If you’ve ever had the task of choosing a new carpet, you will know that it can be rather daunting. As a carpet cleaner, I can’t tell you the number of times somebody has been given bad carpet advice – whether this colour, fibre type, carpet construction etc. All to often customers are sold on the benefits of a particular carpet, but the sales person neglects to tell them the cons. The truth is there is no such thing as a perfect carpet. However, some choices are clearly better than others. As an example, if you are the landlord of home with relatively cheap rent, durability is going to be less of a concern than stainability and price. The chances are that you are going to be replacing this carpet, no matter what you get, well before it’s worn out. If you are a discerning customer, and want to avoid the marketing hype and sales jargon, Mighty Clean Carpet highly recommend having a look at The Carpet Buyers Handbook for unbiased information on carpet selection. Mighty Clean Carpet are always happy to give you our opinion on the cleaning side of things.
Unfortunately the word “chemical” has negative connotations – but think about it. Even water is a chemical, namely h2o. An aware carpet cleaner always tries to avoid the word chemical, but today we are going to talk about whether carpet can be cleaned with water alone.
I’m going to ask you a question. Have you ever tried washing the dishes with hot water alone? If you have, you’ll notice that everything still has a greasy film on it, including non-stick fry pans. Why? The reason is simple. Water and oil don’t mix. Even really hot water and oil don’t mix. We use a little detergent when washing dishes, as the detergent molecules interface between the water in the sink, and the grease and oil on the dishes. The detergent is what gives the cleaning it’s muscle.
So let’s talk about carpets. We clean carpets to get rid of foreign soil and matter. A carpet is vacuumed (or should be!) initially to remove fluff, sand, grit, hair and other non-soluble matter. What remains in a carpet after vacuuming consists of things like grease, fats, oil, starches, perspiration etc. Some of this is water soluble, but most of it is not. Like the dishes, we need some muscle to interface between the oily soiling, and the water we use to rinse. A good carpet cleaner will apply a carpet suitable detergent to a carpet, agitate the carpet to ensure the detergent comes into contact with the soiling, and then will rinse with water – leaving little to no residue behind.
So what about the SmartStrand IQ carpets. Can’t they be cleaned with just water? The answer is no. Although it is recommended that the consumer only use water, this recommendation is to avoid the potential issues that can be created by consumers when detergents are not adequately extracted from carpet. However, a professional carpet cleaner will always use detergents to clean a carpet.
For all your carpet cleaning, rug cleaning and upholstery cleaning needs in Penrith, the Blue Mountains and surrounding suburbs, call Phil from Mighty Clean Carpet.
Generally speaking, customers are not interested in the technical aspects of carpet cleaning until they have a problem. One of the most common problems I hear from customers is that they hired “XYZ Carpet Cleaning and Stain Blaster”, and yet the stain/s they were most concerned about didn’t budge.
So before get into the nitty gritty, let’s discuss a few things. Stains and soiling are not the same thing. Often they are used interchangeably by unscrupulous and/or un-educated carpet cleaners, but they are different. Stains are discolourations produced by foreign matter that has penetrated or chemically reacted with a carpet, and are not easily removed. Examples may include dyes from food colouring, paint, make-up, biro, ink, pet urine, texta. A dark spot on the carpet, made up of an accumulation of soiling is NOT a stain. It is a spot.
Carpet cleaning and stain removal are two different skills. What? Yep, you heard right. A carpet cleaning service should remove spots and improve the appearance of a carpet, although carpet cleaning is mostly about improving the health and hygiene of a carpet. Carpets are cleaned for the same reason we wash clothing. Washing clothing does not always remove stains.
Carpet stains will almost always fall into one of four categories.
1) Lubricating grease/oil base. An example would be lipstick. To remove the bulk of a grease/oil stain, we would generally use a solvent (although their are exceptions). Solvents dissolve petro-chemical based stains. Once the stain is dissolved, the solution can be extracted. Note that sometimes some of the pigment or dye may be left behind. More on this below.
