How to Get Any Stain out of Commercial Carpet

In the corporate world, a dirty carpet can impact your reputation. According to a recent survey, 93% of Americans form a negative impression of an organization based on a dirty carpet. When your usual stain removal doesn’t work, you may be wondering if you can get a tough stain out on your own. That’s why we at Corporate Clean Services are here to help. This guide will teach you how to get anything out of commercial carpet.

How to Clean Commercial Carpet Stains

Stain removal should be a goal for your regularly scheduled floor maintenance. Consider implementing this process to identify and treat stains effectively:

1. Check for Spots and Stains Daily

Your department’s daily cleaning routine should include a regular check for spots and stains. The sooner you can find stains, the higher your chances will be to remove them. Your cleaning team should also have the chemicals to spot clean common types of stains. It’s easy to incorporate a check into the daily vacuuming, where custodians are already focused on the floor.

Vacuuming can also play a role in preventing stains. The process sucks up dry soil and prevents it from grinding into the fibers of the carpeting. In high-traffic areas where many stains come from dirt, vacuuming is especially critical. As more feet walk over dirty carpet, you risk pressing dry soil further into the carpet and making it harder to remove.

2. Identify Your Stain

When you do find a stain, the next step is to determine what kind of stain it is. You may assume a stain is 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.

If it’s a brand-new stain, you may be able to ask about the spill that caused it. Other stains may prove difficult to identify, so there are several ways to narrow down the source. Three conditions to analyze include:

  • Location: The room can tell you a lot about the type of stain. Dining rooms and common areas attract food, beverage and grease stains. Entryways are known to be the dirtiest section of the carpet. People often track in dirt, grease and animal feces. If it’s an office setting, you may find ink stains as well as food and beverage stains. In general, consider what substances are used in the space.
  • Appearance: The color and appearance of the stain can tell you a bit about the particular substance. Organic stains appear dull and are often brownish. Crusty stains might be sugar-based. Synthetic and oil-based stains look shiny.
  • Texture: While wearing gloves, examine the stain surface to understand if there is material within the fibers that can be removed. A spot will have some texture you can feel. If you feel no difference to the touch when you compare it to the rest of the carpet, it usually means there has been color added to the fiber, indicating it is a true stain.

Once you can identify your stain’s source, determine the carpet type to tailor your cleaning methods accurately.

3. Identify the Type of Carpet

Each type of carpet fiber has different chemical properties that can affect its cleaning requirements and stain susceptibility. While there are a few tests you can perform if you don’t know the material, the most informative is a burn test.

Pluck a single fiber sample from an inconspicuous area of the carpet. A corner, closet or low-traffic area works best. Use tweezers to ensure you only grab one strand and cut carefully using scissors. Then, conduct the burn test in your custodial closet or an outdoor location. Pinch the fiber in your tweezers and light it using a butane lighter. Observe the action, appearance and odor of the strand. If the fiber arches away from the flame, it is synthetic. If it does not, it is probably wool.

4. Select a Cleaning Procedure

The flame test and other fiber characteristics can help you determine the type of carpet you have. From there, you can understand which cleaning procedures to use:

  • Wool: Wool carpet will have a sputtering orange flame with no smoke. It will smell like burned hair before leaving behind a soft, crumbled black ash. Wool can be challenging to clean since it does not react well to strong chemicals and will dissolve in chlorine bleach. Look for wool-certified cleaning agents.
  • Olefin: A flame with no smoke that’s blue at the base and orange at the tip could be olefin. To know for sure, look for a quick, even burn without sputtering. You should also smell an asphalt or tar-like scent. The flame will leave behind a hard tan or brown bead. An olefin fiber will also float in water. The material is resistant to both stains and chemicals and tends to attract oil stains. When stains occur, they tend to have wicking problems that can lead to the stain resurfacing. Special olefin cleaners can work particularly well.
  • Nylon: Like olefin, nylon will burn with a blue flame that’s 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 emit a waxy or celery-like smell. It will also produce a hard gray or brown bead. Nylon is easy to clean, although the wrong chemical can impact its future stain resistance. It’s best to use a fabric protector on nylon carpets.
  • Polyester: When burned, polyester will produce an orange flame with black smoke. The fiber will sputter and drip, and you’ll smell a sweet odor. It will leave behind a shiny, firm bead. Polyester won’t absorb stains quickly and can be cleaned easily when you act fast.

