The old adage, “It can’t hurt to try!” applies in many ways, but not in spot cleaning. Failed spot cleaning often leads to permanent stains.
On the other hand, time is your enemy as well. The sooner you can remove the spot from your carpet or furniture, the less likely it is to stain the fabric. Thus you have a classic, damned if you do — damned if you don’t scenario.
If you’re not certain you can get the spot out yourself, it’s best to call a professional carpet cleaner out as soon as possible. If you do attempt to clean the spot yourself and fail, there is still a good chance a professional carpet cleaner can still get the spot out, but it is even more important to act quickly.
Expect to have to get the whole room or piece of furniture cleaned if it hasn’t been cleaned recently as cleaning one spot can make the rest of it look dirty.
A lot of carpet cleaning companies have spot cleaning tips or procedures on their web site as a feature for their visitors. These often involve the use of products not readily available to the average consumer. Also, some of the remedies involve techniques that require a bit of skill to apply. A high percentage of these spot removal techniques require the use of multiple steps and products increasing your chances of permanent staining if you fail. This is not to say they don’t work. On the contrary, most of them work if applied properly using the correct products and techniques to a correctly identified stain.
I’m not trying to discourage you from do-it-yourself spot cleaning. I’m just trying to give you a complete picture of what’s involved so you can weigh all the factors before deciding what to do.
The carpeting in our bedrooms is sixteen years old, pink and full of little stains. When I spill something I just grab a few things and do the best I can. If it gets most of it out and leaves a little stain I’m fine with it because the carpet is not in great shape to begin with. So, It’s all relative. If my carpet was in excellent condition I wouldn’t hesitate to call a carpet cleaner.
It’s sad to see customers ruin thousands of dollars worth of carpet to try to save a few dollars. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Stanley Steemer commercial where the driver of the van stops in front of a discarded carpet lying by the curb and gets out, hugs it and starts crying, “Why! Why! I could have saved you …” Oh well, enough plugging my competitor.
Many potential permanent stains can be avoided. I would not recommend polishing your nails over a carpeted or upholstered area. Drinks with food coloring like fruit punches or Kool-Aid also present a difficult problem. These substances can actually dye your carpet.
If your carpet is fabric protected and you catch the spill immediately, you can often blot up the spill and prevent a stain. Keep in mind protectors lose their effectiveness over time and need to be periodically reapplied.
Professional carpet cleaners have products available to them that the average consumer won’t find in the super market. They also are trained in what product to use with what spot. Trial and error can be deadly in spot cleaning as each failed attempt compounds the problem.
All said, the good news is that most spills don’t leave a permanent stain and there’s a good chance that even if you do the wrong thing a professional can correct the situation. I hope the above helps you make the right decision if the need arises.