The hardest part of conquering a stain is figuring out which product to use. It depends on the stain. It would be nice if there were one product that took care of every stain, but it simply doesn’t exist. So it’s up to you to create your own stain-fighting arsenal with these tips.
Stains slow you down. It pays to read the bottle and understand the manufacturer’s suggestions. Doing a little research early on can help you consolidate your collection of stain removers. Otherwise, you’ll end up with one cleaner for each stain you encounter, and there’s a smarter way. Look for a concentrated multitasking cleaner whenever possible. How do you know if a product is formulated for multiple tasks? The biggest giveaway is when a product gives dilution instructions for various applications. That’s how you know you have a multitasking product on your hands.
With interior jobs, the most common stains are oil-based and those consisting of general dust and grime – what we like to call “whoops, I accidently dragged that on the carpet.” It happens.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in high-quality floor and surface protection that you can use from job to job. You’re a professional; don’t leave things to chance. Many drop cloths and surface protectors today are durable, waterproof and reusable.
Still, there could come a time when you’re on a job and you see a stain or a spot on the carpet and you think “Where did that come from?” only to realize it came from your shoe.
Will any cleaner work? No. Some stain removers claim to clean wet paint from carpet, but what if it’s mud, oil, grease or something else? Try to identify the culprit. A good multitasking cleaner will be very helpful when you aren’t sure what the stain is.
Look specifically for cleaners that contain the word “carpet.” You want a cleaner that can tackle both wet and dry paint on carpet, while also able to deal with organic stains like food, drink and mud. Always test the product on an inconspicuous area to ensure the chemical doesn’t affect the color of the carpet.
Finally, if you take on a job with fine-threaded carpet or oriental rugs, do yourself a favor and buy a good floor protector, because even plain water can damage some of those fine fibers.
Many products on the market make it difficult to clean vertical surfaces and carpets. You see a stain on a wall, let’s say, so you spray your cleaner of choice and then spend the next few minutes chasing streaks of product down the wall. With carpet, your cleaner may sink in immediately when you need it to stay on the surface. There are now products on the market that are thicker, and some are equipped with special nozzles that dispense fluffy foam. The product clings to the surface, allowing more contact time with the actual stain.
These typically fall into two categories – organic stains caused by oils and biological stains caused by mold, mildew or algae.
If the surface of the stain is porous, like concrete or wood, even bleach can’t get all the mold and mildew. At that point, your best course of action is to replace the contaminated material. If that’s not possible, remove the stains and apply a coating containing an EPA-registered product that is designed to inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and algae on dry film; this will help prevent your stain from returning.
If you decide to put an EPA-registered product into paint, stain or other type of coating, make sure the product can be added. Some EPA-registered products are almost paste-like, requiring quite a bit of of manual effort to blend them with the coating of your choice. Others are water-thin and mix in with minimal effort.
Make sure your work will stand the test of time. Put in the prep work, and start with a clean surface. Be prepared for a few bumps along the way – tracking in a little dirt or grease, a slight-of-hand accident.
It’s nothing to stress about if you have the products you need. Choose those that are concentrated and good at cleaning more than one thing. If you can narrow your stain remover collection down to a few excellent products that work fast and satisfy most of your needs, you’ll save both time and money without sacrificing quality. APC