Answers to questions about carpet cleaning, tile and grout cleaning, upholstery cleaning and more.
Intro to how to address stain emergencies
No matter what you do, life will occasionally present you with "whoops!" moments:
- While gesturing exuberantly, a dinner guest accidentally knocks a full glass of red wine onto your white carpet
- Your loyal doggie can’t quite hold it until you get back from a movie and leaves a “present” in an upstairs bedroom
- The lid on the sippy-cup doesn’t quite do the job and your little one spills juice in the living room
At the time it may seem like the best options are to (A) decide to never use that part of the house again, or (B) move. Well, we at Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning would like to save you all that trouble by showing you how to successfully address these situations. Since emergencies don’t allow the time to shop for specialty products, our solutions focus on simple items typically found in your home.
First, a quick primer on the chemistry of cleaning. Most everday soils are water soluble (will dissolve in water). When dealing with water-soluble spots we need to dissolve the substance and suspend it (separate it from the carpet fibes). This involves three basic principles. First, water needs to be able to penetrate the soil, so we often need a small amount of surfactant (soap) to lower water resistance. Second, we want to chemically neutralize the spot, so we've got to think about the pH scale. Most soil is mildly acidic, so to neutralize it, clean on the other end of the pH scale (mildly alkaline). Coffee, tea and urine spots are three of the rare exceptions that become alkaline and thus require a mildly acidic solution for cleaning. Some water-soluble soils also require digestion. For this, we add an oxidizer or enzymatic compound.
Not all soils are water-soluble. Some, such as paint, nail polish, motor oil, etc. are chemically soluble. Removing them still involves dissolving and suspending them, but specific chemical solvents are necessary. If you have any spots like this, it's best to just give us a call.
Note: These instructions are for carpets made of nylon, olefin or polyester. Carpets made of wool or silk often require special care and could be damaged by these methods. For all carpets, test the solution on a hidden area to ensure that it won't cause damage.
Stain Emergency: How to remove generic food spills
Pretty much anything you spill is water soluble (will dissolve in water) and won't need any special products. In fact, things like Oxy and Resolve can do a lot more harm to your carpets than most things you could spill. Most food is acidic, so to properly neutralize it, you need to clean on the alkaline side of the pH scale. Here's how you can deal with it based on what you probably have in your kitchen right now:
- First, using a clean white towel (or paper towel), gently blot the spill to get as much as you can out. Be sure not to rub with the towel as this will push the substance deeper into the carpet fiber.
- Gently pour some cold water over the spot and continue blotting with a clean white towel until you can’t get anymore up. This further dilutes the spot and removes more of the food-product (always sounds appetizing to call something "food product" does it not?).
- If a spot is still visible, create a solution by adding baking soda to warm water and a single drop of blue Dawn dishwashing soap. Use the same pour and blot approach as described above. The baking soda makes the solution slightly alkaline (to neutralize a likely acidic pH), and the single drop of detergent will lower the water resistance of the food product in the carpet.
Stain Emergency: How to get red wine out of carpet
Ah yes, the biggest risk to entertaining in your home; the dreaded red wine stain. Well, fret not – there are simple ways to deal with this catastrophe. The key is to relax. Possibly have another glass of wine, then:
- Using a clean white towel (or paper towel), gently blot the wine to get as much as you can out. Be sure not to rub with the towel as this will push the wine deeper into the carpet fiber and may even upset the natural order of the world.
- Gently pour some cold water over the spot and continue blotting with a clean white towel until you can’t get anymore up. This further dilutes the spot and removes more of the wine.
- If a visible spot still remains, create a solution by adding baking soda to warm water and a single drop of blue Dawn dishwashing soap. Use the same pour and blot approach as described above until the spot is gone or you stop making progress.
- If color is still present, mix a 3:1 solution of 2% hydrogen peroxide (the brown bottle - a mild oxidizer). Apply it to a clean white towell, and use a towel to blot the solution onto the spot. Repeat a couple times until the color is gone, then rinse with cold water and blot until damp. A word of caution, hydrogen peroxide is a bleach so test this solution on a small area first to make sure it won't damage your carpet. By diluting the 2% hydrogen peroxide, we're creating a very low intensity solution, but still use caution.
If these methods don’t fully remove the stain, call Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning, and we’ll use our powerful solutions and truck-mounted steam cleaning power to restore your carpet.
