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Spotting Guide

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Spilled plate of food on carpet

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Category: Carpet Care Tips

Spotting Guide

Accidents do happen, and when they do the best defense is to be prepared. Know how to handle spots before they happen. In the time frame of this message it will not be possible to cover all of the many substances that can be dropped on your carpet and how to get each one out. So we will cover the principles of effective spot removal.

Now, how to get that spot out!!

Identify what caused the spot

If you don’t know yourself, ask others in the house. Knowing exactly what made the spot can make removal much faster, with a greater chance of success and with less chance of damage to your carpet.
Even, geometric spots such as circles, squares and even triangles may be stains from furniture legs. These are very difficult to remove and should be handled by a professional company.
If the spot is sticky or stiff, this is a good indication that removal is possible.
If the spot is lighter in color this is not a good sign as it may indicate that there is a color loss instead of just a spot. If this is the case, a professional company that is thoroughly familiar with spot dyeing carpet, like ourselves, is a must.

2. At this point it may be good to know the difference between a spot and a stain. A spot is any foreign substance that adds texture to a fiber. A stain is anything that adds to or deletes the color of a fiber. Obviously, stains are not easily removed and usually permanent, whereas spots are more readily cleaned up.

3. If the spill is fresh, blot up as much as possible with an absorbent paper or cotton towel. (if the spill is thick, use a spoon to remove as much as possible by scraping toward the center and scooping up).

4. If the spill is dried, spray a small amount of cool water or carbonated water on the spot and work it in with a spoon to attempt to re-liquify it and then start the blotting process.

5. Use a fresh area of the towel or new paper towel and stand on it to blot. Repeat this procedure until no more residue from the spill transfers to the towel.

6. If there is anything left after these steps, determine the solution that you will use to attack the spot.

For oil based spots like greasy foods, grease, oil, tar, butter, use a custodians choice dry cleaning solvent. These can be purchased at most large grocery stores.
For water based spots which are most soft drinks, and food spots that have sugar or starch in them, use a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of dish washing soap, 1/3 cup of vinegar, to 2/3 cup of warm, not hot, water.
For blood, egg, milk, chocolate and other protein based spills, use a mixture of 1 cup of cool water, with 1/2 teaspoon of household ammonia, and 2 drops of mild dishwashing detergent.
If the spill is unknown, start with the dry cleaning solution first. If it does not respond, blot thoroughly. then try the water based solution. If that doesn’t work, rinse, blot, and try the third or protein solution.

7. Before applying any solution to your carpet, test in an inconspicuous area, such as inside a closet. If discoloration occurs, do not use.

8. Apply the solution to the spot using a spoon to work the solution into the center of the spot from the outside edge. Do not rub too hard or fast as this could permanently distort the carpet fibers and damage them. Never use a brush for the same reason.

9. Blot with towel, repeat until there is no more residue transferring to the towel.

10. It is always good to spray on a little cool water to rinse out any cleaning solution and blot it up too. You may wish to lay 1/2 inch of paper towels or a cotton towel folded several times on the area that you treated and put a heavy weight of about 5 to 10 pounds on it overnight. This reduces the chance of any residue resurfacing later. Putting a fan on the area can also help.

12. If there is some color remaining, it may be necessary to call in a professional carpet cleaner who can use more specific and more potent products to attempt removal.