Answers to questions about carpet cleaning, tile and grout cleaning, upholstery cleaning and more.
Stain Emergency: How to remove generic food spills on your own
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 on your own
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 address pet urine on your own
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 on your own
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.
Will carpet cleaning kill bacteria, viruses and dust mites?
Hot water extraction, aka "steam cleaning," aka, the method used by Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning will kill 99% of bacteria and germs living in carpets and upholstery. The super-heated water used in steam cleaning also wipes out dust mites and most viruses.
The CDC states that water at 168 degrees or higher will kill influenza viruses. At Advanced Degree, our water gets to 210 degrees, so bacteria, dust mites and most viruses simply have no chance against us!
Can professional carpet cleaning remove urine from carpets?
The answer is yes! Whether it can be completely remediated depends upon the severity of the situation.
As with most cleaning, understanding how to resolve urine issues is about understanding basic chemistry. Urine contains uric acid, lipids (fats), urea, and urobilinogen. After leaving the body, the urobilinogen oxidizes and becomes urobilin, which is responsible for the familiar yellow coloring. In addition, urine comes into contact with bacteria as it enters the carpet. At room temperature, this becomes a breeding ground for bacteria to flourish. At the same time, the uric acid breaks down into ammonia and carbon dioxide. This transforms the pH of the solution from an acid to a strong alkaline. Thus, removing it means knowing how to address each of these components, at the appropriate depth. Fortunately, at Advanced Degree, we have that expertise! To find out about our process, look at our FAQ "How does Advanced Degree remove urine from carpet."
We can always improve a situation, and often fully resolve it, but how far we can go depends on severity:
- With light to moderate severity, small amounts of urine are scattered around a room or rooms. Most of the urine is in the carpet face, but in a couple areas the urine may have broken through the carpet backing to become lodged in the pad. At this level, there's an excellent chance that we can fully resolve the problems.
- In moderate to slighly heavy situations, urine may cover large parts of a room or rooms, with many areas where the volume has pushed it through the backing and into the pad. Here, we may be able to fully mitigate the problem, but replacing your carpet and pad may be more cost effective. We can assess the situation and give you a quote, along with alternative strategies designed for different cost / improvement outcomes. If replacement is the best option, we can recommend a good carpet installer.
- In extreme situations, urine is heavily distributed around a room or rooms, with the volume pushing the urine past the carpet backing and pad, and into the subfloor. In this case, cleaning alone will not resolve the problem, because it can't remove the urine from the subfloor. The only path to full mitigation is to rip up the old carpet and pad, seal the subfloor, then replace the carpet.
Whatever the situation, we can help you understand the options that would be best for your specific circumstances.
How does Advanced Degree remove urine from carpet?
Most soiling is acidic, so most cleaning agents are alkaline to properly neutralize, dissolve and extract it. 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), urobilin 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 urobilin.
- Perform a standard cleaning to neutralize, dissolve, suspend and extract any other soils present.
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.
Note: using similar processes, Advanced Degree is also able to remove most nail polish, ink, gum, wax, motor oil and other non water soluble substances from your carpets.
Can Advanced Degree remove ink, wax and gum from carpets?
Yes, in almost all cases, Advanced Degree can remove ink, wax and gum from carpets.
These substances are non water soluble and require specific chemical solvents to break them down, dissolve, suspend and extract them, and we have the expertise to do so. Occasionally, ink or the dyes from wax or gum become permanent. Sadly, this can happen when a homeowner attempts to resolve a problem on their own, and unintentionally drives the dyes into the carpet fibers, which is why it's best to call a pro for these issues. In most cases, we're able to completely remove them.
Does Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning leave a residue behind?
Absolutely not! Many carpet cleaners overuse detergent in their cleaning process and leave soap in the carpet after they're done. When soap remains in a carpet, it pulls dirt off of whatever touches it, causing the carpet to re-soil much more quickly.
Advanced Degree's intense, thorough, proprietary cleaning process allows us to deliver incredible results while using almost no detergent at all. We rely on our extensive precleaning prep steps to get soil neutralized, dissolved, suspended, and ready to move before we begin the steam cleaning itself. Thus, we don't need detergent in our final step, and you're left with clean carpets (tile, upholstery and wood floors), and no residue.
Does Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning move furniture?
Advanced Degree moves most pieces of furniture, but not all. We move sofas, love seats, chairs, coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, floor lamps, etc. We want to make sure we clean as much of your carpet as we possibly can.
We don't move significantly heavy items where doing so can create a risk for your carpet as well as for our technicians. These pieces include beds, dressers, home entertainment centers, etc. When we clean bedrooms, we make sure to clean as far under each bed as we can.
Will carpet cleaning remove smoke odor from a room?
For the most part, the answer is no. Smoke molecules are so small and penetrate so deeply into porous objects that they cannot be removed with water-based cleaning alone.
Sometimes carpet cleaning (or upholstery cleaning) - done well - will significantly lessen the smell of smoke. This is because the smoke molecues penetrate soil in the carpet that proper cleaning can remove. By taking away some of the matter holding the smoke smell, the overall situation improves. However, if the smoke molecules penetrated soil, they also penetrated the carpet fibers themselves, cushions, walls, drapes, etc., so some amount of smoke odor will remain.
Ozone generating machines can be very helpful in remediating smoke odors. Ozone (O3) is a highly volatile element. When released into a room, the extra oxygen atom breaks free and bonds with the smoke molecules, effectively neutering their smell. Note: Ozone is toxic and ozone generating machines should only be used when no one is in the house.
Are Advanced Degree's carpet cleaning chemicals safe?
Nearly every cleaning agent we use at Advanced Degree Carpet Cleaning is safe (even for kids and pets). In addition, we use only trace amounts of these chemicals and rely on our thorough proprietary cleaning processes to optimize the results from those small amounts.
To remove non-water soluble soils, such as paint, nail polish, ink, or gum, we need to use chemical solvents. It only takes a small amount of these solvents to do the job, but they will emit localized fumes while we use them. The scent is only noticeable if you're standing directly over the work area, and we remove 100% of any solvents we use, so when we leave, your home is completely free from any harmful chemicals.
When should you replace your carpets versus having them cleaned?
Setting aside the evolution of your personal style (doesn't everyone still love almond green shag carpet?), the answer depends on the carpet's physical condition. Carpeting is engineered to last for over a decade, and with proper maintenance, most soil can be removed before it causes physical damage.
Over time, however, soil left in carpets will begin to cause abrasion - physical wear of the "traffic lanes" and other areas that get a lot of use. The soil acts like sandpaper and feet provide the friction causing the fibers to become permanently worn. No matter how clean these abraded areas are, they'll always look different than the less damaged areas around them.
In addition, some substances create permanent stains. Red dyes from drinks like Kool Aid, decaffeinated coffee, and filter shading are the usual culprits. Too many unresolvable spots can create a real incentive to replace.
If you aren't sure what to do, give us a call. When we give you a cleaning quote, we can also let you know how far we can elevate your carpet's appearance, along with an honest opinion on whether you're better off replacing. If you do want to replace, we can give you a referral to a great carpet installer.