Carpet and furniture cleaners need the best in tools and chemistry, and this is especially true when it comes to the stain removal kit.
With the chemicals available today, you can be successful in removing what used to be the "unremovable" stain.
Most stain kits include the following:
- Flip-top bottles for applying spot or stain solution
- Eyedroppers for applying small amounts of spot or stain solution
- Trigger sprayers for larger spots or stains
- Tamping brush and/or metal, bone or plastic spatulas for safe agitation of spotting solution
- Steam iron to add heat to accelerate chemical action
- Absorbent, white cotton towels
- Measuring cups for proportioning and dilution control.
Today's manufacturers concentrate on building stain kits that have everything you need.
They also include complete directions on how to use the tools and chemicals to better remove stubborn spots and stains.
Dry solvents contain almost no water — although some do have trace amounts of water-based chemicals — and come in many forms. There is no pH factor for true dry solvents.
Dry solvents are used to remove spots such as gum, ink, grease, tar, etc., that are not affected by water-based products.
A volatile dry solvent evaporates completely on its own, while some non-volatile solvents, typically "paint, oil and grease" removers (POG), may need to be rinsed with a volatile dry solvent to remove remaining residue.
Some POGs today are citrus-based and can be rinsed with hot water and detergent.
Remember that dry solvents can quickly penetrate deep into the carpet and can cause delamination of the primary and secondary backings. Because of this, gel-type solvents are safer for carpet because they typically remain in the face fibers.
Ingredients in many types of solvents can also include a variety of alcohols and petroleum products.
On the pH scale, these can be alkaline (such as ammonia), acid (such as acetic or citric) or completely neutral.
These are used to remove a variety of water-based spots and stains, such as those from food, beverages, tannins, urine, etc. Your stain kit directions will help determine the best application.
Enzyme digesters fall in the wet solvent category, although they react with spot and stain material in a unique way. They break down specific types of spotting material, such as blood and tough protein matter.
Rust removers are strong acids and should be used with caution.
More recently, manufacturers are adding special classifications of bleaching agents for removing stains that do not respond to typical chemicals.
Although most formulations are safe for carpet fibers and dyes, always test in an inconspicuous area before proceeding.
Due to their bleaching action, the following wet solvents solve many stain removal challenges.
Professionally-formulated reducing agents remove oxygen (a bleaching action) from stains and work best on synthetic-type stains — artificially colored beverages, many food colorings and medicine dyes, etc.
These reducing agents typically contain the classes of chemistry such as sodium bisulfite, metabisulfite and others.
Acids and heat will act as a catalyst to a reducing agent.
Professionally-formulated oxidizing agents add oxygen (a bleaching action) to stains and work best on organic-type stains — mustard, coffee, tea, condiments, etc.
Liquid hydrogen peroxide-based products that are stronger than the three-percent drug store variety are commonly used by professional carpet cleaners. Powdered sodium percarbonate-based products also work well.
Alkalines and heat will act as a catalyst to an oxidizing agent.
Stain identification is vital for matching chemistry to specific stains. Sometimes, your customer will know what caused the stain.
Despite stain identification efforts, it can often be difficult to identify certain types of stains.
If one type of chemistry doesn't work for the stain you are trying to remove, neutralize and rinse, and then try another chemical.
Don't overdo it
Remember, the customer owns the stain … and you can become the unhappy "owner" of any damage to the carpet if you use overly-aggressive cleaning techniques.