Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Extend The Life Of Carpet With Spotting Techniques

September 19, 2010

As the trend of building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house custodial professionals performing increasing amounts of non-traditional cleaning and maintenance tasks evolves, one area garnering increased attention is carpet maintenance — more specifically, carpet spotting.

Carpet spotting is a relatively easy task that, with minimal investment in training, chemicals and equipment, can dramatically increase the life of carpet.

Because spotting techniques can rid carpet of unsightly spots, stains and various other soil-based discolorations, the frequency that carpets need replacing decreases, saving building owners vast amounts of money that can be invested in other parts of a facility.

Moreover, employing spotting techniques can leave a carpet looking cleaner and newer, leading directly to happier building occupants and a more positive first impression — and second, third, etc. — of a facility.

Although the progression of our industry is to that of cleaning and maintaining objects and surfaces for health and hygiene, appearance is still crucial in the eyes of many.

What would your reaction be if you walked into a facility that had mud, food or bodily fluid stains scattered across the carpet?

Depending on the setting — office building, educational institution, restaurant, health care facility, etc. — your response may vary; however, you would likely find it off-putting to some degree.

Because minor, removable stains do not warrant replacing an entire carpet, spotting techniques are necessary to maintain clean, like-new conditions.

Know What You''re Removing

The composition of carpet and what caused a spot can both vary greatly.

Because of this, it is important to know what you are removing so you can employ the proper spotting chemical and technique as to not cause damage to the carpet.

Some spotting chemicals can cause discoloration or harm to carpets, so it is always a good idea to test a chemical on an inconspicuous area before using it to remove a spot.

Failure to do so can result in permanent damage to the carpet and can prove costly if the result warrants replacement.

Oftentimes, a neutral carpet spotting detergent will suffice in removing unwanted spots, so this will be your go-to chemical.

However, most of the carpet spots you encounter will be slightly acidic — having a pH lower than 7 — so it is a good idea to also have an alkaline spotting chemical handy.

Spots caused by such things as soda, juice, ink and toner spills are all acidic, and an alkaline spotting chemical will help neutralize the acidity of the spot and make removal easier.

Spots caused by coffee, tea, red wine and other similar spills contain tannins, which react more positively to acid spotting chemicals.

Some spots, including grease and some food-based stains, require more muscle and call for oxidizing agents or solvents.

These chemicals are more powerful and increase your risk of damaging the carpet, so caution is always recommended when using such spotters.

Because of this, it is a good idea to have an array of spotting chemicals at your disposal to ensure that you are able to tackle whatever you encounter.

Many manufacturers offer carpet spotting chemical kits that contain various spotters designed to address specific spots.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a carpet spotting novice, it is always prudent to read labels, follow instructions and ask questions if you are unsure about which spotter is ideal for a specific situation.

Know Your Plan Of Attack

Regardless of the type of spot you are removing and on what kind of carpet it appears, one thing remains constant: Work inward from the outside of the spot to minimize spreading.

Another thing to note is that a spot should never be oversaturated, as this will increase the likelihood of a spot growing in size and will encourage the spot to soak further into the carpet fibers and into the backing.

To make your task easier, be sure you remove all excess soils and moisture before you attempt to mitigate a spot.

As wet substances tend to move toward dry carpet fibers, you should surround the spot with a barrier of water or hydrogen peroxide to discourage the spot from spreading before you begin the removal process.

After applying the correct spotter directly onto the spot, agitating it into the carpet and allowing sufficient dwell time for the chemical to react, blot — never rub — the area thoroughly with a clean, white towel.

If the spot remains after cleaning, you may want to repeat your process with a stronger spotting chemical, remembering to always test the chemical on an inconspicuous area to avoid unnecessary damage.

This is not a comprehensive guide to removing spots from carpets.

But, if you are eager to soak up more knowledge on proper product selection and application, many reputable guides — both in print and video format — exist that can assist in your carpet spotting efforts.

Additionally, countless seminars and training events are available for you to attend, at which the knowledgeable instructors will teach you the ins and outs of carpet spotting.