Although there could be other reasons for the complaint, many times this occurs because of recurring spots.
Recurring spots are spots that seemed to go away during cleaning, but then mysteriously show up after the carpet is dry.
Although some of the following information is common knowledge in the industry, reviewing it and explaining it to your customers or clients will help keep you out of trouble.
Prevention is good medicine
Although not all of your clients will subscribe to the idea of a fabric protector to fight future spots and stains, it’s a tool in your arsenal that will help.
A good fabric protector will repel spots and keep the fibers from absorbing what is spilled, giving you and the customer time to remove the spot before it becomes trouble.
One of the problems in carpet cleaning is that many of your customers will use anything at hand to attempt “do-it-yourself” cleaning, thus destroying any protection and making the spot tougher to remove.
That means you are going to have to work harder.
Remember that “like attracts like,” and to remove spots means you have to use the correct spotter. But don’t use too much and be sure to rinse out all residues.
Leaving residues behind can be just as bad as not removing the spot in the first place.
An acid-side rinse helps remove more residues.
Remember, too, that when something is spilled, it can go into the backing of the carpet, and even further, and then it spreads out. Then, when you clean that area, the spot that was the size of a silver dollar ends up the size of a Frisbee.
That’s not good for your reputation as a professional cleaner.
Low-moisture cleaning is one tool to keep lurking spots at bay. Cleaning the surface and keeping the backing dry hinders wicking spots.
Air movers are smart, too, and reduce the time a spot has to “wick” back up to the surface.
When you just know, prepare
When your intuition tells you a spot is likely to return, you can treat the area, thinking ahead.
There are several treatments:
Use an acid-side rinsing agent to help strip residues and detergents from the carpet. Think about giving encapsulation rinses a try. Even better, precondition with an encapsulant to increase the polymer load on the carpet fiber surface. Cleaners are reporting a tremendous drop in call-backs by using encap preconditioners and rinses. This works by leaving crystallized polymers behind, which then encapsulate material that can create recurring spots.
These are products that you apply to the area you think will resoil. These anti-soiling treatments “attract” the soiling residues and are later vacuumed away. Think of these as “liquid poultices.”
Beyond liquid poultices
Another poultice you can use would be of the powdered variety. Apply it to the spot, work it in, allow drying, and then vacuum the area.
A white cotton towel is an effective poultice. Fold it several times, lay it on the cleaned spot and put a weight on the towel and allow the carpet to dry.
The residues will transfer into the towel, which can then be washed. Don’t use anything valuable as the weight; the weight itself may get damp.
Less moisture, faster drying
This is a practice you should use at all times. There’s no reason to use too much water, and no reason not to use an air mover.
By using less moisture and keeping ventilation at a maximum, carpet dries faster and the wicking effect that is part of the cause for recurring spots is reduced.
Jeff Cross is the senior editor of Cleanfax magazine and an IICRC industry trainer offering carpet cleaning classes, furniture/upholstery cleaning classes and all types of marketing systems, including marketing to agents and adjusters and internet marketing for carpet cleaners and restorers.