The popularity of fruit flavored soft drinks, such as Kool-aid® and sport beverages (Gatorade®, Powerade®) has increased the likelihood of inconvenient spills on carpet. These spills need not cause alarm. Prior to the introduction of stain-resist treatments for carpet, such a mishap would have meant a permanent stain, but most carpet available today has been treated to resist these beverage stains. While no carpet is completely stain proof, most beverage spills can be removed with immediate action and patience.
In removing any spill from carpet, the most effective approach is to use patience and follow directions carefully. Often, consumers become convinced that a stain is permanent before the spot removal solution has had adequate time to begin lifting the spill. By taking immediate action and carefully following the spot removal directions listed, you can prevent permanent staining on most stain-resist treated carpet.
Blot the spill with a dry, white, absorbent cloth or plain white (no printing) paper towels. Do not scrub the area! Scrubbing can cause pile distortion in the affected area. Continue to use a dry cloth or paper towels to remove as much of the spill as possible. Always work from the outer edges of the spill to the center to prevent spreading.
Most fruit flavor and sport beverages contain acid dyes such as red # 40, yellow # 5, yellow # 6, etc. and can be effectively removed using an alkaline detergent solution or a specialty carpet spot removal product available through carpet retailers, grocery stores, and department stores. These solutions will effectively lift most beverage spills; however, prior to using any spot removal agent, ensure that its use will not void any carpet warranties.
If a commercial spot removal product is not available, mix 1/4 teaspoon of a mild, liquid dishwashing detergent with one cup of warm water. NEVER USE A STRONGER CONCENTRATION! Use care in selecting a detergent. Do not use an automatic dishwashing detergent! Many contain bleaching agents that destroy carpet color. Never use a laundry detergent of any type, because they may contain optical brighteners (fluorescent dyes) that dye carpet fiber.
Pretest any spot removal agent in an inconspicuous area to make certain the solution will not damage yarns or dyes. After applying several drops to the testing area, hold a white cloth on the wet area for ten seconds. Examine the carpet and cloth for color transfer, color change, or damage to the carpet. If a change occurs, select another cleaning solution.
Next, apply a small amount of the selected cleaning solution to a white cloth and work gently into carpet. IMPORTANT! Allow the detergent solution to remain on the spill for eight to ten minutes before attempting removal. Most detergent solutions require adequate dwell time to begin lifting the stain. Blot, working from the edges of the spill to the center to prevent the spill from spreading. Do not scrub! Blot again, absorbing as much as possible.
Continue repeating the application of the detergent solution as long as there is a transfer of the spill to the cloth. For most spills, transfer of the spill will slowly increase and then gradually decrease. Be patient! Complete removal of the spill may require repeating the application of detergent several times.
After the spill has been completely removed, rinse the affected area thoroughly with warm water and blot with a dry cloth until all of the solution has been removed. Most detergent solutions will cause rapid soiling if the solution is not completely removed. It may be necessary to rinse with warm water several times to completely remove residues. Continue rinsing with warm water, lightly agitating and blotting the affected area until all foaming has disappeared.
Following complete removal of the detergent solution, rinse the affected area with a solution of one part white vinegar and one part warm water to neutralize and rinse with warm water.
Apply a one-half inch layer of white paper towels to the affected area. Weigh down with a flat, heavy object. Change paper towels as needed to absorb remaining moisture.
Should the spill remain after repeated removal attempts. Contact a carpet cleaning professional. Carpet cleaning professionals have the ability and the equipment to use more aggressive stain removal solutions to remove stubborn spills. Always consider consulting a professional regarding any spot removal question.
Many carpet cleaners may use a hot transfer treatment in which they utilize a special chemical solution, a wet cotton towel, and a hot steam iron o remove the stain. The chemical will allow carpet dye sites to open and the hot steam iron will force the staining material to be absorbed by the cotton towel.
About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.