Carpets are very common in the corporate world, and a lot of commercial properties have carpeting of some form in their offices and retail settings. Though dirty, stained carpets can severely impact your reputation. Unfortunately, when your best efforts to remove stains don’t work, it can make the problem much worse. It’s not your fault. The carpet stain removal products available to consumers at the retail level simply aren’t strong enough to tackle deep, set-in stains.
Though there are a few proactive things you can do to get stains out of commercial carpets or protect them from stains in the future.
Tip #1. Spot Check Your Carpet for Stains Daily
Making a regular spot check for stains each day will go a long way toward preventing those stains from setting in. Generally, the sooner you can find stains, and address them, the better your chances are of remaining them. It’s relatively easy to work this into the daily vacuuming, where custodians are already focused on the floor.
Tip #2 Vacuum Carpets Frequently
Even though it’s a dry cleaning method, vacuuming also plays a critical role in stain prevention as it sucks up dry soil to prevent it from grinding deeper into the carpet fibers. It is especially helpful in high-traffic areas where many stains come from dirt and grime tracked in by shoes.
Tip #3 Identify the Type of Stain
When your daily spot check does reveal a stain, you need to accurately determine what kind of stain it is. Some stains are not actually permanent when all you need is a different chemical compound. For example, you may struggle to lift oil-based stains with a water-based solution.
Tip #4 Take Into Account the Type of Carpet
Different types of carpeting have different fibers and pile depths. Each of these has different chemical properties that can affect its cleaning requirements as well as its overall stain susceptibility. There are some simple tests you can perform if you don’t know the material composition of your carpet. Though the most informative is a burn test.
This starts with carefully plucking a single fiber sample from a low visibility area of the carpet. Then light the test fiber with a butane lighter. If the fiber arches away from the flame, it is synthetic. If it does not, it is probably wool.
Tip #5 Determine The Type of Carpet Fiber
Once the flame tests give you an indication of the type of carpet you are dealing with, you can move forward in determining the best stain removal technique.
Removing Stains from a Wool Carpet
Wool carpets create a sputtering orange flame with no smoke in the burn test, and the fibers typically smell like burned hair as they leave behind a soft, crumbled black ash. Unfortunately, wool carpet fibers can be challenging to clean since it does not react well to strong chemicals and will dissolve in chlorine bleach. So you will need to specifically look for wool-certified cleaning agents.
Removing Stains from an Olefin Carpet
When applied to the flame test an Olefin carpet fiber will produce very little smoke with a blue tinge at the base and orange at the tip. The fiber will typically burn without sputtering and will often smell like asphalt or tar-like scent. The flame will leave behind a hard tan or brown bead. Olefin carpet fibers will also float in water.
This material is resistant to both stains and chemicals and tends to attract oil stains. Unfortunately, Olefin carpets tend to suffer from wicking problems that can lead to the stain resurfacing later. So it’s best to use special olefin cleaners that can work particularly well.
Removing Stains from a Nylon-Fiber Carpet
In the flame test, a nylon carpet fiber will often burn with a blue flame with a tinge of orange at the tip. It will burn without smoke until extinguished. You can tell the difference from olefin because, with nylon, the flame will sputter and tends to give off a strange waxy or celery-like smell.
Fortunately, nylon carpet fibers are relatively easy to clean, although the wrong chemical can impact its future stain resistance. It’s best to use a fabric protector on nylon carpets.
Removing Stains from a Polyester Carpet
With the burn test polyester will create an orange flame with a noticeable black smoke. The fiber will sputter and drip, and often gives off a sweet odor before leaving behind a shiny, firm bead. Fortunately. polyester won’t absorb stains quickly and can be cleaned easily when you act fast to blot and clean with a high-powered sealed HEPA vacuum system.
Tip #6 Choosing the Best Stain Treatment Solution
There are a few different cleaning methods you might choose for different types of stains. The type of solution or material causing the stain can be just as critical of a factor as the type of carpet fiber.
Water-soluble stains such as tracked-in mud, food, and beverages are the easiest type of stains to treat, and you can use a water-based agent.
Petroleum-based stains including things like oil, ink, and grease typically respond best to dry or organic solvents. You might be able to use a dry solvent before then using a water-based detergent for olefin and polyester carpets that are particularly susceptible to oil stains. You can prevent a future recurrence with a hot detergent rinse or a volatile dry solvent.
Organic stains from things like coffee and tea can be difficult to remove as the heat bonds with the carpet threads. At the same time, many of these substances contain tannins that can exacerbate the stain. If water-based solutions do not work, try an oxidizing agent, that includes hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient on the label.
Protein stains are a sort of special type of organic stains and might include things like blood, feces, or vomit, which has biohazard concerns. Most protein stains require a protein digester or enzyme treatment.
Synthetic stains from things like red dyes can be difficult to lift from nylon carpets. These stains typically require a reducing agent that is applied via a wet towel and steam. Though a strategically placed damp cloth should keep you from melting the fibers, be careful the reducer doesn’t remove the carpet coloring.