2) Food and body oils/grease. An example would be butter, gravy, sweat, perspiration and many other food sources. These types of discolourations are really not stains, but spots, and are usually an indicator for most people that they need their carpets cleaned. Within reason, you should not be charged to have these treated – if you are, you need to find a more reputable operator. These are usually treated with a heavy concentration of detergent than the rest of the carpet, are then agitated and removed by either extraction or bonnet. Detergents come in various pH ranges, so it is important to make sure you are using an operator who understand how to identify your carpet’s fibre type. Wool for example, can be damaged by high or buffered alkalinity.
3) Dye stains – type 1. An example would be a blue iceblock or pet urine. Sometimes these can be removed with the CAREFUL and controlled use of oxidising agents. Many carpet cleaners are not even aware that such products exist, and of those that remain, precious few have a clue how to use them. Mighty Clean Carpet carry various oxidising agents, and can use thermal transfer procedures to remove many dye and pigment stains.
4) Dye stains – type 2. An example may be a red cordial or fanta stain. Some synthetic dyes simply won’t respond to oxidation. When oxidation fails, we may use a process which works in the opposite way to oxidation, and is called reduction. Often, a reducing agent will work where an oxidiser has failed.
Failing all of this, there are still some other options that may help deal with stains. When deciding on a carpet cleaner, you should raise any stain concerns you might have. If the carpet cleaner does not seem to have the technical know how to potential deal with the issue, you should probably choose another cleaner. If you are located in the region of Penrith, NSW and need an expert to attend to your carpets, please give me a call.
What can be done about pet stains, that is, pet urine stains, in carpet?
I get asked this quite frequently, and thought it was worth discussing the topic a little. Firstly, not all pet urine is the same. Pets, like humans, all have different diets. Some pets are on medication, and different pets such as dogs and cats, have differing digestion systems resulting in different urine chemistry.
My queries regarding pet urine are generally to do with odour or a visual stain or stains.
Pet urine, irrespective of it’s pH initially, encourages bacterial action, and quickly turns alkaline. The bacterial action is the source of the odour. The visual stain can be either the result of urochrome (the coloured dye component in urine), or it sometimes be the result of colour loss (similar to the yellow spot left by bleach).
What can be done about pet urine stains in carpet?
Odour. If we are dealing with odour only, we need to locate the source of the contamination, and treat it. Urine can get down into the underlay and beyond. In this case, the rectification may end up being quite extensive, requiring substrate treatment and sealing, replacement of underlay, and carpet treatment top and bottom.
Visual pet urine stains can be challenging to rectify, and sometimes can’t be rectified. Most carpet cleaners will tell you that they can’t be treated full stop. This is not entirely correct. If the pet urine stain has added a yellowish brown stain to the carpet, it may be able to be removed with a thermal transfer process. This is effective 40-50% of the time. Mighty Clean Carpet can do this for you. If the pet urine stain has caused a removal of colour from the carpet (bleaching), then Mighty Clean Carpet can use a technique called spot dyeing to inject the bleached colours back into the carpet.
5 Step Guide to Choosing A Carpet Cleaner.
The consumer can have a tough time deciding on a carpet cleaner. A combination of good value and great service is what Mighty Clean offer, and whether you choose Mighty Clean Carpet, or a competitor,
we gladly provide the following advice for choosing a carpet cleaner.
If you are primarily driven by price, you can scour the newspapers, carpet cleaning webpages etc, and you will always find a cheap cleaner. The fact of the matter is this. Anybody who is handing out pricing without knowing your situation is most likely a “Dodgey Dan” – the name us reputable carpet cleaners give to the cowboys. There are no shortage of Dogdey Dans’s cleaning carpets for under $15 per room. The way these operators work is to either cut big corners giving you an inferior service OR they rely on high pressure upselling techniques including carpet protection sales, anti-static treatments etc. These operators will often use bait and switch techniques, telling you your carpet is not suited to the cleaning process they advertised, and will require a more expensive treatment. Mighty Clean Carpet do not offer cheap, valueless work, and we operate to the Australian Standards AS/NZS 3733 as a minimum. We will also try and give you the most accurate price estimate possible over the phone. We offer free quotes in the local area for work that is difficult to evaluate over the phone.
