Spot Cleaning
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Your Common Area Floors – A Game Plan To Maintain

Frequently we get asked what is the difference between the different carpet cleaning approaches, and what’s the point. muddy footprints2So we’ve written up a quick description.

By implementing a routine carpet maintenance program, you can preserve and maintain your carpets life for a much longer time. They are also critical for maintaining a carpet’s warrantee. Failure to maintain a proper cleaning schedule will result in a strata undertaking a costly replacement of a carpet more frequently. That could mean 15$ a square foot every ten to fifteen years, compared to the average cost of a carpet cleaning program it’s between $1,800.00 and $2,300.00 annually.

The key issue is dirt and other small particulates. They act like microscopic sandpaper that abrades fibers and deteriorates their appearance. Removing them regularly reduces the wear and tear on the floor. There are two approaches. The first is daily vacuuming, which is the most critical approach to keeping a carpet healthy: the less time particulates remain on the carpet, the less damage they can do. That is the focus of a janitorial program. Regular interim cleaning using a deep pile cleaner like a whittaker or a dry extraction to remove contaminants that normal vacuuming cannot remove on their own.

These three approaches can greatly reduce the need for a full restorative clean. That’s where a carpet’s appearance has deteriorated to the point where an extensive cleaning is required to bring it back to an acceptable state. Restorative cleans, are typically not able to return a carpet to its original state. However a regular maintenance program can greatly increase the interval of time between such cleanings, which will result in the carpet retaining its appearance for a much long time. This is why getting your floors onto a program that is carefully planned and on schedule is essential for its long-term health.

An effective maintenance program consists of five key elements:

    •  Preventative Maintenance – basically a way to contain soil and other contaminants before they reach carpets. The primary approach here is mats at entrances and high traffic areas, which trap them before the spread to vulnerable areas. IT can also include other treatments like surface coatings on hard surface floors.
    • Vacuuming – daily cleaning is the primary approach to keeping your carpets healthy. It removes most of the deposited particulate matter on floors, which prevents damage.
    • Spot mark removal – These are typically unique events with unique chemistry. Many need a response within 48 hours otherwise they will leave a permanent stain.
    • Interim Cleaning – This can include deep carpet pile cleaning, or a extraction clean. These can be accomplished every few months.
    •  Restorative Cleaning – this usually entails a deep hot water extraction that removes deeply trapped soils and normally insoluble materials.

Spot Cleaning Product Selection

What To Look Out For

Everyone says their cleaning product is the best.  But how do you know what to really use for spot cleaning your carpet? With so many products out there, what should you look for to ensure that you’re using what you should for your carpet.

ServiceMaster Clean Residential product lines are developed by the R&D departments of a $5billion per year company to ensure they meet all necessary standards and requirements for excellence.  That’s how our green line or products was born.  However, you may not have that type of backing when selecting a cleaning agent from the local store.   Here’s what to look for, and a simple residue test if you need a quick solution and you don’t have time to call in the professionals at ServiceMaster Clean.

“WARNING! Do not use chlorinated cleaning solutions, quaternary solutions, petroleum

distillates, solvent-based cleaners, or citrus cleaning solutions.”

– Lees Carpet Manufacturing guide.

Here’s what to watch out for:

PH LEVEL: When selecting a cleaning agent, avoid products with pH levels over 9.5

Avoid – Toxicity: non-toxic, and inflammable solvents.

Avoid – Optical Brighteners:  They can adversely affect the coloration of carpet and lead to premature yellowing and aging.

Avoid – Sticky Residue:  Do not use a product on your carpet which will leave behind a sticky residue.  This will lead to rapid resoiling and the need for more frequent cleanings.

Sticky Residue Test

To test a solution to ensure that it does not leave a sticky residue, you can perform the following simple test:

  • Pour a small amount of the cleaning solution into a clean glass dish.
  • Let the dish stand uncovered to air dry, until all liquid has evaporated
  • Break up any hard residue left on the bottom of the glass dish.  If it is powdery, dry flakes, or dry crystals, this is an acceptable solution, as this can be vaccuumed out of the carpet fiber
  • If it is oily, greasy, sticky, or waxy the solution is not acceptable as this will stick to the carpet fiber and contribute to rapid resoiling

Spot Cleaning – Identify and Cleaning Agent Selection

Previously in e-tips blog article we looked at the first step in protecting your carpets: entrance mats and vacuuming.   The second step in any program involves spot cleaning.

Spot cleaning should be as often as possible by you, or in a strata’s case, staff onsite   The goal is to remove whatever discoloring material adheres to the outside of the carpet fibres causing a visible spot – without harming the fabric of the carpet.

Before we get into how to remove spots from carpet, let’s first look at what you may find.

Types of Spots – Identification Leads to Eradication

Water Soluble:  Most spots are water soluble and will respond to water based cleaning solutions.  This is why you find a wide variety of water based cleaning solutions.

Non-Water Soluble: Most non-water soluble sots consist of oils, greases and pigments, etc.  Some of these can be converted to water soluble form enabling water based solutions to be used.

Non-Soluble: These cannot be dissolved with either wet or dry solvents.  (example, wax.)

Combination Spots:  Some spots are caused by substances that have both water solube and non-water soluble characteristics.   These spots require treatment of both water based and non-water based cleaners.

