Category: Spots And Spills

Urine Stains

Urine Stains

Urine is a problem that we professional carpet cleaners encounter on a regular basis. Whether the source is human or from any animals such as cats and dogs etc. etc. the problems are always the same. Unsightly stain, mal-odours and hygiene issues.  In every case, it is vital that the correct course of action is taken.

DO NOT apply any water or cleaning solution.

To minimise the risk of a permanent stain, it is vital to take immediate action. Using towels and cloths, absorb all of the liquid. For a more detailed explanation of this procedure, see my item “Spillage First Aid” below in the Spots and Spills category.

During decomposition, urine can convert from an acid to an alkaline, creating ammonia in the process. It is important that the correct procedure is followed, otherwise the chemical reaction can create a permanent stain.

Once you are satisfied that the carpet is as dry as possible, you can firstly treat the stain to try to prevent any colour change. Mix distilled (white) vinegar at between 1:10  and 1:5 with cold water. For a pint of liquid, add a teaspoon of Woolsafe carpet shampoo. Test this solution for colour or yarn damage on an out of sight area of the carpet. Apply enough of the solution to wet out the pile. Leave to soak for a few minutes for a fresh stain, then absorb out with towels and cloths followed by paper kitchen towels, until totally dry. Repeat if necessary.

For older, dried in stains, the procedure is the same but repeated a few times without any dwell time for the soak. Only on the final cycle would you leave the solution to soak.

For smallish fresh stains, this may be all the attention required. The acidity of the vinegar has a mild sterilising effect on the soil and will usually prevent the yellow/orange staining associated with urine.

If an anti- bacterial action is required, it may be possible to treat the affected area with a household anti-bacterial kitchen spray. The label on the bottle will probably instruct you not to use it on fabric or carpets, so care must be taken. Test this solution for colour or texture damage on an out of sight area of carpet. Remove any traces of the vinegar solution used as above by treating the affected area with plain water and absorbing with towels in the usual way.  Now spray the affected area sufficiently to wet out the pile, leave to dwell for 5 minutes then absorb out with towels as described above.

For any major stains that have penetrated the carpet’s foundation or backing, the carpet itself may need to be lifted and the backing be treated in a similar way. The local area of underlay may require replacement and even the floor may require treatment. This is typically a job for a carpet restoration specialist.

Never rub or scrub the carpet as this has little benefit and may well cause irrepairable damage.

Ken Wainwright

Tea Stains


Hot beverage spillages have the potential to permanently stain your valuable carpets. Tea has a natural pigment present in the form of tannin. Indeed, many crafts people will use tea as a natural and effective dye for their yarns and textiles.

It cannot be stressed too much how important “first aid” treatment is at the time of the spillage. See my blog entry below “Spillage First Aid”. Briefly, as much of the spillage is removed first before you try to treat the stain. This is done by absorbing the tea from the carpet by placing a folded cotton towel or cloth over the spillage and kneeding or dabbing to lift and absorb the liquid. NEVER rub or scrub. To finish off, or if only a small spillage, repeat the procedure with a few plain white paper kitchen towels folded into a pad. Repeat this procedure until the last paper towel you use remains dry. The more soil and spillage you remove in this way means you will have less soil to clean out later.

If the accident happens at a time when it would be inappropriate to treat the spillage, for example in the presence of visitors, merely placing a thick folded towel over the affected area and placing a weight of some description on top would be a second, but lesser option to the above.

For the cleaning action, mix some white distilled vinegar with cold water at between 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water, increasing the concentration to 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water for more severe staining. Test each and every batch of this solution on an out of sight area of the carpet to ensure that it does not cause any colour or texture damage.

Apply the vinegar solution using a small garden spray bottle with the nozzle set to a fine mist. Wear protective gloves. Starting at the outer perimeters, apply enough of the solution to the stain to wet out the pile of a small area, but not too much that it penetrates through to the carpet backing. Using a dry clean cotton terry towel or cloth, dab at the area to remove the applied liquid and you should see a reduction in the severity of the staining. NEVER rub or scrub. Repeat as required. Continue over the whole area until all of the stain has been treated. Finish off by absorbing any residual moisture with some folded white paper kitchen towels.

If necessary, you can speed dry the area afterwards by placing a fan to blow air over the treated carpet.

Any further treatment would require the use of a professional carpet cleaner who may be able to achieve better results.