5. Use a Regular Cleaning and Maintenance Schedule

While an individual stain may be easy to spot clean, several stains may be best dealt with using interim cleaning methods. However, interim cleaning is only one piece of stain removal and prevention. To clean out carpet stains and keep them from reappearing, follow a maintenance schedule that includes:

  • Prevention: It’s usually easier to prevent stains than to clean them. Since the entrance will be the dirtiest part of your carpeting, you can avoid stains using walkout mats. Studies have shown that just five feet of matting can catch 33% of soil entering your building
  • Vacuuming: Daily vacuuming can also go a long way toward stain prevention since it removes solids that create spots. If you find any liquid stains while vacuuming, try to absorb them. Use a white cloth or paper towel to avoid discoloring the carpet. Keep blotting until the fabric no longer absorbs any liquid.
  • Interim cleaning: The interim cleaning process cleans the upper layers of the carpeting and can prevent dirt from penetrating deeper into the carpet. There are a few methods custodians use for interim cleaning. One method is bonnet cleaning — a low-moisture system that uses a rotary machine to scrub, which can be rough on carpets. We recommend dry encapsulation, which attracts dirt and crystallizes it for easy removal.
  • Restorative cleaning or periodic deep cleaning: When you notice many untreated stains, a deep cleaning can go a long way in keeping your carpet in excellent condition. This process gets under the surface and extracts dirt from all layers of your carpeting. Have a professional cleaning company use an extraction machine twice annually.

How Do You Clean a Carpet by Hand?

Not all stains need carpet cleaning equipment. After identifying the spot and selecting the right chemical, try to remove the stain by hand first with the following steps:
  1. Read directions: Always follow the instructions provided by the cleaning product manufacturer. Many cleaners require a specific amount of dwell time. Some might go on dry, while others work best when the stain is pre-treated or sprayed with water first. Some chemicals can cause discoloration, so pretest on an inconspicuous piece of the fabric.
  2. Apply treatment: Spray the chemical on the stain. Start at the edges and work towards the center as you apply the mixture.
  3. Dwell and blot: Let the carpet cleaner sit for a few minutes or as long as the instructions recommend. Don’t let the detergent dry. Then, blot the stain using a white towel. Never rub, as this can drive the substance further into the carpet. If the cloth becomes saturated, switch to a new rag to avoid spreading the stain.
  4. Rinse treatment: Rinse the chemical out by spraying with water and blotting with a dry cloth. Residual chemicals can be sticky, which may attract more soil to the same spot. You can prevent resoiling by thoroughly rinsing the carpet.
  5. Wick moisture: Prevent the stain from resurfacing using a dry cloth or paper towel. Weigh down the rag and leave it on top of the stained area overnight. The liquid that penetrated the lower sections of the carpet will rise toward the surface as the carpet dries, and the cloth can wick it up.
  6. Repeat: You may have to repeat your cleaning process a few times to get the stain out completely. If the stain doesn’t seem to be lightening after several attempts, try a different cleaning chemical. Remember not to mix cleaning chemicals.

How to Treat Carpet Stains

If your hand-cleaning attempts are fruitless, you may need to gain a deeper understanding of the stain to treat it properly.

Spots Versus Stains

While sometimes used interchangeably, commercial carpet spot and stain removal are different processes. A spot occurs when a material adds a substance to the fabric. Dirt, grease and sugar cause spots. They are easier to remove, and the process will involve vacuuming either before or after cleaning.

Stains occur when a material adds color to the fabric, meaning it has been dyed. In other words, a spot is on the surface, and a stain is in the fiber. Often, stains have a similar chemical makeup as carpet dye, so removing them improperly could discolor the carpet.

If you can feel texture on the carpet, it is a spot, which can be cleaned with a spotter. Oil-based spots can be cleaned with dry solvents or d-Limonene spotters and are resistant to water-based cleaners. Treating stains is more complicated, and you need to find the right chemical to handle each stain.

