We get many questions regarding which cleaning agents are safest to use on carpets and upholstery. Many contain oxidizing agents which cause a color loss. In fact some of these products are the most heavily marketed with household name recognition. Many are too strong.. For many stains, warm water does the job:
Water is the safest since as it is neutral and removes many stains
Water is the least expensive cleaning agent and usually readily available for quick spot removal
However, water has its limitations. Some tough stains require cleaning agents. They make cleaning easier and disinfect in the process. Often a mild detergent will accomplish the same thing. If you need to buy a cleaning agent, it’s a good idea to go to a local hardware store where the service is generally more personalized and ask for a safe, general spotter cleaning agent. It’s a good idea to test a cleaning agent in an inconspicuous area as a safety precaution.
Most cleaning agents are either water based for typical food stains, dirt, etc. For oil based stains, sometimes solvents are necessary. However, these tend to leave oily residues which need to be removed. Professional cleaning is a good idea in these situations since they need to be extracted.
For most carpets and area rugs, a small amount of water can be applied to the stain and most will be gone. Rub gently to avoid making the texture fuzzy, and for spills, blot inward to contain the spot so that it doesn’t spread to an unaffected area.
Many area rugs such as Oriental rugs contain vivid color patterns. Unlike most carpets, some area rug dyes are sensitive and less colorfast. Using a small amount of water is usually safest.
For upholstery, be very careful. Many fabrics are sensitive to many cleaning agents and also to water. Water rings or marks can easily develop. It’s very important to use the least amount of water using a gentle touch. Professional cleaners avoid these types of issues since they often clean a large area or the entire piece of furniture. By doing so, the cleaning solution can’t spread to a dry area which is how these water marks or rings typically develop. Also keep in mind that a commercial machine is often being used so that cleaning is done in a uniform manner. The skill and experience of the technician is also very important. So for upholstery, it’s often advisable to speak with a professional before taking the plunge. Damage caused by excess moisture is difficult to remove and excess rubbing will cause permanent texture change.
So, focusing on water, how should someone approach a sudden spill or stain? Always use a soft white cloth on all spills and stains whether carpets, upholstery or area rugs. White wash cloths can be used but be very gentle.
Bottom Line: Water is a low risk solution to routine stain removal. Many times a great cleaning agent makes life easier but some are too strong. Products that claim to remove most spots should be tested first and used with caution. Information like that is usually listed in fine print on the product container.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to call us.