Chemical Spots: These are spots that must be first chemically reacted before using water based or non-water based solvents.  Examples: rust, medicines, urine, acids, alkalis, etc.

Surface Spots: The spotting material is present on the fibers or between the fibers.  Examples are grease, gum, glue.

Absorbed Spots: The spotting material is present in the fibers.  Penetration of the fibers has taken place.  Examples: coffee, ink, urine.

Compound Spots: The spot is present on and in the fibers.  Examples: paint, shoe polish, lipstick.

Destructive Stains: The staining material has altered the nature of the fibers.  Most destructive stains cannot be removed.  Examples: acids, bleaches, burns.

Dye Stains: This occurs when acid dyes are spilled onto carpet.  They are actually dyes that replace the former color of the fiber.

Dye Loss: If a stain is lighter than the color of th carpet, some dye loss has occurred which means that cleaning will not solve the problem.   Re-coloring is the best solution.

First identify what you’re dealing with, and then you can use the appropriate product to try and remove the spot.  Some, like destructive stains or dye stains may not be able to be removed.  For those that can, read below.

Spot Removal Guide

Source: the Carpet Maintenance Spec Guide, from Interfaceflor.

The chart below is a guideline for spot removal. Follow each step in order, proceeding to the next step only if the previous step failed to remove the stain. The use of a portable extractor with water is highly recommended for a first attempt at spot removal and can be used after each step to flush solution. For unknown spots use water first, and then try a dry cleaning solvent, followed by detergent solution.

Spotting Solutions

1. Detergent Solution – Mix 1/4 teaspoon colorless mild detergent in 1 cup water.

2. Ammonia Solution – Mix 1 tablespoon clear household ammonia in ½ cup water.

3. Vinegar Solution – Mix 1/3 cup white household vinegar in 2/3 cup water.

4. Dry Cleaning Solvent – Apply isopropyl alcohol (standard rubbing alcohol) to clean cloth and blot. DO NOT apply directly on carpet.

5. Scrape away as much as possible with a spoon or dull knife. Then use product in the next step to further address the stain.

The chart below shows you which solutions to try based on what is causing the spot or stain.

Spot/Stain

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

Beer

1

3

Blood

1

2

Butter or Margarine

4

1

Candle Wax

5,

then lay a towel or paper bag over top remaining wax, and iron it on medium heat, heating the wax and transferring to towel.

Chewing Gum

Harden gum with ice until brittle,

5

4 or use a commercial chewing gum remover

Chocolate

5

1

2

Cocktails

1

3

Coffee

1

3

Cough Syrup

1

2

Crayons

5

4

Egg (raw)

Blot

4

2

Food Coloring

1, until color no longer transfers to towel

2

Fruit Juice

1

2

Furniture Stain

4

Glue

1

4

Gravy

1

2

Greases

5

4

Ice Cream

1

2

Ink (ballpoint)

4

Ink (India)

4

Jam or Jelly

1

2

Ketchup or Tomato Sauce

1

2

Lipstick

5

2

Mildew

1

2

Milk

1

2

Mucilage

1

2

Mud

5

1

2

Mustard

1

3

Nail Polish

4

Apply amyl acetate or nail polish remover to cloth and blot.  PRETEST FIRST

Oils

4

Paint (oil based)

4

Paint (water based)

1

Rubber Cement

Roll the glue off when it has hardened sufficiently

4

Rust

Apply rust remover or warm oxalic acid solution for 10 – 15 minutes

2

Shoe Polish

4

Soft Drinks

1

2

Soot

1

4

Tar & Asphalt

5

4

Toothpaste

5

3

Urine

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

3

Vomit

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

2

Wine

1

3

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Spot/Stain

First Attempt

Second Attempt

Third Attempt

Beer

1

3

Blood

1

2

Butter or Margarine

4

1

Candle Wax

5,

then lay a towel or paper bag over top remaining wax, and iron it on medium heat, heating the wax and transferring to towel.

Chewing Gum

Harden gum with ice until brittle,

5

4 or use a commercial chewing gum remover

Chocolate

5

1

2

Cocktails

1

3

Coffee

1

3

Cough Syrup

1

2

Crayons

5

4

Egg (raw)

Blot

4

2

Food Coloring

1, until color no longer transfers to towel

2

Fruit Juice

1

2

Furniture Stain

4

Glue

1

4

Gravy

1

2

Greases

5

4

Ice Cream

1

2

Ink (ballpoint)

4

Ink (India)

4

Jam or Jelly

1

2

Ketchup or Tomato Sauce

1

2

Lipstick

5

2

Mildew

1

2

Milk

1

2

Mucilage

1

2

Mud

5

1

2

Mustard

1

3

Nail Polish

4

Apply amyl acetate or nail polish remover to cloth and blot.  PRETEST FIRST

Oils

4

Paint (oil based)

4

Paint (water based)

1

Rubber Cement

Roll the glue off when it has hardened sufficiently

4

Rust

Apply rust remover or warm oxalic acid solution for 10 – 15 minutes

2

Shoe Polish

4

Soft Drinks

1

2

Soot

1

4

Tar & Asphalt

5

4

Toothpaste

5

3

Urine

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

3

Vomit

Blot as much as possible if still wet

1

2

Wine

1

3

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