First aid for carpets
Modern carpets are designed to handle the rough and tumble of modern life - to a point. Like all textiles they have their limit, but often, prompt action can save them.
Mineral liquids, like petrol and kerosene will usually destroy your carpet, but they are rarely found inside the home. Most often it is food, drinks or body fluids, which end up on the floor.
Water is the universal solvent for food, drinks or body fluids, such as blood or vomit.
When a spill occurs, time is of the essence!
- First, blot up all of the standing soil. Use a white paper towel and a scraper if necessary.
- Then pour clean cold water on to the area. Use a cup to ladle the water from a bucket.
- Using a sponge or clean white towel, soak up the water and the soil and wring it into another bucket.
- Continue to flush the soil out of the carpet until the colour has gone.
- Do not rub the carpet. Use a tamping or blotting action.
- Stubborn stains may respond to the use of a surfactant such as a wool wash like you would use for a woollen jumper, in the cold-water bucket.
- A little gentle agitation with a new shoe polish brush may also help. Do not use any brush, which has been used for other purposes.
- When the colour has gone, blot up the last of the water.
- Fold a dry white towel several times to make a pad, which covers the soiled area. Add other towels on top until the pad is a few centimetres high.
- Place some books on top of the stack of towels to keep them in contact with the carpet and each other.
- The remaining water will wick up into the towels.
It is not a good idea to put more contaminants on to the carpet. Salt, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and even white wine have been used. Sometimes they will work, but when they don’t, they can fix or set the stain.
Dilution with cold water is the safest action. Heated water can fix, or set protein based soils, such as blood or foods containing other proteins, such as egg.
Once the soil has dried, it often becomes a job for a properly trained carpet restoration technician.