Carpet Spots: If You Can Touch Them You Can Remove Them

There’s an adage, and of course no one knows who said it first, but it goes like this: “A blind man can find a spot, but he can’t find a stain.”

When you first read this, it raises a lot of questions, but here’s the point.  A spot is typically caused by a substance attaching to carpet fibers.  This we can feel.  A stain, on the other hand, changes the color of the carpet fibers.  This is not apparent to touch.

So now that we know spots can be felt on carpet, there is something else we need to know.  In most cases, spots can be removed.

Carpet spotting solution technology has advanced to the point that just about any spot on a carpet can be eliminated or at least made less noticeable.  This is not true of all stains.  As we just mentioned, a stain often changes the color of fibers.  In such situations, about all that can be done is to cut out the damaged area.

Carpet cleaning technicians must deal with spots and stains every day and over time, get pretty astute as to identifying what they are, what caused them, and what spotting solutions and measures are needed to remove them.  However, this may not be as true for facility managers and contract cleaning professionals.

But, spot identification is critical. Knowing what the spot is helps us select the most effective spotting solution to remove it in the fastest and most effective means possible.

The following are some of the key ways facility managers and contract cleaners can identify a spot on a carpet:

Ask.  Ask building users if they know what the spot could be.  However, this may not go very far.  Often building users do not want to take responsibility for a spot, so don’t be surprised if they say they have no idea what it is – or who or what caused it.

Size. “Dime-sized” spots in an office typically are coffee or cola, especially if they are found near vending machines or a food service area. “Dinner-plate-sized spots are often the result of a coffee or cola spill.

Shape. Some spots are perfectly geometric.  They are either round, square, oval, rectangular, etc. This typically is not a spot.  Instead, this usually indicates a color-loss condition.  Possibly a chair or piece of furniture was sitting in that area.  Just to make sure, rub your fingers of the area. If you can feel something, it most likely is a spot.  If not, it is likely color-loss.  However, oval-shaped spots are often the result of detergent residue left in the carpet after carpet extraction. Re-extract these areas to remove the spot.

Smell. This can be one of the most effective ways of identifying a spot, especially if it is food-related.  However, play it safe.  Dampen a wet towel and absorb (transfer) a small amount of the spot into the cloth and then smell the cloth. The spot could be caused by a harmful material.  This step can help reduce the harm.

Location.  If the spot is near an entry door, it likely is either wet soil, mud, or soil mixed in with oil and grease.  Foods and beverages invariably cause spots near a food service area.  But, it’s spots located in the interior of the facility that can be the most difficult to identify. For instance, discoloration can occur due to air moving over carpet from a nearby vent.  Mold can also discolor carpet as can shoe polish, ink and ink markers.

Color. This would apply primarily to residential settings, but wine invariably causes a red stain.  A yellow stain is often the result of urine on the carpet. Dark spots are typically some type of soil on the carpet surface. But the color we do not want to see is white.  White usually means the carpet’s color has been changed and most likely caused by bleach.  In most cases, this cannot be removed by spotting solutions.

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