Client’s Attempt At Spot (?) Removal

Wendy’s Blog

When it’s maybe not so good to learn the difference between a “spot” and a “stain.”

Just yesterday we were on a job location for a new client. Clearly, a well manicured home, these homeowners enjoy their “inner sanctum”. It is richly decorated, and they have created a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. You can barely tell they are raising two teenagers, one at the age of being out on their own, the other in the throws of those challenging years.

Working from home, both of them, they require a certain amount of organization and “zen”.

So when the housecleaner team was cleaning their upstairs bathroom, it didn’t sit well that they spilled something that caused a spot that appeared on the carpet, outside the upstairs bathroom. It is white, appeared as a puddle, and has some white drips moving in the direction of the bathroom entry. Not wanting to make an issue about it with the cleaners, they decided to attempt to clean it up themselves.

But soon they learned the “anatomy” of a spot vs a stain (well maybe, but they don’t understand).

By definition, a spot is soiling or foreign material or substance that falls upon and affixes to carpet fibers or fabrics. They are exterior to the fiber and fabric and can rinse off if removed (usually) soon after they come in contact with the fiber or fabric.  Indifferent to that, a stain, by definition is soiling, solution or foreign material acts and behaves far differently than that of a spot. Thir foreign material, upon coming in contact with the fiber surface, strikes the area and either adds color that permanently alters the yarn/fiber surface, or it strips the yarn/fiber completely of the color of the yarn/fiber. The latter is called a stain, as it is a permanent alteration that is not removable.

Not understanding what type of blemish they have on the carpet, this homeowner did his best attempt at removing it.

Upon inspection before cleaning, I mentioned that the white discoloration of the so-called “spot” is permanent, and that our cleaning would not remove it. I explained it is not a spot, it is a permanent stain, and then used my analogy that explains it well to lay people, in this case my client.

While educating someone about a stain I compare it to what people deal with, with laundry and clothing care.

I use the analogy of the unfortunate accident of “dropping bleach on blue jeans.” Most of the time (unless you are purposely tie-dye ‘ing something), when you drop bleach on blue jeans it is a sudden, permanent, incorrectible mishap. There is nothing that restores the “blue” in the area you dropped the bleach on. Secondly, any frantic attempt to wash the jeans and the accidental spot that was created, no amount of washing or rinsing of the material will “put the blue back in the fabric.) PERIOD!

People experienced in handling laundry understand that.

So when explaining what is a “stain,” we used the same laundry analogy!

I describe the laundry analogy, and then compared it to the white spot. Think about it, it is ironic that these white spots often found outside of a bathroom, within steps of it. (You usually see it where someone cleaning would place a bucket, or cleaning solutions and rags), where they place the cleaning supplies when they are done cleaning the floor.)

I say, just as when you discover or cause the unfortunate permanent stain to appear on the blue jean or other fabric surface you are in trouble. When bleach products mistakenly come in contact with some carpeted surfaces, a permanent stain is created just the same way. And, furthermore, since it is a permanent alteration of the fiber surface, no amount of cleaning (none whatsoever) will remove the stain, and restore the color.

Once explained in this manner, the homeowner(s) “get it, and this homeowner “got it!”

But for this client that is not the only problem (for them and for us).

As I inspected the project, I pointed out things that our cleaning can and can’t do. I also explained about some side effects of the cleaning that could arise (with existing “rippling” in the carpet maybe, or maybe not). Besides the rippling found in the family room, I out and out explained that the bleach “stain” will not correct. It won’t respond, or be fixed with our cleaning. (And clearly, given this explanation she completely understood.)

During this conversation and limitation in cleaning expectation, clearly the homeowner was frustrated. She did not want to replace the carpet. Choosing not to go after her cleaners, she did explore replacing the carpet, but was informed it is discontinued, and with no extra carpet her options were limited. (Even the couple of quick tricks to fix in that an installer could do were not possible. There was just no “donor carpet” anywhere that could be sacrificed to replace and remove the blemish.) I ended the conversation with the reality that this was a stain she had to live with.

But fast forward- “the proof was in the pudding,” that they didn’t understand the difference between a spot and a stain.

And why would they, they are not carpet cleaners!