Safe and happy cleaning 🙂

Ken Wainwright

Rock Salt Stains


During the winter months, it is not uncommon for rock salt to be carried on peoples’ shoes and into our homes and offices.

Rock salt will stain carpets in an unusual way. The colours may look as though they have been bleached rather than stained, especially the tips of the yarn which can look white in colour.

Rectification is usually possible, but it’s not a quick and easy fix.

DO NOT apply water to the carpet.

DO NOT apply detergent to the carpet.

A vital process with rock salt stains is to firstly remove as much of the dry soiling as possible. The more crystals of salt and grit removed, the lesser the problem. Start by vacuuming the carpet. Not once, nor twice, but over and over again. An upright type machine is preferable and you should move the machine quite slowly, backwards and forwards, over an area well beyond that of the visible staining.  See the KenDry Vacuuming Tips published earlier in this blog.

Once thorough vacuuming has been completed, you can then start to work on the actual stains.  For this you will need a small hand sprayer that can deliver a mist or spray of water rather than a water jet. Some warm water and white distilled vinegar. Mix the vinegar at about one part per ten parts water and fill the spray bottle. Wear rubber gloves. Test this solution on an out of sight piece of the carpet to ensure that there is no colour or texture damage. When you are satisfied that the product will not damage your carpet in any way, mist this solution onto the stained area of carpet.  You are looking to apply just enough to wet out the pile, but not the carpet backing. Leave to dwell for about 10 minutes.

You now need to remove the solution and contaminants. Using a clean towel or cloth, DAB the carpet to remove the moisture and lift off the salt residues. DO NOT rub or scrub.  At this stage, the staining may appear to be gone, but then return when completely dry. Just repeat the spraying, dwell and towelling process. You may wish to increase the distilled white vinegar concentration to 1 part to 5 parts water, but take care and pre-test again as above.

If you are unable to remove really stubborn rock salt stains, you may require the services of a professional carpet cleaner.

Safe and happy cleaning 🙂

Ken Wainwright

Red Wine Stain

Red wine stains are a common and troublesome stain for the householder. Fortunately, for the professional carpet cleaner they are usually quite easy to treat successfully.

Most successful treatments are dependent upon prompt and correct first-aid treatment. Use a folded cotton towel or cloth and absorb/blot the excess liquid. DO NOT RUB, BRUSH OR SCRUB. DO NOT ADD ANY WATER/LIQUID OR DETERGENT. Once this process has removed the bulk of the spilt liquid, take at least three sheets of plain white kitchen paper towel and fold into a pad. Continue to absorb the spillage, applying a little body weight to attract any deeper down liquid. Repeat as required.  The last paper towel you use must remain dry.

If your carpet or fabric has been treated with a good quality stain protector such as Enviroshield or Stainguard Professional, this may be all the treatment required.

For any remaining soil, treat the stain with a (preferably) Woolsafe Approved spot/stain remover or diluted carpet shampoo. Test the carpet/fabric in an out of sight area first to ensure that there will be no damage caused to the dyes or texture.

Working in small areas at a time, apply the minimum amount of product, place a clean cotton towel or cloth over the treated area and using the bowl of a teaspoon, make gentle circular motions over the treated area. This is all the agitation your carpet needs. The towel will absorb any released soil/spillage. Repeat as required, using only minimum amounts of  product at a time. Always start at the outer edges of a stain and work towards the centre.

When you are satisfied that there is no further soil removal, as observed on the absorbent towel, it is important to remove the shampoo residue, just as you would when washing your own hair with shampoo. Again working a small area at a time, apply a small amount of water to the treated area. Gently tap/massage with a finger to create a little foam then absorb with a clean towel as in the first aid treatment above. On most carpets, a teaspoon of water will treat an area approximately the size of a 50p coin.         

Many red wines have the characteristic of an indicator dye. A bit like the litmus paper we used to use at school to identify acids and alkali.  If your red wine stain should turn a dark blue/black colour, don’t panic. It can easily be corrected by a professional carpet cleaner using a mild reducing agent.  This is not the type of process I would recommend for the untrained householder. 

Ken Wainwright

Lily Pollen Stains

Lily pollen stains can be problematic if you do not know what to do. Incorrect processes can make the successful treatment of the stain more difficult or even impossible.

Lily pollen is a very oily and sticky substance which can easily be driven deeper into a textiles core or foundation.

