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.