carpet spot and stain removal

Carpet Cleaning, Floor Care

Custodian’s Guide to Carpet Spot and Stain Removal

Spots. Spills. Stains. They’re often the first things visitors to your facility notice about your floor coverings. Left untreated, spots and stains on carpets have the potential to create a negative impression of your business, school or office building. However, early response can help reduce the incidence of permanent blemishes and keep your facility carpeting looking fresh and clean no matter what life throws (or drops) at it!

24 Hours Until a Spot is a Stain

What’s the Difference between a Spot and a Stain?

The difference between a spot and a stain is about 24 hours. Treated quickly, spots and spills are easier to clean. But if a spot sits and becomes a stain it will be more challenging to remove and more likely to become permanent.

Check for Spots and Stains Daily

Commercial carpeting is a big investment. You can help prolong its life cycle and keep it looking attractive by treating and cleaning spots and stains as quickly as they are noticed. Checking for them daily should be a routine aspect of your Carpet Maintenance Program, which experts agree should look something like this…

  • Prevention.  80% of dirt is walked off with about 12’ of entrance matting. Take precautions to prevent certain types of spots and stains before they happen, with exterior and interior matting or walk-off tiles to capture moisture, greasy slush and street soil before it’s tracked onto your expensive carpeting.
  • Daily Vacuuming and Inspection.  Regular carpet vacuuming, especially in high traffic areas, removes dry soil and prevents it from grinding into fibers. A frequent spot check (no pun intended) of all areas allows new spots to be treated quickly before they become permanent stains.
  • Interim Cleaning.  Interim maintenance, such as low-moisture bonnet cleaning, will help your carpeting retain its like-new appearance longer and will help improve performance. Interim cleaning is performed less frequently than daily, but should be planned often for high traffic areas. Triad works nicely for bonnet buffing as well as a pre-spray spotter for high-traffic lanes.
  • Periodic Deep Cleaning.  Sometimes referred to as restorative maintenance, do this less frequently — perhaps twice annually — to deep clean carpets and remove embedded dirt and soils. Use an extraction machine with Nyco Extraction Cleaner, which will brighten carpets and help them resist resoiling.

Identify Your Stain

Whenever possible, ID your spot or stain before attempting to remove it. Different stains require different chemicals and removal processes so your success rate will be dependent on an accurate identification of your stain.

Vacuum Solids, Absorb Liquids

The sooner you act, the better your chance of complete stain removal! Vacuum up or scrape up solids first. Blot liquids with dry, white absorbent cloths or paper towels. Continue blotting until your cloth is no longer absorbing liquid. Never use colored towels as they may transfer dyes to fibers. Avoid rubbing, as this can actually move stains further into carpet fibers and into the carpet pad.

Treat Your Spots and Stains

Have a variety of chemicals in your cleaning arsenal for when accidents strike. Hydrogen peroxide based products don’t leave a residue and are ideal for stains containing tannins, like coffee and tea. Enzyme based cleaners best remove organic soils such as food spills, urine and blood, while red dye-removing cleaners work well on red wine and juices. (See chart below for a list of common stains and Nyco cleaners that best remove them.)

  1. When using chemicals, always follow the manufacturer instructions. Pretest treatment chemicals first in an inconspicuous area to ensure they will not discolor or damage carpet fibers.
  2. Spray chemical on stain and work it from the perimeter in toward the center of the stain. Based on directions, you may need to pre-wet the area with water.
  3. Let treatment chemical sit a few minutes, then blot. Change cleaning cloths if they become saturated to avoid spreading the stain into the surrounding area.
  4. After treating, lightly spray-rinse the area with clean water to remove any residual chemical. Then blot again. If chemicals are not completely removed they more easily attract new dirt later and cause resoiling.
  5. To help prevent stain reappearance, place a dry cloth or paper towel and a weighted object on top of the stain and leave it overnight. Stains that have penetrated to the lower sections of carpet fibers or the pad should “wick” up the fiber and into the dry cloths.
  6. Remember: patience is a virtue! Steps 2-5 may need to be repeated in order to completely remove a stain from carpeting.

10 Common Carpet Stains and Products to Remove Them

Stain Product
Wine, Juice Ready-To-GO2 (RTU)
Blood Ready-To-GO2 (RTU)
Lipstick or Oil-based Cosmetics T.L.C.
Food or Other Organic Soil T.L.C.
Ink or Marker Ink Spot
Chewing Gum Ink Spot
Industrial Grease T.L.C.
Pet Urine Pet Stain Remover
Mud from shoes Triad
Unidentified Spot or Stain Ready-To-GO2 (RTU)

For additional information or resources on improving your carpet care program, contact Nyco.

Simple Science Carpet Cleaning Vocabulary

Blot – Press down and soak up into a cloth.

Bonnet Cleaning – A low moisture cleaning method which cleans only the face fibers of carpeting. It is performed with a bonnet machine.

Extract – To pull or draw out a soil or liquid from carpeting with suction. Usually done with a machine.

Organic Soil – Originating from any living organism. Includes blood, food, grease.

Resoil – New stains that appear where old stains were cleaned, due to sticky residual cleaning chemicals attracting new soil to the same spot.

Tannin – An organic, acidic substance that comes from certain plants and is found in drinks like red wine, coffee, tea and some juices.

Wick – To draw up liquid (and soil with it) to the surface of carpeting.


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