Stain Emergency: How to get urine out of a carpet
We all love our pets, and they add so much to our daily lives. Unfortunately, they sometimes add some, er, unwanted things to our carpets. If your little guy has an accident, here's what you should know. First, urine goes into a carpet as an acid, but pretty quickly metabolizes into an alkaline solution (ammonia salts, bacteria, lipids). Thus, you must clean new versus old urine spots differently. Specifically:
- If it's a couple hours old, you're treating it as an acid, and thus will be cleaning with an alkaline solution. First, be sure to blot – don’t rub - the urine stain with a clean towel to absorb as much as possible. Then, pour cold water on the spot and continue blotting until the stain disappears or you cease to get results.
- For the remaining stain, create a solution by adding baking soda to a cup of warm water and a single drop of blue dawn. Use the same pour and blot approach described above. Repeat until the stain is gone.
- If the stain is not completely gone, apply some Nature's Miracle (low grade enzymes available at most pet stores) to digest any remaining product. Be sure to flush with cold water and blotting after the Nature's Miracle.
- If the accident has been sitting for longer than a few hours, treat it as an alkaline ammonia salt and clean with a mildly acidic solution. Begin with Step 1 from above (blotting, then blotting with cold water), then:
- Mix a solution of 1 part DISTILLED white vinegar and 3 parts warm water (be sure to use distilled, otherwise you're making a salad in your carpet - not the best approach) and add a single drop of blue Dawn. Use the same pour and blot approach described above.
- If the stain is not completely gone, apply some Nature's Miracle (low grade enzyme available at most pet stores) to digest any remaining product. Be sure to flush with cold water and blotting after the Nature's Miracle.
Stain Emergency: How to remove coffee stains from carpet
Note: This applies to regular coffee only. Decaf coffee contains brown acid dyes that almost always create permanent stains.
Regular coffee is a complex solution. The coffee itself is acidic (like most soils), as is cream or milk. Any added sugar is alkaline, and over time the sugars in milk will metabolize into alkaline substances. Therefore, addressing coffee can require cleaning on both sides of the pH scale to address different the components.
- Using a white towel, blot – do not rub – to soak up the excess coffee.
- Gently pour cold water on the spot to further dilute the coffee, and blot with a clean white towel to soak up the excess. If you're getting to the spill right away, this may solve your problem.
- To address the acidic components, mix a solution of baking soda, warm water and a single drop of Dawn dishwashing detergent. Gently pour the solution on the spot and blot with a clean towel. Repeat until the spot disappears or stops being effective.
- For the alkaline sugars, mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar, 3 parts warm water and a drop of blue Dawn and gently pour it onto the spot and blot. Repeat until the stain is fully gone.
- Do a lot of blotting to dry and put a fan on the area if possible. If, while drying a spot re-appears, this is typically remnants of the alkaline sugars that have wicked back up. Repeating Step 4 should be able to solve the problem.
How does Advanced Degree remove urine from carpet?
Most soiling is acidic, so most cleaning agents are alkaline to properly neutralize, dissolve and extract them. Urine starts out as an acid, but pretty quickly metabolizes into ammonia salts (which are alkaline), lipids (fats, which often form a water resistant layer on top of the urine), urobulin and bacteria. Because of this complexity, a multi-step approach is needed to thoroughly clean urine.
After using a black light to identify any affected areas, we use a three-step process.
- Use an acidic rinse to break through the lipids and to neutralize, dissolve, suspend and extract the alkaline ammonia salts.
- Perform a second cleaning of the area with an enzymatic compound to digest any bacteria and urobulin.
- Perform a typical cleaning to neutralize, dissolve, suspend and extract any typical soils.
When we clean, we also take depth into consideration. Depending on how much urine is involved in the accident, or how many times the area has been hit, the urine may have penetrated the backing of the carpet to become lodged in the pad. If this happens, the spot will wick back up from the pad after cleaning. Fortunately, we carry tools that allow us to extract urine from the pad as well (without having to remove the carpet), so depending on the saturation level, we may recommend performing the first two steps of our process in both the carpet and the pad.
Finally, while every urine situation can be improved, there are some that can't be fully resolved. In heavy saturations, the urine can go past the pad and become lodged in the subfloor. If this happens, the urine will keep on coming back, and the only way to fully resolve the situation is to remove the carpet and pad, and to seal the subfloor.
Can Advanced Degree remove paint from carpet?
In most situations, we can successfully remove paint from carpeting. Paint is not water-soluble, so regular steam cleaning WILL NOT remove it. It requires specific chemical solvents and tools to break through its shell, dissolve, suspend and extract it. We carry the appropriate solvents and our industry-certified technicians know how to safely use them to remove paint from your carpet. This will work as long as the paint is sitting around the carpet fibers (most often). In some (rare) situations, however, paint gets ground into carpet, allowing it to permeate the fibers themselves and effectively re-dying the carpet.