Understanding the limitations with our cleaning, the homeowner understood she had permanent damage in that area, and approved the cleaning of the overall carpet there, and downstairs as well. She gave us permission to clean, knowing the cleaning limitations.

As soon as we began cleaning the upstairs hall, and progressed to the area where the bleach stain was, the area on and around the bleach spot began to “misbehave”. After spraying the pre-spray (the “spray and wash” phase of our cleaning), as soon as my husband extracted the bleached area, a patch of the fiber turned bright white. Oops! And as he began to work that particular area the carpet “foamed up” like shaving cream.  Working the spot, and the general area so much foam appeared, it kinda grew like when you open a container of fluff-r-nutter at altitude (it morphs out of the container”, and is quite the experience).

Quickly our techs stopped the cleaning, ran for what is like “laundry softener”, disconnected the hose, and poured the anti-foamer down the hose.

By doing this it would stop the foam from clogging up the waste tank and shutting the truck down.

That’s right, dormant residue like the foam patch left behind from a cleaning attempt can morph and grow to shut our machine down. Imagine a 75 gallon waste tank clogged with enough foam residue that it would stop the machine and clog it completely!

Happened to be that our homeowner was at her desk, but about 10 feet from where this was happening and heard the rucus.

As reiterated, she earlier had grasped my explanation about the difference between a spot and a stain. But when this white residue foamed up like shaving cream we realized at one point they didn’t understand that the spot was permanent. If they had they wouldn’t have used spot cleaner on it. At this point I questioned her and asked who used a spot cleaner on the bleached area. She did admit that her husband used a spot cleaner to try and remove the bleach “spot”. Turns out he spotted  3-4 other areas around the bleached areas. Abandoning the attempt, after following the spot cleaning directions, (foam) was left on the carpet. It dried and disappeared, until we came along.

As the foam morphed and foamed up, our client was right there to see it.

Frankly she was surprised at what was happening. I mentioned it might take a bit to rinse it out, and that it could take successive cleanings to remove it, especially if it soaked into the pad. Our team worked and worked to rinse the spots out, while I asked to see the product that they used. Our client and I went to the laundry room where she took a well known brand of foam cleaner out of the cabinet.

The moment I saw it I explained that it is foam residue left behind that we are struggling with to remove. I further explained the foam cleaner would never have corrected the area of the carpet that has “dye loss” from the bleach. I again used the laundry analogy that the foam spotter would never have put the color back in the carpet, just as it would never have put the blue back in blue jeans.

She then “got it” and accepted the fate of her carpet.

In the end I offered two remote possibilities.

Clearly seeing her disappointment I offered a couple “hail marys”. One would be, since there was a ripple in the family room (which may aggravate with humidity from cleaning), she could attempt to have the carpet stretched tighter. If there was enough extra carpet trimmed off from the stretching perhaps the installer could use that to patch the carpet. Or, if not, there might be a slight chance she could match the color with a water-based sharpie marker (obtained from a good art store), and color the tips “to calm the discoloration down” visually.

However, the chances of finding a water-based sharpie marker in that color palate was a real long shot.

Resolved at the fate of that area of the carpet, she was overall pleased with the rest of the cleaning.

All was good, and she looked forward to the family room, living room and dining room to be cleaned up. Hopefully we would remove the coffee spills, some traffic soiling and the over-watered plant spills.

All in all our client is very happy with the cleaning and our services.

Another one for the books! Do what you promise, deliver good results and a preferred customer service experience, it will come back to you full circle. This client is satisfied!

Before leaving I shared the other services we offer. Excited she asked about our granite cleaning, and even more so about our hardwood floor refinishing.

She asked for an estimate to sand and refinish her hardwood floors on the spot. Complaining about the softness of this “exclusively” rare wood they were sold, she wondered why they were pitched it in the first place. Even though a custom wood species, if it marks so easily why would it be it be spec’d for such a high traffic area.

We provided an estimate on the spot, and have concurred it is red burch. With similarity to maple in looks (a very hard hardwood on the “janka” scale), red birch definitely is softer.

It clearly irritates her! So, we shall see if they want to proceed!

Need competent help for specialized cleaning, re-polishing and refinishing services? One call does it all. Call 609.953.0472 or Contact Us on line and we will reach out to you!