What is the BEST cleaner to use on your carpets?

...other than the fine gentleman at Sterling Carpet Care, of course.

Stores carry a wide variety of household cleaners for a myriad of needs. It isn't surprising that carpet cleaning chemicals are featured prominently among them. This is why I felt it important to distinguish the best one. First though, we need to be clear on terminology. 

Okay, lets start with the basics. When you are getting your carpet/rug/upholstery cleaned, what you're getting is solid matter extraction (e.g. dirt, dust, food residue, etc.) and maybe some in the "other" category (e.g. makeup, oil, grease,  biological, etc.). Most spots on carpets are due to the presence of some other item that isn't carpet. This is called "soiling" (that will be important to remember). These spots can be removed with the right combination of soaps, heat, water, agitation, and extraction. Yes, even most makeup can come out if the carpet cleaner knows what they're doing.

Stains are entirely different. A stain is caused when a substance alters the color of the material itself. Imagine a clean blue shirt. Now, roll that shirt in the mud. Will it come clean? Yeah, most likely given the right cleaning agents and amount of washing, the shirt will come clean. Of course you knew that because the only issue with the shirt was the presence of dirt, which can be removed leaving the shirt clean and perfect. Alright, now spill bleach on the clean shirt. Will the bleach stain come out? No, and that is because the bleach has caused a change in the shirt's dye. No amount of washing will get that shirt back to the original blue color. The shirt has been ruined and now must be turned into a rag (sigh).

Now that we know the difference between soiled and stained, let's talk about what the best "cleaner" is. None of the top carpet cleaning chemicals are the best. Yes, you read that correctly. Not one of the carpet cleaning chemicals you will find on any store shelf in America is the best at cleaning a soiled carpet. The reason for this is because they aren't meant for cleaning soiled carpets. They are meant for "stain removal", which as we discussed is an entirely different thing. 

Typically, I will go to homes where the owner has been attempting to spot clean small messes of soiling on the carpet using some brand of carpet "stain" remover (Resolve is the most popular).  Unfortunately, the diligence of these home owners is rewarded with catastrophe when the cleaning agent leaves a highly visible bleach spot in the middle of their carpet/rug/chair.  What they didn't understand was that the spot they were attempting to clean was not a stain; it was soiling. Now the carpet has bleach spots all over it and no amount of cleaning will change that.

So, in answer to the question: What is the BEST "cleaner" to use on your carpets? The answer is, in my opinion, a very small amount of Dawn Dish Soap on one side of a damp towel. If you then flip the towel over and just use the non-soapy side to remove any lingering residue, then dry the area using a second towel, you will be able to clean just about any carpet out there. I want to stress that Resolve and other chemicals are solely for stains, and have a high likelihood of causing bleach spots, so use those ONLY as a last resort and NEVER to simply remove soiling. When a stain occurs, bleaching may be one of your only options. However, it is then followed with a rigorous amount of color-match dying which is best left to the professionals and can get very pricey. 

For answers to any questions on this or to schedule a carpet cleaning in Reno, Sparks,Carson City, or Incline Village, give Sterling Carpet Care a call at (775) 525-4109 or visit our Contact Us page. Also, remember that we can clean upholstery, tile, and automotive.