carpet stains
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Professional Carpet Cleaner, or, Just the Janitor?

Why would a building allow an uncertified Janitor to clean the common hallway carpets?

The only reason we can think of is they see them every day (ease of access) , “Bob” the janitor is probably a nice guy, and the strata hopes to save some money.

Do you really want “Bob” to maintain the common area carpets and be responsible for protecting this investment?

Let’s say its costs 10 per sq. ft. to remove and replace common area carpet. So a typical building is 6,000 sq. ft. so roughly it would be between 60K and 80k to replace the carpet (not pocket change).


Ask Yourself – Why wouldn’t you have a firm who:

  1. Has certified techs (Clean Trust/ IICRC)
  2. Career professional (This is all they do, clean common area carpet. Well, they do have hobbies
  3. Meet warranty specifications
  4. Tech’s who know their chemistry
  5. Has a plan, isn’t reacting to seeing dirty carpet which is often too late and wear damage has occurred
  6. Has liability insurance 5 Million (People do slip and fall and sue)
  7. Has WCB coverage for carpet cleaning no janitorial. (Tech’s can hurt their backs)
  8. Has great equipment, each van costs upward of 50K to set up
  9. Has great customer service team, 25 + years of business
  10. We are proven to increase the life span of the carpet

So if are considering having “Bob” clean the carpets to save some money please consider the above.

The best thing a building can do is have Bob vacuum the carpets with a great vacuum on a consistent schedule removing 90 % of the dry soil and let the experts remove the 10 % left the sticky soil (carpet talk).

A typical quarterly maintenance program for this building would cost 2k annually, which is a very small item in a strata’s budget. And replacing the carpet in 6 years instead of 12 (which happens or they just live with dirty worn out carpet) from a financial point of view and liability point of view clearly doesn’t make sense.

David Benoit

General Manager

ServiceMaster Residential For Vancouver


Carpet Issue Identification: Colour Loss in Carpet Fibers, or “Goop” Explained

Recently we’ve heard customer concerns about lighter spots on the carpet that have appeared after cleaning. People are puzzled; what causes this phenomenon? Is there a cleaning product that bleaches the carpet fibers? Why does this happen? How is it possible? Is the carpet cleaner to blame, after all, this has appeared after the recent carpet cleaning service?

There is a very simple explanation, and it has to do with prevention, not products or methods used in professional carpet cleaning.

It has to do with, to define a phrase for the rest of this article, “goop”.

Goop – as it shall be known for the rest of this blog post, is a combination of 2 things.

The first component of good is usually liquid and most often comprised of common laundry soap with bleach added, bleach, nail polish remover, acne treatment pads or gels, etc.  What each and any of these goop components have in common is a bleaching agent, whitening agent, or an extreme PH component which can literally suck the colour off a carpet – or, strip the dye from carpet fibers.   This first part of goop finds its way onto carpet through a variety of means as well: dripped from garbage bags, dripped from laundry soap canisters after the lid has been put back on and a bit has seeped out,  spilled on the floor when the groceries are brought back home, etc.

The second component of good is plain old dirt.  It is made up of particles of all kinds of soil which are tracked into the building on the bottoms of your feet, your pets’ feet, bags and carts rolled down the hall, etc.  The important thing to realize is that the second part of the goop, the dirt, adheres and hides the first part.

Then, you have goop; a sticky liquid covered in dirt that looks like a dark spot on the carpet.  An example found outside the home would be gum on the sidewalk that now looks black instead of pink.

Enter the carpet cleaners.  They do a great, professional job, and remove the dirt and the blotches of goop.  However, in the time between that dollop of goop being formed and developing a crusty outer layer like the shell of a crab, the bleaching agents have been busy working away on the carpet fibers.  So, remove the goop, and what do you have?  A spot on the carpet that is lighter in color than the surrounding carpet.  Why?  Well, goop.  Those chemical ingredients and bleaching agents have been sitting there for days, weeks and often months doing what they were designed to do in the lab: bleach.