When you are looking for a carpet cleaner, consider the folllowing;
1. Before any price is mentioned, you should be asked what your requirements are. These may include asthma/allergy concerns, visible soiling, stains, odours or general maintenance. You should be asked how long it has been since your carpets were last cleaned. A description of the number of rooms or floor area should also be part of the discussion. Any problem areas requiring extra attention should be discussed prior to pricing. If you are only asked about the number of rooms before a price is given – BEWARE. If price is soley what a carpet cleaner is trying to entice your business with, then you have to ask why. The reason is simple. This is the ONLY way they will get your business. It certainly won’t be on service.
2. You should ask about furniture. Mighty Clean move lounge suites (within reason), dining room tables and dining chairs. These are all placed on furniture sliders, re-instated after cleaning with protective blocks or plastic tabs to prevent furniture contacting moist carpet. Many carpet cleaners will not move any furniture, but worse yet, many will move furniture without ANY protective measures. I get at least a call a week asking if I can remove furniture stains caused by reckless carpet cleaning operators who have not used furniture protection. Failure to protect furniture results in rust marks, tannin stains and furniture finish stains. These are not always correctable. If a cleaner makes no mention of furniture protection measures – RUN!
3. Ask what the process involves. If there is no mention of dry vacuuming prior to wet cleaning, then your operator is not following the Australian Standards, and will be leaving mud in the base of your carpet. All the cheapy carpet cleaners are neglecting this important step, as a cost and corner cutting measure. It is NOT enough to expect the steam cleaning unit to extract the dry soil in your carpet. This is NOT what it designed to do. The Australian Standards demands that a carpet be vacuumed prior to dry or wet cleaning to remove sand, dirt and other non-soluble organic matter.
4. Ask whether stains will be treated. Mighty Clean Carpet will treat all spots, which are areas of concentrated grime, but our price does NOT include paint removal, furniture stain treatment, dye or urine stain treatment. We can treat these issues better than any carpet cleaner in the local area, but these are priced on an as-is basis. Some cleaners will claim to treat stains free of charge. In reality, what they will do is give them a quick squirt with some cleaning product, and when they predictably still remain, will tell you the stain is permanent. Our photos show what is capable with stain treatment, but this requires extra time and expertise, and therefore we charge extra for specialised stain removal. Don’t be hoodwinked by a “stains included” operator who turns around and tells you the stains are permanent.
5. Finally, ask about qualifications. Your carpet is a valuable asset within your home, and when you consider the cost of carpet cleaning, which is usually done annually, saving a small amount of money to have an unqualified operator work on carpets is unwise. Some of my work involves rectifying issues created by homeowners using DIY rug doctor and Britex machines, or rectifying brown-out, wicking or stains created by Dodgey Dan operators. I have seen many a woolen carpet chemically burned by inappropriate cleaning chemistry also.
Of course you can avoid all of this issues by giving Mighty Clean Carpet a call.
Being a fibre technician (aka carpet cleaner) has it’s upside. Sometimes you get to meet some interesting people. I’ve met actors, models, mega multi-millionaires, tv and radio personalities and other celebrities. The other day I happened to meet an ex rugby league legend, who’d switched codes and had been playing union in Europe.
As it turns out, while he was back here in Australia for the off season, he was looking to put his home on the rental market. Unfortunately a carpet cleaner had not been able to remove a “vampire blood” carpet dye stain. Fortunately the property manager to be referred him to myself, and the rest is history.
The real trick in this stain treatment was understanding the stain chemistry, and the chemical limitations of the fibre it was attached to. This is what really sets stain specialists apart from carpet cleaners.
Phone rings. I answer it and a polite woman with a Chinese accent asks me, “Do you dye carpet”? “Yes, I can”, I tell her, “but if I can avoid it, I do – and why exactly do you want to dye your carpet”?
The lady proceeds to tell me that there are brown and grey marks all over her carpet, and she needs to have it dyed. I arrange an appointment, and go out to have a look at her carpets. As it turns out, she has completely over wet them with a Godfreys Wertheim SE9000 Carpet Shampooer. She proudly points to the wretched machine exclaiming, “My husband buy this for me! Professional one”.
I don’t have the heart to tell her that there is nothing professional about the machine (in my opinion it’s over priced and underpowered). By using this machine coupled with a complete lack of understanding of carpet and correct cleaning methods, we a carpet which has been wet for 4 days, is LOADED with suds and shampoo residue, and has brown and grey marks all over it.
