dirty2Dreamy Detail Services if the stain has been there longer than a month. Can we get them out? Likely, yes. We are trained professionals and understand the PH scale very well,but we always heed warning that stains are best handled immediately or within the first few hours.
Now we talk a little technical. Proper neutralization of stains is the most important thing a professional does. When it comes to stains that have been there longer you will have to apply heat to get them to lift. This heat comes in two forms: chemical or physical heat. Chemical heat comes in several variations and strengths. Physical heat is generally in the form of steam. They are both very effective ways to “break” a stain. So, for instance, you spilled some coffee 5 months ago and randomly decide you are sick of seeing that stain. This is a protein based stain so it would need a tanin(protein) stain remover applied first. This is going to leave the carpet at a higher PH. A high PH acts like a magnet for further staining and dirt. Everytime that carpet gets wet it will draw more dirt to that specific area. This is where neutralizing becomes so important. We follow one chemical with another chemical to ensure we leave the carpet in a neutral place and keep the results lasting the long term. Now I know this is technical stuff so I made two videos that dumb this down pretty well so you can understand the idea. Check it out here.
Lastly, I want to talk about proper chemicals to use when addressing the stains immediately. It is always wise to consult a professional before proceeding,but a general rule of thumb is to use spotters. Stay away from cleaners that have protectants in them like Resolve. This may not get the stain out and then, on top of that, it will add protection. This will make the stain even harder to get out. Your spotters generally have a PH no higher than 9. This is important because it is close enough to 7(neutral) to not cause wicking back or stain draw. Folex is a great example of this. You can also use F-Bomb from American Detailer’s Garage. These are both nearly neutral and can help you address stains immediately. Remember, if we address the stain when it happens it will be the easiest to take care of. Never forget you can always reach out to myself, Jonathan Monson, with Dirty2Dreamy Detail Services and I will happily answer any questions you may have. No purchase necessary! If you found this article helpful, please share it with a friend!