It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. We reach for that full glass of soda, milk, wine, coffee or juice, and oops! we knock it over, right onto our carpet.
Many people’s first reaction, after the panic sets in, is to grab a bunch towels, start rubbing the spill or standing on the towels to blot up as much of the spill as possible. After that, they begin spraying any cleaner that is handy to try and clean out the spill. When one cleaner doesn’t work, they move on to the next one, not realizing though, they could be doing more harm than good, and possibly turning the spill into a permanent stain! Nobody wants that!
So what is the best way to handle a fresh spill?
Well, the first reaction, as mentioned above, was right! You need to remove as much of the spill from the carpet as you possibly can. But removing it properly is the key first step.
Get a few terry cloth towels or a handful of paper towels (white ones with no print) and start blotting, not rubbing the spill. Using both hands, blot from the outside of the spill towards the center (like you are kneading dough). Why do it this way? Because if you push down or stand on it with the towels, you are only going to make the spot bigger!
You see, when a full glass of anything spills on the carpet, a lot of the liquid has bypassed the face yarn and has now gone into the carpet pad, which acts like a big sponge.
The size of spill you see on top is actually twice as big underneath. So blotting from the outside towards the center is the best way to contain the spill and keeping it from getting any bigger.
(What works even better yet, if you possess a shop vac or some other piece of equipment that can extract water-based liquids, use it in the same manner by vacuuming from the outside towards the center)
Once you have removed as much of the spill as you can, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Now, get yourself a glass of water. Preferably, purified water – reverse osmosis or distilled is best. If that is not available, then tap water will do. Next, pour a small amount of water where the spill was and then blot again. [Remember, outside towards the center.] Do this a few times or until you feel you have rinsed a good portion of the spill out of the carpet. You may need to use several towels to accomplish this.
But you may ask, “Why just plain water?” The reason is – water is technically a solvent. A “solvent”, as defined in the dictionary, is “A substance, usually a liquid, that is capable of dissolving another substance.” And that’s exactly what water does! Water is also neutral on the pH scale so it can slightly neutralize and dilute whatever water-based spill fell on the carpet, lessening the chance of it becoming a permanent stain.
After blotting as much water out of carpet as possible, you might think you are done. Not true! The next step may sound a little strange, but it’s an important one!
What you need to do now, is get yourself a couple more dry terry cloth towels OR layers of paper towels, and lay them over the spill area. Now weight it down with something a little heavy. Something that water can’t damage. You can even use a stack of books, but put a plastic trash liner on top of the towels so no moisture will soak into the books.
The reason for doing this is to absorb any remaining water and spill residue left in the carpet and pad. You see, as carpet dries, it dries from the bottom up, not from the top down. So anything that is left underneath in the pad, will want to wick to the surface. Since moisture always seeks its driest point, the remaining water that is left, will now bypass the face yarn on the carpet surface and go straight into the weighted down towels.
Leave the area weighted down for at least 12hrs. By then, most of the wicking will have taken place. After 12hrs, remove everything off the spill area and allow it to finish drying.
After drying, if there is still a spot or discoloration where the spill was, call a certified I.I.C.R.C carpet cleaning professional like myself to remove what’s left. If you are in the San Diego area, you can call me. If you are not, look up the I.I.C.R.C online and you will find one in your area.
We will have the proper chemicals, techniques and expertise that can finish removing the stain. If you use any chemicals on the remaining stain, you could set the stain. This will also make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the trained professional to remove it.
While many stains can be removed, sometimes due to what the carpet is made out of and what was spilled on the carpet, after attempting to remove the left over stain, the technician may have no other choice but to do a patch with a spare piece of carpet. But, if you follow the steps as I outlined for you above, the chances of that happening can be reduced.
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