Please help me, ladies!
We’ve been in our new townhouse for about eight months. We have neutral-colored wall-to-wall style carpet in our living room. There are a couple of stains from who knows what – beer spillage, chocolate drool from a friend’s happy baby, etc. I spot-treated them (the stains, not the babies) and sometimes they have come out, sometimes they haven’t. Yesterday, the sun was shining in for the first time in a while and I saw stains all over the place. Anyway, I cannot get them out! I tried Resolve Foam Cleaner, no dice. I have a small Bissell steam cleaner and that isn’t helping much, either.
Is there any tried-and-true method for spot-cleaning a carpet and KEEPING it clean? There’s nothing worse than mystery stains that return every few months.
Spotted in Spencerville
Such is the life of builders’ grade carpet. We are currently saving to replace the carpeting in our bedroom. The original homeowner knew they would sell quickly and did not invest in upgrades and compounded the problem by selecting a shade of cream. As I have severe allergies, we’re saving for hardwood as a replacement.
How To Spot Treat Carpet
Always test your carpeting in an inconspicuous area before attempting spot removal!
One of the biggest problems with many commercial stain removers is they offer a temporary solution and may leave the area more vulnerable to oils in the future or worse, leave a sticky residue that attracts more dirt. For water-soluble stains, I have had the best luck spot treating with vinegar diluted with warm (NOT HOT) water. I pour a small amount over the stain and blot gently with white rags. When the surface dirt is completely gone, I place several white rags over the spot and weigh them down with a heavy object for a couple of hours. The cotton wicks the moisture from the carpet and helps prevent the pad from becoming saturated, thus avoiding the potential for mildew growth.
Oily stains are more difficult to remove. Use a small amount of diluted dish detergent and blot the stain. Remove as much moisture as possible then follow with the vinegar solution, blotting and wetting until all soap has been removed.
In each case, I suggest running a fan in the room for several hours after removing the weighted rags to help the area dry thoroughly. Vacuum to restore the carpet’s texture.
There is a chance the stain will wick to the surface and “reappear.” Simply repeat the steps.
General Carpet Cleaning Tips
Frequent vacuuming is essential to carpet longevity. Dirt destroys carpeting and frequent steam cleaning will substantially reduce a carpet’s life. Most builders’ grade carpeting is made of nylon which will stain unless treated with a product such as Scotchgard Carpet Protector. These products should be used immediately after a steam cleaning to protect the fibers from new stains. Other products such as DuPont Teflon Advanced Carpet Protector must be professionally applied. Personally, I find there is a trade-off with these products, spot-free carpeting, but a possible increase in unnecessary chemical exposure.
Builders’ grade carpeting is often warrantied for five years but will begin to show wear in less time. Good luck!
Submit your household questions to email@example.com.