carpet cleaning tricks
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Spot Removal Technique

Daily removal of spots and spills helps maintain the carpet’s appearance between scheduled cleanings. Immediate action against spots and spills also reduces the probability of a permanent stain. It is important to use solutions that are appropriate for the specific type of spot or spill – water based, oil based, or solid, including gum. Use spotting solutions sparingly and always try to remove the spot with water only before using a spotting solution. If available, using a portable extractor will significantly improve the ability to remove spots.

Treating Water-Based Spots

For liquid spills, blot up as much of the liquid as possible with a clean white cloth. If the spill is semi-solid or has hardened, scrape it with a spoon or spatula and then blot the spot with a white cloth or damp sponge. Always work from the edge of the spot towards the center. Never rub across a wet spill in a manner that causes the stain or contamination to be spread from the original area.  If a spot remains after using water, refer to our spotting guide and choose the appropriate solution.  Apply a minimal amount of solution and use a hand brush to gently agitate the solution. Do not aggressively brush the spot. Rinse with water and allow the area to dry for about 1 hour and then vacuum. Repeat if necessary. Protect the freshly cleaned area until the carpet is completely dry.

Treating Oil-Based Spots

When removing oily stains such as paint, grease, tar or asphalt, always check for color fastness by applying your cleaning solution to an inconspicuous area of the carpet. Spray or pour the solvent onto a white cloth and press it onto the carpet. Check the cloth for any evidence of dye transfer to the cloth. If color transfer is evident, do not use the solution. If color fastness is not a problem, apply your solution sparingly to a clean white cloth and press the cloth onto the spot.  Again, do not rub across the stain; wipe gently from the outer edge toward the center of the spot.  Repeat the procedure until the spot has been removed. Rinse with water and allow the area to dry or about 1 hour and then vacuum. Protect the freshly cleaned area until the carpet is completely dry.


Source: the Carpet Maintenance Spec Guide, from Interfaceflor.

3 Common Misconceptions About Carpet Cleanin

Here are three of the most common questions we get from building managers in regards to carpet cleaning.  We’re busting the myths – or misconceptions – in order to help everyone better understand what they should expect from a properly run maintenance program.

#1.  Maintenance cleaning should take as long as the hot water extraction cleaning.


The primary part of this type of cleaning comes from the rotary agitation of the interim cleaning machine.  (1 of the 4 elements as described in the first article above, and more about the type of machine listed in the article directly above.)  Because the machine spins so quickly, it uses the element of agitation primarily and can be pushed more swiftly across the carpet, this method is much faster than hot water extraction cleaning.   Time does not need to be taken to ensure water is extracted from the carpet.

A properly trained technician can get excellent results for the interim maintenance cleaning in half the time as the restorative, hot water extraction cleaning.

#2.  We only need to do the hot water extraction 1x per year for the carpets to stay clean.  We can skip the interim cleaning methods.


Every carpet manufacturer will explain that this voids the warranty of their product.

Carpet is not capable of having an extended lifespan with only vacuuming and once per year hot water extraction carpet cleaning.  All manufacturers’ recommendations include interim maintenance methods combined with the hot water extraction, often described as a restorative clean.  Only cleaning with hot water once per year is neglecting the carpets, and will cut its lifespan in half.  By waiting for a year to see heavily soiled carpet, and then attempting to bring it ‘back to life’, you’ve waited to long.  Permanent damage is done, and the more this neglectful method is used, the more cumulative those effects become.   By using a certified professional company like ServiceMaster Residential, your history of carpet maintenance works in your favor if replacement due to manufacturers’ defect is ever in question.

#3.   I don’t have to vacuum the carpet today, the carpet cleaners are coming, and that will take care of it.


According to industry analysis, 74% – 80% of soil present in carpet is particulate or fibrous dry soil, and that 85% of soil can be removed through routine vacuuming.

79% – insoluble soils, sand, quartz, clay, carbon

10% – petroleum, oils, grease, tar, animal and vegetable oil

6% – sugar, starch, salts

5% – moisture, unknown residues

If that particulate is left in the carpet before a rotary maintenance clean or hot water extraction, the cleaning of deeply embedded soil is blocked by those soils which could have been easily removed.  It also can clog up the vacuuming part of the hot water extraction system, making it less effective, and lengthening drying times.  Vacuuming before the experts arrive for a carpet cleaning service always increases the effectiveness of the service visit.

Reoccuring Spots – Wicking Explained

I’ve visited  strata buildings and homes and spoken with frustrated managers or owners regarding unusually stubborn spots and stains.   The spots seem better or to even have disappeared when the carpet is freshly cleaned, then reappear a day or so later.  Here is some information regarding why that can happen, and what to do about it when it does.

The first step: don’t panic.

The second step: call ServiceMaster Residential (604-435-1135).  We’ll take care of it –  if it can be taken care of.

Here’s what we’re dealing with.

Spots may reappear on carpet for several reasons.  The most immediate reason involves a process called wicking.   Soil wicking can be caused by a heavy accumulation of residue at the base of the carpet yarns.  As the carpet dries, the soil hidden at the base of the fibers is drawn back upward toward the surface.  In this case the best way to combat the stain is:

  1. Extra vacuuming in the area before hand to remove as much of that soil as possible
  2. After steam cleaning, make extra drying passes over the stain with carpet cleaning wand, or through use of a post bonnet clean
  3. Use a weighted towel or other absorbent material to collect the residue as it wicks to the surface.

This can also be an issue if whatever soil was embedded in the carpet, soaked through the fibers and into the backing or underlay.  The surface may appear clean after the servicing, but that residual soil which can’t be attacked from above may wick its way back up afterward as the carpet dries.  Repeat attacking of the stain is necessary in this case.

Other approaches may be necessary as well.  Our technicians may need to identify what type of soil has become embedded in the carpet.  Then the appropriate spotting agents can be utilized.  It is advised not to use bleaches or strong chemicals on site if the soil hasn’t been identified – this can bleach the carpet fibers, or, if the wrong PH level product is used, further adhere the soil to the fibers, making it a permanent stain.

The other unfortunate issue may be uncorrectable: it isn’t really a stain.  In the past few months I’ve seen the following uncorrectable issues, some of which could have been avoided:

  • Tenant cut the carpet fibers to remove a wax spill.  The resulting divot in the carpet disrupts the reflection of light, making a small shadowy patch that appears to be a stain
  • Burned carpet fibers.  Did someone drop a cigarette inside?
  • Lighter spots.  Bleaching of carpet fibers.  A tenant used a ‘mystery cleaning agent’ in an attempt to remove the stain.  When the carpet was cleaned, the water reacted to the residue of the ‘mystery cleaning agent’, activating bleaching agents.  As the carpet dried, light scrubbing spots appeared.

So, in conclusion, if a stain on your carpet seems to disappear when your carpet is professionally cleaned, then reappears, call our office.  We can always identify the problem.   We are often able to combat the stain and correct the situation.

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