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Recently we’ve heard customer concerns about lighter spots on the carpet that have appeared after cleaning. People are puzzled; what causes this phenomenon? Is there a cleaning product that bleaches the carpet fibers? Why does this happen? How is it possible? Is the carpet cleaner to blame, after all, this has appeared after the recent carpet cleaning service?

There is a very simple explanation, and it has to do with prevention, not products or methods used in professional carpet cleaning.

It has to do with, to define a phrase for the rest of this article, “goop”.

Goop – as it shall be known for the rest of this blog post, is a combination of 2 things.

The first component of good is usually liquid and most often comprised of common laundry soap with bleach added, bleach, nail polish remover, acne treatment pads or gels, etc.  What each and any of these goop components have in common is a bleaching agent, whitening agent, or an extreme PH component which can literally suck the colour off a carpet – or, strip the dye from carpet fibers.   This first part of goop finds its way onto carpet through a variety of means as well: dripped from garbage bags, dripped from laundry soap canisters after the lid has been put back on and a bit has seeped out,  spilled on the floor when the groceries are brought back home, etc.

The second component of good is plain old dirt.  It is made up of particles of all kinds of soil which are tracked into the building on the bottoms of your feet, your pets’ feet, bags and carts rolled down the hall, etc.  The important thing to realize is that the second part of the goop, the dirt, adheres and hides the first part.

Then, you have goop; a sticky liquid covered in dirt that looks like a dark spot on the carpet.  An example found outside the home would be gum on the sidewalk that now looks black instead of pink.

Enter the carpet cleaners.  They do a great, professional job, and remove the dirt and the blotches of goop.  However, in the time between that dollop of goop being formed and developing a crusty outer layer like the shell of a crab, the bleaching agents have been busy working away on the carpet fibers.  So, remove the goop, and what do you have?  A spot on the carpet that is lighter in color than the surrounding carpet.  Why?  Well, goop.  Those chemical ingredients and bleaching agents have been sitting there for days, weeks and often months doing what they were designed to do in the lab: bleach.

However, you don’t see this until the carpets are cleaned.  Once the dirty top layer of goop is removed, the liquid and chemical sucked out, and the clean carpet is revealed – only then do you see an odd white or yellow patch on the carpet.  Funny, you might ask yourself.  The carpet cleaners were just here.  Did they spill some soap on the carpet?

Answer: No.  Our cleaning agents are developed and tested specifically NOT to remove dye from carpet fibers.  If they did that, then the whole carpet would be bleached out, the company would have been sued a million times, and we would have had to shut our doors decades ago.  Unfortunately, these goop spots don’t get noticed until after the carpets are cleaned, because until then they just look like dark dirty spots and stains.

Solutions:

-Be vigilant.  Sticky spills should be cleaned properly right away, minimizing the time bleaching agents have in contact with carpet

-Encourage tenants not to use laundry soaps with bleaching agents, or to be careful with those containers when in the hallway

-Encourage double bagging of garbage bags to reduce drips on carpet.

-Frequent spot cleaning.  A routine of spot removal by janitorial staff or a building manager will aid in eliminating the problem, as it lessens the time agents with bleaching properties have to spend sitting on and damaging the carpet.

And last but not least – tenant spill clean up.  This is another thing that can lead to bleached out spots or smeary trails on the carpet; instruct and educate residents not to use household cleaners with bleach to clean up spills.  Often times a pet will ‘make a deposit’ on the hallway carpet, or a coffee is spilled, etc.  A well meaning and good intentioned resident can grab some soap spray or even straight bleach (we’ve seen it when a resident wanted to ensure the bacteria left by a ‘doggie deposit’ was cleaned up and killed) to clean up the mess.  Don’t use products with bleaching agents on carpets, ever.  And be sure to remind others that live in the strata not to do so either when cleaning up a spill in a shared space.

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