There comes a time with every carpet when the owner needs to decide if the carpet needs to be replaced or if it can be effectively cleaned to an acceptable condition.
Of course we all have different criteria for what an acceptable condition is.
Still, when making this decision it would helpful to have a professional carpet cleaners perspective on how well carpets can clean up.
Hi, I have been a professional carpet cleaner in Anchorage Alaska for over 30 years. People are always asking us if this stain will come up or if we can get that traffic pattern out. So, I thought I would write an article about what stains and conditions that professional carpet cleaners can handle and when maybe it is time to replace that carpet.
There could be different standards that you apply as far as what is acceptable. You might be willing to let carpet in an average apartment complex become a little more worn or stained than you would for a carpet in your own home. We understand that tenants usually don’t worry to much about how long the carpets last.
Also we need to take into account that some problems we can fix but fixing them may cost more than it is worth. For example you would not pay a professional $300 to remove a bunch of red dye stains if you knew you were going to replace the carpet in six months.
With all of that in mind here are some general rules of thumb.
Please understand when I say that a certain condition can be fixed I am saying that a company using using the proper tech equipment with the proper cleaning solution could most likely fix the problem.
Can bad traffic patterns be cleaned up?
Traffic patterns develop because either the traffic is extremely thick in that one area or else the people there have not done a good job of keeping that area vacuumed. Usually traffic patters are because soil and sand has worn away the fibers and they have become penetrated with soil or have lost their strength and lay down flat. Another problem is that the soil is often in the backing and even in the padding under the carpet. This means even after the carpets are cleaned the soil in the backing or padding might very well wick back up the surface in a few hours.
Typically a professional with the right knowledge and equipment can remove all of the soil from traffic patterns and we have tools and processes that allow us to keep the deep soil from wicking up.
As far as the soiling goes we can save carpets with traffic area problems.
Now if the carpets have already been damaged to the point were the fibers are mashed down and will not recover the best you will have is mashed down clean carpets.
What you need to do to determine your course of action is to get on your hands and knees and closely examine the carpets. If the fibers are in relatively good shape and they are just dirty you might choose just to have them cleaned.
You do need to know that carpet cleaners are going to need to charge a little more to deal with this kind of issue. It takes a lot more time to clean and there are certain chemicals that are used to keep the soil from wicking up.
This process is called encapsulation.
Stains- There are many different types of stains and even conditions that look like stains but are instead, permanent damage to the carpet.
Bleach stains can not be cleaned up. It is maybe possible to dye or replace the carpet where the bleach spot is. If you have a lot of bleach spots it will most likely not be worth the money spent to fix the problem. If it is decent carpet with one or two bleach spots then it is worth looking into.
Dye stains can be cleaned up but it takes a separate process than regular carpet cleaning to do it. If you feel you could spend around $30 to $50 per dye stain then this might be a good choice. You can remove dye stains yourself. It is a matter of educating yourself on the process but it is not that difficult to do. It can be time consuming.
Deep stains- Deep stains are stains that are big enough to have traveled all of the way into the backing and the padding. With regular carpet cleaning it is impossible to remove the stain that is in the padding under the carpet. Carpet cleaners can remove the stain on the carpet fibers but with time many deep stains will wick back up.
Fortunately there is a technology that allows professionals with the right equipment to clean up deep stains and to use the encapsulation process to retard the wicking. Just like the dye stain removal however this is going to cost you extra money to get these stains out and treat them with the encapsulation treatment.
Probabaly around $30 per spot. This is done with a tool called a Water Claw and it is a separate process from the regular cleaning process. Again you need to decide if it is worth your money on these carpets.
Other stains- if there are only 10 to 15 stains in the dwelling and they are not dye stains, bleach stains, deep stains or odor problems then they should be removed and covered in the normal cost of cleaning a carpet. Once you get to a point where there are an excessive number of stains it is going to cost more money. I would explain on the phone to your carpet cleaner and make sure you are on the same page about the cost.
Odor problems- If the place smells really bad then replace the carpets. If it is cat urine then replace that carpet where the cat urine is. If it is a few 10 or less small dog urine spots then perhaps the carpets can be saved. It depends on the severity of the urine.
If you have just a small urine odor problem then talk to your carpet cleaner about it and see what they might charge. If they need to come out and do a black light examination to find the urine then maybe unless the carpet is in decent shape you should just replace it.
The key thing to do is to have a conversation with a knowledgeable carpet cleaner about your particular situation. If you have musty or moldy smells then replace the carpet.
Apparent soiling- Apparent soiling is when a carpet looks dirty but it is clean but the damage to the carpets makes it look dirty or faded. Sun fading is an example of this.
Urine stains left too long may bleach out the blue dye in carpets leaving red or yellow carpet fibers. This is not a stain it is an absence of color. Often time traffic areas will look faded or even slightly gray when they are completely clean. This is because of the damage to the fibers. When fibers get seriously abraded they reflect light differently than undamaged carpets and they look duller. Cleaning will do nothing for apparent soiling. It is damaged carpet.
Well, I hope this is helpful if you are in a situation where you are deciding on whether to try to save the carpets or not. For you other carpet cleaners out there I hope this knowledge helps you be a better carpet cleaner.