The Magic Bullet

peroxide bottle

Our profession is a wonderful one for a person who wants to fill their days with new people, places, and experiences. Serving such a wide swath of West Michigan allows Randy’s Carpet Care cleaning technicians a healthy dose of diversity every day. You never know who you’re going to meet, what opportunities they might provide you, or what burning question that may must have answered.

Well, mostly.

Every day is sure to include at least one regular question, repeated like a chorus from home to home: “How can I get that stain out on my own?” Oftentimes, the frank answer is to call the professionals. However, sometimes the answer is another simple one, and it doesn’t involve fancy products, thirty six years worth of carpet cleaning experience, or a master’s’ degree in chemistry. Why, you probably have the solution in your house already, and you most likely have been using it wrong all along.

Let’s back up a little and describe the problems the do-it-yourself (DIY) method can present for your carpets. On average, when a stain makes its way from your coffee cup or beloved pet to the fibers of your carpet, people reach for a store-bought cleaning chemical like Resolve or Woolite. I’m not going to attempt to destroy the reputation of these fine products, but I am going to ask you this: Are you rinsing the product out of your carpet after you’ve worked on the stain(s)? While these products can and will remove some stains, they themselves can exacerbate the problem.

Browning is a common occurrence. As your carpet dries from your cleaning attempt, it will draw up whatever is left behind at the bottom of the fibers to the tips of the carpet (we call this “wicking”). Residual dirt, coffee, soda, and even soaps and shampoos will surface, and as the water evaporates, the residue and particles leave the carpet looking dark, brown, and sometimes worse than what you started with. Even when browning does not occur, the soaps and shampoos are like a tar pit, trapping innocent particles that happen by. Over an all too short period of time, these particles build up and give the appearance that the original stain has come back from the dead – it may even look worse than it did before!

Here’s what you can do if you’re the DIY type. First, ask yourself, “Is this an organic stain without chunks?” If it’s a coffee, urine, or wine stain, you can answer “Yes.” If the stain is meat sauce or salty winter mud, the answer is “No,” and your best bet is to call Randy’s Carpet Care.

You answered, “Yes?” Okay. Now go to your medicine cabinet and grab that brown bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide from inside. You’ve probably been using this for cuts and scrapes all of your life, just like Mom did, but that’s a bad idea. This can kill good bacteria as well as bad. Peroxide can be put to better use as a cleaner and mild bleaching agent. Take a spray nozzle (they’re mostly universal) and screw it right on the top of the brown bottle. Mist enough peroxide on top of the stain to get it moist, but avoid soaking it. If you’re not squeamish, use your fingers to brush it in (or just use an old brush if you have cause for being squeamish). It will take about eight hours to get the full effect, so go on with your life and come back to the stain later in the day or even tomorrow. If it hasn’t worked well enough for you, try it again. You won’t hurt anything. The best reason for treating your carpet stains with Hydrogen Peroxide is that it won’t leave any residues behind. It comes in those brown bottles to keep it from turning into oxygen or water, and that’s exactly what it’ll do over the course of those eight hours. Well, that, and (hopefully; fingers crossed) fix your stain.

Don’t let the term “bleaching” scare you. Household hydrogen peroxide (or H2O2) is diluted about 98%, and the stuff we use professionally is much stronger and also quite safe for most carpets, which are essentially made of plastic. The chemical works through oxidation, by blasting the stain with oxygen. It won’t permanently remove colors like the chlorine bleach you use for your whites when doing laundry. The exception to this rule is natural fibers such as wool; don’t use it on natural fiber carpets without testing for colorfastness first. This can be done by applying some peroxide to a clean white towel and pressing it against a small colorful but innocuous spot of the carpet (corners are usually the best) and holding it there for a couple of minutes. When you pick the towel up, look to see if any of the dyes have transferred from the carpet to your towel. If your towel remains white, it’s probably safe to use the peroxide on the stain.

While hydrogen peroxide is super handy to have around, it is not the be-all-end-all magical bullet of DIY carpet cleaning. Sometimes, you have to bite that proverbial bullet and call in a professional. At Randy’s Carpet Care, we use a hot water extraction process that removes both the dirt and the detergents from your carpet as well as most of the water we use, so the opportunities for browning/wicking are drastically reduced. Also, because there is no magical bullet for cleaning all stains, we use specific chemicals for specific kinds of stains. While you may use Resolve or Woolite for blood, grease, or cola stains alike, we will use a different chemical treatment for each, and our highly trained and skilled technicians have the knowledge and experience to get the best possible results for you every time. The people and the places may change, but like that commonly asked question, our processes can be depended upon every day, from home to home.

 

For more information on Hydrogen Peroxide and its potential uses and benefits, see:

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