However, you don’t see this until the carpets are cleaned.  Once the dirty top layer of goop is removed, the liquid and chemical sucked out, and the clean carpet is revealed – only then do you see an odd white or yellow patch on the carpet.  Funny, you might ask yourself.  The carpet cleaners were just here.  Did they spill some soap on the carpet?

Answer: No.  Our cleaning agents are developed and tested specifically NOT to remove dye from carpet fibers.  If they did that, then the whole carpet would be bleached out, the company would have been sued a million times, and we would have had to shut our doors decades ago.  Unfortunately, these goop spots don’t get noticed until after the carpets are cleaned, because until then they just look like dark dirty spots and stains.


-Be vigilant.  Sticky spills should be cleaned properly right away, minimizing the time bleaching agents have in contact with carpet

-Encourage tenants not to use laundry soaps with bleaching agents, or to be careful with those containers when in the hallway

-Encourage double bagging of garbage bags to reduce drips on carpet.

-Frequent spot cleaning.  A routine of spot removal by janitorial staff or a building manager will aid in eliminating the problem, as it lessens the time agents with bleaching properties have to spend sitting on and damaging the carpet.

And last but not least – tenant spill clean up.  This is another thing that can lead to bleached out spots or smeary trails on the carpet; instruct and educate residents not to use household cleaners with bleach to clean up spills.  Often times a pet will ‘make a deposit’ on the hallway carpet, or a coffee is spilled, etc.  A well meaning and good intentioned resident can grab some soap spray or even straight bleach (we’ve seen it when a resident wanted to ensure the bacteria left by a ‘doggie deposit’ was cleaned up and killed) to clean up the mess.  Don’t use products with bleaching agents on carpets, ever.  And be sure to remind others that live in the strata not to do so either when cleaning up a spill in a shared space.

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.

Filtration Marks – What Are They?

Filtration marks occur where a gap under the carpet exists allowing air to pass through.   This air flow allows the carpet to act like a filter, trapping and accumulating oily, non-soluble airbourne particulates – cooking oils, smoke, vehicle exhaust, dust, etc.

Air flows down walls through cracks in concrete flooring, and crevices, joints in the wood flooring, etc as the building breathes.  The more movement of the air there is, the more this occurs.   Look for filtration marks in areas with electric baseboard heating, ceiling heat, wood or pellet stoves, HVAC with no air return vent, etc.  In any well sealed structure return air must come from somewhere as a vacuum is formed when air is forced out or around a space.   This results in the air being drawn through cracks and crevices – sucked in under and around doorways, gaps in the carpet as we mentioned above.

What to do about it?: an alternate source of air return must be made.  This can include installing an air vent, or leaving a window slightly open so that air can be drawn in from outside rather than sucked in wherever possible.

In buildings with HVAC in the hallways, no vents, or windows to open: install carpet with dark edges near the walls.  White carpet or light colored carpet will make this issue highly visible.

Cleaning filtration marks will require several steps.

1)       Vacuuming to remove loose soil.  This needs to be accomplished with an edging wand as normal vacuum attachments won’t get close enough to the wall.  Infrequent vacuuming with an edging tool can lend to the development of filtration marks in buildings prone to this problem.  Edging must be a frequent part of the vacuuming maintenance process.

2)      Several applications of pre-spray and hand agitation may be necessary to loosen the non-soluble materials.  The chemicals will need to be worked into the fibers of the carpet to loosen the bonds along the length of the fibers in order to improve the appearance when finished.  Thoroughly shampoo and extract the area.

3)      Repeat.

This will be a lengthy process, involving a lot of kneeling and hand scrubbing, using edging tools and working the carpet.  The appearance will likely be improved, but is likely to remain discolored.

Note: in my personal experience, this will lighten the markings by aprox. 50 – 80%.  The longer they are present the more permanent they become.

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