Carpets can be easy to maintain on a weekly basis, but stains and deep cleanings can often present a challenge. The best time to treat a stain is as soon as possible before it has a chance to soak into the carpet. Of course, sometimes this isn't possible—perhaps you arrive home and find that your pet had an accident while you were out, or you discover a spill long after the party guests have left. Don't be dismayed; while it may be a bit more difficult to treat a stain that is not fresh, it is still possible to remove it.
So what should you do if you have a spill or stain on your carpets?
You may not think of your red wine as a dye, but it’s full of anthocyanins, which are common natural dyes for textiles. Even worse, when you find them in wine, they’re dissolved in alcohol and water, making your glass’s contents the perfect cocktail to ruin any cloth they touch.
When possible, use a surfactant to remove the stain on the surface. That may not be enough, so also apply an oxidizer to knock out the chromophores. For example, you might start with dish soap and follow it up with hydrogen peroxide.
Honey and other sweeteners
Syrups like these mostly consist of sugars, which love water. A little H2O should pull them out. In most cases, you can just scrape off the goo and then dab at the stain with cold water. If a mark remains, try a light surfactant as well.
Just as coffee left to cool will change in taste and consistency, so will a coffee stain. If you get a drop of coffee on your shirt, then blot it up, turn the cloth around, and run cold water through the back of the stain. This turns your clothes into a sort of reverse filter, pulling the coffee out of the material.
If the stain has dried, at this point, all you’re really dealing with is the chromophores. So do what the coffee professionals do: Grab some sodium percarbonate. At high concentrations, this substance cleans out industrial-grade coffee machines, so a solution of ¼ cup sodium percarbonate to 2 cups water should easily destroy your stain.
Tomato sauce and ketchup
With tomato stains, time is of the essence. Ripe tomatoes get their red color from tannins, which are also used as dyes. They have enough sticking power to stain plastic. So the second the sauce hits the linen, rug, or other material, apply cold water. If you didn’t notice that stray ketchup squirt right away, older stains can still benefit from treatment with warm water and an enzymatic cleaner.
Blood and other biological materials
Anybody who lives with a baby animal (including baby humans) quickly becomes familiar with the many fluids and semi-solids that escape our bodies—and the seemingly-permanent marks they leave on everything. The good news is, if the stain is fresh, water will likely erase most of it, once you clear away the offending matter. Any leftover traces should quickly yield to enzymes.
You may want to use the enzymes a few times, and then use a solvent like rubbing alcohol to clean whatever’s left. If you’re concerned about applying a solvent to a delicate item, use a weaker solution available at drugstores, or dilute your rubbing alcohol with one part water to one part alcohol.
Chocolate is a one-two punch. It’s both oily, so you’ll need a surfactant, and organic, since the sweet treat includes vegetable oil (such as cocoa butter) and various cocoa solids.
That means for best results, start with soap and then follow up with an enzymatic cleaner. Use plenty of cold water. Once you’ve pretreated a chocolate stain, this is one of the rare occasions where you should rub the mark to loosen it.
To capture this hydrophobic substance, you’ll need a surfactant like dish soap. Apply a small dab to the area, wet it, gently rub it in, and wash it out.
For really tough grease stains, look for industrial soaps. They use the same action, but have stronger pull. However, for delicate garments that aren’t colorfast—that is, where the dye hasn’t fully permeated the fibers—industrial soap may strip dye as well as grease out of your carpet.
Grass is a bit tougher than other biological stains, because, much like red wine, it’s a fairly effective dye—especially on light-colored carpet. Start with an enzymatic cleaner, preferably one specifically designed to tackle these kinds of stains. If there’s some stain left over, or enzymatic cleaners don’t meet the bill, try an acid, such as diluted vinegar, to pull the stain out of the fabric.
However, before you apply any vinegar, put a small amount on a clean area of the garment that people won’t see, wait for a few minutes, and then wash it out. This will tell you whether the vinegar reacts. If it damages the material, then you may want to consult with a carpet cleaner instead of tackling the stain on your own.
Mud will require everything in your toolkit, because dirt contains a mix of everything. First, dry out the mud completely and brush off as much as you can. Then hit it with a surfactant and some cold water. After that, if the fabric can take vinegar, apply some of the acid to eat away at other parts of the mud. Anything left will succumb to enzymes. We also recommend using psychology: Make whoever is responsible for the mud stains do all this; it’s a superb way to stop those stains before they start.
These are just the most common stains, of course, but what’s most important is the toolkit. Once you understand both how the stain works, and how different cleaners clear it away, the battle against contaminants is (almost) won.
Toner and ink
Since ink is supposed to be permanent, you need to resort to solvents for this type of stain. (This is why your parents run for the hairspray; it used to be loaded with alcohol, although you won’t find that solvent in most modern formulas.) To lift it out, you need to bust out a rag and some alcohol. Soak a sturdy cloth rag that you won’t mind ruining in the solvent; as the ink dissolves, it’ll transfer to the rag. After you’ve dabbed the stain a few times, try applying an oxidizer to take the color out of what’s left.
If you need a professional help in getting you carpet clean, Minneapolis Cleaning Services Company can help you out with that. They are one of the most reputable cleaning companies that make your home absolutely clean.