Fast and decisive action is always required when you’re dealing with stains. However, different stains call for different removal techniques — and choosing the wrong approach could make the situation worse.
Whenever a stain, or the prospect of one, rears its ugly head, the natural reaction is often one of panic. However, this can lead to poor decisions being made; decisions with the potential to actually make the stain worse. The next time disaster strikes on your carpets or upholstery, make sure you don’t make one of these relatively common stain-removal tips.
1. Using hot water
Hot water can permanently set certain types of staining, including blood. Always treat your stains with cold tap water.
2. Adding salt to red wine
Spilling red wine is a nightmare scenario for any carpet, and adding salt can make it worse. Instead, stick to dishwashing detergent, baking soda, white vinegar and absorbent cloths or paper towels. You might also find that superheated steam from a steam mop does the trick.
3. Mixing stain-removers
You might think that mixing several powerful stain-removal agents together will deliver a better outcome. However, certain chemicals can react dangerously when combined — potentially creating caustic gases.
4. Tackling stains on antique upholstery
Older upholstered furniture can be very fragile, and scrubbing away with a range of cleaning agents could cause serious damage. If you’re dealing with an expensive antique, call in an expert.
5. Drenching stains
It is easy to flood a carpet or an area of upholstery when faced with a serious stain. However, this can lead to different problems, such as warping and the permanent damage of fibres. Always follow the usage instructions that come with cleaning agents. If you’re using a homemade remedy, use very small amounts of liquids; test the results, and then add a little more if necessary.
6. Adding enzyme-based cleaners to natural fabrics
The enzymes in certain stain-removers can break down the protein fibres in natural materials such as wool, silk and cotton.
In a state of panic, a lot of people resort to scrubbing their carpets and upholstery rigorously in order to remove stains before they take hold. This is the worst thing you can do. Not only will scrubbing cause permanent damage to carpet fibres, it may also spread the stain and speed up the staining process.
8. Rubbing detergent or soap into fresh stains
Particularly if you’re dealing with a pigment stain caused by the likes of tea, coffee and wine, rubbing in soap can actually help the stain to set. Clear the area of debris, soak up the spillage with paper towels, and then spray it with a solution of water and vinegar. Dab the solution up, and then use your chosen detergent.
9. Using bleach or strong hydrogen peroxide solutions on natural fibres
The delicate fibres of natural materials such as wool and silk will not stand up to the relatively abrasive properties of bleach. Always refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions before you start to remove stains from upholstery, curtains and carpets.
10. Calling it quits
Once you have completed a cycle of stain-removal efforts, check to see if the stain has gone. It often takes several cycles before a stain is fully removed, so don’t give up too soon.
Stains can spell the end of carpets and furniture — but never give up without a fight!