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My Toughest Carpet Stains

Every year I go to a big carpet cleaner’s convention to keep up with the latest advances in our field. The top carpet makers are always there along with the folks selling carpet cleaning chemicals and equipment. After renewing old friendships with some fellow carpet cleaners, our talk always gets around to the same thing; our toughest stains and how we got ’em out! We have a great time trying to tell the best story. Honestly, I’ve learned more in those brag sessions than you can imagine. I thought you might like to know what makes carpet cleaners lay awake at night staring at the ceiling (after looking at floors all day long).

Bleach “Stains” – Thanks to Teenagers and House Cleaning

These are stains we absolutely can’t get out! The culprits are acne treatments (with benzol peroxide) and bathroom mildew cleaners like Tile-X or X14 (strong bleach). Now I’m not one to stereotype, but teenagers can be messy, distracted. . .should I go on? Acne creams are often transferred onto the carpet by the kid’s hands. It stays invisible until dampened (sometimes during our cleaning) when it becomes a full-strength bleach—taking the dye color right out of your beautiful carpet!

Bathroom cleaning products are often lugged around in carry-all trays and can leak or spill on your carpet. Again, your carpet’s color will disappear forever, so be extra careful with these products. Maybe you should keep your Tile-X in the bathroom with your teenagers. Of course if I could solve the mysteries of adolescence, I’d get the Nobel Prize. You just have to love ’em because they’re grown up and gone before you know it.

Budding Young Artists – Chalk, Crayon and Felt Pens
Please don’t discourage the next Picasso but do try to find a good spot far away from your valuable carpeting where the young ones can get creative. Keep colored chalks outside if possible—they contain some pretty strong dyes. The huge assortment of felt-tip pens that kids love to use requires a special spot treatment technique we have—but we can’t always remove all of it. We do have pretty good success with crayon. We use a special two-step process—one for the wax base and one for the pigments.

House Plants Can Leave Ugly Footprints on Carpeting
Potted plants and carpeting just don’t mix—it must be why you never see wall-to-wall carpeting on greenhouse floors. Red clay pots and wicker baskets wick moisture right down into carpet fibers, leaving it discolored and mildew spotted. I have a special product and technique that usually removes these stains, but you can avoid these spots all together by using plastic or glazed ceramic saucers under every plant and watering much more carefully.

Pets – Cute, Lovable, but Oops!
As bad as they look and smell, most pet excretions are organic and clean up pretty well, although urine can also stain carpeting. (see Hot Tips, page 27) The other thing that causes problems for us is the red dye used in most pet foods. It’s only in there to make the food look good to you—your pet could care less what color her food is. If your pet does have a weak stomach, try the dye-free natural pet foods.

Painted Ladies – Lipstick, Mascara and Nail Polish
When Helena Rubinstein said, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones,” I think she must have been talking to a carpet cleaner at the time. Seems to me that no matter where these products end up (lips, nails, shirt collars or carpeting) they’ve caused an awful lot of grief. Once again, we have special spot-cleaning techniques that are one step ahead of the cosmetic industry’s latest concoctions. Be sure to call us for help and please don’t try to get nail polish out of carpet with polish remover (acetone). A little-too much and the stain will spread like wildfire. It’s best to let nail polish spills and spots dry right on the surface of the carpet. We can usually trim them off with a razor blade, leaving your carpet looking as good as new.

Wool vs. Nylon Carpeting
I like wool best because it feels good and wears so well, but nylon carpeting is easier that wool to stain-treat. It simply responds better to a wider range of special cleaning techniques. If your home has fine wool carpeting, enjoy it. But be extra careful to avoid stains.

Well, now you know that stain prevention is really the key because it saves you money and makes my job a lot easier. Besides, you don’t want to be the subject of conversation at next year’s carpet cleaner’s convention!