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Gert’s Dirt: Carpet stains no more!

Donna Bellino for the Lake County News-Chronicle

As I have mentioned in earlier columns, carpets should be professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months. Spills, pet messes, everyday dust, dirt and traffic can take a toll, shorting the life of your floor coverings, so here are some ways to deal with the stains that occur between cleaning.

• Spills, including urine, require quick action. Grab white paper towel and blot up as much moisture as you can, but resist the temptation to rub or scrub. Place the toweling over the spot and press; stand on it to squeeze out extra moisture if you can. You may be able to remove the stain by rinsing it with just plain water, but as you do, blot the water up each time you soak the spot. Repeat this process until the stain is removed and then get the spot as dry as you can.

• If you need more help with water-based stains like alcoholic beverages, berries, cola, ice cream, jelly, milk, water based or wet paint, or washable ink, mix 1 teaspoon of a non-bleach detergent, ¼ teaspoon of vinegar and 32 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Perform the same action as described above, using this mixture rather than just plain water.

Here are some suggestions for other more stubborn, difficult, yet common spills.

Blood: Blot as much up as possible and always use COLD water to rinse the stain. You can try the above mixture as long as the water is not hot. It may work fine. If not, try a citrus/oxygen cleaner for blood stains.

Fats, oils or wax: Place a white paper towel over the stain. Using an iron on a warm setting, press gently. Turn or replace the toweling as you press. Continue pressing until the stain is lifted out of the carpet.

Gum: Use an ice cube to harden the gum. Shatter the brittle gum with a blunt object and vacuum up the pieces. If this doesn’t remove it altogether, use small, sharp scissors to carefully snip away the fibers where the gum remains.

Glue: Saturate cotton balls with rubbing alcohol. Press these onto the glue until it is moistened. Wipe the glue away. Repeat if necessary.

Pet stains: Use the above action as soon as possible and soak up what you can, then dilute the area with water or use the spray. These stains tend to smell bad if not cleaned properly and once a pet has used this area to urinate, they tend to go back to that same spot, so consider purchasing one of the several enzymatic cleaners available. The action of the enzymes turns the urine into carbon dioxide and water. You should be able to find these products at pet stores, just make sure there aren’t ingredients in the cleaner that are harmful to people or pets!

Cigarette burns: Gently rub the burned area with a dull, blunt object, such as a butter knife, until the burned edges come off. If this doesn’t work, use small sharp scissors to trim away the burned fibers.

As a general rule, the sooner you treat a stain, the easier it will be to remove it. Soak up as much as you can by dabbing it with paper toweling. Use the advice above and your carpet should easily stay clean between professional cleaning.

Donna Bellino is a Registered Nurse and owner of Gertie’s Cleaning and Home Service. I care for you, your health, and your home. Gertie’s: Naturally Clean!