NEVER rub, scrub or vacuum lily pollen.

NEVER apply water or detergent to lily pollen.

NEVER use a cloth or towel to absorb lily pollen, as you would with a liquid spillage.

For fresh accidents, try carefully and gently to lift the soil using sticky Selotape or similar. Keep using a clean area of tape for each “dab” and be careful not to redeposit lifted pollen elsewhere.

For more resistant deposits, a chemical approach will be necessary.

ALWAYS test every product you apply to a carpet or textile somewhere out of sight. Check for colour loss/change and texture damage.

Ventilate the room and keep all other persons away. Avoid naked flames. No smoking. Wear protective gloves and any other safety equipment as appropriate.  Apply a little surgical spirit to a clean towel or cloth and gently lift the pollen from the fabric or carpet with a gentle dabbing action. Many other solvents eg white spirit, will also perform well, but solvent residues may themselves create a greasy spot which itself may need to be cleaned.

If the above treatments are not successful, you may need to call a professional carpet cleaner for more advanced procedures to be carried out.

Safe and happy cleaning
Ken Wainwright

Spots And Stains

Many people will regard spots and stains as being one and the same. Here at Ken Wainwright’s of Alvechurch, we look at them as two very different problems.

These are typically spillages, some of which, over time, will attract soil to become a black or dark coloured spot. Simple spot removal techniques or even straight forward cleaning can successfully remove the spot. They will often contain sugar or grease/oil/fat which may or may not be colourless, but over time will attract soil. Spots can be small or large.

Stains are very different to spots but may contain some of the soil attracting contaminants of a spot. We describe a stain as being a source of soil or spillage that will actually change the appearance of the carpet or fabric by adding or removing colour. Classic examples are bleach, which will remove colour from many carpets and fabrics, or red wine which will add a red colour to the textile.

There are three primary colours which, when mixed together in certain quantities, will produce all other colours. Black and white are classified as being extremes of dark and light, so are often not strictly regarded as colours. But black can be made by mixing large equal amounts all three primary colours and can then be used for shading other colours.

Red is usually the easiest coloured stain to remove, followed by blue with yellow being the most difficult. It is, however, always a balancing act for the professional carpet cleaner to remove as much of the staining colour as possible, but without removing any of the carpets own colour.

Many carpets will be made with a polypropylene yarn. The manufacturers will advise that stains can be removed using household bleach. Beware, bleach is a dangerous product to work with. Never use it neat on any textile. Take appropriate personal Health and Safety precautions as advised by the manufacturer. Before starting work with a bleach, make sure you have the ability to safely rinse away any residues, and NEVER mix a bleach with any other chemicals.

Finally, when treating spots and stains on your own carpets and fabrics, always treat an inconspicuous area first and allow to dry. You are not only looking for colour/dye bleed, but texture change and other discolourations too.

Safe and happy spot cleaning
Ken Wainwright

Spillage First Aid

The successful removal of spills and spots is usually dependant upon the initial “First Aid Treatment”. Do the wrong thing and you could permanently damage your valuable carpets or upholstery.

Immediate attention to a spillage is essential. Even distilled water can damage some carpets and fabrics if not attended to.

For all but the smallest spillage, absorbing the liquid with a towel is essential. Fold the towel into a pad, place on the wet area, apply some pressure and allow the wicking action of the towel to absorb the spillage. Repeat this procedure until you have absorbed as much as you can.

The next stage, or the first stage for a small spillage, is to make a pad from some plain white paper kitchen towel, I use three sheets, and place the pad over the damp area and continue to absorb any residual liquid. With paper towels, you will be able to see if any further liquid is being removed. Repeat this process until the last pad you use remains dry.

If your carpet has been treated with a stain resist protector such as Enviroshield or Stainshield, this may be all you need to do to completely remove the spillage. Any residual staining will be less concentrated than otherwise would be the case, so the likelihood of complete stain removal is more likely.

You must never rub or scrub your carpets or fabrics. This will frequently lead to permanent damage.

Never treat a spot or stain without first carrying out the First Aid Treatment described above.

Don’t pour white wine on top of red in the hope that some miraculous chemical reaction will make the stain magically disappear.

If in doubt about what to do, contact a professional carpet cleaner FIRST. Afterwards may be too late.

Safe and happy cleaning 🙂