This just shows some of the problems that have been created with this “professional” machine. Fortunately I was able to correct all the issues created. (Picture below). No dyeing was required. But it raises a serious question. Why would anybody buy a “Carpet Shampooer”?
Firstly, carpet shampooing is old terminology. Synthetic detergents are used these days, and they are pre-sprayed onto a carpet, agitated, and then rinsed – leaving minimal (if any) residue. Shampooing machines by contrast, have a shampoo solution that is pumped into the carpet with very weak extraction, leaving soil attracting “shampoo” in the carpet.
Secondly, it doesn’t seem to make financial sense buying these machines. This particular machine cost $1000. My service cost to clean the carpets on this home would have been approx $200. A carpet is cleaned in an average home once every 12 months. So, I would have had to have cleaned this house for 5 years, before the owner would have been theoretically positive ROI – and that’s only if you place no value on the home owners time to do the work, and exclude chemical costs. Add in the potential damage expenses created by inexperience, and you have a loser of a proposition. This machine is ONE BAD BUY. My recommendation? Do what the carpet manufacturers recommend. Buy and upright vacuum such as a Dyson or Shark Navigator, and vacuum your carpet twice a week. This will remove dry soiling, which contributes to 79% of the foreign matter in a carpet, will remove fibre wearing sand and grit, therefore prolonging your carpet’s life – and leave the cleaning to a professional once every 12 months.
You don’t have to watch any one of the breakfast tv programs for long to see infomercials aimed at stay at home mums with carpet cleaning equipment and products. While I don’t feel in the least bit threatened by these mostly over-hyped and often useless products and devices, they often give the house keeper false confidence in what can be done with a carpet, regardless of experience or expertise.
So I am going to say it again. Carpet cleaning is the work of a trained and experienced professional, who can at the very least identify your carpet’s fibre type and it’s method of construction, and based on the soil load and staining, choose the best products and chemistry to suit.
Here is a classic example of a home owner treating a coffee stain on a woolen carpet.
The stain has grown to five times it’s original size, has browned out, and is showing signs of alkaline burn. If most of the last sentence didn’t make a great deal of sense to you, the reason is that carpet stain removal is technical, and well outside the experience of most home owners. Fortunately, I was able to bring the stain to a presentable condition.
If you have attempted to treat a carpet stain, and things are getting out of control. Call me! I’m here to help, and may be able to help prevent a catastrophe.
Phil Mathot – Mighty Clean Carpet – mightyclean.com.au – 0434 020 726
I had a call from a woman who was deeply embarrassed about some water stains that had appeared on her carpet after a small, slow bathroom leak. The leak had been repaired, but the carpet had some significant marks. A very well known carpet cleaning franchise had been out to “clean” the carpet, but had surprising been able to do precious little for the real issues.
It’s important to understand why this is the case? Cleaning franchises attract lemmings. I know I’m being blunt, but the reality is that franchise operators follow systems that deliver mediocre results. Ever thought to order a fillet mignon from McDonalds? Of course not! The pimply teenage burger flipper is not a chef. The same principle applies to carpets. Franchise carpet cleaners will NOT solve difficult issues, they are not trained to problem solve any more than a teenage burger flipper at McDonalds is trained to cook a gourmet meal to your specification.
The home owner was very pleased with the outcome. Here is her text to me a day after I completed the job.
Phil Mathot – Mighty Clean Carpet – mightyclean.com.au – 0434 020 726
The other day I got a distressed call from a woman who had purchased a good quality 100% woolen rug. She realised that she had choosen the wrong colour – crimson rather than violet.
Much to her delight, I paid her a free visit, explained colour change options with her, including a small discrete sample on a corner of the rug. She immediately requested that I take the rug, and dye it for her.
Mighty Clean Carpet successfully dyed the carpet to a shade of violet. Needless to say, our customer was delighted. Pictures below. If you require carpet or rug dyeing, text, email or call Phil from Mighty Clean Carpet.
Phil Mathot – Mighty Clean Carpet – mightyclean.com.au – 0434 020 726