A cautionary tale by Jeremy Strickland
Murphy’s Law is “If it can go wrong, it will.” With this in mind, it’ll be no surprise to you, dear reader, that the day after I last cleaned my carpets, a meatball got up off of my little boy’s dinner plate and leapt from the table top, splattering on the carpet by Vik’s feet. A red radius of grease and tomato sauce exploded from the orb as it made impact. Oh, the carnage! Come to think of it, given the timing of this incident, it has got to be an example of another law altogether, not necessarily pertaining to what can go wrong so much as when. Let’s call it “Viktor’s Law.” We’ll state it as, “If it can go wrong at an inopportune time and/or location, it will.”
Now, I’m fortunate enough to be trained as an elite specialist in this kind of situation. Not only could I adeptly navigate Vik’s mourning of his lost meatball (with a rousing chorus of “On Top Of Spaghetti”), I also possess the know-how to deal with the crime scene. No problem. I’m a professional carpet cleaning technician. I got this.
But what if I wasn’t a carpet cleaner? What if I was an accountant who didn’t know all of the words to “On Top of Spaghetti,” let alone how to remove a spot from the carpet? How would I know what to do in this situation? Would I even know whether or not the spot was something that I could treat myself? Probably not.
Because no two spills or spots are the same, different chemicals and different processes are required in order to get optimum results. Let’s look at a few spots that an accountant (or you) could handle on her own, and then we’ll talk about other spots which are best left to a professional.
Vomit and feces, gross as they may be, can usually be cleaned out of your carpet without calling in a professional. I’ve outlined this process in detail here. Gum can also be taken out with DIY methods. What you want to do is, fill a sandwich bag with ice, seal it, and leave it on top of the gum for 20-30 minutes. Once the gum is frozen(ish), it’ll be simple enough to scrape it off of the carpet strands. Whatever spotting is left can probably be removed with hot water and a little dish soap. Don’t use other soaps. Unless you can rinse and extract, soaps will leave residues in the carpet that act like a tar pit; every dinosaur that walks by will leave a fossil behind, and the cleaned spot will get dirty again quick. Instead of soaps, distilled water, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide are better options. Vinegar’s a fine disinfectant (and bleach alternative) and peroxide is excellent for organic spots. Peroxide and cold water may even do the trick for cleaning blood out of your carpet, but I wouldn’t risk it if I were you. If you apply any heat or chemicals, you could end up cooking the blood, making it impossible to remove.
So, cooked blood. Yeah. This is a good point to discuss what to call a professional in for:
- Red wine. Attempt to clean this yourself, and you risk shifting the PH, which will make cleaning more difficult, maybe impossible, even for a professional.
- Plant messes. You’ll make things worse by grinding dirt into the carpet’s backing.
- Paint, nail polish, ink, or wood stain. Don’t touch it. Abandon ship. Run away! Let it dry. If you attempt a cleaning, you could spread it.
- Urine. Ammonium salts form in the residues, making for a difficult spot which can stay moist underneath the carpet for years(!). I’ve written about this in detail here.
- Anything spilled on wool or other natural fibers. You’ll ruin the carpet. Remember Murphy’s Law?
Murphy reminds us that things will go wrong, and Viktor reminds us that things will go wrong in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’re in West Michigan, you’re lucky to have Randy’s Carpet Care available to right these wrongs for you – any time, any place. Estimates are always free, so when in doubt, call (616)392-1400 and ask our receptionist to send me out to meet you. Just be gentle if you want to talk about leaping meatballs. The wounds are still fresh.