Common Stain Treatments

Here are some of the general cleaning chemical options to try:
  • Water-soluble stains: Tracked-in mud, food and beverages and water-based pens are all water-soluble. These are the easiest kinds of stains to treat, and you can use a water-based agent.
  • Petroleum-based stains: Petroleum-based stains include oil, ink and grease and respond to dry or organic solvents. Sometimes you may use a dry solvent in conjunction with a water-based detergent. Olefin and polyester carpets are particularly susceptible to oil stains since the oils can penetrate deeper into the fiber. You’ll need a penetrative dry solvent to combat this. You can prevent resoiling with a hot detergent rinse or a volatile dry solvent.
  • Organic stains: Coffee and tea are harder to remove because the heat bonds with the carpet threads and the substances contain tannins. Other organic stains may come from stubborn food and beverage colorants, such as grape juice or ketchup. When water-based solutions do not work, try an oxidizing agent, such as hydrogen peroxide.
  • Protein stains: A special category of organic stains, protein stains may come from blood, feces or vomit. They require a protein digester or enzyme treatment.
  • Synthetic stains: Most synthetic stains are red dyes, such as those found in sports drinks. They are the hardest to lift, and nylon carpets are particularly susceptible to them. They require a reducing agent applied with a wet towel and steam. While the damp cloth should keep you from melting the fibers, be careful the reducer doesn’t remove the carpet coloring.

How to Remove Old Stains From Commercial Carpet

Old stains are challenging to get out. The longer a substance sits and absorbs into the fibers, the harder it becomes to remove it. Spots can become ground into the lower layers of the carpet as more foot traffic occurs. While you can try some remedies for set-in stains on your own, when they go unnoticed for long enough or have built up over time, a commercial carpet cleaner is your best option.

Homemade Treatments for Old Stains

If your janitorial closet doesn’t have the right cleaning chemicals to remove stubborn stains, try some homemade cleaning solutions, such as:

  • Dish soap: Liquid dish soap neutralizes grease in the kitchen, so it may work on petroleum-based stains. Mix 1/4 teaspoon with warm water and blot the stain.
  • Club soda or hydrogen peroxide: An oxidizer like hydrogen peroxide will work on set-in, organic stains such as dirt and blood. The bubbles in club soda can work similarly. Apply either one, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and work through it with a stiff brush to try to lift deep stains.
  • Ammonia or vinegar: Vinegar is known to clean all kinds of hard and soft surfaces and can work on old carpet stains when blotted. Two tablespoons of ammonia — which you may have in your custodial arsenal — diluted with 1 cup of water, can be extra tough on stains.

Commercial Treatments for Old Stains

Commercial carpet cleaners may use several methods to return your old carpet to a clean, professional state, including:

  • Hot water extraction: Extraction goes below the surface to pull out dirt and other substances. Since many old stains go below the surface of the carpet, extraction can help keep them from resurfacing. First, the floor is vacuumed to remove dry dirt. Then, the carpet is pre-sprayed with a commercial carpet chemical and agitated with a brush. Finally, hot water is applied alongside an alkaline detergent, which neutralizes acid stains and suspends the soil so it can be rinsed and vacuumed. At Corporate Clean Services, we have developed a proprietary wet extraction system which combines hot water extraction with other cleaning processes and speed drying for the best clean possible.
  • Dry encapsulation: Dry encapsulation is considered an interim cleaning process, and it can also be useful for old stains since it targets heavily soiled areas. It involves spraying an encapsulating chemical to surround each soil particle and crystallize it, so it does not attract more soil. The crystals release from the fibers and can be picked up with a vacuum.

Trust Corporate Clean Services to Exceed Your Expectations With Tough Stains

Corporate Clean Services uses only the best equipment and proven methods to clean carpeting without damaging its fibers. We know how to get the toughest stains out of commercial carpet. When you work with us regularly, we can extend the life of your expensive carpet.

We pay incredible attention to detail and use the right method for the type of carpet and soil you have. As part of our superior customer service, you won’t receive a bill until we make sure you’re happy with the job. Contact us for your free quote on our commercial carpet cleaning services today.