As a cleaner you come across stains of all kinds on a daily basis and having a good handle on the processes required to remove those stains increases your confidence as a cleaner, increases your customers’ confidence in you, and in turn helps increase referrals and return customers. In this post we will go over the different types of stains and the methods of removal that are specific to those stain types.
Before ever attempting to remove a stain as a professional cleaner you must get the history of it from the customer. “What spilled?” “Did you try to remove it with any chemicals?” “Are you free Saturday night?” These are all questions (except for the latter) that will help you do your job efficiently, effectively, and allows an opportunity to warn the customer that there is no guarantee that the stain will come out. Let me repeat that, never guarantee that you can remove a stain. You must charge for your knowledge and techniques to remove a stain and to collect on those efforts you must release yourself from liability of that stain.
Spot Removal Tools
There are a handful of tools that you should keep in your arsenal to be prepared to tackle any spot that comes your way. Many kinds of spots and the chemicals used to remove them require an agitation tool such as the Bone Scraper or Carpet Shark to work the chemical into the fibers and break the bond between the spot and those fibers. These tools are specially made with inert materials that will not react with the spotting chemicals. Another agitation tool that you should have is a spotting brush. These are not brushes used for scrubbing, they are tamping brushes that are used in conjunction with a terry cloth towel.This process transfers the spot from the carpet fibers onto the towel by covering the spot with a towel with spotter applied and then tapping the top of that towel with the tamping brush.
The next set of tools includes a steam iron and Ultraviolet Light. The steam iron is used with a terry cloth towel to remove acid dye stains and candle wax as well. The UV light is one that can be used for pre-inspection for those pesky urine stains, but this is used to strengthen oxygen bleach which can be used to remove furniture stains and some coffee stains.
Another tool you should consider is the Duck Bill Scissors. Use these to remove the single most offensive yarns on cut loop carpet pile. In addition to these tools a spotting kit that contains all of your spotters and tools so that you have everything you need with you in one spot. In addition to keeping you organized, it is important to insulate many chemicals from excess heat or cold to avoid changing the chemical properties of the chemicals that make them effective. Prochem and Pro’s Choice offer these kits.
Oil-based stains include paint, oil, grease, gum, glue, tar and adhesives. There are dry solvent chemicals specially formulated for these types of stains such as POG from Esteam, Power Solvent from Prochem, or Amazing Gooff from Pro’s Choice. They are typically used by saturating a towel with the chemical, applying the towel to the stain, and using a tamping brush until the stain dissolves into the towel. Then rinse the mixture out of the carpet.
Common protein stains are caused from raw egg, milk, blood, vomit, and food grease which require a strong alkaline spotter or an enzyme cleaner to break it down. Typically these stains are adsorbed which means they leave their stain on the outside of the fiber and are not absorbed into the fiber. To remove these stains use products such as Protein and Stain Spotter by Prochem, Blood Remover from Esteam, or Stain Magic from Pro’s Choice. These chemicals are used by saturating the stain and agitating with a bone scraper to break the bond between the stain and the carpet fiber. Then rinse and extract.
Tannins are acidic, organic compounds found in coffee and tea. The stain is left when the tannin is completely absorbed into the carpet fiber. The most popular way to remove these stains is with mild reducing agent such as Coffee Stain Remover from Workmaster, Red 1 from Pro’s Choice, or Coffee & Tannin Remover from Prochem. These products take time to work and do not require rinsing. Just apply it and leave it.
Dye stains include furniture, mustard, mold, urine, blood, and vomit which require a strong oxidizing agent. In many cases results may not be seen for many hours. Begin by extracting any substance that is not absorbed in the stain area. Blot the stain dry with a towel and then saturate the stain with a strong oxidizing spotter such as Vanish Fusion by Esteam or Stain Magic from Pro’s Choice.
To begin removing an ink stain the carpet around the ink must be dry. The first step is surrounding the ink spot with a strong oxygen bleach spotter; this serves as a barrier around the spot so that the ink does not bleed and spread into the neighboring fibers in the next step. Then apply a dry-solvent to the ink. Once the ink has dissolved and turns liquid apply the oxygen bleach spotter to the liquid ink. Once the ink disappears, rinse thoroughly. A popular combination for this task is Power Gel and Pro Solve Gel from Pro’s Choice.
Acid Dye Stains
Acid dye stains are a common spot to run across and are caused by Kool-Aid and other colored beverages, colored candy, and cough medicines. The most popular way to remove these stains is using a heat transfer system that involves applying a reducing bleach chemical to the spot, covering with a terry cloth towel, and then using a steam iron on its lowest steam setting to catalyze the chemical reaction. You should check underneath the iron every forty seconds, the dye will either transfer into the towel or disappear. A few popular products are Red 1 from Pro’s Choice, Red X It from Chemspec, or Red Relief from Pro’s Choice.
Rust stains occur usually when furniture with metal tips are placed on wet carpet. There are a few specially formulated chemicals used to remove these stains that include Rust Remover from Prochem, Rust Remover from Chemspec, and Rust Remover from Esteam. (I know, very original names)
Candle wax is fairly easy to remove by covering the area with a terry cloth towel or brown paper bag and then placing a steam iron on top of at least three bags. Do not use water in the iron. When the wax transfers onto the bottom bag, remove it and replace it with another bag until all of the wax has been removed. Be sure to identify what type of carpet you are working with as Olefin can be damaged with this method.
Urine will be covered in a following blog post since it does involve the aspect of odor as well.
Smith, James B. <em>Residential and Restorative Carpet Cleaning. </em>Frisco, Texas: JBS Consultants Inc., 2005. Paperback.